Using the same technology you see on CSI, Natalie Harfoot examines a new set of samples. But her research is unique and has much greater implications than a Miami murder. Natalie is investigating differences in the way the possum intestine works, compared to other animals, so that a species-specific poison may be developed to control New Zealand's number one pest.
Natalie chose a PhD project in physiology because of her interest in applied, practical science, and because she wanted to help find a safer method for possum control.
And she chose the University of Otago because, "The group I'm working with are the people to be working with in this field". Her group of University and AgResearch colleagues is one of several around the country contributing to a national programme whose aim is to manage the possum population in New Zealand.
Now she's here, she admits it will be sad to leave. "I really love Dunedin! I like the small-town feel to it, and it's got everything you need. It's a beautiful place to live! The University has a wide variety of specialised subjects available, and there's amazing internationally-recognised research being carried out right here."
While her research topic is specific, the skills she's gained could take her almost anywhere - from agriculture to biotechnology, or forensics and medical research. Natalie aims to hone her research skills by securing a postdoc and continuing working in a lab, "teaming up with leading scientists and exchanging ideas, testing new theories and discovering interesting things that no one else has ever seen".