School of Environment

Meet our students

Our students have different research interests and follow varied and exciting career paths after graduation. Meet some of our current and past students to find out about their experiences in the School of Environment.

Joshua Smith (BSc Student Geology and Geography)

Ever since I was young I’ve always had a fascination with the processes of the earth, both above and below the ground, and how they affect our lives and shape our planet. Growing up in Auckland surrounded by both volcanic cones and uplifted mountain ranges I was always keen to find out what caused these landscapes. This is why I have a great interest in plate tectonics and the forces that operate within the earth as they are a major factor behind the shaping of the topography that produces earthquakes and mountains through continental movement. From a geography point of view, I’m interested in the mapping of the earth and how the environment around us affects the natural landscape through physical processes such as climate, earthquakes and oceanography.

The University of Auckland’s School of Environment teaches a rich academic programme supported by a lot of practical work. It has enhanced and expanded my overall knowledge of geological and geographical processes. Many courses provide field trips so that you can actively experience concepts taught in the lectures through real world situations. The photo of me was taken on a 7-day field trip to Port Waikato for Geology 201 where we learned and practiced techniques so we could map out the geological structure of the Huriwai Valley. After finishing my degree I hope to find a job where I am actively involved with the environment and can practice techniques and use knowledge learnt at university to better understand the beautiful planet that we live on.

Joshua Smith

Angeline Leung Wai (BA student Geography and Political Studies)

I am currently in my final year of my studies towards a BA majoring in Geography and Political Studies. I have always been fascinated by the changes around the modern world especially its environment and the leading actors.

The School of Environment provides a lot of opportunities in the discipline of geography that I was not aware existed. It has broadened my understanding of geography and the diverse areas it covers and combined with international relations in political studies I have found this very interesting particularly as these two subjects are often very inter-related.

My academic study and interests have led me to apply for an internship in China working in a Non-Government Organisation helping communities through local development. With the knowledge I have gained from my degree I am confident that working and adapting to a new environment will be fun and easy. When I return I have decided to further my studies at postgraduate level. My ultimate career goal is to secure a position as a Policy Analyst in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

An important part of my life at University has been the support services made available to students. Not only were the lecturers kind and approachable but the Tuakana Programme for Maori and Pacifica students provided the extra help I needed. I am so grateful to be a student of The University of Auckland. As a student from Samoa, I have found that there is a place for you no matter where you come from.


Angeline Leung Wai

Liam Stewart (BSc Student Geography and Geology)

Liam Stewart


Growing up in rural New Zealand I always had a close relationship with the great outdoors. This is why I chose to pursue the subjects of geography and geology. Studying in the School of Environment has enabled me to learn about the human and physical environment and their interactions while also gaining knowledge and communication skills that can be applied in the work place. Earth's environment and our understanding of it is ever changing and the School uses the latest technologies to guide students into the future.

The School of Environment offers the best theoretical lectures from experts in their field along with excellent fieldtrips, which give hands on experience. The teaching methods involve fun and exciting ways to learn new skills and practices. I began working for a geotechnical engineering consultancy as a field technician during my studies and found the knowledge gained from The University of Auckland invaluable.



Jade Hyslop (MSc Geography)

Jade Hyslop


Leaving school, I wanted a degree and loved the outdoors. A BSc in Geography and Environmental Science was the obvious choice and once enrolled, there was no looking back. In my undergraduate studies I discovered a niche interest in river processes and management solutions, which I pursued at postgraduate level. My honours dissertation studied the interactions between fluvial geomorphology and riparian (river) vegetation along Piha Stream. My masters thesis looked at the role of geomorphology within seed dispersal.

A great aspect of studying geography is the numerous field trips that you get to partake in right from the start. As an undergraduate, I travelled to many beautiful parts of New Zealand, including: Kawhia, the Bay of Plenty, and a trip around the Far North. Highlights of my postgraduate studies were 10 days in the South Island appreciating river diversity and a week spent on Great Barrier Island looking at wetland and forest ecology. You really get to experience first-hand what makes New Zealand such a dynamic and interesting country to be living in and studying.

After my honours degree, I received a summer internship with Waitakere City Council. This was a great way to put what I had learnt at university into practice. I also applied for a research grant, which allowed me to travel to South Korea to present research at the International Symposium on Ecohydraulics. This was a real privilege and an amazing opportunity. The School of Environment has equipped me with numerous technical, written and verbal, skills. I look forward to applying these skills to an environmental career in the near future.



Rachael Pentney (MSc Geography)

Rachael Pentney


When I started my studies in the School of Environment as an undergraduate, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to get out of it. I knew that I loved the outdoors and the idea of learning about the environment, but I wasn’t quite sure where a degree in geography would take me. Three years of undergraduate study in physical geography provided me with a wide range of knowledge in areas such as coastal, fluvial and biogeography. I discovered an interest in the processes that take place on our coastlines and the management strategies put in place on these coastlines to protect human infrastructure. This interest led me to undertake MSc studies. The topic for my Masters focused on a section of rocky coastline between Pakiri Beach and Goat Island Bay, north of Auckland to determine the response of sea cliffs to wave impacts through the use of seismometers and wave pressure sensors.

My years of study within the School of Environment provided me with a broad set of skills from practical work in the field to analytical skills on the computer. My favourite part about the School of Environment was the numerous field classes that are available. Not only do these trips provide an opportunity to advance practical skills but they also offer an opportunity to interact with peers and staff members.