Antarctic research to benefit from MBIE funding for NZ-Korea collaboration

19 February 2015

Professor Craig Cary
Professor Craig Cary

University of Waikato Professor Craig Cary in Antarctica.

On February 9, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) announced the University of Waikato was one of three multi-institutional joint research projects with the Republic of Korea to be awarded funding through a newly established bilateral funding scheme.

Each project is to receive $450,000 over three financial years through the New Zealand – Korea Strategic Research Partnership Fund. The three projects focus on priority areas agreed by the two governments: Health, Advanced Technologies and Environment/Antarctica.

Research on the effects of climate change

One of the projects by four New Zealand research agencies - the universities of Waikato and Canterbury, the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute, GNS Science and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) - will be joined by the Korean Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) to investigate the impacts of a warming climate on Antarctica. Their project is entitled "A multidisciplinary approach to understanding the vulnerability of Antarctica's physical and ecosystems to changing global climate".

The project leaders are Professor Bryan Storey from the University of Canterbury and Dr Gary Wilson from New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute (NZARI). Based at the Thermophile Research Lab at the University of Waikato, Microbial Ecologist Professor Craig Cary is the Waikato's principal researcher in the project.

"This extra funding has given us an amazing opportunity to bring together two nations that have historically not collaborated to work on a serious global issue together," says Professor Cary.

Collaboration with the Korean Polar Research Institute

He says the University has been collaborating with KOPRI for the past four years, including taking part in a series of workshops looking at aspects of microbial ecology in terrestrial (land) Antarctica.

"South Korea has just opened a new permanent state-of-the-art research base called Jang Bogo in Victoria Land, so that is a big investment in New Zealand's backyard. It's just awesome. They are the new kids on the Antarctic block and are very keen to collaborate with New Zealand in all aspects of research as we've been there for the past 60 years."

The other recipients of MBIE funding are a project by Otago and Massey universities collaborating with Seoul National University, Samsung Biomedical Research Institute and Korean Institute of Science and Technology to develop new treatments for repairing damaged or diseased cartilage and bone, and a project by Victoria and Canterbury universities, which are working with Ewha Woman's University and Korea University to develop a new type of 4D home entertainment.