IRANZ news briefs

Professor Paora Tapsell

Professor Paora Tapsell (Te Arawa, Tainui), Principal of Takarangi Research, author of Kāinga: People, Land, Belonging, and IRANZ representative on MBIE’s Te Ara Paerangi / Future Pathways Advisory Panel is a guest speaker on the Crucial Decade panel to be chaired by broadcaster Kim Hill at the Nelson Art Festival on 23 October 2022. Photo: David St George.

Endeavour Fund success for IRANZ members

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) recently announced the successful 2022 Endeavour Fund proposals, which included a number of research programmes for IRANZ members.

Cawthron’s new Endeavour Fund projects will tackle aquatic diseases and transform coastal environmental monitoring, and WSP were also awarded Endeavour funding to investigate environmentally sustainable road surfacing.

HERA, the Heavy Engineering Research Association, has been awarded a grant of close to $10.3 million from the Endeavour Fund to support a four-year research project focused on transforming the construction sector in Aotearoa New Zealand using Construction 4.0 approaches. Fundamentally, it will improve productivity for the construction sector, with key outcomes including better economic performance, building and infrastructure affordability, and a larger workforce that is more skilled, innovative, and digitally literate.

IRANZ member BRANZ is a subcontractor to this project and also to a University of Otago Smart Ideas project - Avoiding carbon lock-in: Understanding the long-term consequences of low-carbon pathways for buildings.

Dr Garry McDonald of ME Research is co-leader of the Adapting to climate change through stronger geothermal enterprises, five-year, $6,460,260 Endeavour Project. The project will be co-led by Professor Shane Cronin of the University of Auckland.

This is the second Endeavour project co-led by ME Research who currently co-leads the Transitioning Taranaki to a Volcanic Future programme - a five-year MBIE Endeavour Fund project to build and test the geological, engineering, and socioeconomic knowledge essential for New Zealand’s transition through an unprecedented level of on-going disruption that could result from long-term eruptions from Mt. Taranaki.

The New Zealand Wine Growers research centre The Bragato Research Institute is partnering with the University of Canterbury in a Smart Ideas project to develop a Lab on a chip in-house enzymatic testing which could have applications well beyond the wine industry.

Melanie Mark-Shadbolt keynote at TMBC Biosecurity Excellence Symposium

In late August, TTW's co-founder and Trustee, Melanie Mark-Shadbolt, presented the keynote at the recent TMBC Biosecurity Excellence Symposium, held in Tauranga. With the theme 'Biosecurity Reset: Working together to strengthen the system', Melanie spoke of how a treaty-centred biosecurity system should operate. The programme included other key change-makers, including Stu Anderson, Stu Hutchings, John Walsh, and TMBC Co-Chair Carlton Bidois, along with the 2019 New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award winners Te Arawa Catfish Killas. Discussions focussed on sparking action through technology and new ways of collaborating across the country towards biosecurity excellence.

Read more about Te Tira Whakamātaki (TTW) >>

Takarangi Research: Professor Paora Tapsell to speak on “Crucial Decade” panel

Professor Paora Tapsell (Te Arawa, Tainui), Principal of Takarangi Research, author of Kāinga: People, Land, Belonging, founder of, and IRANZ representative on MBIE’s Te Ara Paerangi / Future Pathways Advisory Panel is a guest speaker on the Crucial Decade panel to be chaired by broadcaster Kim Hill at the Nelson Art Festival on 23 October 2022.

In Kāinga: People, Land, Belonging Paora looks at the legacy of colonisation and how alienation from traditional Māori settlements and whenua (land) has become part of a wider story of environmental degradation and system collapse. He argues that only a complete step-change, one that embraces kāinga, can transform our lands and waterways, and potentially become a source of inspiration to the world.


Verum Group sponsors Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Verum Group is now the proud education partner of the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. Chairman Luc Bohyn says the Christchurch Art Gallery is a good fit for Verum Group sponsorship, with a rich overlap between the arts and sciences. "Without art, we would struggle to communicate science. And without science, art would be the poorer."

Read more about Verum Group >>

Chamber of Commerce members go behind-the-scenes at WSP Research

WSP opened the doors of its Petone Research and Innovation Centre earlier this month to Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce members.

WSP National Research Manager Wendy Turvey says the Chamber of Commerce visit was a great opportunity for the WSP Research team to connect with other businesses based near its Petone facility and branch office. WSP Research is part of the Hutt Valley Technology hub.

The visiting group heard from Wendy about materials testing. From steel and concrete to plastic, clients from across the country and abroad send material to WSP “to break”. In these kinds of tests, ever-increasing loads are applied to test samples often up to the point of failure.

The group were given an overview of WSP’s ‘cast machine,’ (circular accelerated testing facility) which is used to test the durability of road and pavement materials - including some now being made from biomass and recycled materials.


