Sample testing research earns doctorate

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014

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A cup of tea was just what the doctor ordered for Taranaki's latest academic success story.

Former Waitara High School student Karl Fraser has recently finished his PhD study and will be conferred with his doctorate at a ceremony at the University of Auckland in September.

This achievement follows hot on the heels of three other academics: Dr Rebecca Wirihana, Dr Ruakere Hond and Dr Acushla Dee O'Carroll, who received their doctorates in May from Massey University.

Fraser, who has worked for the past 20 years at AgResearch, said he was pleased to finish the three-year study programme.

"It's been a lot of work, but it is a very rewarding feeling to have completed it," he said.

His PhD research looked at developing methods to measure as many compounds as possible from plant samples, with a particular focus on tea.

His decision to study tea arose out of the fact that samples were accessible in large numbers from all over the world and because there was a large body of existing research that he could not only refer to but add to through his work.

The Palmerston North based Mass Spectrometry lab where Fraser works is one of the biggest in Australasia and has a particular expertise in the area of metabolomics, which is the measurement of metabolites in biological samples.

Fraser said the work they were doing had applications for plant and animal production as well as for animal and human health, but was still a relatively new field of science.

Science has always appealed to the father of two. During his secondary school years he decided to major in chemistry and he studied towards his Bachelor of Science degree at Massey University, which he completed in 1994. Since then he has authored and co-authored more than 50 published research articles and has been involved in a number of projects.

The main aspect he loved about science was its "diverse application" in everyday life, from the development of life saving drugs to enhancing the way food tastes.

He said his PhD also provided him with new work opportunities.

"One thing I am excited about in the future is getting involved in project leadership," the 41-year-old said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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