Science Research Showcase 2021 Results

Celebrating the research of doctoral candidates and research masters at the Faculty of Science. 

2021 competition winners

Huge congratulations to all the participants in this year's competition. The standard was really high, making it very difficult to judge! 

This year we received over 55 submissions, despite the uncertainties and difficulties created by Auckland’s shift in Covid-19 alert levels.

This year's winners are: 

Judges Choice Award - 2021

1st place: Trevyn Toone - Conserving Shellfish Reefs: A Systematic Review Reveals the Need to Broaden Research Efforts 

Shellfish reefs provide numerous ecosystem services but face extreme global decline. Conservation initiatives rely on science that is scattered or unavailable. Our systematic review compiles conservation projects and reveals that the existing research is heavily skewed. The imbalance leaves many conservationists without relevant science and emphasises the need to expand our research efforts.  

2nd place: Courtney Lynch - Pick & Mix-tures: Decoding forensic stains with RNA 

Forensic body fluid identification of biological stains is commonly required for sexual assault cases. The RNA present in stains depends on body fluid type. We developed a method using RNA that successfully identified body fluids in a range of mock samples similar to those analysed in forensic casework. 

Joint 3rd place: Danielle Culberson - Motor unit detection in the stretch reflex 

High density surface electromyography (HD-sEMG) is emerging as a viable non-invasive method to isolate stretch reflex-mediated motor unit activity and characterise motor unit compartmentalisation. Our study aims to identify optimal parameters for HD-sEMG recording of stretch reflex-activated motor units by refining known methods used for detection of voluntarily-activated motor units. 

Joint 3rd place: Edy Setyawan - How big is that manta ray? A novel method for determining the size of reef manta rays using small drones in Raja Ampat, Indonesia 

A non-invasive, rapid, accurate, and affordable technique to measure the size of surface-feeding reef manta rays using small drones. The drones are also very useful in determining the sex and maturity of reef manta rays. Importantly, all of these were undertaken with minimal and limited impact to this vulnerable species. 

People’s Choice Award – 2021

1st place: Miriama Wilson - Monitoring New Zealand's Alcohol Consumption using Wastewater-based Epidemiology 

In this research, Wastewater-based Epidemiology (WBE); the chemical analysis of raw pooled wastewater, was applied to estimate alcohol consumption in seven cities/towns around New Zealand to investigate whether certain factors affect alcohol consumption.


Erionite is a fibrous mineral originating within volcanic rocks. Similar to asbestos exposure, erionite has been linked to malignant mesothelioma. Erionite has been found in New Zealand and this study aims to identify where it is found and its mineralogic character in order to assess its carcinogenic potential. 

3rd place: Eileen Li - Investigating Linkage Bias in the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) 

The Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) is a database containing administrative data at individual level. This research is the first to investigate linkage bias in the IDI, more specifically, missed links and false links. The goal is to understand, measure and correct for linkage bias in the IDI. 

SGS Research Showcase 2021: Academic Poster Category

View our top 20 posters that qualified for the School of Graduate Studies Research Showcase (academic poster category) on Figshare.