Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Shellfish diseases and summer mortality pose significant threats to New Zealand’s important aquaculture industry, says Farhana Muznebin who came to AUT as an international student from Bangladesh to do a PhD in marine ecology and aquaculture, funded by a New Zealand Commonwealth scholarship.
“New Zealand aquaculture products are well accepted by the international market and the industry is continuously growing. To address the health threats to aquaculture species, a thorough understanding of the immune system and its capacity to cope with increased pathogen loads is needed for these commercially important New Zealand marine species.”
For her doctoral research Farhana is assessing the health condition of New Zealand aquaculture species and investigating their defence mechanisms, and disease susceptibility and resistance. Her research is supervised by Professor Andrea C. Alfaro, leader of the AUT Aquaculture Biotechnology Research Group, and Professor Fabrice Merien, director the AUT Roche Diagnostics Laboratory.
“While the main project is part of the Aquatic Health Programme; funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment; my research focuses on histopathology, haematology, enzyme chemistry and immunology of cultivated shellfish species, including mussels, abalone and oysters.
“I’m trying to identify different pathogens and parasites in Greenshell mussels, abalone and flat oysters by evaluating immunological tissue responses associated with pathogens and determining health biomarkers for these conditions. This research will contribute to shellfish farm management strategies in New Zealand and overseas.”
Making an impact
She has always had a keen interest in developing her research expertise and academic excellence, says Farhana who was working at Jagannath University in Dhaka, Bangladesh as a faculty member before she came to New Zealand.
“I knew that studying for and gaining a PhD would be a life-changing experience, which would increase my ability to communicate effectively, work independently, think innovatively and analyse situations critically to achieve outstanding research.
“It was my dream to pursue my PhD at a world-class university, and AUT is one of the world’s best modern and fastest-growing universities. AUT is globally recognised for its outstanding education system, highly qualified academic staff and modern resources. Thus, choosing to study at AUT was an easy decision for me when I chose New Zealand for my future study.”
Expecting to complete her PhD in 2021, Farhana is looking forward to sharing the knowledge she developed throughout her studies with others.
“The new knowledge, expertise and research skills I’m gaining can easily be applied to the aquaculture industry in Bangladesh. I believe that my PhD research could have a significant impact on the economic development in my country. I also believe that my PhD research will enable me to contribute to the standardisation and upgrading of the aquaculture industry in both Bangladesh and New Zealand, which in turn will create more economic ties with the rest of the world.”
A thriving research environment
She enjoys the supportive, interactive and welcoming research culture at AUT, Farhana says. She has participated in conferences and symposia to share her PhD research, and won the best poster presentation award at the New Zealand Society for Parasitology Conference 2019.
“I’m highly impressed by the continuous support, guidance, motivation and inspiration from my supervisors and the AUT Aquaculture Biotechnology Research Group. I also appreciate the co-operation and encouragement I’ve received from the AUT Scholarship Office. I always enjoy the study and research-related events like the postgraduate research symposium and the mix and mingle events, which are great opportunities to meet other researchers and share research findings.”
Farhana doesn’t hesitate to recommend AUT to other students considering doctoral study.
“I would highly recommend doctoral study at AUT. The high-quality research projects; talented and skilled teachers, researchers and technicians; friendly staff and colleagues, excellent lab facilities and unique resources all contribute towards achieving your research goals. International students will also appreciate the truly international environment of AUT and New Zealand.”