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Student research and awards

Exceptional PhD Theses in the Division of Sciences

We like to celebrate excellence at every level, and we take great pleasure in announcing the following PhD candidates have presented a thesis of exceptional quality.

A thesis is of exceptional quality when all three examiners of a candidate's thesis agree that the thesis is of an exceptional standard in every respect – research content, originality, quality of expression and accuracy of presentation – and is amongst the top 10% of theses examined.

2016 Exceptional theses

  • Xiping Fu, Department of Computer Science: “Exploring geometrical structures in high-dimensional computer vision data” (Primary Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Brendan McCane). For more information on Xiping’s work, please contact the Department of Computer Science by email: computer-science@otago.ac.nz.

  • Benedikt Holtmann, Department of Zoology: “The consequences and underlying mechanisms of animal personality in dunnocks (Prunella modularis).” (Primary Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Shinichi Nakagawa). For more information on Benedikt’s work, please contact the Zoology Department by email: zoology@otago.ac.nz.

Student research awards

Our postgraduate students receive international recognition for the quality of their research. Here are a couple of examples:

2016 Student Research awards

Adam Miles - Sport Psychologist 2016 Young Researcher Award

Adam Miles, PhD student in the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, has been awarded the Sport Psychologist 2016 Young Researcher Award by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology Foundation (AASP). The Young Researcher Award recognizes the most outstanding research abstract submitted by a graduate student or early career scholar member for AASP's Annual Conference.

Judy Rodda - 2016 NZ Esri Young Scholar Award

Newly minted PhD Judy Rodda has been names ESRI Young Scholar of the year for her work mapping the distribution of Hector's Dolphins. Judges were impressed by Judy's innovative idea of analysis using the space-time cube, her rigorous use of spatial analysis within the ArcGIS Platform and fantastic use of GIS to further Scientific Knowledge.

2015 Exceptional theses and Student research awards

2015 Exceptional Theses:

  • Robert Boessenecker, Department of Geology: “Anatomy, ontogeny, functional morphology, taphonomy, and phylogenetic relationships of archaic toothless mysticetes (Ecomysticetidae) from the Oligocene of New Zealand” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Ewan Fordyce). For more information on Robert’s work, please contact the Geology Department by email geology@otago.ac.nz.

  • Clara Bah, Department of Food Science: “Generation of bioactive compounds from slaughterhouse animal blood using enzymatic hydrolysis.” (Primary Supervisor: Dr Aladin Bekhit).For more information on Clara's work, please email the department food-science@otago.ac.nz.

  • Andrew Cross, Department of Geology: “Microstructural evolution under non-steady state deformation in mid-crustal ductile shear zones” (Primary Supervisor: Professor David Prior). For more information on Andrew’s work, please contact the Geology Department by email geology@otago.ac.nz.

  • Sarah Kafka, Department of Psychology: “Group identity and intergroup discrimination: Does importance to identity play a special role?” (Primary Supervisor: Dr Jackie Hunter). For more information on Sarah’s work, please contact the Psychology Department by email psychology@otago.ac.nz.

  • Daniel Killeen, Department of Chemistry: “Quantitation and localization of bioactive natural products by spectroscopic methods” (Primary Supervisor: Associate Professor Nigel Perry). For more information on Daniel’s work, please contact the Chemistry Department by email chemistry@otago.ac.nz.

  • Katharina Lange, Department of Zoology: “Multiple stressors in agricultural streams: interactions between farming intensity and water abstraction” (Primary Supervisor: Dr Christoph Matthaei). For more information on Katharina’s work, please contact the Zoology Department by email zoology@otago.ac.nz.

  • Kathryn Lister, Department of Botany: “The role of oxidative stress in the reproductive fitness of marine invertebrates exposed to environmental stressors” (Primary Supervisor: Dr David Burritt). For more information on Kathryn’s work, please contact the Botany Department by email botany@otago.ac.nz.

  • Fanny Mondet, Department of Zoology: “Host-parasite interactions between the honey bee, Apis mellifera, and the mite Varroa destructor: Insights into virus infections and Varroa sensitive hygience” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Alison Mercer).For more information on Fanny's work, please contact the Zoology Department by email at zoology@otago.ac.nz.

