Media Advisory April 20

Found in space – Avionics engineer to visit Waikato

The Australian avionics systems engineer who helped build, test and launch the Rosetta space craft that successfully landed a probe on a comet (Comet-67P) last year will give a free public lecture at the University of Waikato this week. Warwick Holmes spent 29 years working on European Space Agency (ESA) spacecraft projects and missions including four-and-a-half years on the Rosetta project.  He thinks New Zealand and Australia should be investing much more in science and engineering. His free public lecture takes place at the Academy of Performing Arts on Thursday 23 April 6pm-7pm. Earlier in the day, Mr Holmes will talk to Waikato secondary school students and show them how to "cook a comet".

Road safety lab changes gear

The University of Waikato's Traffic and Road Safety group (TARS) unveils its new state-of-the-art research lab this week. The TARS group was founded in 1993 and is New Zealand's pre-eminent centre for road safety research. The University of Waikato has built a new TARS research laboratory on the Hamilton campus which includes innovative technologies for field study of driver behaviour and the most advanced driving simulator in New Zealand. The official opening takes place at the lab, HI 1.08, from 3pm on Wednesday 22 April and will be open to the public to view from 4.30pm-5.30pm.

Letters from the Front

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will premiere a new musical work in Wellington on Wednesday to commemorate the Gallipoli landings. Symphony No1 Letters from the Front has been written by University of Waikato lecturer and composer Michael Williams. It's not a traditional symphony in that it features a narrator, George Henare, and soprano Madeleine Pierard. Mr Williams used letters written home from his great grandfather, who was killed at Passchendaele in 1917, and letters from other soldiers as a basis for his composition. The NZSO will also perform the work in Auckland on Thursday and in Sydney on Friday.

New leadership programme

The University of Waikato's Management School has teamed up with the Community Enterprise Leadership Foundation (CELF) to offer a new leadership programme that aims to build future Waikato leaders from all walks of life who can re-imagine wealth creation from a social, environmental, cultural and economic perspective. Companies that are foundation members of CELF – financially involved in its establishment – have the right to send one person from their own company and another from the greater community, i.e, arts, sports, music, not for profits, social; anyone in the community who shows leadership traits and wants to optimise these attributes. The 17-day leadership programme will run over 10 months, with the first intake in July. The programme's official launch is on Wednesday 22 April, 6pm at the Academy of Performing Arts.

Vietnam adventure for Waikato marine scientists

Mangrove forests up to 20 metres high, snakes, wasps and a whole lot of mud have been the making of an intrepid journey for three University of Waikato scientists conducting research in Vietnam. Senior lecturer Dr Julia Mullarney, Technical Officer Dean Sandwell and PhD student Benjamin Norris have just returned from living on a river boat in the Mekong Delta where they were studying currents in the mangrove forests as part of an international research project. They are studying currents around the roots of mangrove trees to determine how the obstacles affect waves and currents. The work has implications for sediment transport which in turn controls the expansion or shrinking of the delta as a whole.  

World leading conservation biologist visits Tauranga Café Scientifique

World leading molecular biologist and conservationist Dr Stephen O'Brien will talk at this month's Tauranga Café Scientifique as part of the Allan Wilson International public lecture series. Dr O'Brien is Chief Scientific Officer at St Petersburg State University, Russia, and author of science adventure stories Tears of the Cheetah and other Tales from the Genetic Frontier. Dr O'Brien uses the tools of molecular biology to help protect endangered species and understand devastating diseases such as cancer and AIDS. His talk entitled Wildlife genetics – uncommon glimpseswill show what life histories are revealed in the genomic footprints of tigers, cheetahs and the Florida panther. Café Scientifique is on Wednesday 29 April. Seats have to be reserved at Doors are open from 6.00pm for a 6.30pm start at the Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club, 90 Keith Allen Drive, Sulphur Point, Tauranga. Entry is by gold coin donation.

Nominations open for 2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Nominations for the 2015 University of Waikato Distinguished Alumni Awards are now open. The Distinguished Alumni Awards celebrate and honour graduates of the university who have made outstanding contributions in their careers or communities. Nominations are encouraged from university staff, students and alumni and members of the community. Graduates of the university holding a degree or diploma are eligible for nomination. All nominations are confidential and take into account excellence in the professional, cultural, creative and voluntary sectors. Past awardees include adventurer Jamie Fitzgerald, economist Dr Arthur Grimes, Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae and former Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung. For more information, visit

New educational resource aimed at getting children chatting

Have you ever wondered how to engage a young child in an enriching conversation?  A new educational resource – Chatterboxes is a series of cards in English and Māori designed to prompt conversations between parents and their young children. Waikato University's Institute of Professional Learning: Te Whai Toi Tangata (IPL) is launching the resource along with a new book titled New Zealand Frogs - Pepeketua. The book aims to engage children in conservation and ecology issues pertaining to our four native, rare and endangered frog species. Parents, teachers and the public are invited to the 23 April (5pm-7pm) launch at the IPL offices at Innovation Park, Ruakura, Hamilton. For more information go to

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