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People of Lincoln Agritech

Samantha Thomas

Chemical Technician Samantha Thomas has always wanted an exciting job where she does different things every day. Now she’s got one.

When I was a kid, what I wanted to be changed every week. I can remember at different times wanting to be a singer, marine biologist, and astronaut!

Looking back, I realise that actually I always wanted the same thing: an active and exciting job that changes from day to day.

At school I was always good with numbers, and I liked doing practical things. That lent itself to science, so that’s the path I took. In 2022 I graduated from the University of Canterbury with a BSc in biochemistry.

I started working for Lincoln Agritech as an intern for Precision Agriculture, working on a research project involving pre-symptomatic disease detection in apples. When my internship came to an end, I was then offered a fixed-term position as a research assistant to continue my work. Then as that role was ending, I was recommended to fill in an opening in the New Materials group, where I have worked as a chemical technician since.

This is an exciting group to be in – our work involves developing new high-value materials from biological sources, including coarse wool and plant-derived cellulose.

What does your job involve?

As a chemical technician, I spend most of my day in the laboratory, where I work to develop pigments for the new uses for wool project.

Throughout the week there is a lot of variability in what I do, from chemical experiments and working dyed pigments into commercial products to supervising equipment and managing lab supplies. I enjoy how every day is different and all the great people I work with.

I realise now that being a scientist aligns with my childhood desire for an exciting job that changes from day to day. Every day has different challenges. For example, I may have to sort out why an experiment isn’t going as expected or need to keep on top of a time-sensitive process while managing a last-minute request for data or samples.

How do you explain your job to your family?

I describe my job to most people as arts and crafts with an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). Lots of our pigments get used, or just tested, in exciting upcoming projects. But because much of what we do is at the very first stages of commercial products, I can’t talk about a lot of what goes on in my day.

What motivates you?

At the moment, I’m motivated to grow my work experience, with the hope of continuing into a stimulating career – whatever direction that may go in. Overall, my goal is to reach a position where I can support my family and experience more of the world alongside them.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

If I could change just one thing about the world, I would make education free and accessible to everyone.