Science funding at University of Auckland receives major boost

03 November 2016

Research in the Faculty of Science at the University of Auckland has been awarded a total of $9.6 million over the next three years for a broad range of projects, from the timing of volcanic eruptions to computer software protection.

This year’s Marsden Fund successes include a total of 17 research groups in mathematics, environmental science, psychology, computer science, biological sciences and chemical sciences.

Professor Joel Baker from the School of Environment is awarded $870,000 for the study of the most precise timing of volcanic eruptions to date and the impact of these eruptions on the environment.

Research Fellow Jodie Johnston from the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Biodiscovery receives the same amount for her work investigating an enzyme which is an important drug target for Tuberculosis.

Professor Alexei Drummond from the Department of Computer Sciences receives $830,000 to research genomes, phenotypes and fossils and integrative models of species evolution.

Four projects in the Department of Mathematics are funded this year including the work of Professor Steven Galbraith and Associate Professor Giovanni Russello (from Computer Science) in cryptographical tools for software protection who receive $590,000. The work of Distinguished Professor Marston Conder, Associate Professor Jianbei An and Professor Eamonn O’Brien in group structure and algorithms receives $500,000.

In the School of Biological Sciences, Associate Professor Debbie Hay’s study of proteins that are cellular targets of natural hormones that are some of the most important drug targets receives $810,000. Research Fellow Dr Chris Walker’s work receives a $300,000 Fast-Start grant to explore new targets for pain relief and Senior Lecturer Anne Gaskett receives the same funding to investigate why orchid pollinators don’t go extinct.

From the Department of Physics, Professor Neil Broderick will develop a new generation of optical fibre sensors to improve our understanding of the Alpine Fault with funding of $830,000.

Dean of Science Professor John Hosking said the number and range of research groups that had attracted funding this year showed that science at the University continued to reach the highest standards.

“I’m extremely pleased that the quality of science right across the Faculty has been recognised in so many areas,” he said. “This is an outstanding result and I warmly congratulate all the research groups that have been successful this year.”

Other research projects within the Faculty of Science include Senior Lecturer Kevin Simon’s research in the School of Environment on whether rapid evolutionary adaptation to temperature affects consumer body size in ecosystems, funding received is $675,000. Research Fellow Simon Barker also in the School of Environment receives a $300,000 Fast-Start grant for his research into what drives the most productive region of silicic volcanism on Earth and lecturer Tom Baker in the School of Environment receives a $300,000 Fast-Start grant for his research on welfare capital and the new welfare state, a comparative study of privately-financed welfare services.

Professor Hinke Osinga’s study of invariant manifolds and their interactions is funded with $590,000 while Professor Rod Gover’s research into geometric structures critical for analysis and physical theories receives $525,000.  Both projects are within the Department of Mathematics.

Research Fellow in the Department of Computer Science Miika Hannula will investigate dependence logic and its applications, also with a $300,000 Fast Start grant and in the School of Chemical Sciences, Lecturer Erin Leitao will investigate new inorganic polymers that could one day produce novel materials with $300,000.

Associate Professor Tony Lambert’s work in the School of Psychology investigates unconscious vision with a grant of $675,000.

The annual Marsden grants are administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand and allocated over three years.


For more information contact

Anne Beston
Media Relations Adviser,
University of Auckland.

Telephone: +64 9 923 3258
Mobile: + 64 (0) 21 970 089