Master of Science student
Studying genetics is very interesting, says Eko Yakso Prabowo who came to AUT as an international student from Indonesia to study a Master of Science in Molecular Genetics, supported by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade NZ Scholarship.
“Genetics covers the process of historically tracing living things, including humans, from the first time they appeared on earth to the present day. Because it holds all this information, genetics will have a vital role in the development of new drugs and cures for diseases that can’t yet be treated.”
For his master’s degree research, Eko is analysing specific virus genes that may play an essential role in infecting plants and insects. His research is supervised by Dr Colleen Higgins from AUT’s School of Science.
“Understanding this process can help to explain the occurrence of cross-species infections, particularly viruses that jump from animals to humans – like COVID-19 and Avian influenza – as examining them directly may carry a high risk for the researchers.”
An outstanding learning environment
He would strongly recommend AUT’s postgraduate science programmes, Eko says.
“AUT is one of the best universities in New Zealand, despite its relatively young age. I also appreciate that AUT offers molecular genetics, which is not a subject many universities have. I enrolled in this subject to deepen my knowledge for my career in my homecountry, where this field is not yet very developed. I also like that AUT values diversity so much, and provides excellent worship facilities for all faiths so that students can practise their beliefs comfortably.”
His studies have also helped him realise the importance of ethics for research; an understanding that will be crucial for his work for the Indonesian government once he returns home.
“My courses made me realise that scientific research is not only about the sophistication of technology and the benefits of an experiment. You also need to consider other things. Ethics are very important because they relate to a society’s values and a country’s regulations. Since I will work in government, an understanding of ethics will help me consider and analyse decisions related to public policy.”
Postgraduate study in a new country has its challenges, Eko admits.
“At the start, I had some problems adjusting to the new culture, new people and new environment. AUT provided me with support in the form of an excellent orientation programme for new students, which helped me get to know the system and different cultures at AUT, and covered tips and tricks for survival in New Zealand. I liked being able to access all the orientation material at any time through the AUT student website or the AUT app.”
There has also been plenty of support to help students succeed despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, he adds.
“When the COVID-19 lockdown occurred, AUT provided a lot of support for learning from home, including a laptop and an internet connection for students who didn’t have one. The academic staff also motivated and supported us so that we didn’t feel isolated or discouraged when completing our studies. It was easy to approach staff if I needed any help because they were very friendly.”