Discovery Awards

The Discovery Awards scholarship opened me up to a whole new world of science and its real-life applications. When I applied I really didn’t know what to expect, but after some persistent persuasion by my lovely science teacher Amanda Gibbs, and some good old scientific curiosity, I sent in my form and was lucky enough to be accepted with nine other amazing Māori and Pacific students from New Zealand. My mentor was Ben Ruck, Principal Investigator of The MacDiarmid Institute, who worked in Spintronics. With his help and (and others) I slowly began to grasp the basics of what they were doing—and it was awesome. I was trained to grow rare-earth nitride films in a super vacuum with compartment pressure of 2.6E-8, which is about onemillionth of the pressure of the atmosphere around it. Through this and other cool experiments like it, I quickly gained a new wonder and excitement of the scientific world, and was only slightly disheartened by the long waiting and standing up periods. The outcome of the experiments always outweighed this discomfort, and I left each day feeling happy and accomplished. This seemed to be echoed by the other scholarship winners. Tabitha and Lizzie went to Callaghan Innovation and redesigned the magnet levitation experiment. Down in Canterbury, Mariah, Harriet and Phillip made solar cells. From each of these students the feedback was the same: this experience reinvigorated their love for science. Throughout my two weeks at Victoria University, I experienced many strange and wonderful things. For the first time in my life, I was entrusted to control a halfmillion dollar piece of equipment. I made heaps of friends, not only from my own scholarship but the other related MacDiarmid scholarship—Nanocamp—which I tagged along with a couple of times. Outside of my own age bracket, the people I worked with were easily some of the most delightful people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Eva Anton, Harry Warring and Luis Figueris were only a few of the people I was in close contact with every day walking me through the basics of their work. With their nurture and patience, they made the environment I was working in an encouraging place that would be the envy of any educational institute. The experience has been amazing, and has allowed me to realistically see myself in a scientific career. I recommend this to everyone— the experiments and people are amazing and this opportunity will open your eyes to a whole new world that I personally believed only existed in science fiction. I’m glad I was given this honour and I encourage anyone else who has the opportunity to do so as well. PS—Thanks to the organisers of this scholarship for this wonderful experience. Thanks to Sarah Dadley and also to Michele Governale for unknowingly letting me join in on the Nanocamp scholarship a few times. Also my Mum said I should mention her too, so thanks Mum