University of Auckland science research attracts major funding

Are microalgae responsible for putting plastic in our food? How do sharks localise sounds underwater?

The rise of drug-resistant pathogens is a major global health problem but could the molecules living organisms employ to defend themselves against bacterial attack offer a solution?

These are just three of 15 the leading-edge research projects within the Faculty of Science at the University of Auckland to attract funding from this year’s Marsden fund.

The fund is administered by the Royal Society Te Apārangi and supports innovative research.

In total, science research at the University was awarded almost $10 million across 15 projects, under both the Fast Start and Standard funding categories. This year’s funding represents an increase from last year’s round for the Faculty.

“It is pleasing to see that funding for the Faculty’s science is up again this year and to see the wide range of projects across so many disciplines that have been successful,” says Dean of Science at the University of Auckland Professor John Hosking.

Newly-funded projects range across disciplines within the Faculty, from genomics to drug research, cosmology, marine science, computing, and psychology.

In drug research, Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble is awarded $935,000 to investigate potential new pathways to develop a solution to antimicrobial resistance and the escalation of drug-resistant pathogens, a major global health issue. Senior Research Fellow Paul Harris is awarded $939,000 to investigate the synthesis of molecules as potential medical therapies.

In marine science, Associate Professor Craig Radford receives $$935,000 to investigate how sharks localise sounds underwater to detect potential food sources and the role sound detection plays in the lives and interactions of marine animals.

Also in marine science, Dr Julie Hope will study if microalgae and their interactions with ocean sediments are causing microplastics to invade our food chain.

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