Hannah McCarthy

A summer sampling of science

Spending time experimenting with plants sounded very cool for Hannah McCarthy. An assessment which came after hearing about the research of a Plant & Food Research scientist who visited her school.

In fact, it was the thing that motivated her to explore options working at the science company, where she was a participant in Plant & Food Research’s Summer Studentship programme.

Working alongside Dr Tony Reglinski and Dr Janine Cooney at the Ruakura campus, Hannah assisted with ongoing research into hormonal responses in kiwifruit, which included investigating ways of priming the natural defences of the fruit for fighting disease.

The project involved determining how different treatments change the ratio of hormones in the leaf tissue,” says Hannah. 

“It’s important work for helping to produce new products and reduce the types and incidence of disease in kiwifruit. Hopefully, any insights with the project can go some way to help with Psa research as well.

“The work was very practical, which I liked. And involved many of the key aspects of ‘doing’ science, such as performing experiments, extracting samples, developing briefs, examining data and preparing summary sheets.”

The summer studentship programme is designed to give industry experience to high-calibre tertiary students who may be considering a career as a scientist or industry professional. It allows them to work on real research projects alongside world-recognised scientists.

Hannah, who is studying toward a Bachelor of Science majoring in Plant Science and Microbiology at Massey University, was not considering a science career until the scientist from Plant and Food Research visited her school.

“I was interested in graphic design when I was at Palmerston North Girls’ High School, but after hearing about the kinds of things Plant & Food Research were doing and the opportunities in science, I decided to explore this option in more depth.

“I had been told what an amazing opportunity the summer studentships are, so I was very excited to be accepted into the programme.

“The chance to gain work experience like this is invaluable and is really helping me get a better idea of the kind of science career I’m looking for.”

Since being on the Summer Studentship programme, Hannah has decided to pursue a Master’s degree, with the aim of starting a career as a research technician.

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