Rutherford Discovery Fellowships 2014

Six of ten new Rutherford Discovery Fellowships named by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce have been awarded to researchers from the University of Auckland.

The prestigious Rutherford Discovery Fellowships recognise talented future research leaders among early and mid-career scientists.

The Fellowships provide funding of up to $800,000 over five years for each Fellow, covering salary and research costs and are administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand.

“The University of Auckland is committed to the development of outstanding researchers, and we are delighted that these future research leaders are being recognised and supported by the award of these Fellowships,” says University of Auckland Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jane Harding.

University of Auckland researchers named as Rutherford Discovery Fellows are:

Dr Alys Clark from the University of Auckland’s Bioengineering Institute focuses her research on computational techniques and mathematics to provide a framework to better understand the development of the placenta and fetus in the early stages of pregnancy.

Dr Francis Collins from the University of Auckland’s School of Environment examines the relationship between nation and migration and the changing patterns of migration into New Zealand. Dr Collin’s research will help advance our understanding of the shifting patterns and dynamics of contemporary migration.

Dr Katie Fitzpatrick from the University’s Faculty of Education focuses her research in the area of health education and promotion where her innovative methodological approach combines qualitative and quantitative analyses including ethnographic methods through youth participatory, digital and visual methods.

Dr Kim Handley joins the University of Auckland from the University of Chicago where her research will focus on the long-term stability and health of marine ecosystems by understanding how microbial communities respond to environmental perturbations and how coastal ecosystems respond to pollution.

Dr James Russell from the University’s School of Biological Sciences works in island conservation science, bringing together diverse scientific approaches to solve contemporary conservation problems such as achieving and maintaining pest-free status on islands. James was the 2012 Prime Minister’s Emerging Scientist prize winner.

Dr Alex Taylor from the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland has developed a novel “signature testing” approach to research cognitive mechanisms that demonstrate whether a human and an animal truly think in the same way or not. His research has focused on the New Caledonian crow, one of the few species on the planet to make sophisticated tools.

University of Auckland Dean of Science Professor John Hosking says the recognition of the quality research being done in a wide range of science fields is a remarkable achievement by individuals and the University as a whole.

“Coming after the recent MBIE grant round success by our researchers, the naming of six new Fellowships for the University, four of them in the Faculty of Science, is a further endorsement of the quality of science research at the University of Auckland,” he says.

“The awardees are all outstanding early career researchers and I am delighted that they have been recognised by these awards and that they now have the freedom to pursue their research over the duration of their Fellowships.”