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PhD graduate encourages Pacific peoples to pursue passion for science

Tuesday 23 August 2022 9:03am

janemainDr Jaye Moors

Dr Jaye Moors is honoured to be the first Pacific student to graduate with a PhD in Biochemistry from Otago, but she certainly hopes she’s not the last.

Dr Moors, who graduated in Dunedin on Saturday, is encouraging more Pacific students to undertake postgraduate study in sciences.

“There are not enough Pacific scientists – not in academia and not in the industry. We need a more robust presence in the field.

“So, if you’re a Pacific person who’s passionate about science, making a difference and uncovering new knowledge, and you’re a critical thinker who’s keen to learn high-end research skills, then I’d highly recommend doing a PhD.”

For her Doctorate, Dr Moors studied the genetic and environmental causes of metabolic disease in Māori and Pacific populations.

“I’m very enthusiastic about this whole idea of using genetics in order to identify genes that are important in disease, especially in understudied indigenous populations.”

Dr Moors remains based in New Zealand, working remotely for United States-based genomics company Variant Bio.

Born in New Zealand and raised in Samoa, Dr Moors’ interest in science was piqued while at school in Samoa. Her university study cemented her love of biology, and she later moved on to biochemistry due to her interest in human disease.

Dr Moors describes her PhD as “an absolute rollercoaster”, saying there were lots of peaks and troughs in terms of confidence, excitement and staying motivated.

“’An entire village’ is the best way to describe the community of people who helped and supported me on my research journey.

“My success is due to many people, including the example set by my parents and the support from my wider family and friends, especially my Nan in Samoa.”

Dr Moors is particularly thrilled members of her family, including her parents and siblings, were there to see her cross the stage on Saturday.

Dr Moors also attributes her success to the support she received on campus.

“I was lucky to be part of a great research environment with excellent supervisors and mentors. I’ve been able to establish great networks and learn high-end research and communication skills.

“And it really is great to be able to uncover and contribute new knowledge to the world of science.”

- Kōrero by Andrea Jones