Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Master of Science in Biomedical Science
Science and the human body have always fascinated her, says Anushree Nagaraj who came to AUT as an international student from India to complete a Master of Science, followed by a PhD in biomedical science.
“I chose to study biomedical sciences due to my curiosity to find out why and how things in the body work, and because this field of science gives us the potential to develop cures – such as drugs or tissue-engineered constructs – for various ailments. After finishing my Bachelor of Science (Honours) in biomedical sciences back in India, I wanted to expand my knowledge with a master’s degree in the same field.”
With that decision made, she then started looking for the right university for her postgraduate study. She soon found it in AUT.
“I chose AUT because of its excellent reputation and the recommendations from many people I spoke to before coming here, and because it offered me a one-year master’s degree. That was perfect for me as I had already completed my honours degree, but felt like I needed a little more experience and confidence before getting into a PhD. I had always wanted to do a PhD, and I definitely knew I wanted to continue my studies at AUT after doing my master’s here and liking it a lot.”
The search for effective new treatments
For her PhD research, Anushree is focused on developing cannabis-based buccal formulations. Her research is supported by a Callaghan Innovation R&D Fellowship Grant and she is working with industry partner Helius Therapeutics Limited.
“This project adds to the development of New Zealand’s intellectual property in this field, and has the potential to provide patients with effective and targeted medicines to treat conditions like chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and epilepsy.”
Her research is being supervised by Associate Professor Ali Seyfoddin and Dr Ghada Zidan from AUT’s School of Science.
“My true research passion was always to work with natural compounds and medicines, and after talking to Associate Professor Ali Seyfoddin, I realised that I wanted to work with cannabis; a truly misjudged plant with numerous health benefits. Associate Professor Ali Seyfoddin and Dr Ghada Zidan were my supervisors for my master’s degree and they are for my PhD research as well. Both of them are extremely encouraging, approachable and have always motivated me to do my best.”
The right support
The academic staff have been one of the things she has appreciated most about her time at AUT, says Anushree who hopes to work as a researcher and lecturer herself when she finishes her PhD.
“The way the academic staff at AUT teach is what I enjoyed the most. It’s such an interactive learning environment where you can gain knowledge with ease, and the staff are really friendly and easy to approach.”
She wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the postgraduate science programmes at AUT.
“I’d definitely recommend postgraduate study in science because of the academic staff at AUT and their teaching strategies, the wonderful student advisors, and the extremely helpful science administration team, lab technicians and Graduate Research School staff. I also appreciate that AUT has offered me the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant part-time while working on my PhD research.”