Media Advisory September 16

The University of Waikato presents three alumni with Distinguished Alumni Awards this week. Distinguished Professor of Mathematics Marston Conder, Māori Land Court Judge Stephanie Milroy and Singaporean design-agency owner Edmund Wee will be officially recognised for their achievements on Friday 20 September. Marston Conder completed his Masters in mathematics at Waikato before gaining his doctorate from Oxford University. He then began what would become a 30-year career at the University of Auckland, serving as Head of the Mathematics Department and as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research). Stephanie Milroy lectured in the University of Waikato’s Faculty of Law while studying for her Masters, and after graduating was appointed as a Judge to the Māori Land Court Bench and later Deputy Chair of the Waitangi Tribunal. Edmund Wee earned his Masters in psychology, returning to Singapore to work as a military psychologist before embarking on a career-change as a journalist and design editor. He now owns Singapore-based design and publishing agency Epigram.

As countries explore ways to boost Asian languages, the Asia New Zealand Foundation is holding a public forum to discuss the state of language learning in New Zealand. The forum - Is English enough in the Asian Century? - will take place from 5.30pm to 7pm on Thursday 19 September at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at the University of Waikato. The forum will be moderated by Chris Laidlaw, well-known for his Sunday morning radio show on Radio New Zealand National. Six panellists from the education and business sectors will offer a variety of perspectives: Professor Stephen May (Deputy Dean, Research, Faculty of Education and Professor, Te Puna Wānanga, School of Māori Education, the University of Auckland), Jeff Johnstone (Director Education, Asia New Zealand Foundation), Ian Meadows (Business Development Manager, Security, Gallagher Group), Laytee George (Educational Relationships Co-ordinator – Schools at Waiariki Institute of Technology, Rotorua), Kurt Mullane (Director, Asia Education Foundation (AEF), The Asialink Centre, University of Melbourne), and William Flavell (Head of Māori Studies at Rutherford College, Auckland). Asia New Zealand Foundation executive director John McKinnon hopes the forum will help raise interest in and awareness of the benefits of speaking more than one language.

One of the country’s leading commentators on Syria says the “Russian Plan” may offer the world in general, and the United States in particular, a way out of its current predicament. University of Waikato Law Professor Alexander Gillespie is more optimistic of a peaceful solution to the current crisis over Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons after Russia suggested Syria’s chemical weapons stocks be handed over to UN control and destroyed. The US has shown cautious optimism to the plan, while Syria’s ruling party has apparently agreed to it. However, Professor Gillespie says the plan is not without pitfalls. Professor Gillespie is giving a free public lecture about Syria today at the Bongard Centre, lecture theatre 106, 200 Cameron Road, Tauranga at 6pm.

University of Waikato students collected five of the seven New Horizons for Women Trust Second Chance Awards at an awards ceremony recently. Two of the university students were from Tauranga studying for their Bachelor of Social Work. All award recipients were mature women and single parents with inspirational stories who have worked hard to achieve. The Second Chance Education Awards are for women enrolled in a New Zealand-approved tertiary qualification and who do not already have a tertiary qualification. The awards are a one-off grant of $3000 to help with study and/or living expenses. The New Horizons for Women Trust provides grants to assist women develop their potential.

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust will present a lecture at the University of Waikato on Wednesday 25 September. The lecture will outline the roles and responsibilities NZHPT has under the provisions of the Historic Places Act 1993 and how these are carried out using examples from the Waikato region. Staff from varied backgrounds will describe the work they undertake on a day-to-day basis, and how they interact with the public, local and other government agencies, marae, and landowners in their role of contributing to the preservation preserving heritage. The free public lecture will be from 1pm-2pm on campus in room S.1.02.

A group of University of Waikato mechanical engineering students have unveiled their masterpiece – an electric car they will race 3000km from Darwin to Adelaide over six days next month. The team has been working on the refurbishment of the car for the past six months in preparation for the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge which begins in Darwin on 6 October. The university’s electric car was built in 2007. Its latest refurbishment has included reformatting of the suspension system and upgrading control systems, brakes and the body shell. This year the university car has been invited by the WSC organisers to pioneer the new EVolution (EV for electric vehicle) class aimed at demonstrating practical and low environmental impact vehicles. As well as pioneering the EVolution Class, it will be the only New Zealand car in the event. The students plan to travel the 3000kms over six days at highway speeds of 90km/h or more.

The University of Waikato presents three former staff with honorary awards on Wednesday. Professor Roberta Farrell will be awarded the title of Emeritus Professor for her pioneering discoveries in the field of biochemical science including research on the deterioration of Scott and Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition huts. Associate Professor Alan Langdon, a leader in the development of the University’s science and technology programmes and a pioneer in forging links between academic research and local and regional industry, will be awarded the title of Honorary Fellow. Professor Roy Daniel will be awarded the title Emeritus Professor for his outstanding academic leadership and research contribution in the field of biochemistry, and in recognition of his long career in enzyme properties.

Waikato University PhD music student and composer Jeremy Mayall has been awarded a prestigious Mozart Fellowship from the University of Otago to focus on his composition. Jeremy is in the final year of his PhD thesis in music composition, and he says he plans to use the 12-month Mozart Fellowship to write a new, larger scale orchestral work and a number of new chamber works continuing the cross-genre compositional focus he has been refining as part of his PhD studies. The Mozart Fellowship is New Zealand's premier composer residency, being the longest established, the best paid and most prestigious. Before this fellowship, Jeremy says that his greatest achievement was performing turntables with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra playing his Symphony No.1, the first symphony to amalgamate hip hop into “turntableism”. Jeremy is looking forward to having the time to dedicate towards his own creative endeavours once his fellowship begins on February 1, 2014.

