Yuri Lages, left, with Fateme Mirzaee and Joke Grans, at the Welcome International Students event recently.
A common interest in biomechanics has led one University of Otago PhD candidate from Iran to Dunedin.
Fateme Mirzaee was one of about 100 who people who gathered at the Otago Business School on Wednesday last week for the University's International Student Welcome, the first such event to be held since 2020.
International students have been making their way to Otago in cohorts, as the border allows, since the start of the year.
Fateme was working as a researcher and a therapist in a hospital in Iran when she came across an article by Associate Professor Melanie Bussey, of the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences.
She realised she and Melanie had a lot in common as both women worked in biomechanics.
“She works in concussion in motor sports,” Fateme says of Melanie.
This encouraged Fateme to begin her PhD remotely through Otago University in December 2021.
Fateme, who is also a swimming coach, arrived in Dunedin in late June. She says she is “very happy to be here”.
“Everyone is kind and warm hearted and hospitable.”
PhD candidate Joke Grans was also at the welcome event.
She completed a master's degree at the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany, and joined the Department of Biochemistry at Otago for her master's thesis in 2019.
Joke says she enjoyed working with her supervisor Senior Lecturer and Rutherford Discovery Fellow Dr Sarah Diermeier and liked the lab she worked in, so was excited to start her PhD in Dr Diermeier's lab remotely from Germany in 2021.
The pair designed Joke's research so she could complete the computational part of her project before arriving in Dunedin.
“Sarah supported me really well. She is a one-in-a-million supervisor.”
Another thing Joke liked about Dunedin was that she could go from working in the lab to the beach “where you can free your mind a little bit”.
“I feel that's a really unique opportunity when you are doing a PhD, which can be quite challenging.”
Kōrero by Koren Allpress, Internal Communications Adviser