  • Samuel Rooney, Department of Physics: “Implementation and applications of the stochastic projected gross-pitaevskii equation” (Primary Supervisor: Dr Ashton Bradley). For more information on Samuel’s work, please contact the Physics Department by email physics@otago.ac.nz.

  • Andrew Webb, Department of Computer Science: "Actions of attention, and attention to action: investigating the relationship between visual attention, episodic representation, and language" (Primary Supervisor: Associate Professor Alistair Knott). For more information about Andrew's work, please contact the Department of Computer Science by email computer-science@otago.ac.nz.

2015 Student Awards

Minhyeok Tak - EASS Young Scholar of the Year, 2015

Minhyeok Tak, a PhD student in the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences , has won the 2015 Young Scholar Award for the European Association for Sociology of Sport (EASS). This is a significant achievement that reflects well on the School, the Division and the University of Otago.

EASS has invited Minhyeok to formally accept his award at a ceremony and to present a paper at the Association's annual conference in Dublin in June.

2014 Exceptional theses and student awards

2014 Exceptional Theses

  • Paula S Magalhaes S Correia, Department of Psychology: “An experimental analysis of the effects of past choices on present choice: The sunk cost effect” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Geoffrey White). For more information on Paula’s work, please contact the Psychology Department by email psychology@otago.ac.nz.

  • Bethany R S Fox, Department of Geology: “Climate change at the Oligocene/Miocene boundary” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Gary Wilson). For more information on Bethany’s work, please contact the Geology Department by email: geology@otago.ac.nz.

  • Yu-Hsun Hsu, Department of Zoology: “The causes and consequences of extra-pair mating in house sparrows (Passer domesticus)” (Primary Supervisor: Dr Shinichi Nakagawa). For more information on Yu-Hsun’s work, please contact the Zoology Department by email: zoology@otago.ac.nz

  • Owen Jones, Department of Psychology: “Intercellular communication and heterosynaptic metaplasticity in hippocampus” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Cliff Abraham). For more information on Owen’s work, please contact the Psychology Department by email psychology@otago.ac.nz.

  • James Lewis, Department of Chemistry: “A metallosupramolecular approach to targeted cisplatin drug delivery” (Primary Supervisor: Dr James Crowley). For more information on James’ work, please contact the Chemistry Department by email at chemistry@otago.ac.nz.

  • Philippa McDowall, Department of Psychology: “Parent involvement in children's reading development: Parent and teacher perceptions, and child reading outcomes” (Primary Supervisor: Dr Elizabeth Schaughency). For more information on Philippa’s work, please contact the Psychology Department by email at psychology@otago.ac.nz.

  • Travis Monk, Department of Zoology: “The evolutionary origin of nervous systems and implications for neural computation” (Primary Supervisor: Associate Professor Michael Paulin). For more information on Travis’s work, please contact the Zoology Department by email at zoology@otago.ac.nz.

  • David Savory, Department of Chemistry: “ATR-IR spectroscopic studies of trapped electrons in titanium dioxide” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Jim McQuillan). For more information on David’s work, please contact the Chemistry Department by email at chemistry@otago.ac.nz.

  • Catherine Smith, Department of Applied Sciences: “Pre-European Māori textiles from South Island New Zealand” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Raechel Laing). For more information on Catherine’s work, please contact the Applied Sciences Department by email at applied.sciences.dept@otago.ac.nz.

  • Emily Weiser, Department of Zoology: “Informing genetic management of small populations of threatened species” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Ian Jamieson). For more information on Emily’s work, please contact the Zoology Department by email at zoology@otago.ac.nz.

2014 Student research awards

Russell Bissett wins 2014 Hatherton Award

Dr Russell Bisset, formerly of the University of Otago but now doing a postdoc in the United States, has been awarded the 2014 Hatherton Award by the Royal Society of New Zealand, for his paper “Fingerprinting Rotons in a Dipolar Condensate: Super-Poissonian Peak in the Atom-Number Fluctuations” by R. N. Bisset and P. B. Blakie, Physical Review Letters 110, 265302 (2013). The award is for the best scientific paper by a student registered for the degree of PhD in Physical Sciences, Earth Sciences and Mathematical and Information Sciences at a New Zealand university.

For more details of Russell's work, follow this link: Russell Bissett - Hatherton Award 2014

Exceptional theses 2013 and 2012

2013 Exceptional Theses:

  • Nicolas Barth, Department of Geology: “A tectono-geomorphic study of the Alpine Fault, New Zealand” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Richard Norris). For more information on Nicolas’s work, please contact the Geology Department by email geology@otago.ac.nz.

