Taking her research international

Taking her research international

17 October 2019

An opportunity to pursue doctoral research overseas has been granted to St Paul’s Collegian Emma Walker (Harington, 2013-2014).

Currently studying a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology at the University of Waikato, Emma has been awarded the Woolf Fisher Scholarship to study at Cambridge University next year.

Emma is planning to pursue a PhD at Babraham Institute – a partner institute of Cambridge. The scholarship, which covers study and living costs, is estimated at $300,000.

Working with Dr Simon Cook, Head of Babraham Institute’s Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation Programme, Emma’s research will focus on the DYRK protein kinases in health and disease.

For Emma, the scholarship is a step towards her goal of combating cancer in New Zealand.

“My ultimate career goal is to significantly improve cancer statistics in New Zealand,” says Emma.

“The key to understanding lifelong health is to understand the signalling pathways that operate inside cells – this summarises Dr Cook’s research.”

“So, understanding how these pathways function and contribute to disease is fundamental to disease prevention, treatment, and improving the human health span.”

Emma will be working with and learning from the world’s best cancer researchers. Collaboration like this, she says, is key to advancing the local sector.

“I believe that, for cancer and human disease research to exponentially advance in New Zealand, we need to significantly improve our collaboration, networking, and knowledge exchange with other human health researchers around the globe.”

Emma credits her time at St Paul’s and in particular her science teacher Duncan Smith, with developing her “zeal” for molecular science.

“Mr Smith taught science in a way that made sense and with enthusiasm. This made me realise that I wanted to contribute to discovering the undiscovered.”

She also heaped praise on St Paul’s careers advisor Paul Wilson, who she says was an ongoing support for her during her studies.

“Mr Wilson helped me realise my full potential and pushed me to achieve goals that at first seemed out of reach. He was a mentor for me during my time at St Paul’s and after I left.”

These scholarships were established in 2003 by the Trustees of the Woolf Fisher Trust to honour Woolf Fisher as co-founder, with Maurice Paykel, of the company Fisher & Paykel Limited (1934) and foundation chairman of New Zealand Steel Limited (1965). The main objective of the Trust is that Woolf Fisher Scholars will make a significant commitment to New Zealand and become leaders in their fields.

For more information visit www.woolffishertrust.co.nz