Bram Soliman in the Port Hills overlooking Christchurch's backyard.
What are you currently studying?
I am a PhD candidate working towards a degree in biochemical engineering. I am part of the Christchurch Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering group in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Otago, Christchurch?
Coming from the explorer-culture of the Netherlands, I’ve always wanted to experience the world’s incredible scenery for myself and get in touch with different cultures.
Initially, I came to Christchurch for an internship during my previous degree. During that time, I got to experience the friendly nature of Kiwi’s, the incredible and diverse nature around, and the excellence of the research being conducted on the campus.
I was, and am, stoked to have the opportunity to come back.
What is your previous degree?
I completed a Master of Regenerative Medicine and Technology through Utrecht University, and before that, a Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Why did you choose to study biochemical engineering?
During my PhD candidacy, I develop and test new technological platforms such as 3D printing to engineer materials that can push stem cells to form osteochondral tissue. In this way, I hope to contribute to the overall goal of the research community, which is to engineer patient-specific tissue substitutes.
The ways patient-specific tissues could benefit human health are numerous: using them as implants could help or even absolve the issues around organ donor shortage, tissues could be used as disease models to test drugs, maybe even replace animal models during drug development. These are just a few possibilities, but it is truly exciting to be at the forefront of these developments.
What are you enjoying about your studies?
The campus brings together all sorts of people: staff and students, PhD candidates and students of undergrad studies such as Medicine, Nursing and Physiotherapy, and Kiwi’s and internationals. Everyone is open and willing to work together.
Within our own department, for example, surgeons and scientists meet and discuss healthcare and research, allowing us to tackle issues from multiple unique perspectives.
Being part of the whole community is very enjoyable.
What do you think your Otago qualification will take you?
I love working as a scientist. Working in the laboratory is great, but daily life as a scientist is so much more than that. There is a huge social component in discussing results with co-workers, presenting work at international conferences around the world and talking to funders, patients and healthcare specialists.
I can see myself venturing further into all of these aspects of science.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of studying at Otago?
Otago offers various subject disciplines. Your choice to study at Otago is one where you have the opportunity to explore many different directions, and experience how these areas interact with each other to progress healthcare and innovation for everyone.
Don't limit yourself, and keep that open mind.