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Meet Our Scholars & Fellows

Grant McKenzie: Postdoctoral Fellow

Grant, a graduate from both the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University, is completing a Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by the New Zealand Wool Industry Charitable Trust, investigating potential gene markers for wool trait consistency. After spending some time researching breast cancer at the Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Grant has returned to Lincoln University to pursue his interest in wool.

"I have always been passionate about the outdoors whether it be walking in the hills or fishing for an elusive trout. Part of the reason I went to Lincoln University was the opportunity to complete my PhD, which was a mix of laboratory work and spending time outdoors collecting wool and DNA samples."

"The overall aim of my project is to provide farmers with DNA based tools that they can use in conjunction with conventional selection methods to improve the quality and consistency of wool."

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Henning Koehn: Postdoctoral Fellow

"I spent much of my time as boy on the farm of my grandfather and uncle and have had a keen interest in agriculture and farming ever since."

Henning first came to New Zealand in 2002 after being awarded a Massey University doctoral scholarship to study towards a PhD in biochemistry. After completing his PhD studies in 2005, Henning worked at the Prince Henry’s Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, gaining further research experience and skills in protein chemistry.

He has since been awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand to undertake studies aimed at elucidating the protein composition of the wool cuticle (the outer layer of the wool fibre), which are being carried out at AgResearch, Lincoln. The outcome of this research will improve not only our understanding of how particular proteins contribute to wool fibre characteristics, but may also provide new ways of specifically targeting and modifying these proteins in order to generate new or improved fibre properties.

"When I was given the opportunity to come back to New Zealand I did not think twice. The chance of making a real contribution in a field so pivotal to New Zealand's economic well-being, and being able to apply my scientific skills at the same time, is very exciting."

"For a product to have been around for such a long time, there are still a lot of unanswered question, at least from a scientific point of view. Finding answers to some of these questions may well hold the key to making wool into an even more attractive product."

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Jagannath Aryal: Postgraduate Scholar

"I always keen to understand the behaviour of natural phenomena. I was working with some other data sets in Otago University when I became aware of the modelling of New Zealand wool clip data and when the Wool Industry Charitable Trust scholarship opportunity came up it was an easy decision."

Jagannath, a native Nepalese who has lived in New Zealand for four years, is in first year of his three-year PhD and is developing the integrative system model of the New Zealand wool clip. The development of system model will help to understand the governing principles of mathematics which are poorly understood by the key players of wool industry. Jagannath has Bachelor and Masters degrees in informatics and now is carrying out his PhD study at the Centre for Advanced Computational Solutions (C-f-ACS) in Lincoln University.

"Hopefully my research will get through to the commercial stage so that the key players can achieve efficiency gains in their businesses and ultimately provide better returns to wool growers."

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Hamish Murray: Postgraduate Scholar

Hamish grew up on a high country farm in the Marlborough region and has always had an interest in farming and the outdoors. He attended Lincoln University studying a BComAg for three years before taking a job with the New Zealand Merino Company as a research assistant which included preparation of an eco benchmarking report looking at various eco-accreditation schemes assessing standards both overseas and in New Zealand.

The Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand Scholarship is supporting him in undertaking a degree leading to a Masterate in Economics at Cambridge University. As part of his scholarship programme he has undertaken a project on sustainability and the European wool industry for the Wool Industry Network.

On completion of his qualification Hamish wants to pursue a career where he can make a contribution the New Zealand agricultural industry especially in export market activities.

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Anita Hancock: Postgraduate Scholar

Anita has been awarded a Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand scholarship to perform research toward a PhD at AgResearch Ltd through Lincoln University, where she earlier obtained a 1st class Honours BSc in biochemistry. Her research project is on protein damage in New Zealand carpet wools, long title 'Novel proteomic-based approaches to the characterisation and quantification of protein damage in New Zealand carpet wools'.

"I developed an interest in protein behaviour during my studies in biochemistry at Lincoln University, before specialising in wool fibre proteomics and wool chemistry as a research technician at Canesis (wool research and textile technology organisation) and at the Crown Research Institute, AgResearch. Having thus developed a curiosity about the characteristics and behaviour of the proteins responsible for wool’s tensile and visual properties, fundamental wool research now interests me enough to build a career in the industry.

"The PhD scholarships has provided me with the opportunity to conduct a research project investigating protein damage in New Zealand carpet wools. We hope to increase our understanding of the processes involved in wool damage, so that future approaches to minimising damage can be more targeted, generating improved market perception of New Zealand wool products with corresponding increases in profit for our producers and processors."

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