Victoria Farmer’s globe-trotting childhood in Colombia, England, New Zealand, Angola, then Rio de Janeiro, means she’s tried out many exotic playgrounds; now she’s studying playgrounds for her Otago Medicine PhD.
“My dad’s geology work in an international company led to my ‘gypsy’ background. My two sisters went on to study at Oxford and Cambridge, UK. Because my family are New Zealanders I looked to New Zealand. I truly thought of Otago as the oldest and most prestigious University I could choose. It’s strong in Arts and Science, with excellent teaching, and, just like Oxford and Cambridge, Otago’s in a university town.”
After achieving an Otago Microbiology Master’s, Victoria became a Senior Research Technician at what is now Otago’s Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research centre (EDOR). The group’s Director Professor Jim Mann is one of her PhD supervisors along with Associate Professors Rachael Taylor and Sheila Williams.
“People in EDOR were fantastically supportive, involving me in a huge number of research studies. They recommended that I do a PhD.
“I managed the PLAY Study pilot and then developed the two-year full intervention project as my PhD. It’s a randomised controlled trial, involving 900 children at schools in Auckland and Otago. We’re investigating the schools’ play environment to see if changing the environment, rules and equipment to increase risk and challenge, for example bringing back bullrush and climbing trees, increases activity and reduces weight and bullying.
“As both Project Manager and PhD student, I’ve acquired so many essential research skills.”
Victoria would like to continue researching at Otago if at all possible.
“It has so many research disciplines and people collaborating across disciplines. I can just walk across to Human Nutrition, Medicine and Preventive and Social Medicine, so it’s easy to access those people and their skills. You can really succeed here.”