Breadcrumbs

Six University of Waikato Environmental Science students receive Sparling Travel Award

18 August 2021

Hannah Robinson and Ashlee Cooper, two of the six Sparling Travel Award recipients
Hannah Robinson and Ashlee Cooper, two of the six Sparling Travel Award recipients.

Six masters and doctoral students have been given the opportunity to travel throughout New Zealand to present their research findings at conferences, and gain valuable insight into the research economy, thanks to the generosity of Dr Graham and Ruth Sparling.

The Sparling Travel Award for Environmental Studies is awarded to masters and doctoral students who, as part of their study, present their research at conferences throughout New Zealand. Established in 2019 by research associate Dr Graham Sparling and his wife Ruth, the award acknowledges Dr Sparling’s time at the University of Waikato and his internationally recognised work in soil biology and biochemistry.

Environmental studies students Thomas Corbett, Grant Fale, Erin Steed, Melissa Collins, Hannah Robinson and Ashlee Cooper received the award this year.

Thomas, Grant and Erin recently attended conferences where they gained valuable insight to their research, while Hannah, Ashlee and Melissa wait until November to attend the New Zealand Ecological Society Conference in Kerikeri. The three are excited for the opportunity to share their findings with other researchers and uncover future implications of their work.

Melissa will present her findings around teaching scent-detection dogs to detect koi carp in water samples.

“The end game is to support external contractors and the Department of Conservation through the detection of invasive fish in water samples,” she says.

“Knowing that with this support I can generate some interest and gain some insight into my research is awesome.”

Hannah will discuss her research on long-tailed bats and bat boxes in Hamilton at the conference.

“There is a lack of research on long-tailed bats in urban areas. I’m hoping my research can provide some building blocks for the future.”

Ashlee’s research focuses on teaching dogs to detect whitebait eggs for conservation of the culturally significant and endangered species.

“I hope that I can successfully teach dogs to detect nests as it is an easy and affordable way to ensure the species doesn’t become extinct.”

Thomas travelled to the Ministry of Primary Industries to present his research on the development of a chemical sensor to measure nitrate levels in fresh water.

“Given the national policy on fresh water management, we require, as a nation, an affordable and easy tool to use to meet this standard,” he says.

Grant and Erin attended the Apiculture New Zealand Conference and Trade Exhibition and the Honey Bee Research Symposium. Grant’s research identifies a gap in knowledge on the impact of honey bees on native bees and ecosystems. He hopes to discover how many honey beehives are a ‘good fit’ for the New Zealand environment without disturbing the native habitat.

Erin’s research focuses on using varroa infestation rates at drone congregation areas (honey bee mating sites) to predict varroa infestation rates of both feral and managed colonies in the surrounding areas. She aims to develop a method for quantifying varroa infestation at a population level in a simple and efficient way.

The conferences generated hype around Grant and Erin’s research.

“Attending the conference raised a lot of awareness about my research and there’s even potential for it to feed into an app which another researcher is developing,” says Erin.

All six students echoed similar sentiments, that without the award they wouldn’t be able to share their research.

“It’s really exciting that there are people out there who support my research and want me to be able to share it with others,” says Ashlee.

Thomas, who has received support from the Sparlings in the past, is also grateful.

“It’s hard to put into words how grateful I am to receive this award. It’s gratifying to know you’re on the right path.”


Latest stories

Related stories

Waikato University School of Engineering

Waikato's engineering degrees receive international accreditation

The University of Waikato has received international accreditation, either full or provisional, for all eight…

New on-campus business precinct and co-working space for the University of Waikato

The University of Waikato is gearing up to launch HIKO hub, an innovative business precinct…

Five people with certificates

Emerging climate change researcher scoops two awards

University of Waikato climate scientist Dr Luke Harrington has scooped two awards that recognise his…

Research leader and Antarctica expert to join Waikato as Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research

The University of Waikato has announced the appointment of Professor Gary Wilson to the role…

three people by conference screen

Don’t blame the mangroves!

A new study shows surprising results around coastal restoration, mangroves and sediment.

New-Climate-Change-Scholarship

Scholarship for Climate Change

A Mount Maunganui student and keen surfer is the inaugural recipient of the Toi Moana…

University of Waikato researchers receive record-level Marsden funding to explore bold ideas for the future

The University of Waikato is celebrating its most successful Marsden funding round yet.

Dr Rebecca Lawton Rutherford Discovery Fellow

Prestigious Rutherford Discovery Fellowship awarded to Dr Rebecca Lawton for marine kelp research

Dr Rebecca Lawton, Senior Lecturer in Marine Science and Aquaculture at the University of Waikato…

Raukokore Marine Research

Waikato supports Raukōkore Marine Research Centre opening

The Raukōkore Marine Research Centre has officially opened, providing a crucial research base for the…

Dr Jason Mika

Significant funding boost for University of Waikato research

The University of Waikato has achieved significant results in the latest funding round from the…

Dr Haki Tuaupiki and Associate Professor Maui Hudson

Waikato researchers tapped for US$30m Centre for braiding Indigenous knowledge and science

Two University of Waikato researchers have been shoulder-tapped as investigators within the newly launched NSF…

Scholarship recipient honours cherished former staff member

Third year Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Science student, Petra Guy, is the inaugural…