General news

Fran Hills enjoying work in the lab
11 January 2017

The future is bright for this budding Nelson scientist

As Francesca Hills prepares for University she reflects on her passion for science, something she believes has been developed by her teachers at Nelson College for Girls and time spent with Cawthron Institute scientists.

Last year Fran participated in a Cawthron sponsored workshop as part of her NCEA Biology course and said it was an “eye-opener and allowed me to get fully immersed in real science.

I loved work in a purpose-built lab with equipment not available in a school environment, and meeting Cawthron scientists. Experiencing science first-hand has inspired me and I am looking forward to the next step in my science career.”

Cawthron runs the workshops in collaboration with the University of OtagoSanford Ltd (SpatNZ) and NMIT

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Charles Eason, Chief Executive of Cawthron Institute, said that community education is a way for people of all ages to interact with experts at the top of their fields in science. He also views it as a way for Cawthron to give back to the community.

He comments that “Nelson philanthropist, Thomas Cawthron, had a vision that science could contribute to the growth of New Zealand. Through young women like Francesca Hills we continue to see that vision realised.” 

Fran has also competed in the Cawthron Science and Technology Fair three years straight and is encouraging younger students to get involved. Fran said that any aspiring scientist “should definitely enter. It is a fantastic opportunity to undertake a project or investigation and really expand yourself.”  

The Fair is a celebration of science for primary and secondary school students in the Nelson Tasman region and will be open again this year. It aims to encourage students to learn skills that include data analysis, statistics, and communication.

Francesca won the Gold Science Award at the 2016 Cawthron Science and Technology Fair

From this base Fran’s interest in science has grown and six months ago she was one of six New Zealand secondary school students, chosen by the Royal Society of New Zealand to attend the two-week residential conference London International Youth Science Forum held at the Imperial College in London.

The Forum attracted 500 of the world's young scientists aged 17-21 years old from over 65 countries.

Fran describes the overseas experience as “the best three weeks of my life so far. A highlight of the trip was the specialised lectures I attended. My favourite was one by Dr Lucy Throne on the secret to a successful virus. This topic is closely related to the career I wish to have.”

Fran is very grateful to the many people from the Nelson-Tasman community and the Royal Society, who sponsored her trip.

She is currently involved in local Climate Change research before heading to University in February.

For more information
Contact Nicole Taber or go to the Community & Education page.