Media Advisory April 14

There will be no Media Advisory between Easter and Anzac Day. The next one will be on April 28.

Waikato University gears up for Open Day

Time travel, bats and tween culture – an odd mixture, but all are part of mini-lecture topics to be featured at this year’s University of Waikato Open Day on Friday, May 16. The annual event, which is free and open to the public, is designed to showcase the qualifications, academic excellence, student support, facilities and lifestyle the university offers students. Thousands of students come to the Hamilton campus every year from Taranaki, Gisborne, Northland, Bay of Plenty and Hawke’s Bay regions to attend Open Day. Throughout the day, prospective students will have the chance to try their hand at science experiments, take part in tours around the halls and campus, and talk to staff and students about study options. Open Day is also an opportunity for others who may want to commence their studies in the mid-year intake. For more information about Open Day visit Open Day is followed this year by Community Open Day on Saturday, May 17.

Waikato University to host first Community Open Day

The University of Waikato will be opening its doors to young and old on Saturday, May 17 as it hosts its first Community Open Day. As part of the University’s 50th celebrations this year, the Saturday event is a family-friendly public showcase of the University’s facilities, campus, research and history. It takes place the day after University’s annual recruitment Open Day for prospective students and their families (Friday, May 16). Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford says Community Open Day is an opportunity for the public to see first-hand what the university offers. Community Open Day will see the campus broken into ‘themed hubs’ which will feature a variety of activities, interactive exhibits and demonstrations. Mini-lectures and tours around the campus will also be available on the day, which runs from 11am-4pm. It is followed by a function for alumni. More information can be found at 

Graduations this month

This week the University of Waikato continues its April graduation ceremonies. A total of 1490 qualifications will be conferred at graduation ceremonies at Claudelands Events Centre on April 14 at 2pm, and on April 15 and 16 at 10am and 2pm. There are graduation processions on April 14, 15 and 16 from Garden Place, leaving at 1pm. 

Flower Fellowship recipient’s research looks to combat water shortage on farms

As New Zealand farms continue to face problems associated with ongoing drought, University of Waikato doctoral student Jack Pronger, originally from Cambridge, hopes his current research project will contribute to an improvement in pastoral drought resilience. As the recipient of the Flower Doctoral Fellowship in Agribusiness, a scholarship worth $30,000 a year for three years, Jack will look to address the ongoing impacts of drought on dry land farming. His research will identify approaches to increase drought resilience by using more diverse mixes of pasture species – research that could have a significant impact on farm production. The Flower Fellowship is awarded to a student whose research has relevance in the agribusiness sector, focusing particularly on issues of food production, farmer ownership and labour issues, New Zealand’s role in global agriculture and the preservation of fertile soils.

Long-term effects of traumatic brain injury

Researchers from the University of Waikato and AUT are launching a study into the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Staff from the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences (NISAN) at AUT have offices on the University of Waikato campus in Hamilton and have been working with Waikato University and Waikato District Health Board for a number of years on different aspects of TBI. From an earlier study of 1369 people, about half have agreed to be surveyed again, four years after diagnosis of their initial injury. Waikato University’s Associate Professor Nicola Starkey says they want to find what can be done to help adults and children recover better. While most head injuries can’t be stopped, the researchers want to know who are most likely to have ongoing symptoms and what treatments or behaviours have helped others to recover successfully. The study will have its official launch at the University of Waikato on Tuesday, April 15.

Board appointment for senior lecturer

University of Waikato Screen and Media Studies senior lecturer Dr Gareth Schott has been appointed to the Government’s Film and Literature Board of Review for three years. The board reviews publications that have been classified by the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

Publications include, but are not limited to, any film, video recording, DVD, CD Rom, disc, electronic or computer file, book, magazine, newspaper, photograph or sound recording. The nine-member board is appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister of Internal Affairs. Dr Schott’s appointment comes on the back of two Marsden grants to study video gaming, including one to research video game classifications.

More Data Mining with Weka – the advanced MOOC

The University of Waikato is now offering an advanced MOOC on data mining. More Data Mining with Weka will start in late April and run for five weeks. It follows on from the entry-level MOOC, Data Mining with Weka, which the university is currently running for a second time.

Course convenor Professor Ian Witten says this advanced MOOC will provide a deeper account of data mining tools and techniques with the emphasis on principles and practical data mining using Weka. Students will work with multimillion-instance datasets, classify text, experiment with clustering, association rules, neural networks, and much more, he says. Enrolments are already open, and Professor Witten says students should have completed the first MOOC or have equivalent knowledge of the subject before signing up. The new MOOC contains 30 lessons (six a week), each comprising a short YouTube video and practical activities with Weka to reinforce learning. For more information, visit 

What’s happening upstairs?

Waikato University PhD student Sandhya Fernandez wants to hear from people aged 50 or more who have noticed their brain isn’t functioning as well as it used to. In what’s thought to be the first study of its kind in New Zealand, Fernandez, a registered clinical psychologist, is trying to explore the relationship between changes in cognition across older ages and its relationship with social perception. Social perception is the ability to accurately understand communication such as facial expressions, emotions and sarcasm. It changes across the life span, particularly during childhood and adolescence, but Ms Fernandez says currently there is little information about how it changes during adulthood, especially in older age groups. She wants to run a series of “fun” tests with people 50 plus who may have noticed any change in their memory, thinking, problem-solving abilities. Participants need to be relatively healthy and with no mental health issues or neurological conditions. The research will involve two to three sessions on different days within a month and all results will be completely confidential.

Planning for her future

Making plans to move to the Waikato from South Africa after finishing high school was an obvious choice for Lana Kotze, since Hamilton is a similar size to her hometown. Choosing to study Environmental Planning at Waikato University was another easy choice for a girl who loves the environment and had heard about the uniqueness and reputation of the Bachelor of Environmental Planning. She now has a job as a graduate planner for the New Zealand Transport Agency. Her main responsibilities are assessing applications for resource consents for anything from two lot subdivisions to the designation of electricity transmission lines, as well as supporting other planners with district plan reviews and spatial plan development. Lana is graduating with a Bachelor of Environmental Planning at Claudelands Events Centre this week on Wednesday, April 16.

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