Another marathon completed but this time it’s a PhD

26 September 2017
PhD Exercise Sciences Graduate Charlotte Connell with parents Delwyn and Bryan Connell
PhD Exercise Sciences Graduate Charlotte Connell with parents Delwyn and Bryan Connell

University of Auckland science graduate Charlotte Connell completes another marathon today but this time all she has to do is don cap and gown and walk on stage.

Overcoming challenges and achieving major goals is something the 27-year-old has had quite a bit of experience in as she graduates today from the Faculty of Science with a PhD in Exercise Sciences.

Her doctoral research provides new insight into how caffeine affects the brain, and could be useful not just for sport, but also for reducing injury risk in occupational settings involving long-durations of taxing, physical work.

Charlotte is passionate about fitness and can list completion of four marathons of 42 kilometres by the age of 24 to her achievements.

“When I was a kid my mum Delwyn would run half-marathons and we would wait on different parts of the course to cheer her on so when I was running myself, she returned the favour and has been a one-woman support crew,” Charlotte says.

One of the biggest challenges Charlotte faced during her PhD studies was teaching herself how to code. Like many women, she questioned whether coding was something she could do.

“The learning curve felt really steep to me and at first I was convinced my brain just didn’t work that way,” she says.

“But once I got a grasp of it, it actually became one of my favourite and most satisfying skills and I’ve continued to advance my coding knowledge in different programming languages because I find it genuinely enjoyable.”

The next stage of Charlotte’s career is an exciting one as she moves to New York to pursue further post-doctoral training in data science. She also has her eye on one of the world’s most famous marathons.

“I’ve always wanted to run the New York marathon and now that I’m moving there it’s a real possibility so I’m really excited about that.”

Of Ngati Uenuku descent, Charlotte says the support she received through the University’s Tuākana programme, aimed at enhancing academic success for Māori and Pacific students, has been invaluable in helping her achieve her goals.



Anne Beston  I  Media Relations Adviser, Communications, University of Auckland
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