"Tēnā koutou, I’m Josh and will be based at the Palmerston North site for the next few months. I’m coming up to my fifth year of study in biochemistry and medicine at Otago University. A career within the sciences has always appealed to me, as I’ve always found myself asking questions. I was ‘that nerdy kid’ in my family: the one who used to catch bugs, read books and watch the clouds. Finding out why things work the way that they do is a big part of what draws me to the fields that I have found myself in.
I’m also passionate about health and understanding the drivers of human wellbeing. I’d love to work in a position that can allow me to make a positive difference to the wellbeing of our communities. Research and evidence-based practice forms a core component of all medical fields, and these are some of the skills that I hope to develop further during my time here.
This is my second year working for Plant & Food Research, and my project this summer focuses on identifying unknown compounds within native New Zealand berries. Of special interest to us are the toxins found within the berries of the Karaka tree. Karaka once formed an important component of many traditional Maori diets; however, the lengthy detoxification processes that were used means that it is not currently a viable crop. By understanding more about Karaka toxicity, we hope that we could eventually breed Karaka that is toxin-free and establish a healthy, new and commercially viable food crop.
What I like about working for Plant & Food Research is that their research is centred around growing our local industries: the projects that we’re all working on this summer will likely contribute to positive outcomes for New Zealand. I find it really good to know that we’re working on things with such a local flavour and focus. The teams here are also great to work with and to begin bridging our studies with “the real world”."