Media Advisory November 14


University of Waikato Professor Moira Steyn-Ross says identifying what it means to be awake, unconscious and asleep is vital to understanding the nature of anaesthesia. In her Inaugural Professorial Lecture being held tomorrow, November 15, Professor Steyn-Ross will discuss her research into understanding the functions and dysfunctions of the brain, and the potential for enhancing the measurement of the depth of anaesthesia. She’s been modelling the brain for nearly a decade and says her model can describe the cycles of natural sleep which could improve our understanding of the role of sleep in the processing of memories. The model has also been able to predict seizures which should help towards understanding why seizures happen and how to control them. Professor Steyn-Ross’ lecture, titled Phase Transitions, Waves and Chaos in the Brain, takes place on Tuesday November 15 at 6.30pm at the university’s Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. Inaugural Professorial Lectures are the university’s way of formally introducing new and recently appointed professors to the wider community. All lectures are free and open to the public.


A Waikato University professor of strategy and human resource management Mark Harcourt says that raising the minimum wage, as Labour is proposing, would likely have little or no impact on either employment or prices, while giving low-wage workers a lot more income. Professor Harcourt says all employers pay it. “The minimum wage takes wages at the bottom end of the labour market out of competition and so its negative impacts on prices and employment, if they exist at all, are negligible. An increase could even stimulate the economy by putting more money into the hands of people most likely to spend it. Certainly, any negative repercussions of raising the minimum wage, to the extent they exist at all, would be puny compared to the foreign debt-fuelled house price bubble of the 2000s.”


When container ship Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe reef four weeks ago, New Zealand was plunged into dealing with one of its biggest environmental disasters, the full extent of which is only now being quantified. The impact on the Bay of Plenty coastal environment will be the focus of next week’s Café Scientifique in Tauranga. Waikato University’s Chair in Coastal Science Professor Chris Battershill will address some of the issues around the particular impacts on the ecosystem of our coastline and the clean-up processes. He will be accompanied by Andrew Berry who leads the Salvage Operations for Maritime New Zealand and who will provide an update on the salvage operation. Also in attendance will be visiting Geophysics Professor Mal Heron from James Cook University, who can comment on Australia’s recent ship grounding incidents. This Café is an opportunity to hear more about the impacts of heavy oil on the ecosystem, and the nature of cleaning up spilled oil. Café Scientifique is a forum for debating science issues. It aims to promote public engagement with science and to make science accessible and is supported by the university’s Faculty of Science and Engineering. Café Scientifique will be held on Monday November 21, 7.30pm, Alimento Café, 72 First Avenue, Tauranga. For more information visit


New Zealand’s equine industry has many strands and to reach full commercial potential needs to become more streamlined and internationally competitive. Associate Professor Stuart Locke, Director of the Institute for Business Research at the University of Waikato, who also owns race horses, will be speaking at Equidays this week – a national event for all sectors of the industry that starts on Friday at Hamilton’s Mystery Creek. Dr Locke says the equine supply chain is unreliable in some areas, there’s high staff turnover among staff and problems with alcohol and drug abuse. Dr Locke suggests the industry is too fragmented with scope for cooperatives and franchises as ways of improving productivity. He says we don't want to be just a low cost producer - we need a strong brand and good value - add strategies so there is much better returns for all involved in this premier sporting industry. Professor Peter Molan from Waikato University’s Honey Research Unit will also be presenting at Equidays. He’ll talk about using manuka treatments for horses.


This question will be answered at the 2011 New Zealand Institute of Chemistry conference being held at the University of Waikato this month. Among the international academic and industrial chemists coming to the conference is keynote speaker Dr Joe Schwarcz, Director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society. Dr Joe, as he is known to his fans and students, is well known for his informative and entertaining public lectures, as well as his best-selling books and Discovery Channel series. He will deliver his keynote speech Are Cows more trustworthy than Chemists? on November 29. The inspiration for the topic comes from a Time Magazine article about the merits of conventional and organic produce which featured a curious quote from a professor of nutrition education at Columbia University. When asked if she preferred butter or margarine, she replied, ‘I would rather trust a cow than a chemist.’ “Unfortunately such negative comments about chemistry are not unusual these days as the lay press often focuses on ‘toxic chemicals’ in our air, water, food and even in our blood,” says Dr Joe, who wrote the best-selling book Brain Fuel. The conference starts on November 28 and during its five days covers analytical and environmental, industrial and material, inorganic and organometallic, organic, physical, biological and educational chemistry among its many topics. There will also be a variety of local and international presentations, covering all areas of chemistry and related scientific pursuits. For information visit


The University of Waikato will host the annual New Zealand History Association conference this week. The conference, titled Past Tensions: Reflections on Making History, will focus on fresh interpretations of tensions in the past, including models of biculturalism/multiculturalism, histories of the colonising process, environmental histories, and the gendering and ‘racing’ of the past. The conference takes place November 16 - 18 with public lectures being held during the conference. Kicking off the public lectures is the inaugural Wiremu Maihi Te Rangikaheke Memorial Lecture, held on November 16. Presented by Dr Apirana Mahuika, a Waikato University honorary doctorate recipient and University of Waikato Council member, the lecture will look into Māori and iwi history. On November 17, Professor Charlotte Macdonald of Victoria University will present the Beaglehole Lecture, titled The King’s Speech and Sensible Flesh: The pains and pleasures of twentieth-century history making. For more information on the New Zealand History Association conference visit


Has the role of brand and marketing communications become more or less important amid rampant competition, media fragmentation and a technology revolution? Natalie Sutherland, General Manager Marketing Strategy at Vodafone New Zealand will explore the impact of these trends through the lens of the Vodafone Brand at the next Waikato Management School Excellence in Business Practise Series. Sutherland is an experienced services marketer who has worked across a broad range of marketing disciplines in financial services and more recently telecommunications. Her current role is focussed on business and marketing strategy. She will be speaking at the Waikato Management School, MSB 1.02 on Friday November 18, starting at 1pm.


People wanting more information about the University of Waikato’s Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies – PGDip (MgtSt) – can attend an information evening in Tauranga. Run through the internationally-accredited Waikato Management School, the PGDip (MgtSt) is ideally suited to people with management experience wanting to develop their skills. This is a highly interactive programme that focuses on the integration of theory and practice through practical coursework, case studies and class discussion. It is offered in Tauranga as a two-year programme held on alternate Saturdays from 8.30am - 5.00pm, and begins in February. Two free information evenings will be held tomorrow, November 15, and Wednesday November 23, 5.30pm at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Bongard Centre, 200 Cameron Road, Tauranga. To reserve a place, email

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