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Thursday March 05, 2020


Roslyn Kemp

How many coffees / teas do you drink per day?
 I drink one store-bought coffee a day – I don’t really like hot drinks, but that preference became such a social handicap when I moved back to NZ that I had to start.
Which immune cell is your favourite?
The T cell, of course - many will be aware of my opinion that all T cells can do all things in the immune response depending on where it is and who is around it at the time.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Long-distance running, and watching reality cooking TV – my students know that doing an experiment is just like Masterchef – read the recipe, plan ahead, stay to time, clean up as you go…
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
 A farmer (type undetermined, but there had to be lots of animals).
If you weren’t an Immunologist, what would you be?
 International basketball DJ – travel, music and basketball, what could be better?
What is your favourite travel destination and why?
 At the moment, Nelson, where I grew up – mountains, ocean, rivers, loads of sunshine and most of my friends and family.
Who are the top 3 people (dead or alive) you’d like to have over for dinner and why?
Dinners should be loud, fun and reasonably alcoholic. If I want a serious philosophical discussion with dead people, then I will organise a conference instead.

I would invite David Attenborough (a request from my husband who correctly assumed he would be doing the cooking for this dinner) and then my two best friends Robyn and Deb, so we could re-live a hilarious road trip around Britain when we learnt all of the countries in the world by region – we could eat and talk with someone who has been to probably all of them.
What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?
 Stop studying so much and have more fun.
What is your life motto? 
 He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!
(What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!)
In addition to your research and teaching roles, you are the current Secretary-General of IUIS, a daughter, sister, mother, wife, and former ASI NZ Councillor. Clearly, you wear many hats - how do you manage your time so effectively?
In a panic-stricken rush, and with heavy reliance on my staff and students to do their work well without lots of input from me.
As a strong advocate for women in science, you have advanced our ASI Women’s Initiative, created our ASI Margaret Baird Women in Immunology Lectureship Award, won the Association for Women in Science Miriam Dell Award for mentoring and are well known for being a supportive and inclusive mentor of young women in science.  What are our greatest challenges as women in science?
I think the hardest thing is for all of us to realise that there is still so far to go. Every day, every woman has at least one experience that hammers home inequity, unfairness, bias or even outright discrimination, simply because they are a woman. If everybody (including women) could stop and think about what they are saying and doing and consider whether it is contributing to the inequity, that would really help to fix the problems.
What is the best thing about being an ASI Member?
Awesome people that care about you as well as your science – the conference is a series of conversations with new and old friends, rather than “contacts”.

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