Auckland celebrates $17.8 million success in Marsden Fund

29 October 2013

The University of Auckland is celebrating the success of thirty five of its researchers and research groups, who have won $17.8 million in the prestigious Marsden Fund round, amounting to thirty per cent of the total awarded this year.

The research supported by the fund will address a wide range of topics, from how we conduct social research in New Zealand, to learning more about the causes of cerebral palsy, and fundamental questions about geometry.

“We are delighted that these awards reflect the breadth and depth of research at the University of Auckland,” says Professor Jane Harding, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research).

“The Marsden Fund supports investigator-led research, and plays a vital role in building a healthier, socially more cohesive and economically stronger nation,” said Marsden Fund Council chair, Professor Juliet Gerrard, in announcing the results.

“[It] is a unique resource used to support our very best researchers. The research done through investigator-led projects has been shown worldwide to create the most important breakthroughs, which ultimately change the way we operate, think and live. The Marsden Fund is an investment in the long term success of New Zealand.”

Fourteen research groups led by investigators from the Faculty of Science have been awarded a total of $7.6 million. Amongst them Professor Alexei Drummond will investigate new tools to predict the spread of infectious diseases.

Seven research teams led by academics from the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences received a total of $4.1 million, including Associate Professor Bob Anderson investigating how to improve the outcome of radiotherapy for cancer.

Six researchers or teams from the Faculty of Arts received a total of $2.7 million, including Associate Professor Damon Salesa who will study the transformation of everyday life in Samoa from 1800 to 2000.

Grants were awarded to two groups each from the Business School (totalling $1.5 million), Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI, $600,000), and Faculty of Engineering ($600,000).

They include Professor Kaj Storbacka and colleagues (Business) who will study whether New Zealand is betting on the wrong horse in the international innovation race; Dr Clark Alys and colleagues (ABI) investigating the relationships between maternal and placental blood supply; and Dr Han Jie and colleagues (Engineering) studying polymeric molecule sponges – a new generation of sorbent media.

A group led by Dr Caroline Foster from the Faculty of Law has received almost $400,000 to study the role of the international judge and arbitrator in the 21st Century, while Dr Elise Donovan from the Liggins Institute will study how epigenetic mutation may drive evolution ($300,000).

Applications to the Marsden Fund are highly competitive. This year the fund distributed $59 million to 109 research teams around the country.

Successful projects with first-named investigators from the University of Auckland are (in alphabetical order):

Dr Maartje Abbenhuis
Department of History, Faculty of Arts
A global history of the Hague Peace Conferences, 1898 – 1914
$521,739

Associate Professor Robert Anderson
Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Improving radiotherapy outcomes: Chain release of drugs to kill refractory cancer cells and inhibit metastatic spread
$847,826

Dr Quentin Atkinson
School of Psychology, Faculty of Science
Tongues, trees and Bayesian inference - towards a global language phylogeny
$847,826

Dr Neil Broderick
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science
Controlling optical rogue waves
$730,435

Professor Howard Carmichael
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science
New directions in the quantum theory of photo-emissive sources
$695,652

Dr Alys Clark
Auckland Bioengineering Institute
The impact of maternal arterial remodelling on placental vascular development
$300,000

Professor Paul Clark
School of Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts
Recreating Beijing: Public space, private pursuits and popular agency since 1949
$365,217

Professor Marston Conder
Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Science
Group actions, structure and representations
$417,391

Dr Justin Dean
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Role of the extracellular matrix in regulating myelination deficits following ischemia in preterm infants
$300,000

Professor Paul Donaldson
School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Biological glass: The molecular and cellular determinations of the optical properties of the ocular lens
$826,087

Dr Elise Donovan
Liggins Institute
SNPing away at genetic assimilation: does biased epigenetic mutation drive evolution?
$300,000

Professor Alexei Drummond
Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science
A unified framework for phylodynamic inference of infectious diseases
$521,739

Dr Miro Erkintalo
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science
Microresonator frequency combs: Fiber-optic physics to the rescue
$300,000

Dr Caroline Foster
Faculty of Law
On the forge: The role of the international judge and arbitrator in the 21st Century
$391,304

Dr David Goldstone
School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science
Investigation of macromolecular assembly and signalling by an antiretrovial host protein
$847,826

Professor Rod Gover
Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Science
New directions at the geometry-analysis frontier
$434,783

Dr Charlotte Greenhalgh
Department of History, Faculty of Arts
Researching ourselves: Social surveys in New Zealand
$300,000

Dr Yongchuan Gu
Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Searching for needles in proteomic haystacks: an innovative approach for quantifying predictive biomarkers in cancer therapy
$300,000

Dr Jie Han
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Polymeric molecule sponges: A new generation of sorbent media with ultra-high binding affinity and selectivity
$300,000

Dr Annette Henderson
School of Psychology, Faculty of Science
Shaping cooperation: Identifying how genes, experience, and socio-cognitive ability influence the development of cooperation in early childhood.
$300,000

Dr Kevin Hicks
Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Agent-based modelling of drug and radiation action in the tumour microenvironment
$773,913

Dr Mark Holmes
Department of Statistics, Faculty of Science
Scaling limits and super-Brownian motion
$347,826

Dr Maarten Hoogerland
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science
Anderson localisation of matter waves in programmable potentials
$608,696

Dr Jessica Jor
Auckland Bioengineering Institute
Predicting properties of pericardium: from optics to mechanics
$300,000

Dr Igor Klep
Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Science
Free analysis and convexity
$300,000

Associate Professor Chris Martin
Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts
From vocalism to nominalism: The Twelfth Century Parisian schools of philosophy and their logics
$434,783

Associate Professor Alok Mitra
School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science
Armed to deliver -Insight into the action of a microinjection nanodevice
$765,217

Dr Johanna Montgomery
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Identifying a zinc link in Autism Spectrum Disorders
$739,130

Professor Andre Nies
Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science
Randomness, analysis, and reverse mathematics
$521,739

Professor Tava Olsen
Department of Information Systems and Operations Management, Business School
Raw Log Exports From Tauranga: Are they a necessary consequence of NZ’s position at the end of the world’s supply chain?
$778,261

Associate Professor Damon Salesa
Centre for Pacific Studies, Faculty of Arts
The Transformation of Everyday Life in Samoa (1800-2000)
$478,261

Professor Cris Shore
Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Arts
The Crown: Perspectives on a Contested Symbol and its Constitutional Significance in New Zealand and the Commonwealth
$604,348

Professor Kaj Storbacka
Department of Marketing, Business School
Is New Zealand betting on the wrong horse in the international innovation race? The importance of market innovations for small open economies
$673,913

Dr Katey Thom
School of Nursing, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Touchy-feely justice or veiled retribution? An ethnography of therapeutic jurisprudence in New Zealand problem-solving courts
$300,000

Dr Anh Tran
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Characterising gas bubble effects on the droplet spreading process using numerical modelling
$300,000