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UniNews

Otago’s quality confirmed

The University has made a strong showing in recent national and international measures of its quality and performance.

Otago retained its distinction of being one of only two New Zealand universities to feature in the 2012 QS World University rankings’ top 200.

The latest rankings placed the University as 133rd in the world. In the “faculty” categories, Otago ranked 66th in life sciences and medicine; 123rd in arts and humanities; 172nd in natural sciences and also 172nd in social sciences and management.

The QS World University Rankings is an annual league table of the top 700 universities in the world.

The University also topped the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission’s latest set of educational performance indicators in two categories and came second in a third. Otago came first in university course completions (89 per cent) and student retention (88 per cent) and was second in qualification completions (81 per cent).

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Marsden Fund success

Otago researchers gained more than $15 million from the prestigious Marsden Fund for 22 world-class research projects at the frontiers of knowledge in their fields.

The Royal Society of New Zealand-administered Marsden Fund is regarded as a hallmark of excellence that allows the country’s best researchers to explore their ideas. For the eighth successive year, Otago researchers have gained the largest share of funding available through this annual round.

Researchers from across Commerce, Health Sciences, Humanities and Sciences are leading the new projects, which include 15 standard projects and seven Fast-Start projects designed to support outstanding researchers early in their careers.

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Arts Fellows selected

The University’s Arts Fellows for 2013 are Dunedin writer and poet David Howard (Robert Burns Fellowship); Christchurch painter and sculptor Zina Swanson (Frances Hodgkins Fellowship); Auckland-based composer Samuel Holloway (Mozart Fellowship); Dunedin performer and choreographer Hahna Briggs (Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance); and Auckland-based writer Leonie Agnew is the University of Otago College of Education Creative NZ Children’s Writer in Residence.

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Award for University Union upgrade

The recent upgrade of the University Union was one of seven projects to earn gongs at the 2012 Southern Architecture Awards.

The upgrade provides an improved connection between the Information Services Building Link, the main common room, foodcourt and Union lawn. The work included opening up the busy ground floor concourse. An informal study and social space was also created on the mezzanine level, which is accessible from and complementary to the Link.

The awards’ judges said the re-working of the Union by Parker Warburton Team Architects showed the difference architects can make by intelligently refashioning older buildings.

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Appointments

André Everett and Elizabeth Rose as Professors of Management in Otago Business School’s Department of Management. Professor Everett was previously an associate professor in the department while Professor Rose comes to Otago from Finland’s Aalto University School of Business.

Christina Hulbe as Professor and Dean of Surveying at Otago. A leading glaciologist, Professor Hulbe was previously Chair of the Geology Department at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.

Sarah Hook to the Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the School of Pharmacy. Professor Hook’s research expertise is in novel vaccine formulation and delivery. She was previously an associate professor in the school.

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Awards/Achievements

Five Otago academics’ outstanding contributions were recognised through their election as Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand: Professor Tony Ballantyne (History); Professor Brett Delahunt (Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Wellington); Professor Keith Gordon (Chemistry); Professor Frank Griffin (Microbiology and Immunology); and Professor Tony Kettle (Pathology).

Otago medical student Joseph Donnelly won a prestigious Woolf Fisher Scholarship to support Cambridge University PhD study on blood-flow regulation in brain-injured patients. With an annual value of around $100,000, the four-year scholarship includes full college and university fees, a living allowance and annual return airfares.

Recent Otago graduates Louis Chambers and Edward Stace gained Rhodes Scholarhips to study at Oxford. A Law and Arts graduate, Mr Chambers intends to study for a Bachelor of Civil Law in his first year and then a Master of Science (MSc) in environmental change and management. Mr Stace, who completed medical studies at Otago, will pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (D Phil) in the field of tissue engineering.

Professor John Crump, who holds the University’s McKinlay Chair in Global Health, was awarded the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s highest honour, the Bailey K. Ashford Medal. The medal is awarded annually for distinguished work in tropical medicine to a worker in his or her mid-career.

The outstanding contributions of Professors Ewan Fordyce (Geology) and Alan Musgrave (Philosophy) were recognised through the presentation of medals at last year’s national research honours event. Professor Fordyce was awarded the Hutton Medal for his seminal contributions in New Zealand vertebrate paleontology, while Professor Musgrave received the 2012 Humanities Aronui Medal for his enduring and profound influence as a philosopher of science.

Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith (Anatomy) gained a two-year James Cook Research Fellowship which will allow her to undertake the first survey of the genetic diversity of New Zealand’s population.

Highly sought-after Rutherford Discovery Fellowships were awarded to four leading scientists to help them develop their Otago research careers. They are: Dr Shinichi Nakagawa (Zoology); Dr Peter Mace (Biochemistry); Dr Timothy Woodfield (Orthopaedics, Christchurch); and Dr Barbara Anderson (Botany).

Two Otago medical researchers recently received Health Research Council fellowships. Dr Moana Theodore (Preventive and Social Medicine) was awarded an HRC Erihapeti Rehu-Murchie Māori Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship to study how education positively affects Māori health over time. Dr Ayesha Verrall (Centre for International Health) gained a Clinical Research Training Fellowship to investigate tuberculosis and innate immunity.

Professor Mark Stringer (Anatomy) was named the OUSA’s top Otago University lecturer for 2012, and Dr Gill Rutherford (College of Education) as the most inclusive lecturer.

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Professorial promotions

The following leading Otago academics have been promoted to full professorships, effective 1 February: Michael Albert (Computer Science); Michael Baker (Public Health, Wellington); Christopher Charles (Research Professor, Medicine, Christchurch); Steve Dawson (Marine Science); Susan Dovey (General Practice); Julian Eaton-Rye (Biochemistry); John Evans (Research Professor, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Christchurch); Sean Fitzsimons (Geography); Elizabeth Franz (Psychology); Russell Frew (Chemistry); Parry Guilford (Research Professor, Biochemistry); Jamin Halberstadt (Psychology); Gary Hooper (Orthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine , Christchurch); Richard Jackson (National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies); Ian Jamieson (Zoology); Etienne Nel (Geography); Elaine Reese (Psychology); Alison Rich (Oral Diagnostic and Surgical Sciences); Anthony Robins (Computer Science); Jae Jung Song (English); Rachel Spronken-Smith (Higher Education Development Centre); Lisa Stamp (Medicine, Christchurch); Margreet Vissers (Research Professor, Pathology, Christchurch); David Wharton (Zoology).

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Emeritus Professors

The following staff members have been granted the status of Professor Emeritus by the University Council: Professor Michael Atkinson (Computer Science); Professor Gareth Jones (Bioethics Centre); Professor Carl Burgess (Medicine, Wellington); Professor Robin Taylor (Medicine); Professor Rob Smith (Chemistry); Professor Donald Wilson (Women’s and Children’s Health).

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Obituary

Dr William (Bill) Dean (75). A member of the University’s Department of English from 1970-1999, he was noted for his memorable lectures on the Elizabethan dramatists and Beckett. His other contributions to the life of the University included his theatrical productions, generous donations to the Library and anonymous financial help to needy students.