Celebrating a bright future for Massey research

The achievements of researchers help set the tone for the performance and standing of a university nationally and internationally and it is an area in which Massey staff and students have excelled again this year.

For the third year, Massey News devotes an issue to record the stories and celebrate the achievements of the growing number of top-line researchers, who have been recognised not only by the University but also externally.

Massey people recently shared in more than $6.3 million in Marsden research grants from a pool of just over $39.1 million allocated annually by the Royal Society.

Internally, the University has commended and provided tangible support for more than a dozen established and emerging researchers in a range of fields from sciences to humanities, business, education and creative arts.

This year the University's most prestigious research awards, the Massey University Research Medals, have been won by Professor David Lambert Individual; Professor Robyn Munford Supervisor; Dr Barbara Holland and Dr Sarah Ross Early Career; and the Centre for Public Health Research has won the Team medal.

Other research awards announced in this issue include Mäori awards, Women's awards, postdoctoral fellowships, research fellowships, Technicians' awards and a new category of college research awards.

Many of names of the recipients will be recognised from previous years and a large number were also recipients of the recent Marsden and Fast-Start awards. Vice-Chancellor Professor Judith Kinnear says this is a tribute to their sustained excellence in their various fields and their abilities to collaborate with others both in New Zealand and internationally, and to remain at the cutting edge of knowledge and discovery.

Equally exciting, she says, is the crop of young and emerging researchers. This is an area Massey prides itself in. An example of that future potential is that Massey had the second highest number of Marsden Fast-Start awards of all New Zealand tertiary organisations, as well as the third largest number of overall grants and the third highest value of total grants.

Professor Kinnear is adamant about the importance and value of supporting and promoting research excellence as an essential element of our core business of research training.

By undertaking fundamental research we create better universities, she says.

The opportunity to pursue fundamental research is one of the incentives that persuades our best and brightest to choose university careers over other often better-paid options.

Their teaching is informed by their research. Their postgraduate students will take with them into industry or society more generally the technical and problem-solving skills that fundamental research is uniquely suited to providing.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Nigel Long, says modern research demands collaboration to make the most of the expertise that lies in the tertiary education sector, government research organisations and the private sector.

In the interests of New Zealand's advancement it makes more sense to share knowledge and expertise, and it makes economic sense to share expensive capital items rather than to duplicate them, Professor Long says.

He cites the Hopkirk Institute, a $16 million state-of-the-art research and teaching facility on the Palmerston North campus, which marries the expertise of scientists from the Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Sciences and AgResearch as one example and the $1.5 million microscopy research centre, which will be used by research groups throughout the Manawatu region as another.

Nobel winner to front Research Medals awards dinner

The 2006 Massey University Research Medals and Teaching Awards will be presented at a gala dinner to be held in Palmerston North on 5 October.

A highlight of this year's event, the third annual dinner held to pay tribute to research and teaching excellence, will be guest speaker Nobel Laureate, Professor Peter Doherty.

Professor Doherty, an Immunologist from St Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, was jointly awarded a Nobel prize in physiology/medicine in 1996 with Rolf Zinkernagel for their discoveries concerning the specificity of the cell mediated immune defence research undertaken while employed at the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra, Australia.

As well as giving a short speech about his work, Professor Doherty, whose first discipline was veterinary science, will present the medals to this year's recipients.

 

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