The Ministry works with many Pasifika people who are already working in STEM related fields like Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu and Tulele Masoe.
Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu is a trained biomedical scientist working as an academic for Victoria University in Wellington (VUW) with an interest in the manipulation of immune responses against cancer and the immunology of Rheumatic Fever.
She lectures and coordinates courses in postgraduate Pharmacology and Pathophysiology at the Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health (GSNMH) based at Wellington Hospital and also teaches undergraduate Pharmacology for biomedical science students at the School of Biological Sciences VUW.
She was the recipient of national and international awards associated with her PhD research which included the MacDiarmid New Zealand Young Scientist of the Year (Advancing Human Health & Wellbeing category), Colmar Brunton Research Excellence Award, Australasian Society of Immunology BD Science Communication award, Australasian Society of Immunology PhD speaking award (NZ Branch) among others.
Of Tongan descent, Dr Sika-Paotonu says “the Toloa Scholarships are a great opportunity for Pacific students to study science and lead the world in positive change”.
Tulele Masoe is a Pacific STEM star with a science brain and two degrees under his belt.
Having graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Science- Applied Mathematics and a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) – Civil Engineering, he is one young man on a mission to get our Pacific kids learning science.
In his role as an intern at SouthSci (a project aimed at connecting South Auckland communities with science, by supporting them to develop research projects around questions that matter to them) he is hoping to spread the word to our Pacific youth – “science is cool.”