  • Tina Bayer, Department of Zoology: “Effects of climate change on two large, deep oligotrophic lakes in New Zealand” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Carolyn Burns). For more information on Tina’s work, please contact the Zoology Department by email to zoology@otago.ac.nz.

  • Kathryn Bradbury, Department of Human Nutrition: “Monitoring the impact of a voluntary bread folic acid fortification programme on the folate status of New Zealand women of childbearing age” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Murray Skeaff). For more information on Kathryn’s work, please contact the Human Nutrition Department by email on human-nutrition@otago.ac.nz.

  • Desiree Dickerson, Department of Psychology: “Disrupted prefrontal-hippocampal synchrony in a neurodevelopmental animal model of schizophrenia” (Primary Supervisor: Professor David Bilkey). For more information on Desiree’s work, please contact the Psychology Department by email to psychology@otago.ac.nz.

  • Angela Kaltenbach, Department of Chemistry: “Uranium isotopic analysis of terrestrial and extraterrestrial samples" (Primary Supervisor: Dr Claudine Stirling). For more information on Angela’s work, please contact the Chemistry Department by email on chemistry@otago.ac.nz.

  • Felix Marx, Department of Geology: “The evolutionary relationships and disparity of baleen whales (Mysticeti)” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Ewan Fordyce). For more information on Felix’s work, please contact the Geology Department by email on geology@otago.ac.nz.

  • Matthew Reish, Department of Chemistry: “Classification of organic photovoltaic and nonlinear optical materials” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Keith Gordon). For more information on Matthew’s work, please contact the Chemistry Department by email on chemistry@otago.ac.nz.

  • Jolene Sutton, Department of Zoology: "Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and microsatellite genetic diversity in New Zealand passerines" (Primary Supervisor Prof. Ian G. Jamieson). For more information on Jolene's work, please contact teh department by email at zoology@otago.ac.nz.

2012 Exceptional Theses:

  • Humphrey Feltham, Department of Chemistry: “Tetra- and octa-nuclear 3d-4f complexes of macrocyclic ligands as potential single-molecule magnets” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Sally Brooker). For more information on Humphrey’s work, please contact the Chemistry Department by email at chemistry@otago.ac.nz.

  • Alex Gough, Department of Physics: "Sea ice near an ice shelf" (Primary Supervisor: Associate Professor Pat Langhorne). For more information on Alex's work, please email the Physics Department: physics@otago.ac.nz.

  • Raphael Horvath, Department of Chemistry: “A photophysical investigation of d6 metal polypyridyl complexes” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Keith Gordon). For more information on Raphael’s work, please contact the Chemistry Department by email at chemistry@otago.ac.nz.

  • Daniel Hutchinson, Department of Chemistry: “The coordination chemistry of modified pyrimidine-hydrazone strands and their incorporation into polymer gels” (Primary Supervisor: Lyall Hanton). For more information on Daniel’s work, please contact the Chemistry Department by email at chemistry@otago.ac.nz.

  • Koji Kobayashi, School of Physical Education: “Globalisation, corporate nationalism and Japanese identity: advertising production and signifying practices of Nike and Asics” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Steve Jackson). For more information on Koji’s work, please contact the School of Physical Education Department by email at physical-education@otago.ac.nz.

  • Pontus Lurcock, Department of Geology: “Palaeomagnetism of palaeogene strata from southern Zealandia: Implications for ice in the greenhouse” (Primary Supervisor: Professor Gary Wilson). For more information on Pontus’s work, please contact the Geology Department by email at geology@otago.ac.nz.

  • Gregory Rankin, Department of Chemistry: "Synthesis and structural elucidation of fully lipidated phosphatidylinositol dimannosides" (Primary supervisor, Associate Professor Dave Larsen). For more information on Greg's work, please contact the Chemistry Department by email at chemistry@otago.ac.nz.

  • Natalie Robinson, Department of Marine Science: “Circulation, mixing and interactions in the ocean near the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica” (Supervisors: Dr Mike Williams (NIWA) and Dr Ross Vennell). For more information on Natalie’s work, please contact the Department of Marine Science by email at marine.science@otago.ac.nz.