Doctor of Philosophy candidate
You can go days without food but only a few minutes without air, says Doctor of Philosophy student Egide Kalisa whose doctoral research aims to address air pollution.
“My research investigates the impact of toxic compounds from chemical and biological aerosols in urban environments in New Zealand and Rwanda. This is the first research of its kind in both countries, and aims to identify measures to tackle air pollution while engaging with the locations and communities that are most vulnerable.”
Tragedy has spurred him to explore this topic, says Egide who came to AUT as an international student from Rwanda.
“It is likely that air pollution related diseases have taken my family. I became curious about the cause and effect of air pollution when I started high school, and found that air pollution is a health threat to humans and a risk factor for both acute and chronic respiratory disease. That’s why I decided to study air pollution at university and become a specialist in air quality research across the world.”
He has always wanted to pursue an academic career, says Egide who expects to finish his PhD in 2019.
“I’ve always wanted to become a university professor, researching a subject I’m passionate about. After completing a Master of Science in air pollution management and control at the University of Birmingham, I decided to start my PhD research in the same field, as this is an area I’m passionate about.”
The excellent reputation of AUT’s academic staff was a key reason he chose AUT, says Egide whose research is supervised by Dr Donnabella Lacap-Bugler.
“I decided to study at AUT because of the reputation of its PhD supervisors who are highly committed to students. I wanted to study at a university that provides world-leading education that is globally respected and gives students access to advanced knowledge of the theory and practice in their field.
“The research supervisors at AUT are committed to their students, and the academic staff know you by your first name. I’ve also enjoyed being able to use the AUT Roche Diagnostics Laboratory for my research, which gave me access to the latest scientific testing methods in analysing microbial samples.”
Opportunities to collaborate and share ideas
There have been many highlights throughout his time at AUT, says Egide whose studies are supported by a Commonwealth Scholarship.
“I’ve enjoyed many things since coming to AUT. Through the collaboration of AUT and Kanazawa University in Japan, for example, I’ve had a chance to visit the laboratory of Kanazawa University and learn a number of advanced techniques that I’m now applying in my research. I’ve had the chance to share my research at conferences in New Zealand, Japan, Rwanda and the UK, including winning the best poster presentation at the international conference on atmospheric science in Japan.”
There have been many opportunities to share ideas and meet other researchers, Egide says.
“I’ve enjoyed the seminars at the AUT School of Science where we can share our research and get feedback on our work. AUT also organises many events including doctoral student mix mingle events and a number of clubs, which are a great opportunity to meet other students and share my culture.
“Because AUT is located in the centre of the Auckland central business district, I’ve also had the chance to meet people around the city and connect with experts in my field.”