Media Advisory February 13

The University of Waikato and its students generated $770 million in the Waikato economy last year (2010-2011) – 4.5% of the region’s annual revenue. In a newly released report commissioned by the university, independent economist Dr Warren Hughes analysed the university’s contribution to the region and the country. Spending by the university generated $836 million in the New Zealand economy overall. That figure includes direct spending, including by students, as well as the flow-on effect into other sectors, including retail, transport, energy, sport and recreation and personal and community services. The university contributes 4.4% to the economy of the core Waikato region which takes in Hamilton, Raglan, Cambridge, Te Awamutu, Huntly and Ngaruawahia. Every dollar generated by university operations resulted in another $1.22 of flow-on revenue across the core Waikato economy while every job at the university generated another 0.65 jobs in the rest of New Zealand – 88% of them in the core Waikato economy. Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford says that the economic impact study again underlines the crucial partnership between the university and the wider Waikato region.
An international team of Antarctic researchers thinks climate change in Antarctica’s Dry Valleys may affect the area more rapidly than previously expected. The scientists, led by Waikato University’s Professor Craig Cary, have found that microbial communities in the soil undergo rapid and lasting changes in response to contemporary environmental conditions. The results of their investigation have been published in Nature Communications, an international online science journal. The scientists measured the rate at which observed biological changes occurred beneath a seal carcass and at a nearby control site. They found that under the carcass the soil environment changed by stabilising temperatures, elevating relative humidity and reducing ultraviolet exposure. They then had to find out how quickly these changes occurred. To do this they transferred a 250-year-old carcass to an untouched site and used community DNA fingerprinting and new sequencing techniques to track the changes in microbial composition and structure. It took only two years for major changes to occur during the five year study. Professor Cary says polar systems are particularly susceptible to climate change and this study will provide a foundation for future observations on the fate of life in these extreme environments. The full article can be accessed at
University of Waikato Professor Michael Peters has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York (SUNY) Empire State College – a college with 20,000 adult students who study for SUNY degrees at 35 different locations around New York state and online. Professor Peters, a New Zealander, has taught and lectured internationally and has been a visiting scholar on five different continents. He is new to Waikato University and currently teaches in the Department of Policy, Cultural and Social Studies in Education. SUNY Empire State College President Alan R. Davis says the degree is the highest form of recognition, given to people of exceptional distinction and Professor Peters is very deserving of the title. “He’s a visionary whose ideas expand our understanding of teaching and learning and of open education in all its forms.”

As the new crop of uni students gears up for the 2012 academic year, they’ll find the University of Waikato ready and waiting for them – on the small screen. New students simply have to call up Waikato’s dedicated mobile web on their smartphones to view a campus map, find a free workstation in a computer lab on campus or check their lecture timetable. “Mobile phones are how students today access information – they want to be able to do that anywhere, anytime,” says E-Marketing Adviser Hariet Waffenschmidt. “Our mobile internet ( has been optimised for small screens with quick download times and an iPhone-style interface for easy navigation. And best of all, it can be accessed on any smartphone or tablet.” The mobile web is more than just an app – it offers a range of functions, including site search, links to the university news and events page, and Facebook, and access to bus timetable information.

How the avocado industry is responding to current and future challenges is the focus of Tauranga’s first Café Scientifique of 2012, supported by the University of Waikato.
Avocados: Boom or Bust will be presented by Avocado Industry Council (AIC) Technical Manager Dr Henry Pak, who will outline some of the issues facing the avocado industry and the research in progress. Irregular cropping – where trees do not produce a viable crop every year – is one of the industry’s most problematic challenges. Dr Pak has a research background in plant pathology and post-harvest storage and now heads the AIC’s research programme. Café Scientifique is a forum for debating science issues, where for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. The first Café Scientifique for 2012 will be held on Monday 20 February, 7.00pm, Alimento, 72 First Avenue, Tauranga. For more information visit:
Visiting Professor Paul Hunt will reflect on his six years as a UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of health. In a lecture at the University of Waikato S1.03 on February 20, Professor Hunt will examine a range of issues regarding civil society's growing attention to the application of human rights to issues of health. The lecture will suggest the importance of positioning human rights as an asset for health professionals, rather than something they should be wary of. Professor Hunt teaches international human rights law at Essex University and is visiting Waikato for the week.
A PhD inspired by young women leaders has led to a prestigious international award for University of Waikato Faculty of Education senior lecturer Dr Rachel McNae. Dr McNae’s thesis titled ‘Young women and leadership development: Co-constructing leadership learning in a New Zealand secondary school’, won the leadership and strategy category of the 2011 Emerald Publishing Awards. Her research focused on an alternative approach to leadership development with young women in high schools. Two University of Waikato PhD graduates’ research was also acknowledged by Emerald. Dr Alison Thirlwall received a highly commended award for her thesis ‘Workplace Bullying in New Zealand Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics: Prominence, Processes, and Emotions’, alongside Dr Rose Kisia-Omondi who was also highly commended for her PhD ‘Romantic Entertainers in Kenya’s Coastal Tourism: Hope, Deceit and Risks’. The Emerald Publishing/European Foundation for Management and Development Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards were established to support global research.
The German scientist who discovered the compound in manuka honey responsible for its anti-bacterial properties will give a public lecture on his latest research at the University of Waikato next week. Professor Thomas Henle of the Institue of Food Chemistry, Technical University of Dresden, led the research group that identified the chemical compound, methylglyoxal, in 2006; since then his group has identified further unique features of compounds in manuka honey and other foods. Professor Henle will discuss these findings publicly for the first time in his lecture, one of only two he’ll be giving in New Zealand. Waikato’s Professor Peter Molan, Director of the Waikato Honey Research Unit, will chair a question-and-answer session after the lecture. Professor Henle’s visit is sponsored by Manuka Health Co New Zealand. Professor Henle’s lecture “Glycation compounds in food: What’s unique about New Zealand manuka honey?” will be held in S Block, Lecture Theatre S.1.04, at 6pm on Monday 20 February at the University of Waikato.

The University of Waikato Centre for Continuing Education is hosting a series of lectures examining the restoration of Hamilton’s Gullies each Thursday night from February 9-23. Members of the Hamilton City Council have joined University of Waikato graduates, scientists and experienced gully restorers. The February 16 session will discuss why gullies are worth restoring and the final February 23 session will discuss ‘how to restore’. The one-hour lectures take place each Thursday in Waikato Management School, MSB1.05, starting at 7pm.

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