Dragonfly contributes to global Covid response

An interactive genome sequence analysis webtool, AudacityInstant, developed by Dragonfly for a global data science initiative, GISAID, is proving useful in the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

GISAID is the primary source of genomic and associated metadata of the pandemic coronavirus. AudacityInstant makes it possible to determine in real-time how any SARS-CoV-2 genome (Covid-19) is related to the nearly 12 million sequences currently available in GISAID’s EpiCoV database.

AudacityInstant enables users to explore the results by phylogenetic lineage, location, and collection date. It also provides an interactive display of the amino acid substitutions in the context of the 3-D spike protein model.

“AudacityInstant is useful for those looking to learn more about individual genome sequences in the context of GISAID’s global database and those working in public health trying to better understand the source of an outbreak,” says GISAID Vice President Ben Branda.


Bragato Research Institute now offers Nanopore sequencing service

Bragato Research Institute has installed an Oxford Nanopore PromethION Sequencer at their new Grapevine Improvement Laboratory at Lincoln University to support research in grapevine improvement and other fields. This capacity is also available as a service to other research agencies and customers.

PromethION offers increased throughput and reduced cost-per-gigabase for long-read sequencing of DNA and RNA samples. BRI’s model (PromethION 24 A100) can generate up to 100 gigabases of sequence data per flow cell (depending on samples and library types), and can simultaneously run up to 24 flow cells.


Verum Group: New research papers

Three new ecology papers have recently been uploaded to the Verum Group library. The papers cover a range of conservation and ecology subjects including monitoring the response of wildlife populations to conservation management, such as translocations and the use of Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) as an emerging tool for monitoring cryptic and elusive species, including the increasing use in the management of kiwi.

Bedoya, C. & Molles, L. (2021). Acoustic censusing and individual identification of birds in the wild. 14pgs. Preprint doi:10.1101/2021.10.29.466450

Jahn, P., Cagua, E. F., Molles, L., Ross, J. & Germano, J. (2022). Kiwi translocation review: are we releasing enough birds and to the right places?. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 46, 1, 3454. doi:10.20417/nzjecol.46.1

Jahn, P., Ross, J., MacKenzie, D. & Molles, L. (2022). Acoustic monitoring and occupancy analysis: cost-effective tools in reintroduction programmes for roroa-great spotted kiwi. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 46, 1, 3466. doi:10.20417/nzjecol.46.21


Dragonfly Data Science team gets stuck into Croissant

Dragonfly Data Science worked with a team from the Ministry for the Environment and Ackama to enhance the ministry’s submission processing and analysis tool, “Croissant”.

As part of law making in New Zealand, the public may be invited to make submissions on proposed legislation. Information gathered from submissions guides decision-making and improves government policies.

Some consultations attract tens of thousands of submissions, which all have to be analysed. The responses vary in form from templated submissions to email to handwritten documents. At the end of a consultation, a summary report is produced.

Croissant was built by the Department of Internal Affairs, the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and Ackama to streamline and standardise the analysis of submissions. It holds all the submissions related to each consultation and allows their text to be analysed. While robust, efficient and useful in its current form, MfE is continually working to improve the tool.

Croissant was designed to be an all-of-government platform. It is currently hosted by MfE and has been made available to a limited number of other agencies. Its use could be extended to all government agencies in the future.


Lincoln Agritech helping out the Fairfield Project

Lincoln Agritech’s Hamilton team have been getting their hands dirty digging in to the Fairfield Project, an urban biodiversity and gully restoration project in Fairfield, Hamilton. In mid-August, the whole team – Roland, Aldrin, Brian, Jungho, and Juliet – spent time planting, and mulching, and staking plants that had gone in the ground the previous weekend.

Read more about Lincoln Agritech >>

Beyond Vineyard Ecosystems event to bridge science and sustainability in New Zealand vineyards

Bragato Research Institute is bringing scientists and winegrowers together for a two-day conference, Beyond Vineyard Ecosystems, to share research-based approaches to sustainable vineyard management and the business case for accelerating practice change. The event is a celebration of the seven-year Vineyard Ecosystems research programme that studied how management choices affected New Zealand vineyards and their surrounding environments, with an aim to promote the uptake of more sustainable practices. The event will feature a stellar line-up of 25 growers and scientists, from both inside and outside the Vineyard Ecosystems programme. The international speakers include Dr Andrew Neal, soil biology cluster lead at Rothamsted Research in the United Kingdom, and Richard Leask of Hither and Yon in McLaren Vale, Australia.


Dragonfly co-launches The Kahawai Collective

A new not-for-profit organisation – The Kahawai Collective – was launched earlier this month with new directors Adam Langley, David Middleton and Dragonfly’s Finlay Thompson.

Its objective is to hold resources, like fisheries datasets, that are used by scientists in three partner businesses. Those resources can then be used for research that supports sustainable fisheries management.

The move formalises existing relationships between the partners. David is the director of Pisces Research and has collaborated with Dragonfly since 2006. At that time he was a member of the science team at SeaFIC, a forerunner of Seafood New Zealand.

