Two of New Zealand's top scientists have watched their daughters graduate on the same stage they were seated this week.

Acclaimed theoretical chemist Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, last year's recipient of the prestigious Rutherford Medal, and Professor of Computer Science Hans Guesgen, yesterday watched on as their daughters, Laura Schwerdtfeger and Dr Mirjam Guesgen, graduated from Massey University.

Although both attended the same university where their fathers are based, each are taking different paths - Miss Schwerdtfeger persuing a career as a veterinarian and Dr Guesgen graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology.

Having brought home animals to care for as a young girl, Miss Schwerdtfeger now works as a rural production animal veterinarian at a practice in Franklin."I wasn't brought up on a farm at all - I'm a city girl brought up in Auckland," said Miss Schwerdtfeger, who received a Bachelor of Veterinary Science.


"But that's what I love about my new job - I love the learning side of things, learning from farmers and other vets."

She said her father had always encouraged her to have an inquisitive mind.
"Whether I wanted to go down the research side of things or the clinical path is something I had to decide along the way."

Professor Schwerdtfeger said it meant the world to him to see his daughter graduate.
"I am terribly proud of my daughter, she has done incredibly well, being on the Dean's list twice in her studies."

It's the second time Miss Schwerdtfeger has graduated from Massey University - she completed a double major in physiology and zoology before starting her veterinary degree.

Dr Guesgen also said her passion for science was fostered by father, who she fondly recalled would visit her school and talk about science.

"I remember the whole class being so engaged and almost in awe - even the ones that usually skived off during class," she said.

"He also used to let me come with him to university during the school holidays. I knew that's where I wanted to be.

"He is so inspirational and was also a great sounding board when I was doing my research."

Professor Guesgen said he was puzzled as to why more young people are not interested in pursuing a career in science.

"New Zealanders are known for their ingenuity - it comes naturally to them," he said.
"I am definitely happy with Mirjam's choice of going into science. It will take her places and give her the opportunity to make a contribution to the world."

Both young women hail from Germany - Miss Schwerdtfeger from Stuttgart and Dr Guesgen from Bonn - but now call New Zealand their home.