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Otago academics made full professor

Clocktower.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Seventeen leading academics from across the University of Otago’s Dunedin, Christchurch, and Wellington campuses are being promoted to full professor.

Announcing the new professorships, Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne warmly congratulated the 17 academics.

“Otago’s promotion processes are extremely rigorous and involve thorough evaluation of an academic’s record of contributions in research, teaching, and service to the University and community. These professorial appointments are well-earned and reflect proven records of excellence.”

The selection procedure includes advice from international experts in evaluating the candidates’ research contributions.

Otago’s new professors are: Margaret Briggs (Law), Hallie Buckley (Anatomy), Anthony Butler (Radiology, University of Otago, Christchurch), Neil Carr (Tourism), Nicholas Chandler (Oral Rehabilitation), Gerard Closs (Zoology), Alison Cree (Zoology), Gregory Dawes (Philosophy), Shelley Griffiths (Law), Robert Hancox (Preventive and Social Medicine), Janine Hayward (Politics), Jing-Bao Nie (Bioethics Centre), Ross Notman (College of Education), Nigel Perry (Chemistry), Susan Pullon (Primary Healthcare and General Practice, University of Otago, Wellington), John Reynolds (Anatomy), and Rachael Taylor (Medicine).

A further 27 University of Otago academics are being promoted to Associate Professor level. All of the promotions take effect from 1 February 2017.

Professor profiles:

Margaret Briggs
Faculty of Law
Margaret Briggs researches in criminal law and relationship property law, and publishes nationally and internationally in both fields. Her current criminal law research focuses on the boundaries of criminal responsibility, with emphasis on the potential for the law to overreach its justifiable limits. This has included studies on the principles underpinning the law of criminal attempt, errors of law induced by government officials, and the uncertain borderlines between some forms of property crime and civil wrongdoing. Margaret’s research in the field of relationship property law has analysed multiple aspects of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976, which is the legislation that governs the division of a couple’s property on separation or death. Her relationship property law studies have included the way property is classified for the purposes of the Act, the property rights of unmarried couples, and the efficacy of the contracting out provisions in the Act.

Hallie Buckley
Department of Anatomy, School of Biomedical Sciences
Hallie Buckley’s research career has focussed on the analysis of health and disease in human skeletal remains from prehistoric archaeological sites in the Asia-Pacific region. She has pioneered the application of multi-disciplinary osteological and chemical methods in this region for characterising the diet and quality of life of peoples who colonised new environments in the Pacific, including New Zealand. Her research is underpinned by inter-weaving biology and culture to understand the impacts of initial colonising events on these early communities. Her findings on gout and tuberculosis in this wider region have helped to understand the evolutionary history of these diseases and potentially how they affect modern populations. Throughout her career she has developed close relationships with Pasifika and iwi groups that have richly informed the dissemination of research findings for both scientific and public communities.

Anthony Butler
Department of Radiology, University of Otago, Christchurch
Anthony Butler's research is at the interface of clinical medicine and the technical sciences of physics and computing. His current focus is the development of MARS imaging and its translation from high energy physics to clinical medicine. The MARS technique provides 3D colour (spectral) X-ray images of biological tissue. These images provide significantly more clinical information than those modalities currently used in hospitals and laboratories. This enables researchers and clinicians to study diseases in new ways. Currently he and his collaborators are applying MARS to problems in heart disease, cancer, drug development, and bone health. MARS technology research spans particle detector development, design of imaging equipment, medical mathematics, and data visualisation. In addition, his other interests include the using mobile computing and virtual reality within hospitals.

