Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) with First Class Honours
Travelling to Africa helped her discover her passion for environmental sciences and ecology, says AUT science student Claire Ellis.
“I spent six weeks in South Africa, and after meeting the lead ecologist at a game reserve I decided to study the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences. It was a career I could see myself pursuing in the future.”
Deciding where to study was easy, Claire says.
“I chose to study at AUT after I went to a science talk at my high school where two lecturers spoke about AUT’s intention to equip students with a lot of practical knowledge. I believe that AUT prepares students for the competitive job market by focusing more on the practical knowledge than other universities.”
Field trips and internships
It’s a decision she hasn’t regretted, Claire says.
“I’ve enjoyed the analytical side of science; the experiment design and analysis of data. I loved learning about biogeography, plant ecology and statistics, and am proud of being awarded a Department of Conservation scholarship to work on Alpine flushes on Mt Ruapehu in the summer of 2017.
“The highlight of my time at AUT, however, was spending two weeks in the Solomon Islands on a field trip. It was an incredible experience, made even better by the people who were on it. We learned a lot, and got to work and play in the field.”
Receiving the Monitoring and Research Student Scholarship in the Auckland Council’s Environmental Student Partnership Programme was another highpoint for her.
“I was hired for 12 weeks as a monitoring and research student at the Auckland Council Research and Evaluation Unit, RIMU. Since then, I’ve been recruited part-time at Auckland Council for my knowledge of the statistical software R. I love contributing to reports that will be used throughout the nation, and I believe that AUT has given me an edge over other universities as I’ve learnt skills that are in demand.”
Becoming a researcher
After completing her Bachelor of Science, Claire studied a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) and has recently started her PhD.
“My career goal is to be a researcher, finding new patterns in our environment and working towards a more sustainable future. For me the Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) was the best route to achieve this goal because as part of this degree you conduct your own research.
“My honours research focused on the succession of two Auckland regional parks over a 10-year period, before pest proof fencing was added.”
For her PhD, Claire will be looking at how drought and herbivory has affected tussock grassland composition over 40 years.