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Otago Biochemistry PhD student wins Freemasons Scholarship

Monday 12 April 2021 10:39am

Meg Taylor graduation 650

PhD student Megan Taylor has just won the 2021 Freemasons Postgraduate Scholarship for Otago students. This scholarship, worth $10,000, is awarded on the basis of academic excellence and community involvement by Freemasons New Zealand in conjunction with The Freemasons Charity.

Under the supervision of Associate Professor Liz Ledgerwood, Megan is studying the role of oxidation in transmitting signals inside cells. She is using a variety of scientific techniques, including cell culture, RNA sequencing, and mass spectrometry to figure out how hydrogen peroxide can oxidise target proteins in the presence of peroxiredoxins, which break down hydrogen peroxide. Ultimately, she hopes this research will help to better understand diseases where changes in oxidation are known to occur, such as cancer and heart disease.

On top of her busy research schedule, Megan leads and organises the Biochemistry Department Colloquia, a student-led initiative to share research experience, and is a student demonstrator in undergraduate laboratories. She has presented at the biennial high school biology teacher’s conference BioLive, and helped with videos to attract postgraduates to the department.

Outside of the university, Megan volunteers for English Language Partners Dunedin, teaching English as second language to migrants and refugees in their homes. She has been a facilitator for the ‘Toe by Toe’ programme, which helps people who struggle to read. She is also a qualified surf lifeguard, helping to patrol Dunedin’s St Kilda Beach.

Photo above: Associate Professor Sigurd Wilbanks (left) congratulating Megan Taylor when she graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science with Honours (First Class) in Molecular Biotechnology in 2019.