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Esther Ajiteru Esther Ajiteru image

Doctor of Philosophy candidate (Nursing)

My nursing career started about 17 years ago after graduating from nursing/midwifery diploma schools in Nigeria. I have since pursued further study both in the UK and New Zealand and my nursing experience includes medical-surgical, geriatrics, and obstetrics and gynocology specialties.

My passion for research started when studying towards a Master of Health Sciences. The experience I acquired while completing my systematic review widened my horizons of knowledge and heightened my passion for research. So, I decided that one day I would conduct primary research in that speciality to contribute to the growing body of knowledge. My PhD research is based on the management of pain in cancer patients, and I am super excited that this study will lead to generating a substantive theory of cancer pain management among New Zealand nurses. I'm hoping that it will lead me to conduct translational research in the future.

Studying for my PhD has been an amazing journey so far and I still feel excited about the days ahead, knowing fully well that high and low moments are inevitable, with looming deadlines and an extensive project at hand. I would say that I have been lucky to be under the supervision of such highly resourceful and knowledgeable scholars who are always willing to support me on this journey. Sharing their knowledge and guiding and providing me with their feedback has been a real highlight.

Carlos Smith DiazCarlos Smith Diaz image

Doctor of Philosophy candidate (Biomedical Sciences)

As a young 17-year-old, I was unsure of what to study, but I knew I wanted a real academic challenge – so I completed a Bachelor of Laws (with Honours) and a Bachelor of Biomedical Science in Molecular Pharmacology and Medicinal Chemistry. Following the completion of my undergraduate studies, I gained admission to the bar and worked as a lawyer at a big firm for two years. However, I found myself missing the world of science and medical research. In 2020, I completed my BBiomedSc(Hons) degree at the University of Otago, Christchurch campus and subsequently enrolled in the PhD programme.

My PhD is focused on understanding the role of vitamin C in health and disease. My research involves a combination of both laboratory work and computational biology / bioinformatics. The culture at the Centre for Free Radical Research, where I'm based, is superb. We have regular meetings and morning teas which helps build a nice sense of community.

A big advantage of studying at the Christchurch campus is its location. Christchurch is a beautiful city with superb access to the outdoors. The Christchurch campus is a short drive (or bike ride) from both the Port Hills and the ocean. Christchurch also has a fantastic sporting culture and is full of parks – so it's the perfect place to live if you like sports and the outdoors.

Cara Meredith Cara Meredith image

Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha

Doctor of Philosophy candidate (Māori and Indigenous Health Innovation (MIHI))

My PhD is focused on Māori perinatal mental health. Postnatal depression and anxiety are common and significant issues for new parents in Aotearoa, and as a midwife working in the community it was challenging to find adequate and timely support for the whānau I worked with. Mental health does not discriminate, and whānau from all ethnicities and backgrounds are affected. However this is yet another area of health where Māori whānau are over-represented in poor outcomes and under-served by services.

I chose Otago as the place to study for a PhD in part due to its strong reputation but mainly due to the support and encouragement that the team at MIHI showed me from the very beginning, when – at the end of my master's study – I first tentatively started thinking and enquiring about undertaking a PhD.

The team at MIHI were open to my questions and took the time to offer guidance and advice. Through talking to them I realised I would be in safe hands and well supported, but also challenged to grow and develop as a researcher. Being part of a strong team of Māori academics and researchers who are all committed and passionate about Māori health is an absolute advantage (and joy) – and an opportunity and privilege that I am very grateful for. I am already learning so much from the whole team at MIHI. Of course, the opportunity to study in Ōtautahi has other advantages, as this is where my home and family are!

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