Ashley Webby

Master of Science (Research)

Biological Sciences

Key Info

  • Master of Science (Research)
  • Biological Sciences

Former Hillcrest High School student Ashley Webby chose Waikato because it was close to home and had an excellent range of papers, taught by enthusiastic lecturers.

Ashley began her study with a Bachelor of Science (Technology) majoring in physiology and ecology.

She describes the highlight of her undergraduate study as her work placements, which included working two summers at Waikato University as a research assistant and work experience at Otorohanga Kiwi House.

"I absolutely loved my placement at the Otorohanga Kiwi House, where I was a keeper and raised eight baby kiwi chicks. At the University I worked on two research projects in freshwater ecology and I learnt so much. I thoroughly enjoyed working as well as studying. The work placements allowed me to gain valuable experience and lead me to pursue a masters degree."

Following her BSc(Tech), Ashley completed her Master of Science (Research).

"My masters project looked into the toxicity of Rena pollutants to New Zealand fish and shellfish, under the supervision of Associate Professor Nicholas Ling and Professor Chris Battershill."

"It is estimated that 350 tonnes of oil leaked into the environment from the Rena and as most New Zealanders know, the oil spillage had a huge impact on the wildlife and environment in the Bay of Plenty region."

"I assessed the acute sublethal toxicity of varying contaminants from the Rena oil spill including Rena heavy fuel oil and corexit 9500 (the dispersant used to disperse the oil) contaminants to a range of culturally, ecologically and commercially important species. The results were surprising in that the acute effects of exposure to heavy fuel oil with or without Corexit are relatively small.

Now working with Co-Operative education at Waikato University I am part of a team that assists science and engineering students find work placements that are compulsory parts of their degree. Although a degree is not needed in this role a lot of the skills I have learnt previously are transferable. When talking to employers I am able to understand what their research is about and easily convey this to the students. I have learnt a lot of organisational, writing, and communication skills which also allow me to teach others, I am also able to easily relate to the students.

A career in science research is not off the cards quite yet – in the future I will pursue this. Science education however is a great way to gain industry exposure, this role also allows me to give back to the programme than I can through, and being a mentor to other students is highly rewarding."

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