Neil Carr
Department of Tourism
Neil Carr has worked on understanding and raising awareness of the welfare and rights of animals in tourism and leisure experiences. This has included researching the role and position of dogs in leisure experiences and the leisure needs of dogs. He has also conducted research looking at zoos as places of entertainment, learning, and conservation. Alongside this, Neil has conducted work on the holiday desires and experiences of children and families. His research has explored the stresses and rewards involved in families holidaying together as well as the potential benefits associated with family members taking holidays separately. Finally, he has researched the position of sex within the leisure experience; exploring why, despite the prevalence of sex within contemporary society, academics and society in general are often reluctant to talk about it. This work is grounded in debates surrounding the welfare and rights of the individual and society in which they live.

Nicholas Chandler
Department of Oral Rehabilitation, Faculty of Dentistry
Nick Chandler is an endodontic specialist at the Faculty of Dentistry. His discipline is concerned with diseases of the dental pulp and their treatment, often involving root canal fillings, a central aspect of his research. The use of root canal posts made of metals, carbon fibres or tooth-coloured materials to rebuild extensively damaged teeth has been an enduring interest. As well, earlier work on pulp infections, root canal sealers and detecting root ends using radiographs and electronics has been widely cited. Experiments using instruments with cutting tips as small as 0.06 mm produced unique publications. Nick’s current research uses ultrasound for the diagnosis of dental disease. His PhD considered the laser Doppler blood flow method, proving that pulsatile flow could be detected in diseased molar teeth to give a non-invasive and accurate assessment of pulp health. His work on clinical simulation has led to new models and concepts while investigating student perceptions of teaching, learning and confidence.

Gerard Closs
Department of Zoology
Gerry Closs is a freshwater ecologist with a specialist interest in the conservation and biology of freshwater fish. Gerry studies how different fish species deal with the challenges of living, from egg through to adult. In recent years, his research group has focused on understanding the evolution and ecological role of fish migration and the early life history of fish. Recent advances in our ability to track fish migration using analyses of genetic and chemical signatures has allowed for unprecedented insights into the private lives of fish. This includes tracking of brown trout migrations from river headwaters to estuaries and back, strong patterns of return migration of some native ‘whitebait’ back to the rivers where they were spawned, and the importance of lakes and lowland rivers for the rearing of some ‘whitebait’ species that were previously thought to universally spend their larval stage in the sea.

Alison Cree
Department of Zoology
Alison Cree is an eco-physiologist who studies how New Zealand reptiles survive and reproduce in cool climates. She is an author of over 100 scientific journal articles and more than 20 book chapters and popular articles. Her recent book, Tuatara: biology and conservation of a venerable survivor, provides an extensive resource for conservation managers, and challenges biologists internationally to reconsider the “living fossil” label. Her research has contributed to recognition of temperature-dependent sex-determination in tuatara and the “slow” life histories, including extended pregnancies, of New Zealand geckos. She has served nationally and internationally on herpetological societies, has provided advice over many years to conservation managers and community groups, and has been the primary supervisor of more than 35 postgraduate students. Her research group has been closely involved in the reintroduction of tuatara to Orokonui Ecosanctuary and in understanding the thermal and reproductive biology of lizards at Macraes.

Gregory Dawes
Department of Philosophy
Greg Dawes' research examines the impact of both history and the sciences on religious belief. Religions rely on what is sometimes called “mythic” thought. Often expressed in narratives and rich in metaphor, such thinking is not only descriptive, but also normative: it offers an authoritative account of how we should live. The theoretic thought of history and the sciences offers a challenge to mythic narratives, by calling into question their taken-for-granted authority. Greg's earlier writings focused on the historical criticism of the Bible and its theological implications. His more recent work has examined the origin and development of the modern sciences, with particular reference to both Galileo's conflict with the Church and the religious reaction to the work of Darwin. He argues there is a real conflict between religion and science, which arises from differing views regarding the limits of human knowledge.

