Media Advisory June 4

Top players in agribusiness will get together the night before Fieldays next week to discuss building export earnings from agribusiness innovation. The University Commercialisation offices of New Zealand (UCONZ) symposium event is hosted by the University of Waikato and keynote speakers include the Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce, Director General of the Ministry for Primary Industries Wayne McNee and Sarah Kennedy who is Managing Director of Fonterra Nutrition. Chaired by Waikato University’s Professor of Agribusiness Jacqueline Rowarth, the panel will include Dr John Sharpe, CEO of CytonomeST, a high-tech Boston-based company that develops laser-based biomedical instrumentation, Dr Bert Quin, Director of international fertiliser consultancy Quin Environmentals (NZ) Ltd, Geoff Furniss, CEO of advanced fruit processing technology company, BBC Technologies Ltd and Stuart Gordon, CEO of Waikato Innovation Park Ltd and former CEO of Livestock Improvement Corporation. On a lighter note, judging will take place for the finals of an inaugural Waikato Milk Cocktail competition. Register for Agribusiness Innovation and Growth 2013.

The University of Waikato’s Faculty of Science & Engineering will offer 10 new research scholarships valued at $5000 each in B Semester. The School of Science Masters Research Scholarships are offered in specific areas of research including volcanology, coastal systems, geothermal systems, aquatic ecology, plant ecology, plant ecophysiology, chemistry, extremophile microbiology and Antarctic microbiology. Applicants should be eligible to enrol for the first time in a Master of Science in B Semester 2013 and must have an excellent academic record. Microbiologist Professor Craig Cary is one of the supervisors for the scholarship projects and will offer a student the chance to work towards understanding the distribution and function of Antarctic terrestrial microbial communities. As part of a large international terrestrial Antarctic programme, this project will focus on examining microbial communities in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Applications for the scholarships close 19 June 2013. Find out more details on the research scholarships.

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford and Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori Professor Linda Smith will visit Gisborne and the East Coast this week, 4-7 June, to further strengthen ties with the area. Dr Apirana Mahuika, a University of Waikato Councillor, is organising a meeting between representatives from Ngāti Porou and other iwi and senior university staff. Visits to schools in Gisborne and Ruatoria are planned, as is an alumni and stakeholder event on 6 June. The university has more than 300 alumni in the area.

A new Early Years Research Centre at the University of Waikato has been established in the Faculty of Education with a focus on education and children aged 0 to 8 years. The director of the Centre is Professor Margaret Carr, with associate directors Associate Professors Linda Mitchell and Sally Peters. The new Centre will provide a broad platform of research and focus on three research themes: pedagogy, policy, and community connections. It has a social justice agenda and aims to make a difference for young children, families and whānau in Aotearoa New Zealand and to provide cutting edge research of interest to scholars in this country and abroad. Recent projects by researchers in the Centre include museum education with children under five years, evaluation of early childhood in Timor Leste, analysis of the perspectives of babies, the use of i-Pads in early childhood centres, a study of children after an earthquake, the transition to school, and documentation strategies in collaboration with kaiako in a kōhanga reo. The Early Years Research Centre, He Kōhanga Toi Tangata, will be launched on Friday 7 June with a celebratory symposium on Saturday 8 June featuring speakers from New Zealand and Australia. See more on the Early Years Research Centre.

Scientists have now mapped the human genome – the next frontier is understanding human epigenomes; the ‘instructions’ which tell the DNA whether to make skin cells or blood cells or other body parts. Apart from a few exceptions, the DNA sequence of an organism is the same whatever cell is considered. So why are the blood, nerve, skin and muscle cells so different and what mechanism is employed to create this difference? The answer lies in epigenetics. If we compare the genome sequence to text, the epigenome is the punctuation and shows how the DNA should be read.Professor Terry Speed is a world leader in bioinformatics and is regarded as one of the strongest statisticians Australia has ever produced. His work has enabled scientists to assess which genes are being turned on in a cell and to what extent. This has helped to identify areas of the human genome that contribute to cancer, genes that are vital for embryonic development and to pinpoint malaria proteins responsible for initiating infection in human red blood cells. These lectures are free and open to the general public. However, to ensure a seat, please register to obtain a ticket at

Four University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary scholars will travel to Khumba Valley in Nepal to work with local communities and trek to the Everest Base Camp after being awarded a Step Higher Award. Luke Coxhead, Natalie Good, Sharee Hamilton and Steve Rae will travel to Nepal next year. The awards are sponsored by food contractor Compass Group. The four recipients will spend three weeks in Nepal and see first-hand the community projects started by Sir Ed. Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarships are the most prestigious on offer at the University of Waikato. The full-fee-paying scholarships are for academically-sound sports or arts students who are also show leadership qualities.

