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Passionate teachers made the difference for top scientist

The New Zealand-born director of pharmacology at a giant US pharmaceutical company says we need to encourage “esoteric research” and high quality teaching at universities, while not underestimating the importance of teaching in our secondary schools.

Jilly Evans, speaking at the Catching the Knowledge Wave conference in Auckland this afternoon, described how her interest in science was stimulated by teacher Neil Akehurst, now teaching at Rangitoto College, who painstakingly built a model of the DNA double helix for his students in the 1960s.

Her second great secondary school mentor is someone she only recently met face to face for the first time, Jean Struthers, who taught chemistry by correspondence. Although she was 70-years-old at the time, Mrs Struthers’ passion for her subject inspired Jilly Evans.

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