Nick in the lab

Nicholas G. White BSc(Hons) 2007

Currently: Oxford University Trinity College Clarendon DPhil Scholarship, supervisor Professor Paul Beer (July 2009-present)

Previously: two 10 wk summer studentships (2005-6, 2006-7); 4th year Honours project (2007) and 9 months as a Research Assistant with Prof. Sally Brooker (2008);then travelling the world for 6 months prior to starting my PhD

My time in the Brooker group started with a summer research project at the end of my 2nd year, followed by another at the end of my third year and then my fourth year honours project. I then spent nine months as a research assistant with Sally in 2008.

Throughout my time in the group I was constantly encouraged by Sally's enthusiasm. She is very available to her students (particularly if you suggest going for a coffee), and I've learned a huge amount in my time in the group.

Sally's group work together very well, and I have learned a lot from various post-docs and senior PhD students, particularly Jon Kitchen. The group members are very supportive of one another and people in the group are always interested in the chemistry you are doing, and keen to help out or offer suggestions with problems.

Working in Sally's group has exposed me to a range of techniques, and a range of areas of chemistry. I've synthesised and used a wide range of ligands and used many techniques to characterise the resulting complexes. Working in the Brooker group is a really hands-on experience - you get to do lots for yourself: lots of experimental techniques, including running and refining your own X-ray crystal structures as well as writing your own paper drafts - it might seem pretty daunting at first but I think I've learned heaps from it, and it's really prepared me well for PhD study.

Another thing that Sally's group is really good for is producing publications - I think currently everyone in the group has had work published in international journals or is in the process of writing papers. Personally, I have managed to get some papers published and have found this very helpful when applying for PhD scholarships.

I've really enjoyed my time in the group: I've learned a huge amount and gone from a second-year student who wasn't even sure if they wanted to major in chemistry to someone who is now planning a career in chemistry research - mainly because of the enjoyment I've got from working in Sally's group. If I hadn't already lived in Dunedin for eight years, I'd definitely be keen to carry on and do a PhD in the Brooker group, and I'm sure I'd have a great time doing it.