Media Advisory 31 July, 2017

31 July 2017

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 Hawkes 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

The closest we ever came to nuclear warOverconfidence in the controllability of nuclear weapons creates danger. The passing of the last elite witness of the most dangerous nuclear crisis (the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’) and the current Trump administration only make this more salient. Associate Professor Benoît Pelopidas from the Centre for International Studies, Sciences Po, Paris, affiliate at Stanford and visiting fellow at Princeton, is giving a public lecture at the University of Waikato this week. He’ll revisit the experience, and subsequent memorialisation, of specific nuclear crises in light of newly available primary sources worldwide, assess the controllability of these crises and challenge a widespread assumption which automatically links the presence of nuclear weapons with a fear-induced deterrent effect. He’ll also explain why it is essential to seriously consider the role of luck in nuclear crises. Dr Benoît Pelopidas’ lecture takes place on Thursday 3 August at 6pm in S.G.01.
Dr Reuben Steff, 027 3572 663 or

International Marine Biotech Convention in the Bay
The Bay of Plenty will host the International Marine Biotechnology Convention next month, which is being held in New Zealand for the first time. The ‘Blue2Green’ Marine Biotechnology Convention will take place from August 8–10 in Tauranga, including a joint meeting between the newly formed Australia New Zealand Marine Biotechnology Society (a member of the International Marine Biotechnology Association), the International Conference on Coastal Biotechnology (convened in China), and the New Zealand Aquaculture Science Association. Convention Chair and Director of the University of Waikato’s Coastal Marine Research Station in Tauranga, Professor Chris Battershill, says Blue2Green is designed to splice research interests and explore new opportunities, with a central theme of environmental sustainability linked to development of new high-value marine industries. To register or for more information visit
Contact: Elle Stewart, 021 0878 4659 or

Learning more about explosion scienceEngineer Dr Aaron Low will learn more about explosion science and safety when he travels to the UK later this year. The Waikato University alumnus is the recipient of this year’s Earle Travel Fellowship, awarded once a year to encourage young professional engineers and food technologists to increase their knowledge and skills through overseas travel and improve technology in New Zealand. Dr Low works at Ligar, a company that specialises in commercial filtration to extract organic and inorganic molecules using polymers; a spin-off business from Waikato Institute of Technology formed with assistance from WaikatoLink (the University of Waikato’s commercialisation and technology-transfer company). Dr Lowe will complete an ICHEME (Institution of Chemical Engineers) training course at Rugby where he’ll study explosion science and safety and also visit other businesses to discuss potential collaborations. He also plans to travel to San Francisco to study the polymerisation process in more depth.
Contact: Dr Aaron Low, 021 264 7250 or

Tauranga hosts leading sports performance innovatorsThe University of Waikato is hosting a Sports Performance Innovation Forum in August as part of Tauranga’s inaugural Groundswell Festival. Taking place at the University of Waikato’s Adams Centre for High Performance Sport at Mount Maunganui, the forum will feature a line-up of leading sports performance professionals who will cover the anatomy from head to toe. Speakers include Steve Stanley from Siliconcoach - a software company advancing sports performance - who will cover the eyes, cricket commentator Peter McGlashan who will cover the hands, exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist Dr Stacy Sims from the University’s High Performance Centre, who will cover the belly, and Wade Flanagan, Innovation Developer at Nike, who will cover the feet.  The event takes place on Wednesday 9 August from 9am-2pm at 52 Miro Street, MountMaunganui. For more information visit:
Contact: Anthea McLeary, 07 557 8960 or

Doing our BitRefugee campaigner Murdoch Stephens is giving a public lecture at the University of Waikato next week, hosted by Te Piringa – Faculty of Law. Mr Stephens supports doubling New Zealand’s refugee quota and will “untangle” some of the psychological determinants that will always see refugees viewed as a cost. He’ll also talk about how his ‘Doing our Bit’ campaign came about and its development from radical fringes to a mainstream position. The lecture ‘From principle to practice: doing our bit for refugees in a time of politicised migration’ takes place on Wednesday 9 August, 11am-12pm in L.G.05.  On Friday 4 August 1-2pm, the University will host an online Q & A to discuss the refugee quota issue. Go to
Contact: (For lecture information) Ella McIntosh, 07 838 4466 ext 6477 or

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