Media Advisory June 8

Agribusiness in focus for the University at Fieldays

This year's Fieldays theme, 'Growing our Capability in Agribusiness', is one the University of Waikato is embracing as it gets ready to showcase its latest research and innovation at the 2015 National Agricultural Fieldays. This year's Premier Feature stand will highlight how mutually beneficial links with industry are assisting research projects that are solving some of the world's big problems, with projects from students, graduates and researchers on show. The university has been a strategic partner of Fieldays since 2007, with founding Vice-Chancellor Sir Don Llewellyn helping establish the iconic event in the 1960s. The university will update live from Fieldays, using hashtag #Fieldays2015 on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. For more information, visit the University's Fieldays webpage:

Social history of medicine under the microscope

Do you trust your doctor? Is depression the pandemic of the 21st century? These are some of the questions raised by the social history of medicine, the topic of a free public lecture at the University of Waikato on Tuesday, June 16 at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. History Professor Cathy Coleborne will talk about how past generations of people understood illness in their own historical context; what language they gave to their symptoms, and how it was understood by doctors. She'll also explore the idea that a disease or illness is often bound by its time and place in history. Inaugural Professorial Lectures are free and open to the public and are the University of Waikato's way of introducing new professors and their research to the wider community. The lecture is at 6pm with the bar open from 5pm. Parking is at Gate 2B.

Research findings signal promising start for PhD student

University of Waikato PhD student Jack Pronger is conducting research on identifying approaches to increase pastoral drought resilience by using more diverse mixes of pasture species. He's comparing the seasonal water use of mixed-sward pasture systems with more traditional ryegrass/clover systems under dairy grazing. In the lead up to Fieldays, Jack is one year into the three-year project, and preliminary findings are signalling good things for farmers dealing with the ongoing effects of drought. In comparing the pasture systems, initial data analysis suggests the mixed-sward system is using less water, and using water more efficiently to produce biomass. Jack has received scholarships and support from the university, DairyNZ and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre. He is also the current recipient of the Flower Doctoral Fellowship in Agribusiness.

Making forestry harvesting easier

Ben McGuinness says he's always enjoyed making useful things. The University of Waikato PhD student is currently developing something that will no doubt be useful to the forestry industry – a system that automates the lifting and grading process of seedlings for forestry planting by using a robotic machine. The idea for the yet-to-be-named lifter/grader came when treestock company ArborGen needed help with the lifting and grading process of their seedlings. The machine will likely be ready for market in the next couple of years and is being supported by Callaghan Innovation funding in partnership with ArborGen and the University of Waikato. A prototype of the lifter/grader will be on show at the university's Premier Feature stand at Fieldays next week, June 10-13. For more information, visit

WEB days proving popular

More than 600 Year 12 and 13 students from the central North Island, along with 42 secondary school biology teachers from 22 schools, will take part in Waikato Experience Biology days, an event run by the University of Waikato's School of Science. The days are tomorrow, June 9 and Wednesday June 10. Students will attend lectures given by university academics on topics such as biotechnology, plant responses to the environment and animal behaviour, examination of human skulls, and the process of evolution. In addition, a practical laboratory session featuring key elements of biotechnology methodology will be investigated.

Changes to the University of Waikato Council constitution

The Education Amendment Act 2015 was passed in February this year and makes significant changes to university governance. A key change is that the number of council members is reduced to between eight and 12 (the current University of Waikato Council has 18 members). In response to the new legislation, the university council has proposed a new constitution for effect from December 10 and is inviting stakeholder feedback, with submissions open until June 26. Submissions on the university's proposed new constitution are invited and may be made to the Secretary to Council at

Trees and paintings for former Vice-Chancellor

The legacy of former University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Dr Roy Crawford CNZM will continue to grow on the Hamilton campus thanks to a tree planted in his honour. A recent Queen's Birthday honouree, Dr Crawford was joined by his family as well as current and former university staff on campus recently for a ceremony to plant the commemorative kauri tree and unveil his portrait painted by artist Henry Christian-Slane and commissioned by the university.

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