University to reveal research secrets with commercialisation medals

Press Release – University of Auckland
The University of Auckland will reveal some of its most exciting research and celebrate the achievements of its top researchers at the Research Excellence awards function to be held in the Marquee at Old Government House from 5-7pm on 1 May.

Guests, including Steven Joyce, Minister of Science and Innovation, and Auckland Mayor Len Brown, will have a chance to see displays of the University’s research, discuss the latest discoveries with the researchers involved, and even watch demonstrations of the latest advances in Biomimetics – a relatively new discipline in which scientists imitate systems used in the world of nature to solve problems and develop technologies. 

A highlight of the evening will be the presentations, by Steven Joyce, of the Vice-Chancellor’s Commercialisation Medals to three members of staff who are conducting highly innovative and successful research in Medical and Health Sciences, Engineering and Science.  These medals were created to recognise and reward commercialisation or contract research that has contributed both to industry and to society.

“The three recipients to be announced all highly deserve this recognition,” says Andy Shenk, newly appointed CEO of Auckland UniServices Ltd. “Not only are they recognised amongst their peers but, importantly, their research continues to have enormous direct impact beyond academia and the recipients are globally-renowned within their fields. All of them demonstrate that practical needs-based research and research partnerships with industry and society can be of extremely high quality, and all are examples of great town/gown collaboration.”

Other highlights of the evening will be the presentation, by Mayor Len Brown,  of the University’s 2013 Early Career Research Excellence Awards, created to recognise the achievements of researchers who are still within eight years of having competed their PhDs – and the presentation, by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, of the Best Doctoral Thesis Awards.

The University of Auckland’s Research Excellence Awards are held each year to celebrate the quality of the University’s research and the exceptional talents of its top researchers.

This year’s displays will focus on six themes:  Growing New Zealand businesses, Cancer clinical trials and drug developments, Biomimetics, Biophotonics in physics, Food security and markets in Papua New Guinea, and the work of the Geothermal Institute.

The biophotonics display will show a fluorescence-based device to count bacteria and an optical coherence tomography set-up that can provide an image up to one millimetre inside tissue. Visitors will be able to image their own fingers in real time.

The biomimetics displays include a demonstration of “Artificial muscles”, including a shoe generator [of power] and a finger sensing glove.

“The recent PBRF round showed that 35% of the top researchers in the entire New Zealand tertiary sector are located in The University of Auckland”, says Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon. “This is our opportunity to celebrate not only their many successes but also the achievements of those who follow behind them as doctoral graduates and early career researchers.”


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