World-changing research. Free lectures.

The Hamilton Public Lecture Series (known within the University as the Inaugural Professorial Lecture Series) introduces our newest professors to the community and gives them a chance to demonstrate how their work is having a real impact on the world around us.

All lectures are free, open to the public and held at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on Tuesdays (dates below) beginning at 5.15pm. A cash bar is open from 4.30pm.

The 2018 Hamilton Public Lecture Series schedule

Date Professor Faculty
20 March Professor Mere Berryman Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education
17 April Professor Troy Baisden School of Science, Faculty of Science and Engineering
15 May Professor Samuel Charlton School of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
19 June Professor Karin Bryan School of Science, Faculty of Science and Engineering
17 July Professor Michael Walmsley School of Engineering, Faculty of Science and Engineering
21 August Professor Rangi Matamua Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies
18 September Professor Don Klinger Dean, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education
23 October Professor Tim Coltman Dean, Waikato Management School


Educational Testing and Assessment: Potentials and Pitfalls

Professor Don Klinger, Dean of Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education

18 September 2018

You’ll have heard the arguments for and against nationwide testing in the education sector, and Professor Don Klinger knows the pros and cons better than most.

He’s made a career out of studying issues around measurement, assessment and evaluation and will talk about his work at his Inaugural Professorial Lecture this month.

Coming to the University of Waikato from Canada, Professor Klinger is the recently appointed Dean of Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education.

Through large-scale testing programmes, Professor Klinger has been able to identify school and teacher factors associated with higher performance, but he also warns of the pitfalls of these testing programmes, in which schools are ranked or uninformed policy decisions are made in response to test results.

Alongside this work, Professor Klinger has had extensive experience setting assessment guidelines, including chairing the task-force that set USA Classroom Assessment Standards, and his expertise has been called upon to examine the methods used to evaluate medical students and other professionals. Most recently he has been working In Tanzania, where it’s not uncommon for schools to have up to 200 children in a single class. He worked with educators to help teachers there develop and align their formative assessment and teaching. The result was a set of Assessment Guidelines with 100,000 copies printed for distribution across East Africa.

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Te Whānau Mārama – The Family of Light

Professor Rangi Matamua, Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao – Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies

21 August 2018

Off the back of his bestselling book ‘Matariki – The Star of the Year’ and a hectic speaking schedule that’s seen him presenting to more than 5000 people this year alone, Professor Rangi Matamua will be giving his Inaugural Professorial Lecture in August. Titled ‘Te Whānau Marama – The Family of Light’, Rangi will discuss new findings covered in his soon to be released book of the same name.

Professor Matamua says he is excited by the opportunity to share his expertise in Māori astronomy at a time when the celebration of Matariki has seen a massive resurgence. “Matariki has played a key role in the revival of interest in Māori astronomy, but there is so much more to the story. Te Whānau Mārama is another piece of the puzzle people may not know about – another narrative that can deepen our understanding and appreciation of Māori astronomy.”

Professor Matamua was part of the team that curated the nationally recognised exhibition Te Whānau Mārama at the Waikato Museum. More than 200,000 visitors have participated in the interactive exhibition and this interest in the family of light, coupled with the success of his Living by the Stars facebook page, were the inspiration for writing his second book.

“I realised people wanted to learn more and that Te Whānau Mārama was a story often left out of our understanding of creation, and the origins of the world in which Māori live.”

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Energy Efficiency Engineering: Making more with less and getting it done

Professor Michael Walmsley, School of Engineering

17 July 2018

Professor Michael Walmsley walks a fine line between academia and industry and is well aware that what happens in theory doesn’t always work the same in practice.

He’ll be talking about his research at his inaugural professorial lecture taking place at the University of Waikato on Tuesday 17 July.

A chemical and materials engineer, Professor Walmsley’s research has mostly focussed on improving the energy efficiency in existing chemical processing plants, which he describes as “an elusive challenge”.

