Dr. Reece Miller

Current position: Postdoc (Jan 2016 - present) with Professor Nils Metzler-Nolte (Bochum University, Germany)

PhD: at the University of Otago with Professor Sally Brooker (2012-2015)

BSc(Hons): at the University of Otago with Professor Sally Brooker (2011)

Reece racing the Luxmore Grunt on the Kepler Track.

I first started working in the Brooker group as a summer student in 2010 before undertaking my BSc(hons) research project in the following year. At the beginning of my honours year I wasn’t sure whether I would end up carrying on in research and, if I did, whether I would stay in New Zealand or head abroad. However, after a great honours project it was virtually impossible not to stay on and carry out my PhD research in the group!

In my opinion, Dunedin must be just about the best little city in the world to live in. The young population (over 20% students) gives it a true ‘student town’ feel. There are, of course, a great number of bars and restaurants that go hand in hand with this. It’s almost impossible to think of a sport, team or individual, that isn’t well catered for in Dunedin. There are excellent areas for running, mountain biking or road cycling. You can (and people do!) go hiking right from your doorstep, or alternatively, make the short trip to Te Anau to access some of New Zealand’s famous ‘great walks.’ If you’re into snow sports (if not, you will get a pretty good chance to change that), Queenstown and Wanaka are a three hour drive away.

Sally gives you a fair amount of freedom to pursue your own ideas and work towards your own goals. This is particularly true at PhD and postdoc level and is excellent for the development of both free-thought and self-motivation. On the other hand, however, Sally’s open door policy means that guidance is always available when you need it.

In the Brooker group every group member is given the opportunity to learn how to do everything at every stage of the research process. This ranges from collecting your own crystallographic, magnetic or electrochemical data right through to drafting your own manuscripts for publication. This can be a tad daunting at first but the end result is graduates that are highly sought after for their wide range of skills. There is also a great culture of senior students and post-docs training new group members and this mentoring capability, I think, is also very well received when we move on to future positions. I personally was very fortunate to have some outstanding senior group members to help me get started!

Sally is extremely thorough when it comes to proof reading and scientific communication. I’m certain this paid dividends when submitting manuscripts (particularly to higher impact journals) and applying for funding. I was fortunate enough to secure a Claude McCarthy fellowship to allow me to present results at ICCC-41 in Singapore and to visit collaborators in Europe.

I owe a lot to Sally and the rest of the group and I really feel the years I spent in Dunedin have set me up extremely well for the future.