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Taylor Cooney, BSc, PGDipSci: building science start-ups to help save the planet

Taylor Cooney
Taylor Cooney.

After completing science degrees at Otago and her PhD at Victoria University of Wellington, where she focussed on a novel therapeutic treatment for cancer, Taylor decided she wanted to help take innovative science from the lab into the community. She is also passionate about encouraging children in STEM subjects, regularly giving talks at schools and judging science fairs.

questions and answer 'Q What was your reaction to receiving the award, and what does it mean to you?

I was hugely honoured and surprised to receive the award. It was incredibly special to receive as I have such fond memories of my time at Otago. It was an amazing feeling to be valued and supported by the alumni community for my mahi.

questions and answer 'Q What have you done since graduation and what are you doing now?

I completed a PhD through the Maurice Wilkins Centre at Victoria University of Wellington in the development and testing of a novel therapeutic cancer treatment. Following this I completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Ferrier Research Institute in Lower Hutt. I now work in Copenhagen for a not-for-profit helping to create start-up companies from innovative science in universities.

questions and answer 'Q What inspires and motivates you to work in the areas you are involved with? Do you have plans for the future?

Throughout my studies I realised I’m passionate about saving the planet. I truly believe there is so much good science out there that can help us do so. I’m motivated to find that and ensure I’m able to get talented scientists to develop their work into solutions that make it out of the lab and can benefit people and society. In the future I’d love to bring my skills and knowledge back to New Zealand and focus on strengthening the start-up ecosystem here.

questions and answer 'Q What were the highlights of your time at Otago and has it helped you in your career and in following your interests?

My time at Otago was filled with so many great memories and built some of my closest friendships. Even though we’re now spread out all over New Zealand and across the globe, the world feels much smaller when you have friends everywhere. I have many fond memories from my years in Cumberland College as a resident and a Residential Assistant, the Otago University Rowing Club, and the wider academic community.

During my PhD at Victoria, I spent a lot of time speaking with and encouraging interested school students to pursue careers in science. I love working with people, so my career now combines both my love for science and learning new things, and my love for people!

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