Media Advisory April 8

The sale of state-owned assets such as Mighty River Power, new wind farms, our lake-water storage issues and use of non-renewable energy fuels such as coal, mean energy issues are seldom out of the news in New Zealand. But we’re not the only country wrestling with energy issues. Michael Dworkin is Professor of Law and Director of the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School in the USA. He’s giving a free public lecture at the University of Waikato today, Monday 8 April, talking about his experience as chairman of the Vermont Public Service Board that had to decide whether to approve proposals for multi-decade contracts for most of the state’s power from hydo-electric, nuclear, coal, and renewable generation, or to reduce those purchases by investing in energy efficiency, such as insulation, improved motors and better lighting equipment. In this presentation, he will review three major energy proposals that were litigated in front of him and will discuss both the quasi-judicial process used to make such decisions and the substantive issues of economics, reliability, and environmental impacts that are interwoven with all major energy choices. Today’s lecture will be in S.1.01 at 5pm.

Entertainer Ash Puriri and his wife Karleen are both graduating at the University of Waikato’s Te Kohinga Mārama marae tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday 9 April, one of two marae ceremonies taking place tomorrow. Their four children and plenty of whanau will be on hand to see Ash receive a Master of Management Studies in tourism management and Karleen will be conferred with a Bachelor of Electronic Commerce. Ash Puriri is known as a singer of opera, a Barry White impersonator, and is a long-time headliner on cruise ships. He continued to work while studying for his masters and is now Waikato management School’s Adviser in Māori Enterprise. His wife, who formerly had her own photography business, is now hoping to find work in iwi development. Other Waikato University graduation ceremonies take place next week - 16 - 18 April in Hamilton at the Claudelands Arena and 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.

Google software engineer and University of Waikato alumnus Dr Craig Nevill-Manning will be in Hamilton next 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 on 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 said 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.

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. Professor Arcus’ 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.

The University of Waikato is to confer an Honorary Doctorate, the university’s highest honour, on Hamilton businessman Bernie Crosby at the University’s graduation ceremony at Claudelands Arena on 18 April. Mr Crosby and his wife Kaye founded Prolife Foods in the 1980s and have grown the company into one of New Zealand’s largest privately owned and operated food businesses. The Te Rapa-based company supplies quality food products to supermarkets in both New Zealand and Australia. Prolife Foods employs more than 600 people and is one of the country’s largest importers, manufacturers and marketers of nuts, dried fruit, snacks, cereals and confectionary products. Alongside Prolife Foods, Mr Crosby has held directorships at several other companies and 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. He has also initiated a campaign to raise $1 million over five years to fund neurological research into Parkinson’s disease.

Waikato University’s Professor Diana Coben is one of three distinguished researchers who’ve been invited to represent New Zealand at an international conference on the new Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). PIAAC is the most comprehensive international survey of adult skills ever undertaken and Professor Coben, who’s Director of the National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults, based at the university, says it aims to contribute to deeper understanding of populations, and also assess adults’ ability to solve problems in technology-rich environments alongside their literacy and numeracy skills. It will also reveal how New Zealand compares with other countries. Thirty-three countries are taking part in the survey and the conference, hosted by the OECD, and will bring together researchers who are potential users of PIAAC data – of which Professor Coben is one – and whose work could add value to the data.

Papua New Guinea scholar Sangion Tiu has been announced as the inaugural winner of the Dr Zena Daysh Fellowship in Sustainability at the University of Waikato. The Fellowship is named for New Zealand-born Zena Daysh, founder and Chair of the Commonwealth Human Ecology Council and a long-time advocate for sustainability. The University of Waikato conferred an honorary doctorate on her in London in 2009 and when she passed away in 2011 a generous bequest was made from her estate to fund the Fellowship. The Fellowship provides course fees and living expenses for a student undertaking research in sustainability towards a doctoral degree at the University of Waikato. Sangion is working towards her PhD researching traditional ecological knowledge and sustainability with implications for developing a policy framework for sustainability education in Papua New Guinea.

Two University of Waikato teams entered in the Microsoft Imagine Cup have come away with category wins. The Microsoft Imagine Cup, the world's largest technology competition, invites tertiary students from around the globe to create software using Microsoft applications to find real solutions to real-world problems. This year students were asked to choose from one of three categories; Innovation, World Citizenship, or Gaming. The My Storyteller team of Brian Cole, Ersin Buckley, Marcel Beetz and Shawnee Kitson came out victorious, winning first place in the Innovation category and taking away $6000 in prize money. The My Storyteller app lets parents pre-record stories as videos, so they can 'read to' their children even while at work or travelling. Customisable stories are provided by the application, and parents are given 'karaoke style' prompts to read while recording. Children can read along on-screen as the video is played back to them. Fellow University of Waikato team APPortunists came second in the World Citizenship category, taking $2000 in prize money. They developed a medical system accessible via web browsers and smartphones that allows the capture and maintenance of medical records in the developing world. The New Zealand final took place in Auckland late last month.

The University of Waikato will host New Zealand's annual Moodle Moot this month. 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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