Meet Kate Sparks

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Job: 

PhD student.

Job description: 

Lab work. A lot of lab work. And starfish!

Work background: 

I grew up and studied marine biology in England, and briefly worked as a marine phytoplankton ecologist before travelling to New Zealand to study further and pursue my love of the sea.

Favourite part of job: 

Getting to work with such cool, cute animals and travelling to amazing places to work. My field has taken me to Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Antarctica and France, and I’m sure will take me many more interesting places before I’m done.

Least favourite part of job: 

Cleaning up afterwards!

What I am working on now: 

Respiration and metabolism experiments with adult sea stars in response to ocean acidification and warming, as part of my PhD.

A quick story about a job well done: 

I spent six months as one of only a handful of scientists living and working on a tiny island in the Atlantic. During that time I had a whole heap of work to do both taking new samples and archiving and analysing old ones. I got all the work done just in time for the station to close before the winter, despite the cows, sheep, flaming kitchens, seagulls and near-constant storms!

A (humorous) story about a job that went badly and what you learned: 

Is there a single marine scientist who doesn’t have a sea-sickness story hidden in their murky past somewhere? 

Qualifications: 
  • Masters of Science - Marine Biology, Universtiy of Southampton, UK
  • PhD student, University of Otago
Interests outside work: 

Tramping, stargazing, reading, cooking and discovering new parts of New Zealand.


Meet Kate Sparks, a PhD student at Otago University.