Media Advisory September 23

Four University of Waikato staff have been announced as finalists in the 2013 KuDos science awards, which acknowledge and celebrate science excellence in the Waikato. Two of them - Nihal Kularatna (Engineering, FSEN) and Dr Graeme Doole (Economics, WMS) - were also finalists in last year’s awards. They are joined in the finals this year by Dr Johan Verbeek (Engineering, FSEN), Dr Daniel Laughlin (Biology, FSEN) and Professor Bill Henderson (Chemistry, FSEN). The KuDos Awards were launched in 2007 to celebrate scientific innovations from within the region. Mr Kularatna and Dr Verbeek are in the Hill Laboratories Science Entrepreneur category, and Dr Doole and Dr Laughlin are in the Hamilton City Council Emerging Scientist category. This year’s winners will be announced this Thursday, September 26.

Novelist, poet and academic Vincent O’Sullivan is returning to the Waikato to present this year’s Frank Sargeson lecture at the University of Waikato. Emeritus Professor Vincent O’Sullivan taught at Waikato from 1968-1978. His novel Let the River Stand won the 1994 Montana Book Award; in 2006 he was awarded the Prime Minister's Award for literary achievement, and this year he was named Poet Laureate. The Sargeson Lecture takes place at S.G.02 at 5.30pm on October 30 when Professor O’Sullivan will talk about Sargeson’s personal and professional relationship with author Dan Davin. The lecture is free and open to the public, and will consider some of the currents, and cross-currents, of that friendship.

Among the flurry of persuasive campaigns this election season, the debate on water fluoridation has been intense and polarised; both sides are adamant about the merits of their respective positions and dismissive of their opponents. A new collaborative research project will look at the relationship between knowledge about community water fluoridation, polarisation of opinion, and where people get their information from. The joint project is led by Dr Carrie Cornsweet Barber of the School of Psychology at the University of Waikato and Associate Professor of Psychiatry, David Menkes of the University of Auckland. Dr Barber and Associate Professor Menkes decided to conduct a survey, investigating attitudes toward community water fluoridation, what information people have about fluoride, and what has shaped their opinions on the subject. The survey response will be collected over the next few weeks, both from paper-and-pencil surveys in public places, and an online survey open until mid-October, which the public can take by clicking here.

The University of Waikato is hosting an information evening on October 2 which will provide information on all aspects of university life with faculty representatives on-hand to give advice on Summer School (T Semester, November 4 - December 13 and S Semester, January 6 - February 21), study in 2014, accommodation, scholarships, course choices, and the application process. Student ambassadors will conduct campus tours from 3pm-4pm. Included in the information evening will be specific information for those considering postgraduate study, with presentations from academic and administrative staff on research, study and funding opportunities. There will be a Masters Research presentation from 5pm-5.45pm, and a Higher Degree presentation from 5.45pm-6.30pm. The information evening is on Wednesday, October 2 from 4pm-7pm at the university Student Centre.

The 2013 Latin American Film Festival is coming to Hamilton with screenings being held at the University of Waikato from September 26 to October 6. The festival features a range of films from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela. This year’s selection of films covers a range of genres, topics and styles giving movie-lovers a chance to immerse themselves into the languages - Portuguese and Spanish – as well as into the cultural and social aspects of these countries. Films are being shown on campus in room S.1.02. For more information on dates and times of screenings, visit LAFF’s Facebook page. All sessions are free and open to the public. Family-orientated films are being screened on Sundays during the festival.

University of Waikato creative writing tutor Catherine Chidgey added another award to her growing collection last week when she won New Zealand’s most prestigious short story writing prize, the $10,000 BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award, at the BNZ Literary Awards for her short story, Reverse Living. She has previously held the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship to Menton, France; the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship; the Rathcoola Residency to Cork, Ireland; the Todd New Writers’ Bursary; and the Beatson Residency. Chidgey is currently working on her fourth novel alongside teaching creative writing at the University of Waikato. Her three novels – In a Fishbone Church, Golden Deeds, The Transformation - have all received international acclaim and awards. Chidgey will be teaching a creative writing course in November. The course, Inspiring Work, is workshop based and looks at “the concept of inspiration as it applies to creative writing”.

In October, the Wallace Corporation University of Waikato Blues Awards celebrates high-achieving students who excel in sports and the creative and performing arts. The awards are one of the University of Waikato's strongest traditions, dating back to 1971. Forty-three University of Waikato students will be recognised for their sporting achievements this year, alongside 18 students who have made considerable contributions to the creative and performing arts. Among the awards to be given out will be the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, Māori Person of the Year and Creative and Performing Arts Person of the Year. The Wallace Corporation University of Waikato Blues take place on October 4 at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. For more information visit

Associate Professor Linda Nikora from the School of Psychology at Waikato University was recently elected as an Honorary Fellow of the New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPS) at its AGM. Dr Nikora is the director of the Māori and Psychology Research Unit (MPRU) at Waikato and specialises in culture, change, resilience and Māori development. The NZPS recognised and honoured her as a person of distinction who has made a significant contribution to psychological knowledge and who has rendered outstanding services to New Zealand psychology. In particular her work has been recognised in a number of areas including as a cultural pioneer in the development of cultural recognition, her efforts to increase the proportion of Māori psychologists, her directorship of the Māori and Psychology Research Unit of the University of Waikato, her bringing together Māori knowledge and practice in psychology and her teaching and research in growing an understanding of Māori people and culture and of bicultural relationships in Aotearoa.

Three individuals have been recognised for their contribution to the University of Waikato’s Science and Engineering work placement programme, through awards presented by the University’s Co-operative Education Unit. Waikato University’s Dr Mark Lay, Perry Resource’s Mike James and AgResearch’s Dr Marcelo Martinez were nominated for the Co-op Halo Awards by students who they supervised during work placements. Co-operative education is the combination of work and study. Work placements are a key part of Waikato’s Bachelor of Science (Technology) and Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degrees, where students spend time working in industry to gain real-world experience. All three recipients described the experience of supervising a work placement student as an equally important learning opportunity for both the supervisor and the student. 

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust will present a lecture at the University of Waikato on Wednesday, September 25. The lecture will outline the roles and responsibilities NZHPT has under the provisions of the Historic Places Act 1993 and how these are carried out using examples from the Waikato region. Staff from varied backgrounds will describe the work they undertake on a day-to-day basis, and how they interact with the public, local and other government agencies, marae, and landowners in their role of contributing to the preservation of heritage. The free public lecture is from 1pm-2pm on campus in room S.1.02.

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