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Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research


Jessica Palmer

Jessica PalmerJessica Palmer has been a lecturer and now senior lecturer at the University’s Faculty of Law since 2005. She has masters’ degrees from both Auckland and Cambridge Universities and has worked at a large national law firm and as a judge’s clerk.

Her main research interest has been in the field of equity, an area of law that concerns trusts and doctrines based on the prevention of unconscionable conduct. Her most recent research has been on beneficiaries’ rights and the avenues available to non-beneficiaries to access trust property, examining fundamental issues such as what is a trust, why are they needed, what are the requirements for a trust and should trusts ever be busted?

Palmer has publications in a number of high calibre national and international legal journals and her work is regularly cited by both overseas and New Zealand academics. She has also been cited in at least three judgments in New Zealand, including a decision of the Court of Appeal in 2008 concerning sham trusts.

She has attracted regular national speaking invitations at conferences of lawyers and judges and has also presented a paper by invitation at an international conference on legal remedies.

In 2010, she was invited by the New Zealand Law Commission to participate in its current review of the law of trusts in New Zealand and any reform that may be proposed.

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Dr Simone Celine Marshall

Dr Simone Celine MarshallDr Simone Celine Marshall is a senior lecturer in the Department of English where she conducts research into medieval literature. After studying at Victoria University of Wellington and Waikato University, she completed a PhD at the University of Sydney in 2005, taking up her position at the University of Otago in 2007.

Marshall’s current research focuses on the reasons for authorial anonymity in medieval literature, publishing two monographs and a series of journal articles on this subject. Her project radically revises modern scholarship of medieval literature because, despite nearly 95 per cent of medieval literature being anonymous, the reasons for authorial anonymity have never been identified.

The project will be a model for future research into anonymous literature of other languages and other time periods, presenting proof that authorial anonymity in medieval literature contributes to a tradition extending through to contemporary literature.

During the course of researching this project, Marshall discovered a previously unknown 1807 edition of The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, which significantly alters previously held knowledge about Chaucer’s canon and his place in English literature, and will have an impact on medieval literature studies internationally.


  • University of Otago Research Grants
  • Marsden Fund Fast-Start Grant

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Associate Professor Richard Gearry

Associate Professor Richard GearryAssociate Professor Richard Gearry is a member of the Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch, and a consultant gastroenterologist at Christchurch Hospital. He completed his undergraduate medical studies at the University of Otago and, following the completion of his advanced training in gastroenterology, he undertook a PhD at the University of Otago, Christchurch, then fellowships at Box Hill Hospital, Melbourne, and St Mark’s Hospital, London.

Since his appointment as a senior lecturer in the Department of Medicine, Gearry has established an active research programme in luminal gastroenterology, with a particular focus on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) epidemiology, genetics, clinical outcomes and biomarkers.

Key research findings have included describing the very high incidence of Crohn’s disease in Canterbury and the development of a validated population-based IBD cohort for genetic and clinical studies.

He has collaborated widely within the University, nationally and internationally. He is a member of the ANZ and International IBD Genetics Consortia, IBD AHEAD International Clinical Practice Committee, Asia Pacific and World Gastroenterology Organisation IBD consensus committees and is the medical director of the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation. He has also published 79 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has written two book chapters.


  • Canterbury Medical Research Foundation
  • Bowel and Liver Trust, Canterbury
  • Lottery Health Research
  • Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust
  • Health Research Council