Media Advisory April 15

More than half of Waikato University's research-active academic staff have been rated in the top two categories by the government in its 2012 quality evaluation for performance-based research funding (PBRF). The university is also among the top four New Zealand universities in having recognised researchers available for teaching and supervising postgraduate students. "Of the academics who are earning PBRF funding for the university, we have a very encouraging 9% of researchers at 'A' level and just over 45% of our researchers at ‘B’ level," says the university’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford. The largest number of the university's academic staff are recognised for producing research of national and international significance ('B'), and over the past decade the number of 'A' and 'B' researchers as a proportion of all academic staff has risen from a third to more than a half. 'A' researchers are defined as world-class. "Ninety per cent of the university's academic staff are research-active. Students can be confident that classes at Waikato University are underpinned by internationally-benchmarked, research-informed teaching, and in particular our postgraduate students have direct access to top national and international researchers," says Professor Crawford.

The University of Waikato will confer three Honorary Doctorates on high-profile Waikato and Bay of Plenty identities at graduation ceremonies, this week. Gordon Stephenson is a farmer and conservationist from Waotu, near Putaruru. He is the founder of the QEII National Trust, the instigator of the National Farm Environment Awards and has been involved with countless other farming and environmental organisations for more than 50 years. In 1998 he became a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2000 he received a Biodiversity Accolade award at the launch of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy. Mr Stephenson will receive his Honorary Doctorate tomorrow, on 16 April. Bernie Crosby founded Prolife Foods with his wife Kaye in the 1980s and the couple have grown the business into one of New Zealand’s largest privately owned and operated food businesses. Mr Crosby has held directorships at several other companies and also contributes to the community through his support of the Hamilton Gardens, the MESH Sculpture Trust, the New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award and the Coromandel Westpac Rescue Helicopter Trust. Mr Crosby will receive his Honorary Doctorate on Thursday. Dame Susan Devoy was the number one world women’s squash player for more a decade, winning four World titles and eight British Opens. Dame Susan was named New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year in 1985, 1987 and 1988, is a patron of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and has worked on the government-appointed taskforce on sport, fitness and recreation, and has recently been named Race Relations Commissioner. Dame Susan will receive her Honorary doctorate on 19 April. Waikato University graduation ceremonies take place this week from 16 - 18 April in Hamilton at the Claudelands Arena. Tauranga graduation is scheduled for Friday 19 April at the Holy Trinity Events Centre in Tauranga. A schedule for the all graduations is available online.

A former University of Waikato dean and his wife have donated $500,000 to support the University of Waikato's Music programme. Emeritus Professor Ian Graham recently retired from Endace, a data network monitoring technology company spun out of research done while he was at the University of Waikato. Endace, which was listed on the Alternative Investment Market in London, was sold to a US company, Emulex, in February. Emeritus Professor Graham and his wife Agi are long-time supporters of the University of Waikato Music programme, which last year celebrated 25 years since its foundation. Their $500,000 donation made this month follows on from other gifts the couple have made to the Music programme over many years. The latest gift is intended to be used within the next 2-3 years to help further enhance the profile of Music at the University of Waikato. Associate Professor Martin Lodge, the convenor of Music in the university's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, says they're humbled and exhilarated to have such strong backing from the Grahams.

Google software engineer and University of Waikato alumnus Dr Craig Nevill-Manning will be in Hamilton this week to talk about the lessons he’s learnt from working with technology companies in the US that could help the fledgling New Zealand tech-industry. Dr Nevill-Manning will share success stories from the tech hubs of Silicon Valley and New York at the New Zealand Computer Science Research Student Conference, which is being held at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts from 15-19 April. Dr Nevill-Manning, who will give the keynote address to PhD students and industry insiders from around the country tomorrow, 16 April, helped organise the first NZCSRSC conference while he was a PhD student in 1992. Conference organiser and University of Waikato research fellow Craig Taube-Schock says getting a successful alumnus such as Craig Nevill-Manning as the keynote speaker is a coup. Dr Nevill-Manning was awarded a University of Waikato Distinguished Alumnus award in 2010.

Economists at the University of Waikato say the way that China’s local populations have been counted during the reform era has caused the extent of disparity between China’s fast-growing coastal provinces and the poorer interior to be greatly overstated. Professor John Gibson has published an article with PhD student Chao Li in the latest issue of the international development studies journal World Development showing that much of the apparent trend in regional inequality is a statistical artefact. “For most of the reform era, China’s per capita statistics did not use counts of where people actually lived, but rather where they were registered under the Chinese hukou law,” says Professor Gibson. “The statistics didn’t take into account that millions of people had moved from their place of registration to find work.” He says this statistical anomaly meant that reported per capita income was overstated in coastal provinces and understated in the interior. The distortion grew bigger as the non-hukou migrants increased to over 100 million. When the counting system changed in the larger provinces in the 2000s and took into account the migrant workers when producing per capita statistics, coincidentally, inter-provincial inequality appeared to be greatly reduced. Full details of the report at:

