Chiasma is a student-led organisation aiming to create links and networks between the university community and high-tech industries nationwide. Launched in 2014 by three PhD students at the University of Auckland the organisation now has branches in the main tertiary centres round the country.
We sat down with the CEO of Manawatū Chiasma, Sam Lockwood-Geck to find out more about this thriving organisation.
What is Chiasma?
Chiasma is, other than a somewhat difficult word to pronounce, the physical link between two chromatids where the exchange of genetic material can occur – hence the chromosome looking logo. Chiasma (the organisation) works to bridge the gap between academia and the wider science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) industries.
We do this through a set of networking, professional development, and mentorship opportunities where we bring together industry professionals, academics, students from a wide range of disciplines, and entrepreneurs to enable the creation of new connections, broader career opportunities, and a place for new ideas to thrive.
Why do we need an organisation such as Chiasma?
As a recent graduate myself, I never seemed to quite find a community of people who shared my interest not just in science, but in the broader ‘business of science’ – how new research and innovation could be realised quickly and effectively and what role we, as students, have to play in it.
Manawatū is home to world-class education institutions, some of the best research and development facilities in New Zealand, and a budding entrepreneurial ecosystem. Chiasma is a means to connect these dots by fostering and maintaining a community of like-minded people.
Chiasma offers a means for industry to find enthusiastic and talented students and offers students a place to grow their network, broaden their career prospects, and gain complementary skills.
What are the benefits of signing up to Chiasma?
By signing up to Chiasma, students get the latest updates on what’s happening in our network. We have job and internship opportunities as well as all the awesome STEM related news happening in Manawatū and around New Zealand. If you interested in participating in our networking, professional development, or mentorship opportunities the best way to stay up to date is to sign-up and follow our social media pages.
Tell us more about how Chiasma links students and industry and the career opportunities that can come from this?
Each year Chiasma runs a recurring set of events. We facilitate two networking events – Launch and Synapse – which include panel discussions and interesting speakers from across New Zealand, as well as two professional development workshops, two site visits, and a mentorship program that runs over 20 weeks.
Our Launch event hosted at Te Manawa in March saw three awesome speakers share their war stories about how they made their way from academia into industry. The speakers at this event are all previous Chiasma alumni and are now the CEO of Outset Ventures (Imche Fourie), CSO of BioFabNZ (Jessica Chiang), and CEO of Litmaps (Kyle Webster). Each of the speakers attributed Chiasma as a key factor for why they are where they are today which shows how a network like Chiasma can make a huge difference in your professional life.
What do you like most about being part of Chiasma?
There are so many parts of Chiasma that I love. Meeting the awesome speakers we host at our events, seeing the eyes of students light up when they talk about their ideas, and having the support of industry and education alike to drive this initiative. But if I have to pick a favourite part, it would have to be the home-brewed beer we have at our events.