Cawthron scholarship exploring Antarctic microalgae inspires future learning


23 April 2024

One of Cawthron’s most recent scholarship students spent the summer delving into the fascinating realm of microalgae sourced from Antarctic fast-ice and platelet ice and says her experience has fuelled her passion for further learning.

Emerging Scientist Scholarship recipient, Nicole Parnell from Lincoln University, worked primarily with Cawthron’s Marine Molecular Biologist Jacqui Stuart, to characterise and better understand some of the microalgae living in the fast-ice and platelet ice of samples from McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. “From molecular work to growth experiments, Jacqui guided me in developing new skills and deepening my understanding of these tiny superheroes,” said Nicole.

“Working alongside skilful, dedicated scientists has been a privilege, and I am very grateful to have been offered this opportunity that fuels my passion for future scientific exploration.”

Reflecting on her time at Cawthron, Nicole said being a summer scholar at Cawthron Institute provided her with valuable learning opportunities and unforgettable experiences, and not just looking at microalgae but across a range of science projects. “Whether it was searching for seagrass flowers in the Waimea estuary, assisting with various mussel and oyster experiments, collecting cyanobacteria from streams in the Nelson region, each experience enriched my scientific knowledge in ways I never imagined.”

Jacqui said it was incredibly rewarding watching Nicole grow in their technical skills, adaptability, and curiosity. “Their passion for science and the marvellous microalgae is clear, and I’m confident they’ll continue to excel in their journey.”

Each year Cawthron hosts a Summer Scholarship programme which aims to support undergraduate students and provide them with research experience on real-world science projects. During the 2023/2024 summer, Cawthron hosted seven talented tertiary students for ten weeks. Well done to Nicole and all our 2023/2024 Summer Scholar cohort; we wish you well in your scientific careers!

Image: Cawthron Institute. Summer Scholarship recipient Nicole Parnell and Cawthron Marine Molecular Biologist Jacqui Stuart.

Image: Cawthron Institute. Nicole Parnell looking at samples under microscope.

Image: Cawthron Institute. Summer Scholarship students collecting seagrass samples.

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