A successful summer of research was wrapped up at a function held at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on 7 February.
This year 80 students participated in the Summer Research Scholarship programme, which is intended to support and enhance research at the University of Waikato. The $6000 scholarships are offered in various disciplines for a 10-week fulltime research project over the summer study break. The programme is open to students enrolled at a New Zealand or Australian university, and gives undergraduate, honours year and first-year masters degree students the chance to experience the challenges and rewards of research, working alongside University of Waikato academics.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Bruce Clarkson says the scholarships provide invaluable research experience for the students, a step up in the job market, and the practical experience they wouldn’t get in a purely academic setting. “Research is the lifeblood of the University, and it’s so important that we are supporting the nation’s future leading researchers,” he says.
Student speakers Ashleigh Frandi, David Trye and Jordan Maclaurin gave presentations about their summer projects, and academic supervisor Dr Megan Grainger spoke about her journey from research student to research supervisor at the University.
“The Summer Research Scholarship programme provides a great taste into the world of research,” Megan says. “It’s been great to see the progression of these students throughout the summer. Research is not a straight path – you may not get the answer you want the first, second, or even tenth try – but I’ve been really impressed with their perseverance, positivity and commitment to their groundbreaking research.”
Master of Science student Ashleigh Frandi researched antimicrobial resistant infections, which are projected to cause 10 million deaths and cost $100 trillion annually by 2050.
Ashleigh says the Summer Research Scholarship gave her the chance to develop her skills, and build a foundation of research that she can continue working on.
“I’m so grateful for the Summer Research Scholarship programme,” Ashleigh says. “It has increased my confidence tenfold and given me amazing work experience that will benefit me, not only in the near future, but later in life.”
Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences student David Trye used machine learning to look at the use of te reo Māori on Twitter. Focussing on 77 Māori loanwords (te reo Māori words used in an English context), David whittled down 8 million tweets to 1.2 million to make predictions about how te reo is used in the relatively new genre.
Psychology student Jordan Maclaurin researched the negativity and significance of other people’s memories, under Professor Maryanne Garry’s supervision. With over 1200 participants in the study, Jordan concluded that people make judgments about a memory, based on the outcome others reported a memory has had.
All students were asked to prepare a poster at the end of their project, summarising their research. Prizes were awarded to the top four posters:
First place ($1000)
Alisa Mihalia (Faculty of Science and Engineering): Fish sediment associations
Runners up ($500 each)
Ethan Flintoft (Faculty of Science and Engineering): Development of a Waikato basin model by the H/V spectral ratio method
Neve McLean (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences): The influence of gestational diabetes mellitus on maternal and neonatal gut microbiota during and after pregnancy
Highly commended ($250)
Elizabeth Youard (Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education): What engineering students want