Sixteen-year-old Waikato Dio student Nikita Lyons is one of four students representing New Zealand at the International Biology Olympiad (IBO) in Denmark this July.
"I was speechless when I heard the news," Nikita says. "This is the opportunity of a life-time."
Nikita was in the top 200 students who sat the national IBO entrance exam which qualified her for a six-month tutorial programme over summer. She then placed in the top 30 for a second exam and attended a two-week training camp at the University of Waikato in preparation for a third exam. Her final exam score was one of the top four in New Zealand.
"The selection process was really intense because there was so much new material I needed to learn," she says. "My family, teachers and staff at the university have been so helpful."
Waikato University senior lecturer in biological sciences Dr Alison Campbell has helped Nikita prepare for the IBO by giving her access to first and second year biology labs and tutorials on campus.
"It's been wonderful to be a part of the IBO initiative over the last few years, helping to select and prepare New Zealand's budding leaders of science," says Dr Campbell.
Once in Denmark, Nikita and her team will individually compete against students from 62 countries in four practical exams and two theory exams, from which the top 1% of students will receive a gold medal.
Nikita must raise $5000 to attend the IBO, including flights, accommodation and attendance fees. She is fundraising by selling pony poo, swan plant seeds and seedlings at the Pirongia market on Sunday 31 May and on TradeMe. She has also set up a givealittle page for community donations.
To support Nikita visit https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/nikita2ibo to donate or follow Nikita2ibo on TradeMe.
The International Biology Olympiad (IBO) is a competition for secondary school students that brings together and challenges gifted students to promote their careers as scientists.