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The Bay of Plenty Education Trust now has a LinkedIn page.

Simply called, Bay of Plenty Education Trust, the page is yet another way the Trust would like to keep in touch with alumni.

Please take a minute to follow the page and let’s see where this may lead.

We’d love to hear from you with any idea of how this professional social networking platform can be used to the maximum benefit of alumni. Simply contact us below.

We’re all for alumni forging connections amongst each other and already know LinkedIn is a great way to create connections in general to benefit business and professional growth and to engage with thought leaders.

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Mackenzie   Lovegrove

Scholarship assisted at launch of a long learning journey

Aphids, fruit flies, blowflies, bumble bees and honeybees…there’s not much Dr Mackenzie Lovegrove doesn’t know about these.

The same can be said about her know-how concerning pests and diseases plaguing agricultural crops.

Plenty of knowledge has been amassed over the years since 2009 – the year in which this former Bethlehem College student received a BOP Education Trust Scholarship.

It all started with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science, majoring in Reproduction, Genetics and Development. With that under her belt by the end of 2012, Mackenzie then gained a first-class honours degree in Biomedical Science (with the same major).

“By this time, I had fallen in love with the work I was doing, which was studying the evolution and genetic mechanisms of how honeybees regulate their social structure and reproduction within in the hive. I stayed and worked as an assistant research fellow in the same laboratory, where I gained more experience and got to work with aphids, fruit flies, bumble bees and honeybees,” Mackenzie tells.

Her University of Otago studies then continued, with Mackenzie completing a PhD in late 2019. That study involved delving even further into how honeybee queen pheromone has evolved, what genes it regulates and how this impacts reproduction in the hive.

“By the time I finished my PhD, I had discovered that queen pheromone acts to mimic starvation in many ways - tricking the insects exposed to it into thinking they don’t have enough energy to reproduce. This furthered our understanding of evolution, and how honeybee hives function.”

Mackenzie was job seeking as a postdoctoral research fellow just as Covid started. By the end of 2020, however, she (and her partner) had moved to Hobart, Tasmania, where she took up a position studying how Australian sheep blowflies detect sheep.

“The aim was to determine the mechanism by which they find their hosts, so we could later disrupt this, and reduce flystrike. Flystrike is an awful condition, which really impacts the quality of life for the animal,” Mackenzie explains.

When the laboratory Mackenzie was working in relocated to Melbourne, she followed suit and has been there since.

Last year she was offered a position as a field and molecular scientist at a company working with eDNA (environmental DNA) – the DNA fragments that all living organisms shed (this can be collected from various sources, and tested to see which species are present.)

“Traditionally, this has been done by sampling waterways, as water is a great aggregator of eDNA. My role, however, is to do research and development into how we might expand into getting eDNA from terrestrial (on land) spaces, and even the air itself.”

Mackenzie’s focus is on pests and diseases in agricultural crops, the aim being to be able to take eDNA samples and establish monitoring and surveillance systems. This is of special value, she explains, as it can be used as an early warning system to prevent loss of yield, or to indicate when spraying is needed, reducing the insecticide load needed.

Mackenzie thoroughly enjoys the fact her job involves a “great mixture” of both field and laboratory work, as well as the opportunity to attend industry and grower forums.

“I love being able to go see interesting animals out in nature, get crafty when designing new sampling equipment, and still get back to my roots by getting back in the lab. It’s really rewarding to be working to help growers and have a positive impact on the environment,” she enthuses.

While her early university days may seem a while ago, Mackenzie clearly remembers the value of receiving a BOP Education Scholarship.

“It really helped to have some extra funds when I was young, moving away from home, and busy adjusting to a more independent life, as well as learning so much new information,” she tells.

“I was the first person in my family to attend university, so, much of that was a learning process not only for myself, but my family also.”

Trust Community Support

Trust expands its community support

If you think science kits for kids sounds like a good idea, you’ll be pleased to know the BOP Education Trust has provided funding for just such a thing.

The Western and Eastern BOP House of Science organisations each received money to purchase such kits as part of the Trust’s latest round of supplementary grant funding.
A total of $32,000 was shared amongst that organisation, The Graeme Dingle Trust and Blue Light (Tauranga and Whakatane).

The grant to the Graeme Dingle Trust enables the participation of two students in Project K, a 14-month programme for selected students with low self-confidence. The programme focuses on building confidence, teaching life skills, promoting good health and encouraging a positive attitude.

Meanwhile the grant to Blue Light paid for 10 students to attend a life skills programme which has the goal of building self-esteem, confidence and resilience. It also focuses on key skills of problem solving, critical thinking, communication, decision-making, teamwork, and coping with stress and emotions.

The BOP Education Trust introduced its supplementary grants in 2021 as a way of expanding its community support. See the Trust’s website (under the grants tab) for more information about funding rounds, opportunities, and previous recipients.

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