Some of the fastest cars to come out of the University of Waikato will hit the track today, Tuesday, 4 June at the annual Mechatronics Cup competition. Fourth-year electronics students have designed and built digitally-controlled slot cars which will race off in a competition of speed, reliability and stickability. University of Waikato Professor of Electronics Jonathon Scott says students have spent about four weeks designing and building their creations and while they’ll be judged on speed “they’ll get extra points for any clever things they incorporate into their cars”. Despite the students having only a short time to come up with a race-winning vehicle, Professor Scott says many of the cars show better design characteristics than commercial slot cars. The popular competition is expected to get underway at about 2pm at C Block electronics lab.

A group of 100 celebrated and widely respected New Zealanders recently launched an appeal to all political parties to design robust cross-party strategies and policies to give future generations the best chance of security, peace, social justice and opportunity for all. The leader of this appeal, Emeritus Professor Sir Alan Mark, Department of Botany, University of Otago, will speak at the University of Waikato in Tauranga and Hamilton to promote the five objectives of the appeal. Sir Alan Mark is one of New Zealand’s leading plant ecologists, specialising in the ecology and sustainable management of a wide range of indigenous ecosystems. He is a strong advocate for the conservation of New Zealand's indigenous ecosystems and belongs to several professional and conservation organisations. He was knighted (KNZM) in 2009 for his services to conservation in New Zealand. The Tauranga lecture will be held next week on Wednesday, 12 June at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Bongard Centre, 200 Cameron Road Tauranga at 6pm. The Hamilton lecture will be held on Thursday, 13 June at Room SG.02, Gate 8, Hillcrest Road at 6.30pm.

Violinist Ning Feng is the winner of dozens of prestigious prizes including the Michael Hill, Queen Elizabeth, Hannover, and Paganini international violin competitions. He will hold a Master Class at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at the University of Waikato, this Friday June 7 at 5pm. Ning Feng has established himself as one of the top international concert-artists of his generation, and displays awe-inspiring technical accomplishment and dazzling bravura in addition to total musical mastery and an extraordinary tonal range. Ning Feng appears courtesy of the 2013 Michael Hill International Violin Competition. At Dr John Gallagher Concert Chamber at Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato campus, Friday 7 June, 5pm.

Around 750 senior secondary school biology students are expected to attend the 15th annual Waikato Experience Biology (WEB) Days today and tomorrow. The WEB Days offer students the opportunity to experience a range of biology-related events, including a seminar on human evolution based on the Department’s collection of hominid skulls; a lab session focusing on DNA technology, and a series of lectures on other key topics from the secondary school curriculum. The event runs over two days, 4-5 June 2013, at the University of Waikato Hamilton campus.

To coincide with World Environment Day, Arbor Day and the lake remediation project, the University of Waikato campus will see more than 1000 native plants planted around Oranga Lake on Wednesday 5 June from 10am-12noon. A rongoa and harakeke site will also be developed nearby thanks to funding by the Waikato River Authority. A BBQ lunch will be provided, but participants will need to bring a spade, boots, a rain coat and a drink. 

The University of Waikato holds information evenings at its Hamilton and Tauranga campuses for people wanting to begin or resume study in July. There is a session at the Hamilton campus’s Student Centre on Wednesday 19 June from 4.30-7pm, and in Tauranga at the Bongard Centre at 12-2pm on June 4 and 5. A variety of papers in all faculties are available for study in B Semester which begins in July.

Waikato’s Te Piringa – Faculty of Law hosts the 11th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium from 24–28 June. Hosting international environmental law conferences in New Zealand is a rare event, and the 2013 colloquium will be only the third international environmental law conference to be held in New Zealand since 1991, and the first time that the colloquium has been hosted in this country. The Academy was established by the International Union for Conservation (IUCN) in 2003, and has grown to become a network of more than 500 environmental law academics from more than 160 universities based in more than 50 countries. Trevor Daya-Winterbottom is Associate Dean Research at Te Piringa - Faculty of Law and chair of the organising committee for this year’s colloquium. He says for a country that has significant economic focus on primary production, developing a coherent body of sound environmental law is an important foundation for future growth and prosperity. “Hosting the colloquium in New Zealand provides a unique opportunity for thought leadership, exposing our environmental law academics to leading international developments in the field from other countries, and similarly providing an opportunity for overseas academics to learn something from us.” Find more information on the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium.

Eager secondary school students from around the central North Island will visit the University of Waikato this week for the 27th annual Osborne Physics and Engineering (OsPEn) Days. Talks and practical demonstrations will give students the opportunity to see how the physics they are learning at school can be used in the wider world. A highlight of the event will be the Tractor Pull Competition. Participating schools have been sent a 3-volt electric motor and a set of nylon gears for students to work on in teams. Their aim is to design and build a small battery-powered model tractor that can tow a loaded model trailer a distance of five metres up a 5° inclined plane. Lectures will cover topics such as the Large Hadron Collider and the Higgs Boson, close encounters of the asteroid kind, battery-electric cars and fracture of materials. The event runs over two days from 6-7 June 2013 at the University of Waikato Hamilton campus.

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