Lizzy Domigan

Lizzy Domigan

Bachelor of Science (Honours) student

The opportunities she had access to through AUT are beyond what she could have ever hoped for, says Lizzy Domigan who is currently completing her Bachelor of Science (Honours).

“After expressing my interest to conduct research on medicinal Cannabis, my supervisor, Associate Professor Ali Seyfoddin, put me in touch with Helius Therapeutics, New Zealand’s largest GMP certified medicinal Cannabis company. Helius was interested in developing a tissue culture programme, with an opportunity for me to assist in this. I even received a Research and Development Experience Grant from Callaghan Innovation to support my internship and research with Helius.

“I’ve been taken aback by how supportive AUT has been as an educational provider in my endeavour to reach my career goals and dreams. The opportunity to study a niche topic in the New Zealand biotechnology industry and making connections with industry experts has been the highlight of my time at AUT.”

For her Bachelor of Science (Honours) dissertation, Lizzy will focus on developing a micropropagation system for Cannabis sativa L.

“Plant tissue culture is an approach used in micropropagation, and provides great potential for medicinal Cannabis industry growth. Currently, there’s no robust tissue culture protocol for Cannabis reported in the literature and my research will contribute to the refinement of a replicable micropropagation methodology by identifying Cannabis chemovars amenable to regeneration and suitable for storage via this approach.”

Making a positive impact
Lizzy came to AUT for her honours degree after completing undergraduate study at another university and feeling unsure about what step to take next.

“After finishing my undergraduate studies I was in a dilemma about what the most valuable next step in my career would be – gaining industry experience or continuing academic learning with postgraduate study? Choosing to study at AUT for my honours degree has granted me the extraordinary opportunity to achieve both of these options.

“I had seen media coverage of The Introduction to Medicinal Cannabis course, discussing the industry demand for further research and qualified people in the medicinal Cannabis space. This article first sparked my interest in applying for postgraduate study at AUT. This progressive industry provides a niche opportunity to apply my academic learning around plant biotechnology in a setting that resonates with my goals of investing in a meaningful career pathway to leave a positive impact in our world.”

To support her research, she has also become a member of the AUT Drug Delivery Research Group; an experience she is thoroughly enjoying.

“My inclusion in the Drug Delivery Research Group enables me to regularly connect with other postgraduate students conducting similar research. That has been a valuable way to connect with peers at AUT. As I’m the newest member to this research group, I’ve found it inspiring to hear about my peers’ research progress in this space.”

Advice for other students
Don’t hesitate to connect with AUT’s academic staff if you have goals you’re hoping to achieve, Lizzy advises other students.

“AUT provides an inclusive and supportive environment for students to feel comfortable asking questions. All the AUT staff I’ve had contact with have been approachable and more than happy to do what they can to help cultivate my passions. You have nothing to lose, so just ask!”

She certainly knows what she is talking about – when she approached Associate Professor Ali Seyfoddin it opened up the opportunity to collaborate with Helius Therapeutics for her research.

“I approached Ali after receiving the postgraduate scholarship award to express my interest in conducting research in the medicinal Cannabis space. Ali was approachable and supportive and has facilitated a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to collaborate with Helius Therapeutics. The experience of having a staff member really wanting to see me succeed is something that has been really special about AUT.”

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