Shelley Griffiths
Faculty of Law
Shelley Griffiths’ research is in two distinct areas of law: taxation and the regulation of markets for financial products, such as shares and bonds. Her taxation research is principally about the characterisation of tax as public law. This involves the consideration of the applicability of human rights norms, such as the right to be free from search and seizure and the right of access to the Courts, to the administration of taxation where different values appear to dominate. She has also written about the absence of a comprehensive capital gains tax in New Zealand and the historical antecedents of that policy choice. Her capital market research is principally about the disclosure of information as a means of reducing asymmetry between investors and product providers. Most recently, Shelley has been working on projects that consider the implications of the major re-write of financial market law in the form of the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013.

Robert Hancox
Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine
Bob Hancox is a respiratory specialist who combines epidemiological and clinical research to investigate why people develop diseases such as asthma, allergies, and chronic lung disease and to find better ways to assess and treat these disorders. Much of his research is based on the long-running Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, which has followed 1,037 children since their birth in Dunedin in the early 1970s into adult life. Important findings from this research reveal how childhood experiences and lifestyle affect lung health in adulthood. He also leads the Next Generation Study, which assesses the children of the Dunedin Study members to understand how health and well-being transfer across generations. Other research has included investigations into the long-term effects of television viewing on children’s health, social, and educational development, and into the early-life origins of obesity.

Janine Hayward
Department of Politics
Janine Hayward researches Treaty of Waitangi politics, particularly in relation to Treaty settlements, social policy, and constitutional and electoral reform. She has also published widely in local government politics, addressing issues of representation and local government’s Treaty of Waitangi obligations to Māori. She has collaborated with Canadian colleagues on projects about indigenous/state relations and deliberative democracy. She is currently developing a comparative international collaboration focusing on electoral reform which emphasizes New Zealand’s extensive experience of electoral reform in order to offer advice to other nations, the UK and Canada in particular, who are grappling with electoral reform politics.

Jing-Bao Nie
Bioethics Centre
Jing-Bao Nie was originally trained in Chinese medicine in China, sociology in Canada and medical humanities in USA. He has investigated the ethical and social dimensions of Chinese voices on abortion, China’s birth control, the crisis of patient-physician trust in China, Japan’s wartime medical atrocities, and HIV cure research. His research has led to novel insights into medical ethics in the Asian (particularly Chinese) socio-cultural context and a distinctive theory and methodology of transculturalism. His publications include two books, two co-edited volumes and three thematic journal issues, and nearly 100 book chapters and journal articles. He has received grants from the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand (twice) and the Harvard China Fund. His service for bioethics globally includes co-chairing a major international congress, being a board member of the International Association of Bioethics, and serving on the advisory/editorial boards of six leading Asian and international journals.

Ross Notman
University of Otago College of Education
Ross Notman is currently the Director of Otago’s Centre for Educational Leadership and Administration. He is the New Zealand director for two international research projects: a 20-country investigation of successful school principals and a 10-country project on the leadership of high-needs schools. Previous research topics included a comparative study with the University of Edinburgh on teacher leadership, and secondary school communities of practice which focus on the professional development of specialist curriculum teachers. His 2011 Teaching and Learning Research Initiative project, which examined values teaching in New Zealand intermediate and secondary schools, was selected for inclusion in the second edition of the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Values Education Programme. Ross holds prominent leadership positions on the National Council of the New Zealand Educational Administration and Leadership Society and internationally, where he is co-director of the US-based Centre for the International Study of School Leadership.

Nigel Perry
Department of Chemistry
Natural products chemistry is about the compounds that give colour and flavour to our foods, scent to flowers, and inspiration for many of our life-saving drugs. Nigel Perry has been working on these compounds all of his career, starting with commercial flavour research in England after his first degree at the University of Bristol. He came to New Zealand in 1980 to do a PhD at the University of Otago, working on the unique chemistry of New Zealand’s trees, including the strange structure of laurenene, soon to appear on the University’s rebuilt Science I building. Postdoctoral research at the University of Canterbury led to the discovery of several new classes of antitumour and antiviral compounds from sea sponges, and to SCUBA diving under the Antarctic sea ice. Nigel returned to Otago in 1991 to set up the continuing collaboration with Plant & Food Research, including recent discoveries on honey chemistry.

