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World-renowned scientists to inspire youth forum

World-renowned scientists to inspire youth at forum

World-renowned squid expert Dr Steve O’Shea and AUT’s first PhD graduate Dr Debbie Blake say they hope to inspire some of this country’s most promising secondary school science students during their speeches at the fifteenth Genesis Research and Development Science and Technology Forum which begins on Monday, 12 January with an opening address at Auckland University of Technology.

The annual forum involves 144 of the country’s top year 12 science students who have given up two weeks of their summer holiday to find out what a career in science is all about. It is sponsored by biotechnology company Genesis Research and Development Corporation and is organised by Rotary.

Both Dr O’Shea and Dr Blake hit the headlines last year for their outstanding contributions to science.

Dr O’Shea, a senior research fellow at Auckland University of Technology, was put in the global media spotlight last year for his identification of what has been termed the colossal squid, caught in the sub-Antarctic waters of the Ross Sea, south of New Zealand.

Dr O’Shea, who will give the closing address on the final day of the forum, says the budding scientists are in the perfect position to contribute to the growing amount of scientific research being undertaken in New Zealand.

“I can testify that studying science in New Zealand can lead to an internationally respected career at the forefront of scientific research.

“A career in science is not only stimulating and rewarding, it is a whole lot of fun as well. Spending my days wallowing around in decaying colossal squid is a great way to earn a living and contribute to our knowledge of the world around us.”

Dr Blake, whose ground-breaking research into a new type of in-vitro fertilisation technique could revolutionise the world of assistive reproduction, will make the key-note speech on Monday January 12.

Although she had offers to study at top overseas universities, Dr Blake chose to give up a successful career as an embryologist for one of Europe’s leading fertility clinics, and return to New Zealand to embark on PhD study at AUT, New Zealand’s newest university.

Over the course of the forum the students will participate in intensive teaching programmes at Auckland University of Technology, the Universities of Auckland and Waikato, Massey University, UNITEC and Manukau Institute of Technology. They will also be involved with field trips and visits to research organisations where they will get first hand experience of the challenges and rewards offered by a science career and exposure to state of the art technology.

Research, Science and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson says the forum is an excellent means to encourage students towards careers in science and technology. “As we advance in the twenty-first century scientists, innovators and researchers are making significant contributions to New Zealand’s society and economy. The forum helps communicate the excitement, reward and value of a scientific career. I congratulate both the sponsors and the students involved.”

Genesis Research Chief Executive Dr. Jim Watson says the forum aims to capture the students’ enthusiasm and passion for science and technology and to show them the opportunities to participate in ground-breaking research and development here in New Zealand.

“It is important to invest in these young students who will be the future leaders of science and technology in New Zealand. Through them we can build a science culture and they can further their scientific careers here in New Zealand.”

The students arrive in Auckland on Saturday 10 January and the Forum opens with the keynote address on the morning of Monday 12 January.

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