For better or worse, the story of life on Earth starts with thermodynamics. It is the interplay of energy, information, evolution and life which is the topic for University of Waikato biologist Professor Vic Arcus’ Inaugural Professorial Lecture later this month. During the lecture Professor Arcus will consider the quote from famous Oxford chemist Professor Peter Atkins who said of the second law of thermodynamics that ‘no other law of science has contributed more to the liberation of the human spirit.’ “I’ll discuss whether the second law of thermodynamics contributes to our spirit or indeed, contributes to life on Earth at all,” says Professor Arcus. His Inaugural Professorial Lecture, Energy, Information, Evolution and Life, takes place on Tuesday 30 April in the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. The Opus Bar is open from 5pm; the lecture begins at 6pm. Inaugural Professorial Lectures are the university’s way of formally introducing new or recently appointed professors to the wider community. All lectures are free and open to the public.

University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar Brooke Neal has been called into the Black Sticks. Late last month she received a call out of the blue from Black Sticks Women's coach Mark Hager, and was extremely happy to take it. “I wasn't expecting the call,” says Brooke. “Last year I was in the Junior Black Sticks so got a taste for the environment and am really excited to now be a part of the Black Sticks squad. Hockey is in our family. My brother Shay is in the men's Black Sticks so I've learnt from him about what the environment is like, what is required and I definitely look up to him.” Brooke has worked her way through the age group levels - from an Under-16, Under-18 and now Under 21 player. Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarships are the University of Waikato's most prestigious scholarships and are awarded to students who are high academic achievers that are also achieving in the arts or sport. Scholars have their course fees covered, receive specialist coaching and mentoring and take part in personal development and leadership programmes.

The 2013 recipient of the Tess Embling Scholarship is biology student Laura Hines. Last year Laura completed her Bachelors degree in biological and earth sciences and is now starting her Masters in marine biology. Before enrolling at Waikato University Laura worked for two years at Hill Laboratories. “I am a person who believes hard work pays off, I believe Tess also had the same way of thinking. In reading the application for the scholarship I felt like we share the same level of passion and enthusiasm within science, specifically biology,” says Laura. Last year she received the Hamish Saunders Memorial Trust scholarship which allowed her to travel to Tasmania in December for two weeks to undertake a large scale conservation survey at Flinders Island. The Tess Embling Scholarship was established to commemorate the spirited life and achievements of Tess Embling. After establishing a successful career in IT, Tess made a brave move to pursue her love of nature through a science degree at the University of Waikato. Her motivation and hard work inspired many in the university community, and her death from cancer in 2010 was a great loss.

Nominations will close for the University of Waikato Distinguished Alumni Awards on Friday 26 April. The Distinguished Alumni Awards celebrate and honour graduates of the University of Waikato who have made outstanding contributions in their careers or communities. Past awardees include Sir Jerry Mateparae, New Zealand’s Governor-General; Warren Gatland, Welsh Rugby Coach; Theresa Gattung, former Telecom CEO and Dr Craig Nevill-Manning, Director for New York Engineering at Google. Graduates of the university holding a degree or diploma are eligible for nomination. All nominations are confidential and take into account excellence in the professional, cultural, creative and voluntary sectors. Nominations from alumni, current and former staff and friends of the university are encouraged by 26 April. Visit for further information.

Two University of Waikato students have received Balance Agri-Nutrients scholarships. Thomas Macdonald and Tom Woutersen were named as two of the four science students nationwide to be awarded the $4000 scholarships, which Ballance sees as an investment in New Zealand’s farming science talent pool. Thomas is in his third year of a Bachelor of Business Analysis student majoring in agri-business at the University of Waikato and already plans on going on to study a Masters in Professional Management. Tom is a past winner of the Ballance scholarship, as well as the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science Award, and has already contributed to agricultural research, working with AgResearch and DairyNZ on major trials around feed and rotary shed milking efficiency during his undergraduate studies. Originally from Cambridge, Tom completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in agri-science at Massey University, before coming to the University of Waikato to complete a Post Graduate Diploma in agri-business. Both want to be involved in sustainable farming after graduating.

The University of Waikato will host New Zealand's annual Moodle Moot next week. In 2008, the University of Waikato was the first New Zealand University to adopt Moodle as its learning management system. Now in 2013, Waikato is the first New Zealand university using Moodle to host the national conference for Moodle users. Moodle is an internet-based system for delivering e-learning programmes for educational and training organisations which is used around the world. The moot is a chance for users from around the country to get together and share their knowledge and experiences, says organising committee member and Moodle specialist Teresa Gibbison. Moodlers will attend hands-on workshops and discuss the technical development, how Moodle can aid teaching, and more general study during the three day conference being held in the Waikato Management School from 22-24 April. For more information visit

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