Some of the challenges New Zealand faces in health, environment, culture, science, and engineering will be addressed thanks to nearly $22 million awarded to the University of Auckland from the Marsden fund.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Metson: "Research is at the heart of what this University does.".

Why a gene variant specific to Māori and Pacific people increases blood pressure, understanding how colour-blind octopus are so exceptional at camouflage, discovering why invasive species adapt rapidly despite low genetic diversity, and using high-resolution imaging to better understand the connected networks required for cardiac function are just a handful of the University of Auckland’s research projects to receive nearly $1 million each in the 2019 Marsden Fund round.

In total, the projects of 35 University of Auckland researchers and research groups have been awarded $21.7 million.

Established researchers were awarded 21 grants ($17.5m) and 14 projects ($4.2m) received Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden Fast-Start grants which support early career researchers to develop independent research and build excellent careers in New Zealand.

Areas covered by Fast-Start applicants include investigating how dynamic coastal dune systems are shaped by wave-driven over-wash, understanding the way young people responded to the widespread illness and loss of the 1918-19 influenza pandemic, and unpicking coercive disarmament, the practice of forcing states and armed groups to give up their weapons.

University of Auckland Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Jim Metson, said it was pleasing to see the success of the University in this round, and the ongoing value given to our research and that being carried out by research institutions around the country.

“Congratulations are due to the Primary Investigators and their teams for the effort that goes in to applying for a Marsden grant in a very competitive environment. We were very pleased with these successes, not just for what it means today in terms of funding the projects, but for the real impact this research can and does have on the world.

“Whether it’s advancing the frontiers of human knowledge or contributing to specific solutions to heart health or environmental degradation or mental illness in our youth, research is at the heart of what this University does.”

The full list of University of Auckland Marsden Grant recipients:

Auckland Bioengineering Institute
Professor Bruce Smaill, $960,000: Image-based network modelling of cardiac function
Dr Bryan Ruddy, $300,000: The magnetic myocyte: applying inspiration from muscle physiology to electric motors*

Faculty of Arts
Associate Professor Susanne Trnka, $870,000: Rethinking Responsibility for Youth Mental Health in the Digital Age
Associate Professor Sarina Pearson, $870,000: Asian New Zealanders on Screen: Visibility Past and Present
Dr Marama Muru-Lanning, $660,000: Listening to the Voices of Our Harbours: Kāwhia, Manukau and Whangarei
Dr Ngarino Ellis, $522,945: Ngā Taonga o Wharawhara: The World of Māori Body Adornment
Dr Danping Wang, $300,000: Reconceptualising Chinese Language Learning in New Zealand*
Dr Charlotte Bennett $300,000: Recovering Children’s Experiences of the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic*

Faculty of Engineering
Dr Tim Giffney, $300,000: Simultaneous Deposition and Poling of Piezoelectric Composites for 3D Printed Sensors and Actuators
Dr Colin Whittaker $299,420: To Accrete or Erode? New Insights into Wave (Re)shaping of Coastal Dunes.

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Dr Misha Vorobyev, $960,000: Colour-blind Camouflage in Octopus
Associate Professor Justin Dean, $959,000: Short and Sweet: Does the Breakdown of Extracellular Matrix Sugar Impair Brain Development After Inflammation?
Professor Peter Shepherd, 959,000: Why does a gene variant specific to Māori and Pacific peoples increase blood pressure
Dr Kimberley Mellor, $952,000: Cardiac glycogen processing: defining a new metabolic pathway in heart health and disease
Dr James Fisher, $938,000: Unravelling a clot-less link between atrial fibrillation and dementia
Dr Julie Lim, $896,000: The tick tock of the redox clock: shedding new light on the role of the lens in regulating circadian rhythms
Associate Professor Rachel Simon-Kumar, $842,000: Double jeopardy or double advantage? Ethnic women in New Zealand politics

Faculty of Law
Dr Anna Hood, $300,000: Coercive Disarmament in International Law: 1919-2019*

Liggins Institute
Dr Tommi Vatanen, $300,000: Phages as modulators of the human gut microbiome*

Faculty of Science
Dr Anna Santure, $960,000: The role of transposable elements in rapid adaptation of invasive species
Dr Claude Aguergaray, $960,000: New pulse dynamics for the lasers of tomorrow
Dr Ingo Pecher, $952,000: Geologic champagne: What controls sudden release of CO2 at glacial terminations on the Chatham Rise?
Professor Stuart Murdoch, $922,000: Multimode microresonator optical frequency combs
Dr Gilles Bellon, $829,000: Memory in clouds
Associate Professor Karen Waldie, $766,000: Polygenic and environmental markers of mental health status in New Zealand children
Dr Bernd Krauskopf, $689,000: Feedback loops in climate systems: the maths of delays and the consequences
Professor Rod Gover, $643,000: A new bridge between geometry and analysis
Professor Andre Nies, $448,000: Topological algebra, first-order logic, and computability
Dr Iain Hay, $300,000: Nanoscale imaging and characterisation of bacterial phage secretion*
Dr Ben Stevenson, $300,000: Estimating animal population size in an unobservable spatial obstacle course*
Dr Arne Nieuwenhuys, $300,000: Tired and out of control? Effects of sleep deprivation on response inhibition under low and high threat*
Dr Chris Erb, $300,000: Capturing the Mind in Action: Linking the Behavioural and Neural Dynamics of Cognitive Control*
Dr Davide Mercadante, $300,000: Looking at the dark side of the proteome: how do post-translational modifications control highly disordered proteins for the regulation of genetic transcription?*
Dr Yalu Wen, $300,000: Disease risk prediction using high-dimensional multi-omics data*
Dr David Waite, $300,000: The role of viruses in the spread of antibiotic resistance: Evolution through rapid, selection-free diversification of resistance genes*

Applications to the Marsden Fund are highly competitive. Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden, the Marsden Fund, has allocated $83.671 million (excluding GST) to 125 research projects across Aotearoa New Zealand. These grants support excellent New Zealand research in the areas of science, engineering, maths, social sciences and the humanities.

The grants are distributed over three years and are fully costed, paying for salaries, students and postdoctoral positions, institutional overheads and research consumables. Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden is managed by Royal Society Te Apārangi on behalf of the government.

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