18 April 2019

Forging a New Path to Help Save the World’s Oceans | Study With New Zealand

Alexandra Lischka
German PhD Student

There are so many problems facing our marine environment, and I want to help solve them.

I’m an adventurous person, and I’ve travelled widely exploring the world’s oceans.

I chose New Zealand for my PhD studies because I believe the high standard of marine research here will give me the skills to achieve my long-term ambition, which is to help more people understand the importance of the oceans to the healthy functioning of the planet.

I’d like to educate people about the oceans: not just the bad things, like pollution, but the good things, like the amazing diversity of species.

I first came to New Zealand because I wanted to consult Dr Kat Bostad, a deep-sea squid biologist, about a species of squid I discovered on a field trip to the Sargasso Sea while I was studying for my master’s degree in Germany.

Kat is a world expert on classifying squid, so I packed a bag full of squid samples and flew to New Zealand to consult her.

I spent three months in New Zealand researching my squid, and one of them turned out to be a species that had never been described before. I had such a great experience here that I’m now studying for a PhD at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), with Kat as my primary supervisor.

It’s wonderful to have strong, confident female role models in science. Kat inspires me and has helped me to become a better scientist.

I’ve always been a driven person, and studying in New Zealand has made me even more determined to achieve my goals.

I’ve found many advantages to studying in New Zealand. Here are my top six:

  1. I’ve discovered a practical, hands-on way to learn. The style of teaching is more hands-on, and people are very innovative. In the lab, we build lots of things ourselves. When I was analysing mercury one day and needed a piece of equipment we didn’t have, we made it ourselves rather than buying it. That do-it-yourself way of thinking has taught me a lot.
  2. I’m encouraged to think differently. Lecturers here encourage students to think critically and analytically. We’re also encouraged to broaden our horizons and think outside our field.
  3. I’ve become more globally connected. Kat is very well respected and has contacts around the world. I’m now part of a global network of marine biology experts, which gives me more outreach for my own science.
  4. I’m living among people who are open-minded and inclusive. New Zealanders take people’s values into account, and are really welcoming and easy-going.
  5. I’ve joined a national network of experts. The marine research happening in New Zealand is of a global standard, and there’s a really good network of supportive scientists. I was given the opportunity to present my research at a national marine science conference in Christchurch, and people were very friendly, helpful and receptive to my work.
  6. I have more opportunities to enjoy nature. New Zealand education promotes thinking about sustainability and the environment. I’ve made many friends here, and they all have a very eco-friendly approach. We spend lots of time in the outdoors, rock climbing and mountaineering. And there’s so much ocean to explore!
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About the contributors
Alexandra Lischka
German PhD Student

Alexandra Lischka, from Germany, is studying at Auckland University of Technology (AUT). Her PhD studies involve assessing heavy metals in squids and pilot whales. Alexandra loves exploring New Zealand’s marine environment, which is a global hotspot for incredible species of squid.