The University of Waikato’s Science Learning Hub (SLH) is one of five winners in the e-learning and science category competing at the World Summit Awards. It’s one of only two of the original eight New Zealand entries to have made it this far in the competition. More than 40 winners have been selected from 461 submissions and now have a chance to win the overall World Summit Award (WSA) for 2013. The 40 WSA winners have been invited to present their projects at the WSA Global Congress 2013 in Sri Lanka in October. The SLH showcases science using multimedia and demonstrates the relevance of scientific research to our everyday lives, geared to students and teachers in Years 2-10. The jury commented that the SLH’s richness, high quality content, and smooth design were “behind the success of this wonderful educative and learning portal” and went on to say that although the SLH is designed for New Zealanders, it is very useful for all countries as a good scientific reference.

Five University of Waikato staff have been announced as finalists in the 2013 KuDos science awards, which acknowledge and celebrate science excellence in the Waikato. Two of them - Nihal Kularatna (Engineering, FSEN) and Dr Graeme Doole (Economics, WMS) – were also finalists in last year’s awards. They are joined in the finals this year by Dr Johan Verbeek (Engineering, FSEN), Dr Daniel Laughlin (Biology, FSEN) and Professor Bill Henderson (Chemistry, FSEN). The KuDos Awards were launched in 2007 to celebrate scientific innovations from within the region. Mr Kularatna and Dr Verbeek are in the Hill Laboratories Science Entrepreneur category; Dr Doole and Dr Laughlin are in the Hamilton City Council Emerging Scientist category while Professor Henderson is in the Wintec Secondary School Science Teacher/Communicator/Educator category. This year’s winners will be announced on 26 September.

Novelist, poet and academic, Vincent O’Sullivan is returning to the Waikato to present this year’s Frank Sargeson lecture at the University of Waikato. Emeritus Professor Vincent O’Sullivan taught at Waikato from 1968-1978. His novel Let the River Stand won the 1994 Montana Book Award; in 2006 he was awarded the Prime Minister's Award for literary achievement, and this year he was named Poet Laureate. The Sargeson Lecture takes place at S.G.02 at 5.30pm on 30 October when Professor O’Sullivan will talk about Sargeson’s personal and professional relationship with author Dan Davin. The lecture is free and open to the public, and will consider some of the currents, and cross-currents, of that friendship.

New Zealand’s rising income inequality and its implications are the subject of a new book – Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis. Among the book’s contributors is University of Waikato Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith. She’ll be talking about income inequality in the Waikato as part of a panel discussion taking place at the University this Wednesday 18 September. Professor Smith will be joined on the panel by labour markets researcher at Waikato Dr Bill Cochrane and the book’s editor Max Rashbrooke, and Waikato Management School Acting Dean Associate Professor John Tressler will chair the panel. The panel discussion will take place at the PWC lecture theatre at Waikato Management School, Hillcrest Road, Hamilton and starts at 6pm, free and open to the public.

University of Waikato Earth Scientist Professor Peter Kamp has been awarded $2.07 million funding to continue research into energy efficiency in the dairy sector. Professor Kamp is the leader of the University’s Energy Research Group and has been leading a team of researchers working with Fonterra milk processing plants to find ways to improve air flow during the drying process, which in turn substantially improves energy efficiency. The new funding was announced during the latest round of Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment grants and will run until 2016. Professor Kamp says this latest research contract picks up where an earlier one leaves off and will allow the researchers to continue their experiments, simulations, numerical modelling and analysis with Fonterra and assist a move into working with other industry, including timber.

Stoats are generally considered capable of swimming up to about 1.5km, but the discovery of a stoat on Rangitoto Island (3km offshore) in 2010, and another on Kapiti (5km offshore) in 2011 suggested they may be able to get their little legs paddling for much greater distances. University of Waikato Associate Professor Carolyn (Kim) King and a team from the Faculty of Science and Engineering decided to find out just how far. So she bought 10 stoats from Lincoln University, flew them to Hamilton, allowed them to jump into a water-filled flume with a continuous current flowing through it, and watched them go. One female – clearly the Lauren Boyle of the stoat world – covered 1.8km in nearly two hours non-stop swimming, while three others swam strongly for more than an hour and another four chalked up between 20 and 40 minutes paddling. While the results were not conclusive, the study did show that stoats were capable of swimming much greater distances than previously thought, a fact which has implications for offshore island wildlife sanctuaries once believed to be at little or no risk of invasion by stoats.

Politicians and members of the LGBT community will host a seminar tonight, 7pm – ‘What’s next on the LGBT agenda?’ – at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at the University of Waikato. Following the success of the Marriage Amendment Act, the seminar will discuss the social and political change still needed to address the marginalisation of queer communities. The panel will feature Labour General Secretary and long-time gay rights activist Tim Barnett; Green MP Jan Logie and Tommy Hamilton, former Executive Director of Rainbow Youth and spokesperson for transgender issues. The seminar is the brainchild of University of Waikato student and Vice-President of the University’s LGBT student club, UniQ Waikato, Jackson Mason-Mackay. Jackson is in his final year of a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree in demography and the Community Service Director for the Waikato chapter of the Golden Key International Honours Society. He’s also the coordinator of the ‘Gay Day Out’, held on campus Wednesday 18 September as part of Hamilton’s Pride Week.

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