Caleb Higham

Catchment Engagement Leader

Caleb wasn’t sure what to study after high school, but loved biology, chemistry, and the outdoors.

SCHOOL: Te Awamutu College
TRAINING INSTITUTE: The University of Waikato, Bachelor of Science, Biology and Chemistry double major; Master’s in Science, Materials and Process Engineering; Massey University, PhD in Environmental Science.
CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: Catchment Engagement Leader, DairyNZ

“My high school careers advisor pointed me in the direction of science”

Caleb wasn’t sure what to study or exactly what he wanted to do after high school. His high school careers advisor pointed him in the direction of science, a career in which he could enjoy the outdoors and science.

“I’ve always loved science. I find it fascinating; science explains the world around me and I’ve always been curious about that.”

Caleb studied at The University of Waikato. “I was initially enrolled in earth science, but qualified with a Bachelor of Science, completing a double major in Biology and Chemistry.”

After university, Caleb worked at LIC as a Research Technician in the GeneMark lab, DNA parentage testing, then in the animal health lab.

“Working as a Research Technician I enjoyed running trials, trouble shooting, and trying to develop new tests. I liked the lab work but it was repetitive.”

Thinking long term, Caleb wanted to stay in New Zealand and study for a PhD yet keep his options open in case he decided to go overseas. He went back to his high school careers advisor.

“My careers advisor suggested ‘water’ would be a good topic because it could cover the environment and dairy farming which appealed because I grew up on a dairy farm and my LIC work experience could complement this PhD topic.”

After completing his PhD at DairyNZ, Caleb now works as a Catchment Engagement Leader. He loves the combination of science, being outdoors, and talking with farmers.

“Often PhDs don’t have the people side; they are very data driven – about collecting, analysing and writing. Working as a Catchment Engagement Leader means I get to use my previous experience, share science messages, and interact with farmers to help get the environmental changes we all need.”


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