Media Advisory September 27

MARSDEN FUNDING COVERS TOXINS, VIDEO GAMES, BUSINESS AND BACTERIA

Waikato University has secured nearly $5.5 million in Marsden research funding for nine projects. Three are in biological science. Professor Craig Cary leads a team that's has been awarded $750,000 over three years to discover the exact origin of TTX - the toxin responsible for killing a number of dogs on Auckland beaches last summer. Associate Professor Vic Arcus receives almost $900,000 over three years to research the adaptation of bacteria to survive in different and hostile environments. It's research that could have important implications in the development of new antibiotics and Dr Charlie Lee will be researching micro-organisms in Antarctica's Dry Valley. In other projects Professor David Lowe receives $825,000 to study volcanic ash layers which will allow ancient DNA analysis and help provide reconstructions of environmental and climatic change over the past 25,000 years. Dr Tahu Kukutai from Waikato's Population Studies Centre will study ethnicity and census. Marketing professor Harald Van Heerde receives $740,000 over three years to investigate whether firms can spend their way out of a recession and two academics from the university's Department of Screen and Media have each received more than $400,000. Dr Gareth Schott will study the impact of video games on players, which could in turn influence censorship classification, and Dr Craig Hight will study online documentary. Associate Professor John Perrone from the Department of Psychology has been awarded almost $750,000 to develop his research into visual motion and human depth perception. His work in understanding how the brain extracts information about obstacles in front of us will help engineers to recreate human depth perception in single camera robot vision systems, and provide insights into the visual information used for activities such as walking and driving.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR EXPERT IN STOATS AND WEASELS

Small mammal authority, Dr Carolyn (Kim) King has been given a special award for her work in biological science. Dr King, a senior lecturer at Waikato University, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at last week's Kudos awards, held to celebrate scientific achievement in the Waikato. Dr King came to New Zealand after studying weasels for her doctorate at Oxford University (UK) and first worked with the DSIR's Ecology Division. Her work there made the link between big seed falls in South Island beech forests and the increased numbers of mice, stoats and other small mammals. She later applied the same techniques in Pureora Forest Park in the North Island where kokako were threatened mostly by rats. Dr King has written several books, including Immigrant Killers (about introduced predators), The Natural History of Weasels and Stoats, and edited The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals. Her colleague in science Dr Kevin Collier was also given a Kudos award for his work in environmental science. Dr Collier, who shares his time between the university and Environment Waikato, has been researching river management and restoration for 25 years, particularly rivers and streams in the Waikato. He is a senior editor for the recently published book The Waters of the Waikato. It's intended as a resource for people who use and manage the river, and covers issues of water quality, sediment levels, wetland and lake protection, pest and native fish, and plant, invertebrate and bird life.

WAIKATO OPENS ITS DOORS FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS

Waikato University is opening its doors to all prospective students. On Tuesday September 28, staff from the university are holding an information evening to talk about degrees, subjects, entrance requirements, bridging programmes, application processes, scholarships and accommodation. The evening is open to all students, including people who are already in the workforce and looking to study part-time, looking for a career change, or considering study for the first time. There are also several presentations on a range of topics including admission to university, scholarships, education, law, management, computer science, sport and leisure, teacher education, computer graphic design and bridging programmes. The evening runs from 4.30pm - 6.30pm, with campus tours starting at 4pm. It takes place in S Block, with parking available at Gate 1, Knighton Road.

FREE LECTURE LOOKS AT TERRESTRIAL AND AQUATIC RESTORATION

Waikato University's free public lecture series on our city, our region will next look at the system-wide effects of terrestrial and aquatic restoration. Faculty of Science and Engineering Dean Professor Bruce Clarkson and Chair of Lakes Management and Restoration Professor David Hamilton will present the final lecture in the series, on September 29, entitled Connecting the Landscape: Linking Terrestrial and Aquatic Restoration. The pair will examine the impact of terrestrial and aquatic initiatives on enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services. This lecture takes place from 6.30pm to 7.30pm on Wednesday September 29 and is held at the university's Academy of Performing Arts, with parking available in Gate 2B off Knighton Rd, Hamilton.