“What seems good to an academic in his office is often optimistic and can be far from the mark in the uncertain environment of industry,” he says.

Fundamental analysis may identify mechanisms and answers to perplexing questions. Lab-scale experiments may help to demonstrate overall effects and give confidence to try things on a larger scale, while numerical analysis may enable testing without the expense of a large-scale equipment. “While all of this work is great for academic publications and peer esteem, without passing through the R&D ‘pinch point’ to an installation in industry, no PJ’s of heat energy or kWh’s of electricity are actually saved,” says Professor Walmsley.

He says managing R&D projects above the ‘pinch’ is therefore important for delivering long-term benefits and research impacts to industry, and managing projects below the ‘pinch’ is important for staying on the landscape in a university setting and contributing to research excellence within the institution.

In his lecture, Professor Walmsley will discuss how the tension between scientific excellence and research impact is managed in engineering research, using dairy processing energy efficiency projects carried out by University of Waikato staff and students over 13 years.

Professor Michael Walmsley is currently the Assistant Dean of Academic programmes in the School of Engineering and is a founding member of the Waikato Energy Research Group. He was also part of a group that established engineering at the University of Waikato in 2000.

His academic career has led him to many universities around world. He has taught and/or done research at the University of Auckland, Monash University, University of Washington, University of Idaho, University of California Davis, University of Pannonia, Hungary and Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic. In 2014 he was a Fulbright Scholar, going to UC Davis to study renewably energy.

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Surf, Sand and Rising Tides: Our changing beaches

Professor Karin Bryan, School of Science

19 June 2018

But our beaches are forever changing, and how and why they change is the focus of Professor Karin Bryan’s research.

Beaches are some of the most dynamic and complex environments in the ocean. Breaking waves rapidly reduce wave energy, channelling it into hazardous rip currents and surf beat, and killing more people in New Zealand than any other natural hazard. Despite the random and unpredictable nature of surf, some intriguingly simple patterns emerge, if we view the beach through the lens of time-lapse imagery.

Rip currents and sand bars often order themselves into neat arrangements which take substantial storm events to reconfigure. Headlands, which are common on our volcanically controlled land, play a special role, channelling currents seaward and trapping sand. Such variations make it difficult to assess coastal hazard zones, plan beach safety and prepare for sea level-rise, particularly when our wave climate is driven by long-period climate variations.

Whether it be to protect the land where we live, or to enjoy the amenity of a good surf-break, New Zealanders are world leaders in their passion and interest in surf. Read Surf, sand and rising tides: Our changing beaches.

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Getting There: The Psychology of Everyday Driving

Professor Samuel Charlton, School of Psychology

15 May 2018

Driving a car is a complex skill to learn. With practice however, it becomes so easy that we don’t give it a second thought. For most of us, driving is an everyday activity that we accomplish with very little effort or deliberation. The drive to work or home becomes all about getting there, with little attention given to the journey itself.

In his Inaugural Professorial Lecture, Professor of Psychology Samuel Charlton will describe his research into the mental processes that allow us to carry out familiar, everyday activities successfully, and why we then have little or no memory for the details of what happened. We are able to perform everyday skills such as driving, cycling, or walking at a 'preconscious' level, and if we focus our attention on how we are performing, it can interfere with our ability to continue doing them.

Over the past 20 years, Professor Charlton has explored driving as one of these everyday preconscious activities. Finding out what things influence drivers’ behaviour during their everyday trips has resulted in changes to the design of our roads in an approach called “self-explaining roads”. In one area of Auckland where these design changes were introduced, there was a 43% reduction in crashes in the following five years.

Along the way, his research on drivers’ use of mobile phones led to law changes here in NZ and overseas, and more recently, his research into the effects of moderate use of alcohol on driver performance led to changes in the alcohol limit for NZ drivers. Before taking up his position at the University of Waikato, Professor Charlton conducted research for developing aerospace systems such as the Global Positioning System and the Consolidated Space Operations Center.

