Position: Scientist Field: Environmental science (soil) Organisation: AgResearch Ltd, Invermay Campus, Mosgiel, Otago

Dr Selai Letica’s interest is in soil nitrogen cycling in agriculture. Currently, she is involved in research into the nitrogen cycle in agricultural soils. For example, she conducts research into the effects of DCD (dicyandiamide – a nitrogen inhibitor) on the losses of nitrogen from soil. She is also involved in research into mapping and quantifying where nitrogen losses occur in agricultural landscapes, as well as investigating the causes of soil nitrogen losses and how to advise farmers to change farm practices to avoid nitrogen losses.

She enjoys the process of designing and conducting experiments and being part of a research team that is focused on improving the environment for everyone to use and enjoy.

If you want to work on a farm one day and fly to an overseas conference to present your results the next day, then this is a job you’ll love.

As a teenager, Selai was interested in the outdoors and was really into sport and Māori culture but didn’t really know how to turn those interests into a job. As an undergraduate at university, she majored in botany and ecology before taking up a PhD candidate position at AgResearch. Doing a doctorate in environmental science allowed Selai to combine her love of the outdoors with her work. Selai hopes that one day she can contribute positively to her iwi by improving the management of our agricultural lands. As a young field technician, she got to snowboard, hike or go fishing on her way to many of her field sites. Now as a scientist, Selai is exposed to cutting-edge research and technology in the area of agriculture, which is New Zealand’s largest export earner.

Selai advises that, if you want a job that allows you to work on environmental solutions that will help farmers and wider communities enjoy the natural environment, this is a job for you.

Selai enjoys social and competitive sport, fishing and diving as well as tramping. She also enjoys travelling and likes reading when she’s not busy with her family.

This article is based on information current in 2013.

    Published 30 July 2013