UNIVERSITY GEARED FOR POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH MONTH

Waikato University is gearing up for its annual Postgraduate Research Month taking place in October. The month is designed to raise awareness of postgraduate research on campus and to promote a strong culture around doctoral and higher-level studies. Activities during the month include a student quiz night, a doctoral information evening, workshops for doctoral students and their supervisors, as well as faculty seminars and research conferences. The highlight of the month is the Thesis in 3 competition which sees doctoral students outline their theses in just three minutes and carries a $5000 prize to go towards their research. The final, on Wednesday October 27, is held at Hamilton's Clarence Street Theatre and will be hosted by comedian Te Radar. This event is free and open to the public.

ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMIST HONOURED FOR RESEARCH EXCELLENCE

An international leader in the field of non-market valuation is the winner of this year's Waikato University Management School Dean's Award for Research Excellence. Riccardo Scarpa is a professor of Environmental Economics whose work spans willingness-to-pay models for utilities such as water and models for determining the value of different genetic traits in livestock in developing countries. His research focuses on stated preference non-market valuation, and he is at the forefront of developing efficient experimental design, estimating willingness to pay and accounting for respondents ignoring specific attributes of choice. "When survey respondents have to consider many different aspects, often it's just too hard for them to work out all the tradeoffs between value and utility," Professor Scarpa explains. "My research has found a way to identify respondents like this through the pattern of their choices, which gives much more plausible survey results."

US GEOPHYSICIST TO GIVE WAIKATO LECTURE ON CANTERBURY QUAKE

Geophysicist Professor Kevin Furlong, from Penn State University, USA, never imagined he would witness one of New Zealand's worst earthquakes while spending his sabbatical in Christchurch. Professor Furlong became the geophysicist face of the television coverage of the Christchurch earthquake, and is now presenting a public lecture at the University of Waikato titled Putting the 2010 Canterbury Earthquake into Context: The Why and How, on October 5. He has been in Christchurch researching plate tectonics and what happens along plate boundaries as they develop through geologic time, and for the past 10 or so years he has been focusing his research on New Zealand. He will spend the second half of his sabbatical at the University of Waikato. Professor Furlong's free public lecture will be held at 7.30pm on Tuesday October 5 at the PWC lecture theatre, Hillcrest Road, University of Waikato.

SUMMER SCHOLARSHIPS ON AGAIN

How would you like to spend the summer discovering interactions between ship rats and house mice? For some Waikato University students this will be a reality under the Summer Research Scholarship programme at the University of Waikato which gives students a scholarship payment valued at $4,000. The programme is aimed at students who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate, a final-year honours or a first-year masters degree at a New Zealand or Australian university. The programme involves a 10-week period of full-time research during the summer study break from November to February. Research projects listed include 'The Great Victorian Garden of Death: The Design and History of the Hamilton East Cemetery' and 'Harvesting electrical power without any moving parts'. Associate Professor Bernhard Pfahringer, supervisor for this year's research project on 'Mining Twitter Data', says that it's a good experience which can lead to new discoveries. "We might learn about unexpected possibilities of using Twitter information in new and exciting ways. If successful, it could lead to some internationally recognized publication."

SUNDAY VIVALDI

Beijing-bound cellists Edward King and Santiago Canon Valencia will give a public performance in Hamilton on Sunday October 3 before heading off to China for a major international cello competition later in the month. The pair will play Vivaldi's concerto for two cellos in G minor with the Waikato University Chamber Orchestra at its Vivaldi Spring Concert. The orchestra will also play Four Seasons with Lara Hall as soloist, Maruata Kelly takes the lead in the concerto for lute and Beverly Pullon will sing one of Vivaldi's sacred motets. The concert will take place at 2.30pm in the WEL Academy of Performing Arts. Tickets available from www.ticketek.co.nz, phone 0800 TICKETEK, or from the WEL Academy of Performing Arts.

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