“I’ve found that supervisors in New Zealand treat you like you’re on the same level as them. They really want to hear what you have to say.”
Jessica has had the same supervisor, Professor Dianne Brunton, for both her master’s degree and her PhD.
“Dianne is so welcoming to all her international students. She has been very supportive and always wants to know how I am – personally as well as academically,” says Jessica.
“As a PhD student, it’s very important to have a supervisor who fits your personality. Dianne is my perfect match.”
Jessica has also enjoyed the New Zealand education system’s focus on hands-on, practical learning.
For Jessica, field research involves jumping into a boat, heading out to the gulf and spending two or three days photographing and recording bottlenose dolphins.
She’s able to put her theoretical learning into practice, collecting important data on endangered dolphins to give us a clearer idea of how we can protect them in the future.
Jessica is studying the acoustics and social networks among a group of dolphins living around Great Barrier Island, one of more than 50 islands in the gulf.
In the photo above, Jessica is putting a drone into the ocean to record video of the dolphins. She previously used a camera, but a drone is more effective.
She loves carrying out her research in a country where it’s so easy to experience nature and the outdoors.
“The accessibility is amazing. I can catch a ferry out of Auckland into the Hauraki Gulf and see six or seven species of marine mammal,” Jessica says.
“In Colombia I grew up surrounded by mountains, but in New Zealand I am surrounded by the ocean. This is my place.”