The “hot” work of Waikato University chemical engineer Dr James Carson has been celebrated at this year’s KuDos awards, held to acknowledge quality science being done in the Waikato region. Dr Carson was one of three University of Waikato staff to win a category at last night’s black-tie event in Hamilton.
Dr Carson is known around the world for his findings on the behaviour of heat, known for achieving one of the biggest breakthroughs in his field in more than 150 years.
He’s developed new models for the way heat moves through like and unlike materials, and through food. Researchers worldwide now use these models, and his work has also contributed to improved design and safety of food manufacturing equipment and processes. Dr Carson won the 2018 KuDos Simcro Engineering Award.
Kathleen Dabell, from the University of Waikato’s Radiocarbon Dating Lab was the winner of the Hill Laboratories Laboratory Technician Award. Ms Dabell is one of a team that developed what’s known around the world as the southern hemisphere calibration curve, which converts radiocarbon measurements into real time.
Her attention to detail means the quality of the lab’s small radiocarbon analyses (AMS) match the world’s best and her innovative methods helped revise the age of Kawakawa/Oranui tephra, a critical geological reference point that allows New Zealand’s climatic variations to be compared with other regions.
She also assisted with the development of a cutting-edge laser device that has been vital to research into 3000 years of change in Pacific sea levels. Ms Dabell also has knowledge of leading-edge water and methane dating methods that will support new research in peat bogs and marine science.
The third Waikato winner comes from the University’s Faculty of Education. Andrea Soanes is project manager for the Science Learning Hub, the “go to” place for quality science education and resources, an online portal funded by the government to connect science and education sectors.
Ms Soanes won the WINTEC Secondary Science Teacher/Educator Award. She has been instrumental in bringing a number of science and environmental education opportunities to the Waikato, including reinstatement of the Trees for Survival Programme, introduction of the catchment focused Aqua Republica Eco Challenge, development of the digital natural world exploration platform Wild Eyes and facilitation of Enviroschools events.
Andrea is a dedicated resource and curriculum developer, with a talent for telling science stories and for fostering and engaging the expertise and energy of others to inspire schools, teachers and communities about science and sustainability.
Five other University of Waikato academics were finalists at the awards; Advanced Technical Officers Brett Nichol and Dr Mostafa Seifan, Senior Lecturers Dr Aydin Berenjian and Dr Tim Edwards, and Research Fellow Dr Jonni Koia.
The Kudos Awards are run by the Kudos Science Trust, an independant advocate for science and innovation in the Waikato region. The Trust recognises the importance of supporting this sector, not only through shining a light on their work, but also the value of investing in our schools and education system through collaborative projects to support the science industry into the future.