Dr Kirstie Goggin completed a PhD on palm oil

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Dr Kirstie Goggin travelled to Europe, meeting experts in the field and working in international labs for her PhD on palm oil. Kirstie studied the International Wildlife Biology degree at USW and enjoyed it so much, she decided to stay on to do her PhD.

Thanks to her PhD, which was ESF-funded through the KESS scheme, Kirstie has snapped up a coveted post-doctoral research associate position - her dream job!

"I submitted my PhD in October 2019 and passed my viva in December. Since then, I’ve had my official “you’ve passed” email and, I’ve been on cloud nine ever since. I feel proud that I’ve completed my PhD and can’t wait to put all the skills I learnt to use, in my new job!

My PhD focused on the development and use of new technologies to improve traceability and sustainability in the palm oil industry. The PhD provided the potential to impact conservation efforts.

The thing I loved most about doing a PhD was the ability to explore my ideas. My supervisors were great in the sense that they trusted my thoughts and allowed me to roll with them and to determine whether they would be fruitful. It meant I could slightly change the objectives of my PhD so that the results would be more topical and more relevant.

Obtaining samples of palm oil from industry was one of the many challenges I faced during my PhD. There is a lot of mistrust in the industry. Furthermore, all samples were from Malaysia, meaning I was unable to meet with people to explain how I would use them, and the importance of them. I did my work through email or Skype and used the opportunity to enhance my communication skills.

I’ve always been passionate about science and conservation, which is why I studied the BSc (Hons) International Wildlife Biology, at USW. During this time, particularly when completing my dissertation, I developed a real bug for research. I found it was something I wanted to pursue. So, I started looking for PhD studentships and found one at USW.

My undergraduate degree opened my eyes to the world of research. We were encouraged to use and hone our critical thinking skills, as well as use problem-solving based approaches. I found these skills essential for completing my PhD. Furthermore, my degree provided me with a solid foundation of knowledge for biological and technical information which I was able to draw upon in my research.

Following my PhD, I've started a post-doctoral research associate position, where I'll be optimising a blend of tea to improve levels of certain compounds which are antibacterial and have anti-cancer effects. I'm very excited to use what I've learned to make a success of this research opportunity and to continue to expand my scientific knowledge and improve my research skills."

Find out more about doing a PhD at USW