University of Otago, New Zealand

Chemistry

Te Tari Hua-Ruanuku

MSc Graduate Profiles

Anthony Butcher

MSc in Chemistry
Analytical chemist, New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd, Tiwai Point

I remember sitting in a first-year chemistry lab, and one of the lecturers was telling us about the areas of chemistry we could enter, and mentioned Freshwater and Marine Chemistry.

I was blown away.  I didn’t even know that subjects like that existed.  I’d heard of marine biology, but chemistry?!  But it makes sense really, when you consider how significant water is to New Zealand’s economy and lifestyle, that we should be thinking about things like the levels of heavy metals that it contains.

The subject really captured my imagination, and I ended up doing a masters thesis on the cadmium-binding protein found in Bluff oysters.  Forget images of chemists huddled over test tubes in the labs, I have collected samples in six-metre swells and 60 knot winds on the Chatham Rise!

Now I’m an analytical chemist working at Tiwai Point, and a large part of my work is still environmental monitoring.  I love the diversity in my job.  On any one day I could be out in the workplace collecting samples, in the lab analysing them, or sitting behind a computer writing reports.  And once a month I have to scale a 137-metre chimney to measure gas emissions!

Victoria Stevens (née Baird)

MSc in Chemistry
Hazardous substances adviser, ERMA

I completed my MSc in marine chemistry and complemented this with some environmental science papers.  I am now a Hazardous Substances Adviser at the New Zealand Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA).  We are responsible for administering the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (1996).

My current responsibilities with the Science Group include the transfer of toxic substance notifications into the transitional provisions of the Act.  I am also involved with the risk assessment of the explosive, flammable, oxidizing, corrosive, toxic and eco-toxic properties of a hazardous substance.

A chemistry degree relates closely to an understanding of these properties and their applications for industry and research.  It also provided me with much practice in systematic and analytical approaches to problem solving.

Kim McGrouther

MSc in Chemistry
Research chemist, Forest Research, Rotorua

Following my Masters degree I completed a Diploma in pulp and paper technology.  This gave an applied background to my chemistry degree.

My current job draws heavily on both degrees in that I need to understand the interaction of bleach chemicals with lignin and cellulose.  The trend towards oxygen-based chemicals such as peroxides mean that transition-metal chemistry is required.