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Academic awards for 2019 Biochemistry students

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

The Otago Department of Biochemistry is proud to announce the winners of the 2019 student academic awards.

Each year, the Department awards prizes to outstanding students, encouraging them to continue research careers within biochemistry. The prizes are funded by generous donations from former staff, students, and their families.

Five students have been awarded prizes for their impressive efforts in the 2019 academic year: 

Jennifer Palmer

Jennifer Palmer

The Edson Prize in Biochemistry - for the student in the 300-level class who has reached the highest attainment in biochemistry.

Jennifer grew up in Whangaparaoa, where she attended Orewa College. She first enrolled in a BSc in Neuroscience at Otago, then found she was really enjoying biochemistry, and realised that many of our breakthroughs in health and disease are due to investigations into molecular interactions, so added biochemistry as a second major. Currently completing a summer research project with Associate Professors Steph Hughes and Peter Mace, she plans to stay in the neurodegenerative and lysosomal diseases lab to investigate the movement of lysosomal (cell recycling factories) in neurons, a process that dysfunctions in neurodegeneration. Outside of biochemistry, Jennifer enjoys tramping, mountaineering, and tall ship sailing.

Helena Cooper

Helena Cooper

The Edson Prize in Biochemistry - for the student in the 400-level BSc(Hons) class who has reached the highest attainment in biochemistry.

Helena went to high school at Bethlehem College in Tauranga and her main interest is in music, which has meant she has been a member of numerous bands and choirs. Helena has always been passionate about science and particularly enjoyed chemistry and math during high school, which led her to continue studying science at university. During her second year at university she realised that she found the topics from the biochemistry papers to be the most interesting to study and learn about, which meant that she changed to majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Mathematics.

Sarah Robinson

Sarah Robinson

Joint winner of the Petersen Prize - for the student(s) who have shown the greatest promise for original research in biochemistry in the 400-level class.

Sarah attended Tauranga Girls' College before moving down to Dunedin in 2016 to begin her studies at the University of Otago, where she discovered a passion for biochemistry and molecular biology. After finishing her Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, Sarah transferred to the Department of Biochemistry where she completed her honours degree under the supervision of Dr Andrew Cridge. While the Biochemistry Department has become a second home for Sarah, when she is not in the lab, Sarah enjoys spending time with friends, and getting involved in any sport she can find.

Jasper Struwig Jasper Struwig

Joint winner of the Petersen Prize - for the student(s) who have shown the greatest promise for original research in biochemistry in the 400-level class.

Jasper Struwig was born and grew up in South Africa, and upon finishing high school moved across the world to settle in Dunedin to commence his studies at the University of Otago. While battling his way through the torturous Health Sciences First Year he discovered a keen interest in the biochemistry paper, BIOC192, and all the fascinatingly complex molecules that came with it. This led him to pursue an undergraduate degree with the Department of Biochemistry where he learnt many valuable skills that set him up perfectly to complete an Honours degree under Dr Peter Mace. Although a steep learning curve at first, Jasper says that doing post-graduate study within the Department of Biochemistry is well worth the effort and provides countless opportunities within the world of research.

Shannon White

Shannon White

The Mervyn Smith Prize - for the student with the highest level of attainment in biochemistry in the first year MSc class.

Shannon was born in South Africa and lived in Thailand for five years before moving to sunny Nelson and attending Nelson College for Girls. Her main hobbies are music, volunteering in the community and travelling the world. She enjoyed biochemistry and plant biotechnology papers in her undergraduate degree and loved studying the first year of her master’s degree under Professor Julian Eaton-Rye. In the future Shannon hopes to continue her research and maybe one day move into the world of sustainable biofuels.

You can read more about the Department prizes and scholarships here, and look back at the names of all prize recipients through the years here.