Jessica Craig enjoyed Biology and Chemistry at secondary school, and wanted to study something similar. Coming to Otago for its "world-class reputation" and the "scarfie experience," she chose to study a wide range of science papers in her first year and go from there.
After initially struggling with the subject, she was drawn to protein biochemistry.
"Proteins are essentially molecular machines," she says. "I enjoyed learning about how their composition, structure, movements, and interactions work to carry out a particular function.
"We can utilise this knowledge of structure and function in areas from drug development to crop improvement, and more. Studying the happenings inside our cells, and seeing how the smallest irregularity can have vast and devastating consequences, really shows us how amazing life is."
Jessica says she especially liked the practical laboratory side of studying Biochemistry, particularly during her honours (fourth) year, when she worked on her own research project. She says, "although it was challenging and took a lot of time, being able to produce original results was extremely rewarding."
Jessica graduated with a First-Class Bachelor of Science with Honours (BSc(Hons)), and initially worked as a laboratory technician at a winery in Marlborough, before moving to her current job as a chemistry laboratory technician at Fonterra, in Taranaki.
She says her Biochemistry studies taught her to look critically at both her own and others’ results, and to think both logically and creatively to find ways around problems.
"The laboratory-based skills and knowledge I grained throughout my degree were also vital to pursuing a career in science," she explains.
About to head to the UK for her OE, Jessica says research is her passion. She plans to return to New Zealand to gain more experience in a research-based lab, before beginning a PhD "sometime in the not-too-distant future."