Where a science degree can take you

22 June 2018

Kelsey Ferris on the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute vessel.

Science student Kelsey Ferris took a punt, applied for an internship in the UK, and got it. She’s spending a year with the British Geological Survey (BGS), working in the Inorganic Geochemistry Laboratories in Keyworth, Nottingham.

All University of Waikato Bachelor of Science (Technology) students are required to complete a practical real-life placement. When the opportunity to study at BGS arose, Kelsey didn’t rate her chances but decided to apply anyway. “I knew I would regret not applying for such an amazing overseas opportunity.”

She’s spent the last six months working on a Kenyan aquaculture project, examining the link between pollution in Lake Victoria (Kenya) and microelement content in caged and wild fish. Along with her supervisor Dr Andy Mariott, Kelsey is investigating the impact this has on the nutritional quality on agricultural farmed fish, and the potential of aquaculture to strengthen food security and sustainability for the region.

As part of her fieldwork, Kelsey spent three days and nights on a Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute vessel on Lake Victoria, collecting fish, water and sediments to test back in the British Geological Survey labs in the UK.

Kelsey has made the most of her close proximity to other European countries, travelling to Wales, Scotland, Italy and Spain. She’s experienced the magic of a true winter Christmas and her first snowball fight on –10°C days.

Originally from Whangarei, Kesley is one of ten Golden Jubilee scholars, high achieving students who were awarded a fee-paying scholarship in 2015 to celebrate the University of Waikato’s first 50 years. She chose to study science because she’s always wanted to understand more about the world, and decided on the University of Waikato for its opportunities to gain practical experience.

“I decided to come to Waikato because I liked the structure of the Science (tech) degree, especially the placement and management aspects,” Kelsey says. “In my eyes, science can be one of the most hands-on fields to work in, and Waikato’s degree nurtures that.”

Grateful for all the opportunities she’s had throughout her studies, Kelsey has written a blog, From lab to Lake Victoria, and wants to pass on her experiences to other Waikato students.

“Never pass up on an opportunity because you are scared of the possibilities – take the opportunity and learn how to surpass all the expectations along the way.”

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