Susan Pullon
Department of Primary Healthcare and General Practice, University of Otago, Wellington
Sue Pullon’s research areas of expertise are health professional and interprofessional education, collaborative practice and integrated care, and health education and promotion in sexual and reproductive health. Among many other educational research projects, she set up the Tairāwhiti interprofessional programme (TIPE) for senior health professional students and is currently overseeing a research team working on the Longitudinal InterProfessional (LIP) study, following 500+ graduating students from seven health disciplines (including 100+ TIPE students) over their first three to four years of practice, to ascertain programme effects on subsequent practice and career trajectories. As a clinical researcher, Sue practised as a GP for many years and maintains a well-established teaching-research partnership with the Wellington Sexual Health Service and research team members, investigating and improving health delivery, particularly for young people. As a health educator, she is the lead author of the NZ Pregnancy Book, into its third edition and in print for 23 years.

John Reynolds
Department of Anatomy, School of Biomedical Sciences

John Reynolds’ research focuses on understanding the effect of natural patterns of brain cell activity on the normal and disordered brain. His training in medicine and interest in rehabilitation from brain disorders has led to curiosity-driven research investigating the changes that occur in normal brain circuitry after Parkinson’s disease and stroke. Towards a better treatment for these disorders, a recent focus for his research group has been on how patterns of neural activity can best be applied to restore normal learning and movement functions of the brain. He is also a passionate teacher, having gained national recognition in both teaching and research, including an Ako Aotearoa tertiary teaching award and an inaugural Rutherford Discovery Fellowship for his research programme.

Rachael Taylor
Department of Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine
Rachael Taylor’s research aims to determine how best to help people effectively manage their weight and improve their health, in a world that makes this increasingly difficult to do so. In New Zealand, one in three children, and two in three adults, are overweight or obese. Without urgent solutions, the consequences of this excess weight have the potential to cripple our healthcare system, already struggling to cope with obesity, diabetes and related complications. Her body of work ranges from mechanistic studies determining how different behaviours such as sleep and physical activity affect our body weight, to testing a range of intervention approaches in people of all ages. For example, recent large trials have examined how sleep and the introduction of complementary foods affect weight during infancy, whether introducing greater risk and challenge in the school playground increases physical activity and reduces bullying in children, and the use of high-intensity interval training and intermittent fasting as weight loss approaches in adults.

Promoted to Associate Professor:

Barry Allan (Law)
Caroline Beck (Zoology)
Jonathan Broadbent (Oral Rehabilitation)
Rachel Brown (Human Nutrition)
Alan Carne (Biochemistry)
Nicolas Cullen (Geography)
Ivan Diaz-Rainey (Accountancy and Finance)
Liz Dennett (Surgery and Anaesthesia, University of Otago, Wellington)
Anne-Louise Heath (Human Nutrition)
Chris Hepburn (Marine Science)
Christopher Holmes (Theology and Religion)
Rajesh Katare (Physiology)
Roslyn Kemp (Microbiology and Immunology)
Diane Kenwright (Pathology and Molecular Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington)
William Levack (Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington)
Mark Lokman (Zoology)
Jevon Longdell (Physics)
Eileen McKinlay (Primary Healthcare and General Practice, University of Otago, Wellington)
Tony Moore (School of Surveying)
Neil Pickering (Bioethics Centre)
Anna Ranta (Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington)
Tony Savarimuthu (Information Science)
Andrew Tawse-Smith (Office of the Dean (Dentistry))
Tiffany Trotman (Languages and Cultures)
Greg Waite (English and Linguistics)
Ros Whiting (Accountancy and Finance)
Rachel Zajac (Psychology)

Promoted to Research Associate Professor:

Bridget Robson (Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington)

For more information, contact:

Kim Connelly
Marketing and Communications
University of Otago
Tel 03 479 5010
Email kim.connelly@otago.ac.nz

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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