Sarah Andreassend

Sarah graduated from university with an undergraduate degree in May 2015 and received a Pasifika Award for Academic Excellence. See how her hard work payed off.

Sarah Andreassend
Sarah Andreassend

Full Name: Sarah Andreassend

Degree: Bachelor of Science, majoring in chemistry, with a minor in cell and molecular bioscience

Current Role: Currently studying towards a Master of Science in chemistry

Place of Birth: Nelson, New Zealand

Ethnicity: Niuean/NZ European

Place in Family: Sarah is the fourth of six children to parents Mikoyan Vekula and Susan Andreassend

Research has always fascinated Sarah. But it was an enthusiastic science teacher in the final two years of college that influenced her most when deciding to become a scientist and researcher.

Sarah loved being able to carry out her own experiments, record what happened and report the findings.

Sarah graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with an undergraduate degree in May 2015 and received a Pasifika Award for Academic Excellence. She attributes a natural aptitude and, more importantly, hard work to her success.

Sarah had a core group of friends throughout her studies at the University who all studied chemistry. Sarah says they encouraged each other, kept each other on track and “took over the Laby computer room most days as our base”.

Sarah’s current research, under the supervision of Dr Rob Keyzers, is in the area of developing antimalarial compounds inspired by nature. In particular, three molecules isolated from a species of Gorgonian, sourced from Mozambique, were found to have some antimalarial activity. These molecules effectively knock out a protein which would normally allow the parasite to survive through the infamously high fevers associated with malaria.

Nature has previously been the source of inspiration for a lot of current drugs, such as aspirin from willow bark.

Sarah’s continuing work is to synthesise a range of similar molecules in the hope of finding a more potent antimalarial compound. Sarah says the work could contribute to the development of new antimalarial drugs in the future.

“Adding knowledge to a field, creating something new, and improving the world is something quite incredible.”

And Sarah’s advice to other Niu students—“attend all lectures and start assessments as early as possible”.