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Massey Magazine Issue 13 November 2002

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Four individual researchers and one research team have been identified as leaders in the University’s research community. They have been selected as the inaugural University Research Medal recipients.

Professor David Parry The inaugural University Research Medal for an outstanding individual researcher has been awarded to Professor David Parry. Head of the Institute of Fundamental Sciences, Professor Parry will receive a research grant worth $20,000.

The supporting evidence for Professor Parry’s nomination is extensive, from his 184 publications in international refereed journals, to the more than 5200 times he has been cited in research papers since 1980 and his 40 invited or plenary addresses to international conferences. He has authored or edited various books on his area of expertise, fibrous protein structure and function, and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Structural Biology, the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology Journal and the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules.

His research has been recognised nationally and internationally. He was awarded the Sir Charles Hercus Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2000, the ICI prize for Outstanding Achievement in Chemical Research in 1981, as well as a DSc from the University of London in 1982. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, of the Institute of Chemistry and Physics, and of the United Kingdom Institute of Physics. For 12 years he served on the Council of the International Union of Pure and Applied Biophysics, with three years as President. He is currently Vice-President, Scientific Planning and Review, on the International Council for Sciences – the first New Zealander to hold such a role.

“David is an inspiring leader in teaching as well as in research and administration,” says Associate Professor Dean Halford, deputy head of the Institute. “He leads from the top. His personal demonstration of excellence provides enormous encouragement to staff.”

Dr Halford says Professor Parry is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading authorities on fibrous proteins, including connective tissue, muscle and intermediate filaments from diverse sources, especially those present in hair. “His discovery that there are two unique structures for hair, depending on its stage of development, resolved many of the difficulties experienced in this field over the years. One of the mostly highly recognised contributions he has made is his formulation of the steric blocking mechanism for the regulation of vertebrate skeletal muscle.” Dr Halford says Professor Parry has also made significant contributions in the field of using fibrous proteins to study the relationship between amino acid sequences and the function of protein, as well as to understanding the structure and function of a wide variety of other proteins.

Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution The 2004 medal for the top research team has been awarded to the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution. The Massey members of the CoRE, hosted by the Institute of Fundamental Sciences and Institute of Molecular Biosciences, are co-directors of the centre Professors Mike Hendy and David Penny, Professor David Lambert and Associate Professor Peter Lockhart. The Massey staff will share a research grant of $25,000 while the members from other universities will receive certificates. The team’s proposal was based on its success in securing $17 million in government Centre of Research Excellence funding, following an extensive and exhaustive selection process.

In his supporting statement to the nomination, Institute of Fundamental Sciences head Professor David Parry says Professors Hendy and Penny were already internationally recognised authorities on molecular ecology and evolution and it was logical that a CoRE be established in this country to built on this expertise. He says the $17 million in funding has enabled the purchase of world-class equipment including DNA sequenators and the Helix supercomputer.

College of Sciences Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Anderson says the success of the centre can be gauged by the number of new researchers recruited. In a short time the centre has grown to 74 workers, including seven principal investigators, three associate investigators, 16 postdoctoral fellows, 14 technical staff, 18 PhD students, seven MSc students, five RSNZ teaching fellows and four clerical staff. “The subsequent development of the research programme has been nothing less than spectacular and the leadership exhibited by Professors Hendy and Penny, in particular, thoroughly deserves recognition at the highest level by this University,” says Professor Anderson.

Two highflying young researchers have been awarded Early Career Research Medals. Dr Jeroen Douwes and Dr Ulrich Zuelicke will each receive $10,000 to further their careers.

Dr Jeroen Douwes Dr Douwes has been with the Centre for Public Health Research since gaining is his doctorate in 1998 and was recently appointed Associate Director. He leads the asthma research programme, investigating non-allergic mechanisms for asthma, the role of microbial exposures, asthma in farming families and the potential protective effects of exposure to endotoxins, as well as being a co-investigator in international studies.

Director of the Centre Professor Neil Pearce says Dr Douwes’ publication record is outstanding not only in terms of the number of his publications and the journals in which they were published but also in terms of the quality of the work itself. “He has played a leading role in re-orienting and refocusing asthma research internationally away from the previous overemphasis on allergens towards non-allergic mechanisms.”

He is being invited to speak at many international conferences and contributes to leading journals in his field. Professor Pearce says Dr Douwes has made a major contribution to his discipline and obtained a large number of research grants in a very competitive funding environment. He was recently awarded the Sir Charles Hercus Fellowship from the Health Research Council – the first time it has been awarded to a public health researcher.

Dr Ulrich Zuelicke Dr Zuelicke, from the Institute of Fundamental Sciences, already has 36 publications in international refereed journals. He has presented 12 invited or plenary addresses to international conferences and presented 30 seminar talks in the past six years. He was short listed for a Marsden Fast Start grant this year and invited to write a commentary in Science magazine in 2002. He won the Outstanding Graduate Student in Research Award from Indiana University in the United States in 1997 for the high quality of his PhD research thesis.

Dr Zuelicke’s area of research expertise is the theory of functional nanostructures. He is currently researching the interplay between quantum effects, such as tunnelling and wave-like behaviour and their affect on ultra small transistors and wires in determining electronic and transport properties in nanostructures.

Professor David Parry says Dr Zuelicke is one of the most outstanding young scientists that he has had the privilege of appointing during his time as head of Institute. “He is one of the most brilliant young scientists I have met. He is clearly in a league of his own and I have an absolute conviction that he will reach the top of his field in a very short period of time.”

Associate Professor Kerry Chamberlain Associate Professor Kerry Chamberlain, from the School of Psychology on the Albany campus, has been awarded the Supervisor Research Medal and $10,000. Dr Chamberlain is actively involved in graduate supervision, having supervised 14 PhD and more than 60 Masters and Honours students. He describes himself as an advocate for research. He is committed to promoting good supervision and quality research practice to improve postgraduate performance, and promotes collegial activity and professional development in postgraduate students.

His teaching interests are focused on health psychology and research methods. He has developed a graduate course in this area as well as an undergraduate course on research methods and statistics. During his time at Massey he has taught more than 25 different courses on a wide variety of topics related to his area of expertise.

As well as his teaching and supervision activities, Dr Chamberlain is also a leading researcher in the field of health psychology and the social and cultural influences on health and illness. He is specifically interested in food, diet and health, the marketing of medication and socio-economic factors in health and illness and the media representations of health and illness.

A former student of Dr Chamberlain, Dr Darrin Hodgetts, a senior lecturer in community psychology at the University of Waikato, says that as supervisor and mentor Dr Chamberlain “holds high expectations for his students and provides both constructive criticism and avenues for overcoming issues”.

“Without Kerry’s guidance and continued support I would not be in the position I am today,” he said.

Other former students all commented on Dr Chamberlain’s ability to combine constructive criticism with a respect for the students’ work and opinions, while challenging and stimulating the students to extend them.

Created: 27 August, 2004

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