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How An Irish PhD Student Found Her Lab Notes Stolen In NZ

Emily Roskam reunited with her notes. Photo: Supplied / Emily Roskam

In the world of academia, where the stakes are high and lab notes are as precious as gold, Irish agriculture PhD student Emily Roskam found herself on a rollercoaster of misfortune and redemption – all thanks to the power of social media.

Embarking on her quest to conquer the mysteries of methane emissions in New Zealand, Emily's journey took an unexpected detour when her car in Wellington became the unwilling target of a brazen thief. The thief, however, had unwittingly picked a fight with a determined PhD student armed with groundbreaking research and a dash of Irish luck.

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In the grand heist of Emily's belongings, the perpetrator made off with the usual suspects – a passport, a laptop, and a hard drive. But what truly sent Emily into a frenzy of despair was the loss of her data-heavy lab notes. The kind of notes that could make or break a PhD.

Enter the hero of the story: social media. A fortuitous post on Wellington Lost and Found unveiled the whereabouts of Emily's missing bag in Lower Hutt. The bag, a beacon of hope in a world of chaos, was posted by a Good Samaritan who stumbled upon it.

Emily, quick-witted and armed with the tenacity of a true academic warrior, wasted no time. She contacted the bag rescuers via Facebook, and lo and behold – her bag, with all its contents, was intact. Phone chargers, adapters, paperwork – check, check, check. The laptop, hard drive, and passport were lost causes, but in the grand scheme of things, as Emily put it, "all replaceable."

What wasn't replaceable, however, was the pièce de résistance – the lab copy. Emily, in the melodramatic crescendo of her tale, couldn't help but emphasize its importance. It contained the secrets of DNA samples, the magic behind reducing methane emissions in ruminant animals. Without it, all her hard work would have vanished into the academic abyss.

Back in Palmerston North, back in the lab, Emily now laughs in the face of adversity. Her research, a beacon of hope for the global challenge of reducing agricultural emissions, is back on track. Ireland and New Zealand, hand in hand, are tackling methane emissions in their pasture-based systems, thanks to the tenacity of one PhD student who refused to let a petty thief derail her mission.

As Emily prepares to bid farewell to New Zealand in April, she carries with her a tale of resilience, a stolen bag, and the invaluable lesson that even in the darkest hours, social media can be the unsung hero of academic endeavors. And so, the PhD saga continues, with lab notes in hand and a newfound appreciation for the silver linings that adversity can bring.

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