A chance to have an impact on the real world of health science convinced Paul Ronaldson to relocate from Cumbria in the United Kingdom to Christchurch.
Paul is now undertaking his PhD at the University of Otago, Christchurch, on how to enhance soft tissue imaging using a spectroscopic CT scanner.
His work has a very practical application. Part of Paul’s project involves using the world-leading MARS CT spectroscopic scanner to develop techniques for quantifying biomarkers for the common condition of metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome is a precursor to serious illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
The MARS CT scanner is a revolutionary 'colour' CT (computerised tomography) scanner. The scanner allows radiologists to ‘see’ more clearly the material components inside of the human body. One of its developers, radiologist Dr Anthony Butler, is supervising Paul.
Paul is undertaking his PhD on the Christchurch campus through the University’s Centre for Bioengineering / Department of Radiology.
Paul has an Honours degree in maths and physics from the United Kingdom’s Open University. In Britain he was working at a nuclear plant, developing techniques for analysing waste products.
Paul says the chance to do research which could ultimately have a significant positive impact on patients’ treatment convinced him to move countries and return to study.
“The idea of applying physics to health research was very appealing. I can see the long-lasting effect the research might have.’’
Paul and his wife toured New Zealand several years ago with a view to moving here. They decided if the right research and work opportunities arose they would move to Christchurch because of the laidback lifestyle it offered.
“Christchurch is relaxed. It is close to the countryside but has all the amenities you need. It’s like having the best of country and city.’’
The University of Otago’s emphasis on research also factored in Paul’s decision.
“Together with its accent on education in health sciences, Otago University is very focused on research excellence, which is great for someone wanting to do a PhD.’’