Adam is an independent fisheries scientist who also contracts to Trophia, a provider of research and advice for fisheries management. Adam works in collaboration with other scientists from a range of groups including Fisheries New Zealand, NIWA, fishing industry organisations and members of The Kahawai Collective.


Cawthron: Salmonid Ecology Scholarship launched in late Brian Weatherhead’s name

A scholarship for a PhD student undertaking research into the ecology, conservation and management of trout and trout fisheries has been set up in the name of the late Brian Weatherhead.

The Weatherhead Salmonid Ecology Scholarship is available as a result of funding from income that is generated by the Weatherhead Bequest Fund, as well as partnership funding from Fish & Game New Zealand. The successful applicant will be supplied a tax-free stipend of NZ$40,000, for each of the three years of the scholarship.


Motu researchers win NZAE prizes

Motu researchers won several prizes this year at the New Zealand Association of Economists (NZAE) Conference 2022.

Senior fellows Arthur Grimes and Dave Maré and affiliate Stuart Donovan won two prizes for their paper Cities with forking paths? Agglomeration economies in New Zealand 1976-2018. The paper was awarded the 2022 NZ Economic Policy Prize (for the best contribution to analysis of economic policy in or applied to New Zealand), plus the Stata Prize (for excellence in graphics communications).

Research fellow Jaimie Monk won the 2022 Jan Whitwell Prize (for the best presentation of work done as a Doctoral student) for her paper The effect of screen time on child behaviour problems: an instrumental variable approach.

Shannon Minehan, one of Motu's Research Analysts, won the Best NZ Economics Honours Dissertation 2022 with her thesis The Face of Success.

Read more about Motu >>

Verum Group welcomes Dr Gemma Kerr

Dr Gemma Kerr has recently joined the Verum Group team as an XRF Analyst in Verum Group’s Christchurch laboratory. Her background is in Environmental Geochemistry, with a particular interest in the environmental impacts, and remediation, of mining operations in New Zealand. Gemma completed her PhD at the University of Otago in 2018 and has over seven years of experience running X-Ray laboratory facilities. Outside of work, Gemma enjoys trail and ultra-running, exploring New Zealand, and trying to keep her houseplant collection alive.


TTW welcomes Micheal Heimlick

As Te Tira Whakamātaki (TTW) looks to develop its work around social impact and education, they have announced the appointment of Micheal Heimlick as Evaluation and Impact Manager.

Micheal is a fourth-generation settler born in Treaty 6 Territory and homeland of the Métis (North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada). His family fled Soviet persecution in the Ukraine shortly before the Second World War and eventually settled in Canada on a farm near Rose Valley. At 18, Micheal moved to Saskatoon to pursue an education at the University of Saskatchewan.

During his Master’s degree programme in Applied Social Psychology, he found a passion for working in the programme evaluation field – so much so that he turned it into a full-time career after finishing his degree. Since 2017, Micheal has led over 75 short and multi-year programme evaluations and designed frameworks in both community and academic settings. These evaluations have helped organisations understand the impact of their work on communities, assisting the securing of further funding.

Micheal is recognised by the Canadian Evaluation Society as a Credentialed Evaluator. He is the current sitting president of the CES Saskatchewan chapter and the Co-chair of the CESEF Student Case Competition.

Micheal, his wife, Janelle, and daughter, Drew, have recently moved to Aotearoa New Zealand from Canada to join the TTW team.

HERA: Lydia Frater recipient of HERA Whanake Scholarship

Lydia is a full-time student studying at the University of Canterbury, studying towards a honours in engineering, with the intention of completing a bachelor’s in civil engineering.

She says “I chose to be an engineer because I enjoyed all aspects of science and math during high school and wanted a career that included all of them. Engineering allows for creativity and problem solving which fits me perfectly, I also love the idea of taking something and improving it to benefit the world and working industry while taking into consideration the factors of culture and sustainability.”

Her goals for the future are to complete her current studies and go into the workforce to gain experience, then she will look into doing a master’s in engineering management to allow for further job opportunities. Lydia is also inspired to bring Māori culture into engineering as she continues to take Māori studies while at university.


Bragato Research Institute welcomes Paul Epee and Chris Ireland

Paul’s role will be split between helping shape and deliver BRI’s applied viticulture research programme, enhancing and delivering the extension program and supporting industry’s technical needs. Paul is in the final stages of completing a PhD in agronomy and viticulture with Lincoln University, and has more than a decade of experience in research management, extension and agronomy experience working with multiple crops in Australia and his home country of Cameroon in Central Africa. Work for his PhD has focused on winter pruning in grapes and the effect on growth, yield and grape quality. Chris is a Viticulture Technical Specialist, focused on establishing BRI’s new commercial viticulture field trial unit. Chris will lead client and industry-funded projects focused primarily on the evaluation of crop protection products, with responsibility for pricing, trial establishment and delivery through to reporting. Chris has more than 30 years’ experience in New Zealand’s wine industry, a science degree in viticulture from Charles Stuart University, and runs his own viticulture consultancy business.


Date posted: 19 September 2022

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