Media Advisory 14 August 2017

14 August 2017

New Tauranga lecture series looks at survival of the European Union
In the second of its free public lectures in Tauranga, the University of Waikato is hosting Dr Simona Soare, the Security and Defence Advisor to the Vice-President of the European Parliament. Dr Soare will discuss ‘Europe in crisis: the impact of populism, migration and terrorism’. She will explore how the integration of Europe is threatened and how democracy is in danger of being rolled back under the impact of these threats. A Research Associate with the Institute d'Études Européennes (IEE) at Université Saint Louis in Belgium, Dr Soare researches, advises and drafts policy on European and transatlantic security, including the EU Global Strategy, the EU-US security dialogue, EU-NATO relations, EU relations with emerging powers, and transnational and trans-regional security issues. Her lecture is at Trinity Wharf, 51 Dive Crescent, Tauranga, on Thursday 17 August. Doors open at 5.30pm. Lecture starts at 6pm. To register and for more information visit Contact: Anthea McLeary 022 0681069 or

Three-Minute Thesis Final
The University of Waikato 3MT competition challenges doctoral candidates to explain their research to an intelligent but non-specialist audience in no more than three minutes, using just one Powerpoint slide. The winner will be awarded the Professor John D. McCraw Memorial Trophy for Outstanding Oratory Presentation of Doctoral Research and $1000 in research funding, as well as representing Waikato at the 2017 Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition at the University of Queensland next month. This showcase of some of the hottest new researchers will take place on Wednesday 16 August at 7pm in the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. Contact: Professor Kay Weaver 07 8585066, 027 222 8149 or

A sound idea
We take accuracy in weights and measures for granted, but accuracy cannot be guaranteed when measuring soundwaves. Professor Jonathan Scott from the School of Engineering at the University of Waikato says current methods for measuring acoustic properties of things, such as the sound damping of furnishings, pasture dry-matter yield, the sonar cross section of an insect or a torpedo, have not advanced much for decades. He’s received seed funding from the  Science for Technological Innovation (SfTI) National Science Challenge to build an acoustic version of a vector-corrected network analyser (AVNA) that measures acoustic pressure waves. Professor Scott says with an ANVA, soundwaves will be measured hundreds of times faster and with traceable accuracy. He is working with PhD student Marcus Macdonnell and Dr John Cater at the University of Auckland. Contact: Professor Jonathan Scott,  07 838 4909.

Computer science and te reo Māori, a winning combination University of Waikato computer scientist Dr Taka Keegan has won the 2017 Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Excellence in Tertiary Teaching. Dr Keegan (Waikato-Maniapoto, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Whakaaue) has been teaching for more than 30 years using a Māori teaching philosophy and is the only person known to have taught a computer science paper completely in te reo Māori. The annual Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards (TTEA) recognise and encourage excellence in tertiary education.  Dr Keegan has also been instrumental in raising the profile of te reo Māori in computing and on the internet. He worked with Microsoft to macronise the keyboard, now a Microsoft standard, and worked on the translation of Office 2003 and Windows XP into Māori. He has worked with Google on various projects including the translation of the Google Web Search interface into Māori, a feature that was released in 2008 and then worked at Google Head Office to develop a translation toolkit that led to Google Translate for te reo Māori. Contact: Alison Robertson, 07 858 5135, 027 309 4420, or

Potential in the blockchain
The blockchain isn’t new to computer scientists, but its technology keeps changing and its potential is under-developed. Computer scientist Professor Steve Reeves has been awarded nearly $200,000 seed funding from the Science for Technological Innovation (SfTI) National Science Challenge to investigate further possibilities for the blockchain. The blockchain is the distributed ledger or decentralised database that keeps all records of digital transactions, such as Bitcoin. It is easily located, secure but has no single owner or controller. Professor Reeves says he thinks its use could be expanded from banking to use in libraries for catalogues and interloans, and for Māori as a site for taonga. With the SfTI funding, Professor Reeves plans to take on a postdoctoral researcher and develop a prototype that will accommodate taonga and other information. He says blockchains reduce the need for a third party, and enable better information sharing and better, more efficient, business processes. Contact: Professor Steve Reeves, 07 838 4398, 021 648558, or

Is there life on Mars?
As our ability to extend observations beyond earth improves, planetary scientists are looking anew to the potential for life on other planets – a field called astrobiology. But it’s about more than hunting for ET. How did life start on Earth and get to where it is today? What are the limits to life? And what are indisputable signs of life once there but now gone? These are some of the questions Professor Ian Hawes, an aquatic biologist, will address in his Inaugural Professorial Lecture ‘Windows to other worlds: Antarctic lakes, astrobiology and milestone moments for life on ancient Earth’. Professor Hawes will talk about extraordinary events in the evolution of life on Earth and discuss the only known modern “oxygen oasis” he recently discovered with his collaborators in Lake Fryxell, Antarctica.  His lecture takes place on Tuesday 15 August starting at 5.15pm. It is free and open to the public. Parking is free after 4.30pm in the University of Waikato’s Gate 1 (Knighton Road) carpark.
Contact: Margaret Hegarty, 07 838 9564, or

Moving from one state to another
The third TEDxRuakura event is taking place at the University of Waikato on August 20. University staff and alumni make up four of the 10 speakers at this year’s event. They are cyber security specialist Associate Professor Ryan Ko, Educationalist Professor Michael Peters and alumnae Tania Jones, a design thinking facilitator and marketing manager, and Linda Radosinska, a former HR manager turned fine art photographer and filmmaker. Speakers will explore the movement or transition from one state of being to another in TEDxRuakura 2017’s theme ‘Beyond’. TedxRuakura runs 10am-5pm with tickets available from
Contact: Kylie Rae, 0204 130 5060, or

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