MacDiarmid star launches scholarship - and next generation scientists

5 September 2008

Fresh from her success in the MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards, Scion’s Dr Tripti Singh is now lending a helping hand to start the scientists of tomorrow along their career paths.

Tripti, who achieved the runner-up award in the Adding Value to Nature category of the recent MacDiarmid competition, is helping launch this year’s Scion Suffrage Centennial Scholarship, an annual award aimed at Rotorua’s young female science students.

The scholarship promotes excellence in science and that science is a valid and rewarding career choice for women.

Tripti and fellow scientists Dr Chistine Todoroki, Dr Kate Parker and Ms Katrin Walbert will be opening applications for this year’s scholarship by hosting a delegation of potential scholarship applicants from the region’s secondary schools.

In an afternoon of talks and demonstrations, the students will be given the opportunity to question the scientists about the scholarship and career prospects, and to see some of Scion’s research work in action.

“I am passionate about science, and see it as my duty to encourage students at various stages of their learning to pursue a career in science,” says Tripti.  

“One of my interests is to help children at all levels of pre-university schooling realise that science learning can be fun. There is a range of effective methods to do this, but one of the simplest is to show them my lab and the work I do.    

Katrin Walbert says promoting science to youngsters is important for the evolution of the profession.

“We need more young blood,” Katrin says. “Young ones must be fostered to get new faces into science, which brings new life and new ideas into research and development.

“Science is a great career choice. There is a huge variety of work, you never do the same thing, and there is always room for improvement and change.”

Dr Christine Todoroki sees encouraging women into science as particularly significant.

“Great progress has been made in recent years to engage and retain women in the sciences, but there is still scope for improvement,” she says.

“There is an imbalance within Scion itself in male to female scientists, and that’s one thing the scholarship seeks to address.

“Women bring a unique perspective to research and development, and they make a huge contribution to getting a balanced approach in projects and to science excellence.

 “When we talk about excellence, we view it in the widest possible sense. Students should not be discouraged from entering the scholarship if they are not the very top achievers within their academic career. We base our decision on a variety of criteria, such as contribution to the school and wider community and future study and career ambitions. We are looking for a well-rounded individual.”

Tripti will also be joining Christine and Dr Julia Charity on this year’s scholarship judging panel.

The scholarship was first introduced in 1993 as part of New Zealand’s Suffrage Centennial celebrations. It is open to all female senior students living in Rotorua and attending a secondary school in the Bay of Plenty. The applicants must be intending to undertake a degree course commencing in 2009 in the pure or applied sciences, with career options arising from those studies which could potentially benefit Scion’s research and development areas of forestry, sustainable design or the biomaterials industries.

The awardee receives $2,000 towards tuition fees, but what Scion believes is unique and the most valuable aspect of the scholarship is that the student will have summer vacation work at the Crown Research Institute for the duration of their undergraduate studies. This gives students invaluable experience working on real science projects, and is an impressive addition to their curriculum vitae.

Applications for 2008 are open from Monday 8 September. The closing date for entries is 5pm Monday 20 October 2008.

For more information and an application form for this year’s Scion Suffrage Centennial Scholarship, visit Scion’s website: