Media Advisory February 3

This year, the University of Waikato turns 50. The official launch of the University 50th year celebrations is on 14 February with an afternoon tea for staff from 3.30pm-5.30pm. At this event, the University’s history book, Ko Te Tangata, by Emeritus Professor Noeline Alcorn, will be also be launched. For more information on the University’s history, 50th anniversary events and to view a timeline of the University’s development, visit

Robyn Longhurst is as Waikato as it gets. The geography professor went to school here, did her bachelors, masters and PhD at Waikato and has now been appointed to the role of Pro Vice-Chancellor Education. It’s a revamped role from the former PVC Teaching and Learning position and the role will include considering issues such as ‘blended’ learning, that is, campus-based, face-to-face interactions between staff and students, combined with an online learning environment. She says the new role will still allow her to continue with her research. She is also keen to establish stronger connections between faculties.

The University of Waikato has appointed six new professors. Two are from the School of Engineering; Brian Gabbitas who is currently researching novel ways of producing and commercialising high-quality titanium and titanium products in New Zealand and Kim Pickering who specialises in composites and modelling the failure of composite materials. A leader in the teaching of digital history in New Zealand, Cathy Coleborne, is now a professor of history and Kathryn Pavlovich is a new professor in the Department of Strategy and Human Resources at Waikato Management School. From the Faculty of Education, John Williams has been appointed professor. His research centres on technology education while new biological sciences professor Brendan Hicks is an expert in freshwater fish ecology.

US Consul General Jim Donegan will talk about America’s diplomatic relationships with New Zealand and the wider Asia-Pacific region at a public lecture at the University of Waikato tomorrow (Tuesday, February 4) night. His talk, titled The United Nations – A Bedrock of Global Democracy, will have a particular focus on how the United Nations reinforces the bonds forged between nations. Jim Donegan has been with State Department for 20 years and his assignments have included Caracas, Accra, Washington, Rome and London. Mr Donegan was the deputy team leader in the British-led Coalition Provincial Reconstruction Team in Basra, Iraq from June 2006 through June 2007. His team provided capacity building to the Basra Provincial Council across the entire range of governance, rule of law, economics/civic budgeting and infrastructure requirements. Mr Donegan is the recipient of the US State Department's Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards. His Waikato lecture is the second of the Law Faculty’s Kinrock lectures held to coincide with the annual visit of students from Cooley Law School in the US. Anyone interested in going Jim Donegan’s lecture should rsvp to or phone 078384167. It is being held in S.G.02 at 5.45pm.

University of Waikato PhD student Steven Pratt has been named as the recipient of the 2014 Lucy Cranwell Student Grant for Botanical Research. The commemorative grant of $2000 was awarded by the Auckland Botanical Society for Steven’s research on Conservation genetics and molecular systematics of New Zealand’s daphne, Pimelea. Steven is researching the genetic variation between different species of Pimelea and looking to develop microsatellite markers to investigate population level variation for conservation purposes. Steven says there are 35 known species in New Zealand and about two-thirds of them have a conservation status, meaning they are at risk of extinction or data deficient.

A University of Waikato Earth scientist has played a significant role in a study which suggests a 8600-year-old excavated Turkish wall painting is the world’s earliest representation of an active volcano. Dr Martin Danišík of the Faculty of Science & Engineering is the second author of the recently published PLoS ONE research paper, led by Professor Axel K Schmitt from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). According to a widely cited interpretation, the mural found in Çatalhöyük settlement in Central Anatolia, Turkey, depicts an explosive summit eruption of the Hasan Dağ twin-peaks volcano located 130km northeast of Çatalhöyük, and a bird’s-eye view of a town plan in the foreground, which often in textbooks is referred to as the world's oldest map. This interpretation, however, has remained controversial, because until now independent evidence for a volcanic eruption during the time of Çatalhöyük settlement has been lacking. To test this hypothesis, the research team collected samples from the summit of Hasan Dağ. The authors applied a novel dating technique to zircon crystals found in the volcanic rock. The tests revealed one of the youngest eruption ages ever measured on zircon crystals.The collected zircons eruption dates were also found to overlap with the age of the mural. This proves that humans could indeed have witnessed an exploding Hasan Dağ and depicted it in a painting.

A free information session about the University of Waikato’s Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies will take place tomorrow (February 4) in Tauranga at 5.30pm at the Bongard Centre, 200 Cameron Road. The post-graduate diploma is a two-year, part-time programme aimed at business people with three years’ experience. It begins in Hamilton in February, and in Tauranga in March. To find out more and reserve your place at the information evening phone 0800 800 891 or email Chene Bothma,

Tauranga’s first Café Scientifique for 2014 will focus on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Kaituna River Re-Diversion and Wetland Creation project. Project Manager Pim de Monchy will present the proposal for re-diversion, and the associated assessment of environmental effects. The Regional Council project team will take any feedback provided by Café Scientifique attendees and include it as part of the pre-consent consultation process. Supported by the University of Waikato, Café Scientifique is a forum for discussing science issues, where anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. The next Café will take place on Monday, February 10 at 6.30pm for 7pm start at the Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club, 90 Keith Allen Drive, Sulphur Point, Tauranga. Entry is $5 and refreshments are provided. For more information please visit: or email

The University of Waikato is partnering with local running club Hamilton City Hawks to host a series of 5km run and walk events on campus. The University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford says with the University celebrating its 50th anniversary, the run/walk series is another way to engage with the local community, and to show how the University is a vibrant part of the community. The event starts on Monday, February 17 and runs through to April 7. The 5km course is on and around the University’s campus, starting and finishing on the Village Green. Hamilton runners and walkers will be familiar with other Hawks runs. During daylight saving the club organises the Eastside Tavern 5k along the Waikato River on Tuesdays and the Smith and McKenzie run in Chartwell on Wednesdays. Registration for each event is from 5pm each Monday from February 17 to April 7, with a race start time of 6pm for runners, and walkers starting any time after they’ve registered. A $5 entry fee gains entrance to the event and a glass of beer, cider, house wine or a non-alcoholic drink at Momento Lakes at the end. Spot prizes are awarded each evening. For more information contact

Two Northland sisters are the recipients of the inaugural Centre for Indigenous and Māori Governance PhD scholarships. The scholarships have been provided through a decision by the University of Waikato to allocate scholarships to each of the Research Institutes within the University. Season-Mary Downs and Willow Jean Prime were awarded the scholarships late last year. Both are graduates of the University of Waikato, Te Piringa - Faculty of Law, and recently completed their Masters of Law in Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Peoples Law. Season-Mary is currently practicing at McCaw Lewis Lawyers, a Hamilton-based law firm where she specialises in Treaty of Waitangi claims processes. Willow-Jean has recently been elected as a Councillor for the Far North District Council and also has her own consultancy business.

Three University of Waikato engineering students joined five of New Zealand's top engineering leaders for a networking event in Wellington late last year. The December event was run by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) as an initiative to get more graduates with relevant skills into the profession. The CEOs from OPUS, Fonterra, Transpower, GHD, Beca and Windsor Engineering Group were present to talk with the students. A total of 25 students attended from tertiary institutions throughout New Zealand. The three Waikato student attendees were Elizabeth Geddes (formerly Whangarei Girls' High School), Shalini Guleria (formerly Hamilton Girls' High School) and Tim Ng (formerly St Paul's Collegiate School).

University of Waikato science student Zach McLean has been awarded a $5000 Patrick Shannon Scholarship from Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC). The scholarship will go towards a Bachelor of Science (Honours) (BSc(Hons)) research project working alongside Dr Bjorn Oback and the Reproductive Technologies group at AgResearch. The project will involve investigating genes associated with the genetic network regulating pluripotency in bovine embryos. Pluripotent cells are able to produce all cell types in the body and emerge during early preimplantation development.

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