Throughout his research career, Professor Charlton has been interested in understanding everyday situations and activities. “Whereas many psychology researchers focus on extreme behaviours or unusual situations, I have found that what we do when we’re not thinking about it leads to deeper insights into how our minds work, and in the case of driving, offers the greatest benefit to making our journeys safer and more enjoyable.”

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Finding Solutions for our Freshwater

Professor Troy Baisden, BOPRC Chair in Lakes and Freshwater Science

17 April 2018

If a problem well-defined is half-solved, then New Zealand might still have a way to go towards solving its freshwater management problem. But the news isn’t all bad, according to University of Waikato freshwater scientist Professor Troy Baisden, who is using ‘big-picture’ thinking to help solve some of our biggest environmental problems.

Professor Baisden is the new Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chair in Lakes and Freshwater Science, a position established in 2002 and funded by the Regional Council. His role is to lead science projects and provide support and advice to the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme, a partnership with Rotorua Lakes Council, Te Arawa Lakes Trust and the Regional Council, with funding from Ministry for the Environment, for the management of the 12 lakes in the catchment areas.

It’s a big job, but Professor Baisden is up to the task. His career has closely tracked the efforts of environmental science to address big issues. “My first project looked at acid rain, just as government and industry agreed on solutions to this issue in North America and Europe, and a global treaty tackled ozone depletion. Those successes provide a model we can apply to climate change and water quality, but today’s issues are harder because solutions need commitment from communities rather than just a few big companies.”

At his Inaugural Professorial Lecture, Professor Baisden will take examples from his career, which has shifted from soils to water, and explain why universities have an increasing role to play in big issues such as climate change and water quality. He’ll make a case that we can identify principles for fixing freshwater decline which are simple enough to bring solutions into view.

As an example, he highlights that we don’t have clear principles for who owns water issues in New Zealand. “In this case, it’s not about who owns the water, but who owns the nutrients that are causing the problems downstream from their source. Until this principle is solved, it is hard to know who funds the solution, or exactly what science is needed to get there.”

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Our Choice: ‘Forced fit’ or ‘belonging’ as Māori

Professor Mere Berryman ONZM

20 March 2018

Professor Mere Berryman is committed to promoting the best possible outcomes for all learners by enhancing leadership and promoting effective teaching theory and practice across the education sector. Originally Mere’s work has focussed on Māori students, although latterly refugee and immigrant students are an emerging concern.

In her address Mere considers how, having to leave our culture at the school gate to achieve in schools that marginalised and belittled cultural identity, has been the experience of generations of Māori students including herself.

Mere suggests that regrettably, especially for Māori boys not prepared to compromise their cultural identity, many were forced to fit within a schooling system that held little promise for their future. As a result, too often these students were described as having ‘fallen through the cracks.’

Mere suggests this is no mere accident. “Assimilation is the systematic redefining of students’ identities, so that they are forced to fit into the culture of the majority group. The combined loss of the potential of these young people, over generations, has been enormously wasteful and continues to be costly for our country,” she says.

“This kaupapa (agenda) requires influencing change at the political, policy and evaluation levels, and it must be undertaken from the outset in collaboration with iwi and other community groups.” These are the contexts that Mere researches and writes about, focussing on both developments within the academy and across the education system.

Mere positions her work within a platform of decolonisation using Māori cultural metaphors and relationships. She then works with culturally responsive methodologies in the areas of supervision and research, and responsive teaching and learning in education. Mere has published widely using kaupapa Māori and critical theories together to more effectively involve researchers, educators and community members. “How to listen to people and evaluate these contexts in a critical and iterative way, while maintaining sector-wide coherency is, I believes, our collective challenge,” says Mere.

For this work Mere was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2016 and became one of three finalists in the 2017, Kiwi Bank New Zealander of the year.

During her lecture, Mere will draw on her own personal experience as a teacher and her extensive research across the New Zealand education system.

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