Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences News

Latest news 

Funding for graduate research

09 June 2017. PhD student Wesley Webb was awarded a Claude McCarthy Fellowship to present his research at the Behaviour 2017 conference in Portugal, and to visit the labs of two eminent birdsong researchers in London following the conference. Wesley is studying the cultural evolution of male and female song diversity in NZ bellbirds (Anthornis melanura) under Professor Dianne Brunton.


Catalyst: Seeding fund to bring raptor expert to New Zealand

07 June 2017. Dr Daniel Thomas has been successful in the 2017 round of Catalyst: Seeding for a project titled Building capability for conservation paleobiology in New Zealand. The RSNZ-funded project is a collaboration involving Dr Paul Scofield at Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, and Dr Andrei Zinoviev from Tver State University in Russia, and will strive towards new insights into the proximal causes of extinction and endangerment to large aerial predators.


Senior STEM & Health Experience Day

07 June 2017. More than 160 students visited campus for the Senior STEM & Health Experience Day. Interactive one-hour workshops offered by INMS staff including Mick Roberts(Mathematics), Daniel Playne (Computer Science), Kristin Stock (Data Science) and Anne Wignall (Ecology & Zoology), among others.


Sexual health and antibiotic resistance

07 June 2017. Dr Heather Hendrickson (INMS) and Dr Collette Bromhead (Massey University College of Health) co-authored a short article in The Biochemist titled "Untreatable gonnorhoeae, are we there yet?", suggesting that vaccination and phage therapy may be viable alternatives to antibiotics in the future. The article can be viewed on page 30 of The Biochemist volume 39 number 3, and was discussed in popular press articles (,

Undergraduate students sequence DNA in real time

26 May 2017. The Principles in Genetics (203.212) class taught by Senior Lecturer in Genetics Dr Olin Silander is the first undergrad course at Massey University to sequence DNA in real time using the new MinION nanopore sequencer. This piece of equipment was purchased using a Innovation and Excellence Grant from the National Centre for Teaching and Learning. Samples from a Hector’s dolphin and from a slime mold (a species of Dictyostelium, isolated recently here in New Zealand) were chosen for their biological relevance.

Funding for conservation research

26 May 2017. Environmental Science and Ecology lecturer Dr Luis Ortiz-Catedral was awarded funding from the Galapagos Conservancy to support ongoing research on Galapagos snakes. Dr Ortiz-Catedral's graduate student Serena Simmonds was awarded funding from the Heseltine Trust Bursary and from the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women for her MSc research into the habitat use of green parrots on Norfolk Island. Graduate student Kaya Cooper was also awarded funding from the Heseltine Trust Bursary for her work on little penguins at Tawharanui Peninsula, Auckland. 

STEM Champions

18 May 2017. The STEM Champions Academy Awards Evening celebrated the achievements of students from nine schools: Orewa College, Kaipara College, Mt Roskill Grammar School, Pinehurst School, Henderson High School, Carmel College, Western Springs College, Long Bay College and Kingsway School. A great group of students, supporters and teachers visited the Massey University Auckland campus to view the final projects that year 11 students had developed after their intensive, two-day training on our campus in April.

Funding for Galapagos Research 

12 May 2017Dr Luis Ortiz-Catedral (Lecturer in Environmental Science and Ecology) has secured $40,000 in funding from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (United Arab Emirates), Galapagos Conservancy (USA), and the Foundation Ensemble (France). This funding will contribute to projects that aim to investigate the diversity of terrestrial snakes in Galapagos and to start the ground work for creating a biological corridor on Floreana Island for mockingbirds and snakes. These projects are a joint initiative between the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador, Island Conservation and Massey University.

International Government Science Advisor

12 May 2017Distinguished Professor Gaven Martin was panellist for the International Government Science Advisors Network (INGSA) workshop in Auckland. From the INGSA website: Through workshops, conferences and a growing catalogue of tools and guidance, the network aims to enhance the global science-policy interface to improve the potential for evidence-informed policy formation at both national and transnational levels

Guest Lecture by CTO and Co-founder of Urnextgig

04 May 2017. The 158.753 Rapid Application Development postgraduate class hosted a guest lecture by Manfred Lange, CTO and Co-founder of Urnextgig. Manfred outlined the main three steps needed in developing a product: prepare, release and collect data. He used the web application Urnextgig to demonstrate his findings.

Latest 10 publications

i) Ranjard L, Withers SJ, Brunton DH, Parsons S, Ross HA (2017). Geographic patterns of song variation reveal timing of song acquisition in a wild avian population. Behavioral Ecology doi:

ii) Su S, Liu Ik, Gou S, Liao R, Fialko O, Brand J (2017). Hidden long-range order in a spin-orbit-coupled two-dimensional Bose gas. Physical Review A 95: 53629.

iii) Lee SJ, Ramesh R, de Boor V, Gebler JM, Silva RC, Sattlegger E (2017). Cost-effective and rapid lysis of Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells, for quantitative western blot analysis of proteins, including phosphorylated eIF2α. Yeast doi: 10.1002/yea.3239.

iv) Bromhead C, Hendrickson H (2017). Untreatable gonnorhoeae, are we there yet? The Biochemist 39: 30-34.

v) Liu Y, Gokhale C, Rainey P, Zhang X-X (2017). Unravelling the complexity and redundancy of carbon catabolic repression in the plant growth‐promoting bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. Molecular Microbiology doi: 10.1111/mmi.13720.

vi) Gerth ML, Liu Y, Jiao W, Zhang X-X, Baker EN, Lott JS, Rainey PB, Johnston JM (2017). Crystal structure of a bicupin protein HutD involved in histidine utilization in Pseudomonas. Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics. doi: 10.1002/prot.25303.

vii) Laing CR (2017). Chimeras in two-dimensional domains: heterogeneity and the continuum limit. SIAM Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems 16-2: 974-1014.

viii) Rakesh R, Krishnan R, Sattlegger E, Srinivasan N (2017). Recognition of a structural domain (RWDBD) in Gcn1 proteins that interacts with the RWD domain containing proteins. Biology Direct 12:12.

ix) Tibbetts EA, Mullen SP, Dale J (2017). Signal function drives phenotypic and genetic diversity: the effects of signalling individual identity, quality or behavioural strategy. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 372: 20160347.

x) Kim J-H, Wake GC (2017). A robust derivation of the Black-Scholes partial differential equation system without the self-financing hypothesis. Journal of Mathematics and Statistical Science 3: 97-103.

Massey news releases

No definitive cause of orca death
The investigation into the death of an orca washed up on Whatipu Beach has found no evidence of boat strike or live stranding.
Massey marine biologists investigate orca death
A Massey University marine conservation team is mobilising to investigate the death of a killer whale, or orca, washed up on Auckland's west coast at...
Humans may have twice as many functional genes
While some genes in our DNA control the colours of our eyes, hair and even our risk of disease, other genes seem to serve no apparent biological...
Crowdfunding to save one of the world’s rarest birds
Conservationists protecting the endangered Norfolk Island green parrot are looking toward the public to fund a new colony on Phillip Island
New mathematical model could stop future financial crashes
It is widely accepted that the Global Financial Crisis in 2007 was the result of abuse of the financial markets, but could it all have been avoided...
Antibiotic resistance – microscopic ninjas to the rescue
Antibiotics save countless lives every year, but like an ageing title-fighter, their punch weakens over time. A Massey University evolutionary...

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