Working at Cawthron with Abby

Abby, 23, works at the Cawthron Institute as a Lab Technician. She started a year and a half ago and now mainly works in two areas.

Firstly, as a lab technician in the food chemistry lab where she’s involved in testing for nutritional labels on a variety of products. Her tasks include analysing components like protein, sugar, and various nutritional elements. The lab handles a wide range of samples, both local and international products. They also do GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) testing. This involves ensuring products meet standards set by authorities like Medsafe, guaranteeing the purity and quality of the tested items.

As Abby likes to challenge herself, she took on another role as research technician within Cawthron. Here, she collaborates with scientists on scientific and molecular projects where every day is different.

Some days involve extracting DNA to sequence and other days could be dissecting mussels. This role also involves getting out and about to do field work and collecting samples.

Abby enjoyed science at school but wasn’t really sure what jobs it could lead to but went onto study biomedical science at university.

Although she wasn’t a huge fan of chemistry she decided to take the job opportunity at Cawthron, where she discovered a deep passion for the work and absolutely loves it. Abby emphasised that while a science degree provides a foundational understanding, a lack of specific knowledge in certain areas like chemistry didn’t hinder her ability to learn and adapt to her roles.

Reflecting on her journey, Abby highlighted the continuous learning and problem solving in her job – every day brings new discoveries and challenges. She said it is really exciting and she loves it.

“We are always learning and discovering things, every day is different. And the people – everybody’s really cool, friendly, and so passionate about what they do, it’s a good team environment”

Abby enjoys the supportive culture of Cawthron, flexible hours, and that there is a strong emphasis on sustainability and work-life balance.

Abby grew up in Southland originally and now enjoys living in the Nelson Tasman region. The good weather, open-minded community and so many outdoor activities at the doorstep. She enjoys rock climbing, bike riding, hiking, and going to the beach.

She encourages others to embrace opportunities and keep an open mind. Having a good attitude and willingness to learn is also essential.