Internships - Annual Report 2020

News & events

Internships - Annual Report 2020

29 March, 2021

Past interns and their hosts repeatedly tell us how valuable the internship experience is in taking the first steps into the world of employment. With the vast technical skills and ability to self-manage a research workload, our graduates are well placed to plug in to company R&D projects or government policy making and data analysis.

This year we placed four graduate interns into MacDiarmid-funded or co-funded commercial R&D environments to undertake projects related to sustainability, biotech, market research and commercial R&D.

With Covid-19 disruptions, companies unfortunately had limited capacity to take on new R&D activities, so we anticipate a strong uptake of these internships in 2021. Two of the internships are currently in progress and we are able to advertise positions on an ongoing basis when companies identify a need.

2020 also saw eight of our graduates take up MacDiarmid Institute-funded three-month internships within the government and social enterprise sector.

Three joined the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor (OPMCSA), and three took the opportunity to experience science and energy policy development within government (MBIE Contestable Investments, and Energy Resource Markets; and the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (ECCA). One interned at the Science Media Centre (SMC) and another at Aˉkina Foundation. All spoke positively of the opportunity to broaden their understanding of science, energy and science communication in policy, and review current  regulatory frameworks via report writing, app design and protocol development in areas of energy resources, nanotechnology and funding processes.


Stephen Lo: Covid-19 and seasonality

Cherie Tollemache: Covid-19 severity and vitamin D status.

Shinji Khara: Nanotechnology regulation in Aotearoa New Zealand - comparison with overseas regulations and current developments

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

Aubrey Dosado: Science through the government lens with Contestable Investments

Samuel Martin Treceno: Energy and Resource Markets

Ākina Foundation

Kannan Ridings: Creating Outlines and a Framework for a Data Strategy

Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (ECCA)

Silvina Pugliese: ‘Thermal energy storage in New Zealand’ Evidence Insight and Innovation Team

Science Media Centre (SMC)

Cherie Tollemache: ‘Covid-19 related – improving skills for data journalists’ (0.3 FTE)

Humble Bee

Ed Cozens: Technical Analyst and Research Support - for developing a chemical resistant material using biomimicry

LPG Association

Praveen Vadakkedath: Identify process for production of bioLPG or biopropane in New Zealand.

Toha Foundry

Roan Vasdev: Identifying viable low emissions manufacturing and construction materials and processes, focused on low carbon cement and concrete.


Maxime Savoie: Removing smoke taint from wine using molecularly imprinted polymers.

‘What I wish I’d known before my internship’ - Webinar

We ran a webinar for prospective interns titled 'What I wish I’d known before my internship’. Dr Kyle Webster, former intern at OPMCSA, and Dr Kannan Ridings, former intern with the Ākina Foundation, shared their knowledge and tips based on their own experiences. There were lots of great questions and enthusiasm to continue this type of connection between our previous and soon-to-be interns.

Intern profiles

Interning for the PM's Chief Science Advisor

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Cherie Tollenmache

"My internship at OPMCSA involved urgent research and reporting on Covid-19 topics. I looked at testing methods, Covid in animals, Covid and vitamin D status, vaccine development, mental health impacts, and mask use. Being a part of such a fascinating time for science policy and science communication was beyond my expectation."



Being a part of such a fascinating time for science policy and science communication was beyond my expectation.”

Cherie Tollenmache Intern

Humble Bee Bio internship helps grow career confidence


Ed Cozens

"Having recently completed my PhD, and looking at what direction to pursue a career in, I had a few different thoughts on options. One option that interested me was working within the biotech start up space. My internship with Humble Bee provided me invaluable experience of the workings and challenges associated with such “deep tech” start ups. One of the highlights was that it confirmed to me that this an area I want to get involved with in the future, something that I was previously uncertain on. It has given me the confidence that this is a career move I would enjoy and that my skills and personality are well suited to deliver what companies like Humble Bee Bio need. The internship has also presented a number of challenges, giving me opportunities for growth while working through them. In particular, I have had the chance to grow my communication skills, particularly within a virtual space, as a portion of the internship had to be completed back within my home country, the UK, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic."

Humble Bee founder Veronica Harwood-Stevenson reports that "Ed helped prepare information for audiences from patent attorneys, to investors through to colleagues and commercial partners. His work was of high quality and immediate

Ed’s deep research and science background meant that he was able to compile and interpret our data, and compare it to the literature and our competitors' data.

Veronica Harwood-Stevenson Humble Bee founder