$1.6m awarded to Waikato University’s new Rutherford Fellows

11 October 2019

UoW Rutherford Fellows
Dr Jenni Stanley (left) and Associate Professor Melanie Ooi (right) are two of this year’s Discovery Rutherford Fellowship recipients.

Two top researchers have been awarded a highly prestigious award to carry out their research at the University of Waikato.

Associate Professor Melanie Ooi and Dr Jenni Stanley are two of eleven academics nationwide to receive the prestigious Discovery Rutherford Fellowship, which awards $800,000 to each recipient over five years to carry out their research.

The aim of the Fellowships is to attract and foster some of New Zealand’s early to mid-year researchers, and support their career development.

Professor Bruce Clarkson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research of the University, says such initiatives greatly contribute to the University’s research capability.

“We are proud to welcome Associate Professor Melanie Ooi and Dr Jenni Stanley as Rutherford Fellows to the University of Waikato,” says Professor Clarkson.

“Associate Professor Ooi and Dr Stanley will be joining a strong team of talented researchers at the University of Waikato. Both Melanie and Jenni will be an asset to this University, and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of their research.”

Associate Professor Melanie Ooi
Associate Professor Melanie Ooi is one of the leading instrumentation and measurement-engineering scientists in the Asia Pacific region. She currently works in the School of Engineering at the University of Waikato.

Associate Professor Ooi will build a plant detection system that uses specifically tailored LED light sources and precise imaging techniques to measure and detect the prevalence of undesirable plants.

This process will be implemented in real-time without using resource intensive computations so that it can be deployed by being directly attached to farming machinery. She will measure the light-reflecting characteristics of relevant herbaceous species throughout their life cycles, specifically crafting the LED light sources to optimally image the undesired species. The resulting plant identification system that she is developing will have the benefit of being both cost effective and resilient to rigorous use on farm equipment.

Dr Jenni Stanley
Dr Jenni Stanley is returning to Aotearoa New Zealand from the USA to take up her Rutherford Discovery Fellowship at the University of Waikato.

Dr Stanley’s research will aim to assess and effectively monitor New Zealand’s underwater soundscapes. Many countries have made statutory commitments to ensure that underwater sound pollution is at levels which do not harm marine ecosystems. However, a coordinated action to manage cumulative human-made sound levels is lacking, especially in New Zealand. Dr Stanley aims to fill this gap by using a collection of acoustic and visual sampling platforms, novel machine learning techniques and sound exposure models that will produce comprehensive datasets.

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