Media Advisory June 10

A love for dogs and their welfare prompted University of Waikato student Clare Browne to research dog training for her PhD - specifically the timing of rewards. The idea of the research came when she discovered quite a lot of research on rewards and delayed reinforcement for rats, pigeons and other animals - but none on dogs. "That may be due to the difficulty of designing an experiment for dogs," says Clare. "If we give a command to a dog and don't reward them immediately, they may pick up on the smallest of cues from us, such as reaching towards our pockets or a slight posture change." Alongside her PhD, Clare has teamed up with the Hamilton City Council Animal Education and Control and the Hamilton SPCA to offer dog behaviour and training seminars free to the public. "We just wanted to offer some advice to dog owners on basic dog behaviour, such as how to identify if your dog is stressed out, how to avoid common behaviour problems and that sort of thing," says Clare. The next seminar will be held on June 17 at 6.30pm at Bridge Street Animates store. Contact Bridge Street Animates to register; places are limited.

Top players in agribusiness get together tomorrow night, the eve of Fieldays to discuss building export earnings from agribusiness innovation. The University Commercialisation offices of New Zealand (UCONZ) symposium event is hosted by the University of Waikato and keynote speakers include the Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce, Director General of the Ministry for Primary Industries Wayne McNee and Sarah Kennedy who is Managing Director of Fonterra Nutrition. Chaired by Waikato University's Professor of Agribusiness Jacqueline Rowarth, the panel will include Dr John Sharpe, CEO of CytonomeST, a high-tech Boston-based company that develops laser-based biomedical instrumentation, Dr Bert Quin, Director of international fertiliser consultancy Quin Environmentals (NZ) Ltd, Geoff Furniss, CEO of advanced fruit processing technology company BBC Technologies Ltd and Stuart Gordon, CEO of Waikato Innovation Park Ltd and former CEO of Livestock Improvement Corporation. On a lighter note, judging will take place for the finals of an inaugural Waikato Milk Cocktail competition. From 4pm to 8pm, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, Gate 2B Knighton Road, University of Waikato campus. The University of Waikato is one of two strategic partners of Fieldays.

This week, nearly one hundred Year 13 chemistry enthusiasts from around the central North Island will descend on the University of Waikato for the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry Analytical Chemistry Competition. Twenty-four teams of four students - 96 in all - will be set an analytical task requiring accurate and careful analysis of an unknown substance. The results will be judged, with prizes and trophies awarded courtesy of sponsors the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (Waikato Branch), Hill Laboratories and the University of Waikato. The event will be held at the University's chemistry labs on the 3rd floor of F Block 3rd on Wednesday, 12 June, 9.30am - 4.00pm.

Ten new research scholarships valued at $5000 each are offered in B Semester from the University of Waikato's Faculty of Science & Engineering. The School of Science Masters Research Scholarships are offered in specific, predetermined areas of research including volcanology, coastal systems, geothermal systems, aquatic ecology, plant ecology, plant ecophysiology, chemistry, extremophile microbiology and Antarctic microbiology. Applicants should be eligible to enrol for the first time in a Master of Science in B Semester 2013 and must have an excellent academic record. Microbiologist Professor Craig Cary is just of the supervisors available for the scholarship projects. Prof Cary will offer a student the chance to work towards understanding the distribution and function of Antarctic terrestrial microbial communities. As part of a large international terrestrial Antarctic programme this project will focus on examining microbial communities in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Applications for all 10 scholarships close June 19, 2013. For details go to

Making mistakes is not only a natural part of life, it can lead to new discoveries. That's according to University of Waikato Professor of Engineering Ilanko Sinniah, whose upcoming Inaugural Professorial Lecture looks at the behaviour of structures - how they move, how they undergo stress and how they vibrate. He says structures, like people, will undergo more stress when they are less flexible - the theme of his lecture and the focus of his research and teaching. When Professor Ilanko mistakenly put a negative symbol in front of a 'mass' in a complex engineering calculation in his PhD thesis, he inadvertently discovered a possible refinement to the 'Penalty method', a common numerical problem that has plagued scientists and engineers for more than 60 years. The resulting calculations led to more than 15 peer-reviewed journal articles and some healthy debate among his Engineering peers. "One reviewer went so far as to call it 'black magic', so in engineering circles 'negative mass' is probably still quite controversial." Professor Ilanko's Lecture, Turning negatives into positives: The mistaken negative mass and why it is important to take a flexible attitude to life, will be held at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on Tuesday, 25 June 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.

A University of Waikato masters student has been awarded $10,000 to continue his study of microbial communities in Antarctica. Josh Scarrow is one of five Waikato students and among 34 nationwide awarded a Freemasons University Scholarships which have totalled nearly $250,000 this year. Josh's research focuses on the Beardmore Glacier Region of the Central Transantarctic Mountains where he spent five months with the South Australian Museum team on a biodiversity survey of Antarctica's Prince Charles Mountains. The research has the potential to inform many fields, including climate change and the search for life on Mars.

