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Taichi Takeuchi

Applied Science Graduate

Taichi Takeuchi

After a mysterious illness, Taichi Takeuchi wanted to study microbiology at UCOL to discover what had make him sick. What he ended up finding was his passion for chemistry.

A few years ago, Taichi was laid low by stomach pain and low liver function for a month. His doctor was unable to determine the exact cause, but suspected it was some kind of bacterial infection or virus.

Wanting to find out how he could have gotten so ill, Taichi enrolled in UCOL’s New Zealand Diploma in Applied Science (Level 5), which covered microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology.

“The lab work was really fun. It never felt like study to me - it was more like entertainment,” says Taichi. 

While Taichi didn’t find the cause of his illness, he did discover his passion for chemistry. 

“I didn’t study chemistry in high school and I didn’t think it would be very interesting, but my lecturer Dr David Shillington - who is now retired - was so amazing. His teaching style really led me to study chemistry hard, and I really enjoyed it.”

“David’s style was to show us what we can do if we studied chemistry further.  For example, we used spectrometers to analyse liquid samples, but David explained that we can use the same principle to analyse matter on Mars using astronomical spectroscopy.” 

Taichi went on to complete his New Zealand Diploma in Applied Science (Level 6) at the perfect time, just as UCOL was introducing the Bachelor of Applied Science (Laboratory Science) (Level 7) the following year. Because he had already done the Level 5 and 6 diplomas, Taichi was able get his degree with only one more year of study.  

Not having studied science previously, Taichi didn’t know how to write a lab report when he started at UCOL. However he was able to build his skills and confidence with the help of his lecturers.  

“Dr Bob Stewart and Dr Dot Starzak were really supportive. They would let me send them my draft reports to look at and give me feedback to work on. I probably increased their workloads, but they were a huge help. By the time I was in my third year, I had developed really good writing skills for lab reports and assignments.”

In this third year, Taichi researched why apple cider vinegar was so high in antioxidants and compared the antioxidant levels in commercial and homemade varieties of the vinegar. He found that homemade apple cider vinegars had higher antioxidant levels, which may be related to the natural fermentation process producing different sugar and organic acid profiles. As of early 2021, Taichi is preparing to publish this research in a food science journal.

Having finished his degree, Taichi is now passing on his knowledge as a UCOL Laboratory Technician/Teaching Assistant. He is also taking his passion for chemistry further, doing a Graduate Certificate at Massey University with the goal of eventually doing a Master degree. 

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