Nicole Schon is a soil scientist and ecologist with AgResearch.
What do you do on an average work day?
My days can be very varied, from sitting at my desk, experimenting in a lab to digging in fields. I am involved throughout the entire research process, talking to stakeholders about the research they want, writing funding proposals, planning and conducting experiments, analysing results and communicating these at both a national and international level.
What did you study at school? And after high school?
At High School I was interested in the sciences and went on to a complete a BSc (Hons) in soil science and then a PhD investigating the response of soil invertebrates to pasture management, and their links to soil services.
Was your study directly related to what you do now?
Yes, the study that I did at both High School and University have helped me learn about the scientific process as well as different ways to communicate.
What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about their career choices right now?
Being a scientist is a rewarding career, giving you plenty of variety on a day to day basis as well as some overseas trips. If you enjoy learning you can’t go wrong in science because there is always another question waiting to be answered.
What are some of your career highlights so far?
There are many things that are rewarding in my job, this includes getting good results and publishing these in scientific journals. Some of the most rewarding experiences have been connecting with farmers, really seeing them engage with my research so that they can make informed decisions for their farming system.
Why do you believe engaging in STEM – whether it’s working in the field, studying it or just educating one’s self around the issues – is important to New Zealand?
Agriculture is essential for the New Zealand economy and science plays an integral part of this, tackling problems so that we are continually improving our farming systems to make them more efficient and environmentally friendly.
Why is it important to have more women working in STEM?
As a scientist you need to constantly be thinking about how your research links to the bigger picture and with more minds working together, the easier it is to provide solutions.
This profile is part of our series of girls and women in STEM.
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