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Friday 7 March 2014 2:44pm

Claire Macindoe Claire Macindoe, PhD candidate

Otago's History department's “wonderful culture” provides an inspiring backdrop to PhD student Claire Macindoe's investigation into “The Radio Doctor” one of New Zealand's longest running health promotion services.

Receiving a University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship helped Claire take a “natural next step” from a BA (Hons) in History to undertaking a PhD thesis last year. She is looking at the use of media to convey public health messages in the twentieth century, particularly the use of radio within New Zealand and the "radio doctor”, Dr Harold Turbott.

"I was incredibly taken by the idea of people tuning in to listen to these brief health talks, …educating themselves from the comfort of their armchair"

“I wrote my Honours dissertation on the introduction of penicillin into New Zealand, a topic that arose out of a third-year paper on the History of Medicine. My current investigation sets me firmly down the path of Medical History. The impact that disease and medicine can have on a whole society, even those not directly affected, is fascinating.”

“The Radio Doctor had come up in my early research and I found him a fascinating character, so my supervisor, Professor Barbara Brookes, suggested that I should take a look at what he did. I was incredibly taken by the idea of people tuning in to listen to these brief health talks, taking notes, and educating themselves from the comfort of their armchair. It also followed on nicely from some of my Honours research, so I was easily sold.”

Dr Turbott himself noted that he began as a “Radio Doctor” before New Zealand even had penicillin, hosting the programme from 1943 until 1984 when its funding was cut, despite still being popular.

A great place to be

Claire says her research base within Otago's History Department is highly conducive to quality research.

“There is a wonderful culture among the postgraduates here. Our offices are all open plan, which I think helps provide a better atmosphere for sharing ideas and offering moral support. The staff are also supportive of students and help in any way that they can. I haven't found anyone in the department who isn't approachable or doesn't want to talk to you about your work and offer you their insights. It creates a great working environment.

“I have also been fortunate enough to do several semesters worth of tutoring for the History Department, which has been an invaluable experience and has also helped me to be more aware of how I write and communicate ideas.

“Dunedin is a great place to be a student, too. The city is so welcoming and accommodating. It's very easy to come from elsewhere in the country and immediately feel at home.”

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