Propelled by quality research


Sagar Datir recommends New Zealand as a preferable destination of studying abroad for its quality education system with good faculties and guidance

Doing a PhD in New Zealand has not only allowed me to pursue some interesting research, but also to discover elements of the Kiwi way of life that I have been able to take home to India.

I chose biotechnology as the subject area for my PhD because I had identified it as an important topic for the future. My project was particularly interesting and hopefully beneficial for New Zealand. I looked at how to increase the storage life of potatoes at cold temperatures and worked on my solution at the Plant and Food Research Institute to help develop and implement good potato breeding lines.

Potatoes are increasingly consumed in the form of processed foodstuffs such as French fries and crisps. After harvest, potatoes need to be kept at low temperature to prevent sprouting during storage for year-round processing. However, tubers accumulate reducing sugars at low temperatures, a phenomenon referred to as cold-induced sweetening.

The processing of these high sugar potatoes into crisps or fries leads to a dark brown to black product that renders them unfit for human consumption and causes a great loss to the processing industry. There are particular genes responsible for this process and my task was to identify some of those genes and use bio-technology to fix this.

After submission of PhD thesis in October 2011, I found a role that allowed me to explore research on a different crop. I worked for six months as a research associate for the Plant & Food Research Institute near Lincoln on a barley breeding project. The research experience I gained during my PhD was really relevant for this role.

My biotechnological research experience has provided me with a strong foundation to progress his research and career, both here in New Zealand and anywhere else opportunities arise.

With an agricultural theme to my PhD, I chose New Zealand for its strong agricultural associations. I chose New Zealand for a number of reasons. education-wise it’s very good, particularly for agricultural research.

I arrived at Lincoln University in April 2007 to do my PhD and received my first scholarship from the University in the first year. I then successfully applied for a New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarship, funded by the New Zealand Government and administered by Education New Zealand.

People I met and the University welcomed me well when I arrived in the country. My supervisors were very supportive and always encouraged me during my PhD. They were the ones who taught me how to conduct research. My part-time job at the University café also taught me a few new skills that have come in handy. I was offered a job at the cafe without any prior knowledge and I learned a lot there, including working in a systematic way and cooking.

I really enjoyed studying in New Zealand, for its beautiful nature of course, but also for its people. The University had great programs for international students such as international nights. Lincoln is a small town and far from the city, which appealed to me. It also has good research facilities and there are lots of research institutes surrounding Lincoln.

Quality research and access to conferences are two things about studying in New Zealand that stood out to me. I attended several conferences and have been able to publish good research papers. I wouldn’t have been able to do this that easily in India.
Whenever I tell people I have a New Zealand PhD in interviews, they don’t really ask any further questions. In fact, people ask why I came back to India.

I would like to conduct further research and am looking for scholarships to help me to do this. I would like to go back to New Zealand to continue my research.

New Zealand education has taught me to think positively in life, be more hard-working and also change my eating habits. Apart from studies, I have some particular “Kiwi” memories that I will be able to treasure.

My favourite thing was puddings, especially pavlova with ice cream. I’ll miss Pak’nSave too, the great food deals like the $10 chicken packs.

I loved the landscape and nature. On a trip to Queenstown, I went up the gondola, had a jetboat ride and traveled in an old 1960s British double decker bus. It’s a beautiful place.

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