A new play about the troubled life of James Joyce’s daughter Lucia, an aspiring performer who suffered from schizophrenia, features at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on Friday. Directed and performed by Jan Bolwell, Dancing in the Wake tells the story of Lucia’s life through dance, drama and music. Diagnosed in her mid-20s with schizophrenia, Lucia trained at the Paris studio of Isadora and Raymond Duncan and aspired to be a famous dancer. Bolwell says the play explores what can happen to the talented child of a very famous parent in struggling for recognition and a sense of identity. The play won critical acclaim at the 2012 Wellington Fringe Festival and is touring through Arts On Tour New Zealand with funding from Creative New Zealand. The play is on this Friday, 14 June, at 7.30pm. Entry $25 adults, $20 concessions, $10 students (tertiary and secondary). For more information visit

Visiting the birthplace of the iPad has given a group of Waikato educators the chance to see first-hand how American teachers are utilising technology. Among the Waikato group visiting Apple HQ in Cupertino, Stanford University and four San Francisco schools was University of Waikato lecturer Bill Ussher, Hukanui School principal David Mossop and Hukanui School ICT team leader Mike Fitness. The group was among 15 New Zealand educators to observe and talk with American teachers, students, school leaders and technology developers about the use of laptops and iPads in a teaching and learning environment. Dr Ussher says recent research indicates digital technology can improve learning outcomes for children. "This tour provided an opportunity to explore the successes being achieved by San Francisco schools."

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) has awarded six postdoctoral writing awards to students who have completed PhDs in the past 12 months. Advertised as the Postdoctoral Stipendiary Awards 2013, the awards are available to recent PhD students in the faculty with plans to publish in collaboration with academic staff and also help send a signal that there are opportunities for PhD students beyond the doctoral research and writing process. The awards provide six emerging academics with a three-month opportunity to produce high quality publications from their research, and to work collaboratively with academic staff in the faculty. Catharine Coleborne, Associate Dean Graduate and Postgraduate for FASS, says the awards foster research collaboration in the faculty.

Twenty-four University of Waikato science and education students who, along with academic success, have demonstrated qualities of character, initiative, enterprise, ingenuity and leadership, have been awarded $5000 scholarships from the David Johnstone Charitable Trust. David Johnstone was a well-known and successful Waikato farming identity who had little formal education but knew its value and established the Trust to help young people further theirs. Administered by the Guardian Trust, the David Johnstone Charitable Trust has distributed nearly $1 million in the past five years. Trustee Jim Stewart encouraged the new scholars, who are all first-year students, to embrace all aspects of university life and any opportunities the Scholarship might bring.

Waikato's Te Piringa - Faculty of Law hosts the 11th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium from 24–28 June. Hosting international environmental law conferences in New Zealand is a rare event, and the 2013 colloquium will be only the third international environmental law conference to be held in New Zealand since 1991, and the first time that the colloquium has been hosted in this country. The Academy was established by the International Union for Conservation (IUCN) in 2003, and has grown to become a network of more than 500 environmental law academics from more than 160 universities based in more than 50 countries. Trevor Daya-Winterbottom is Associate Dean Research at Te Piringa - Faculty of Law and chair of the organising committee for this year's colloquium. He says for a country that has significant economic focus on primary production, developing a coherent body of sound environmental law is an important foundation for future growth and prosperity. "Hosting the colloquium in New Zealand provides a unique opportunity for thought leadership, exposing our environmental law academics to leading international developments in the field from other countries, and similarly providing an opportunity for overseas academics to learn something from us." For more information go to 

The University of Waikato is holding an information evening for people wanting to begin or resume study in July. The session will be held at the Student Centre on Wednesday 19 June from 4.30-7pm. A variety of papers in all faculties are available for study in B Semester which begins next month.

More than 650 kiwi kids examined the contents of around 100 kiwifruit last week during the University of Waikato's annual Waikato Experience Biology (WEB) Days. The Year 12 and 13 secondary school students from around the central North Island spent time in the University's biological sciences laboratories from 5-6 June, learning the skill of extracting DNA from kiwifruit. The students also attended lectures given by Waikato University academics on topics such as DNA technologies, plant responses to the environment and animal behaviour, human evolution, and the process of evolution. Schools were invited to register their students for the laboratory sessions and lectures which covered topics relevant to the Year 13 curriculum.

Loud engines, fumes and mud are what would usually be expected from a tractor-pull competition but not at this event. Last week the University of Waikato hosted a tractor-pull of the electric kind, featuring model-tractors designed and built by secondary school students. The competition was held during Osborne Physics and Engineering (OsPEn) Days and required secondary school physics students to create a small battery-powered model tractor that could tow a loaded model trailer a distance of five metres up a 4 degree inclined plane. The winners of the Thursday competition were a team from Waiuku College. Their model-tractor sped up the ramp in the fastest overall time of 15 seconds while pulling a 500-gram trailer. The winning team during the Friday competition was Gabe Hawkins, James Flett and Myles Couldwell from St Peter's School, Cambridge. The competition was part of the University of Waikato's 27th annual OsPEn Days, aimed at Year 12 and 13 students who are high achievers in science. More than 600 students from as far afield as New Plymouth and Hawke's Bay attended lectures and practical demonstrations during the event.

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