Bal Timilsina

It has been a long journey from Kathmandu for Bal Timilsina of Hamilton, currently in the Honours year of a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical).

Bal moved to New Zealand from Nepal in 2011, where he had worked for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and for the International Organization for Migration, helping Bhutanese refugees in Nepal resettle into a third country.

After moving to New Zealand he worked in the outdoor equipment industry for several years, while continuing in his spare time to help refugees to resettle into their new environment and learn the English language.

Bal has always been fascinated in how things work and what could be changed to make them work differently or better. This curiosity drew him to studying science and mathematics at the University of Waikato. He has had top marks from the outset, and received the Bruce Liley Prize in Physics at the end of his first year of study, in 2014, and the Alumni Award for Academic Excellence in 2015.

His summer work placements have included a project role at Fonterra’s Te Rapa manufacturing site, working in the automation and control unit on milk powder production alongside highly qualified engineers. After completing his degree and working for several years as an engineer, Bal aims to return to study for a PhD.

Bal is married and the father of a young child. He is also a keen sportsperson, playing football, basketball and table tennis, and has managed Hamilton’s Gurkhali Football Club.

Christopher Muller

Auckland-born Chris is in the second year of his PhD in Veterinary Science and Ecology at Massey University’s Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences. His thesis is on the population ecology and foraging behaviour of, and impacts of tourism on, yellow-eyed penguins living on New Zealand’s subantarctic Auckland Islands, 465km south of Bluff.

The yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho) is endangered and one of the rarest penguin species in the world, found only in southern areas of the South Island and on subantarctic islands. It is extremely vulnerable to disturbance, habitat loss and introduced predators. Studies have been done on mainland New Zealand, but little is known about its life in the subantarctics, considered to be the stronghold of the species.

Because of the penguin’s reclusive nature, Chris’s research makes use of a wide variety of technology, including GPS tags, time depth recorders, VHF transmitters, automated receivers, thermal imaging, microchip tags, fixed trailcam and drones. He has spent two 3-month field seasons in the Auckland Islands, collecting data for his research questions. These include: determination of the population size and nesting areas; where, how and on what the adults are feeding; and impacts from predation and human-induced disturbance.

After completing his PhD, Chris plans to continue his involvement with wildlife biology as a professional researcher or in a related discipline, aiding the protection and management of New Zealand wildlife.

In addition to his research Chris spends hundreds of hours each year as a volunteer senior firefighter with the New Zealand Fire Service, with which he has served for 12 years.

Callum Hill

Twin academic interests augur a career in business and science for Callum Hill of Palmerston North, currently in the final year of a conjoint Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Science, majoring in economics and nanoscience respectively.

Callum hopes to use his keen interest in economics and policy analysis, along with his science interests of chemistry and physics, particularly nanoscience, to forge a career in which he can make a difference.

In addition to his studies, Callum is an accomplished badminton player. His involvement with this sport began when he was at intermediate school, and has grown to become a major part of his life. Drawing on his skills as an experienced age-representative player, Callum works part-time as the events coordinator for Manawatu Badminton and volunteers in the sport in many different roles as he helps to attract new generations of players. Those roles include coach of the Manawatu Badminton Under 15 representative team and president of the Massey United Badminton Club.

Callum is also a mathematics tutor for the Numberworks’nWords tutoring service, supporting children to develop and improve their mathematics skills.

After he graduates, Callum intends to start a Master of Science degree, with nanoscience as his research topic, He will follow this study with either further postgraduate research (this time about economics) or by directly embarking on a career that leverages his business and scientific skills.