Distinguished Researcher of the Year: Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith
Lisa is an internationally renowned anthropologist who uses molecular biology techniques (on both ancient and modern DNA) to investigate human origins, migration and settlement in the Pacific.
Lisa has extensive international collaborations and is one of only twelve principal investigators forming the National Geographic’s Genographic project. She has been awarded several Marsden and FoRST grants, attracting >$10M in research funding, and is the author of 3 books, 15 book chapters and 75 peer-reviewed publications (including publications in PNAS, Science, Nature). Lisa has received numerous international research awards, including election as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (2009). In 2013 she was elected as a Fellow of the RSNZ.
Lisa is committed to working closely with indigenous communities and recently, at the request of Rangitane o Wairau, analysed and published the first ancient mitochondrial genomes from the Pacific. Her ground-breaking work on the DNA of kiore and other commensal animals has been acknowledged as a major advance in our understanding of human origins in the Pacific. Her contributions to the Africa to Aotearoa project involves engagement with communities via public talks and seminars and it is perhaps this outreach component of Lisa’s professional life that is particularly notable. Lisa’s research has featured in many ‘popular press’ outlets including the NY Times, LA Times, Time Magazine, New Scientist and she has also been featured in many documentaries.
Lisa performs at an outstanding level by any measure of research output, quality and impact and she is an outstanding recipient of the OSMS Distinguished Researcher of the Year.
Kaupapa Māori Research Award: Dr Louise Parr-Brownlie
This award acknowledges and promotes kaupapa Māori research conducted within the OSMS. The 2015 award is made to Louise Parr-Brownlie (Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Pikiao), an early-career researcher who has made significant international impacts in neuroscience.
Louise’s research vision is to improve the health and quality of life for Parkinson’s patients by developing innovative treatment strategies to restore basal ganglia-thalamocortical network dynamics. She is one of the first researchers in NZ to utilise the cutting-edge technique of optogenetics - where individual neurons are transduced to express light-sensitive proteins, to allow the manipulation and anatomical dissection of brain circuitry – and has recently published two articles in the Journal of Neuroscience on this work.
Louise has made outstanding contributions at the national level towards infusing kaupapa Māori within the operation of the Brain Research CoRE and it is clear that she has significant mana at this national level. This is evidenced by the documentary segment on Native Affairs that focused on Louise’s successes as a Māori woman researcher in NZ.
Louise also takes a leadership role in the Department of Anatomy and the OSMS in promoting and developing kaupapa Māori. Her approach is culturally embedded, respectful, engaging, supportive and collaborative. The School has benefited significantly from her generous sharing of her knowledge and wisdom.
Commercial Research Award: Dr Jo-Ann Stanton
The OSMS Commercial Research Award acknowledges the achievement of a researcher who has successfully translated technological innovation into a commercial reality.
The 2015 winner is Dr Jo-Ann Stanton, who along with Professor David Green, pioneered the commercialisation of research in the Department of Anatomy. After gaining a NERF grant in 2004 they focussed on the development of devices for the analysis of DNA and protein.
Jo has led this major project of work since 2010 and this award is in recognition of her work in developing and launching the Freedom 4 qPCR device. This is a compact, battery operated qPCR machine that can undertake qPCR analyses in around an hour, and wireless connection to a laptop, smartphone or tablet is in development. The speed and mobility of this device makes it perfect for on-the-spot disease and virus diagnostics for hospitals and aid camps. Other potential uses span a diversity of areas such as food safety, biodiversity assessment, and border security.
Following the successful launch of Freedom4, Jo and her team are now working on the development of 8 sample and 16 sample qPCR devices as well as a DNA extraction system.
Pasifika Research Award: Associate Professor Hallie Buckley
The Pasifika award for 2015 is made to Associate Professor Hallie Buckley in recognition of her long and impressive record in addressing important questions on human biology, health and history in the Pacific.
Hallie is particularly well known as a research leader on the health and diet of Lapita peoples, the ancestors to many Pacific populations.
Hallie and her team always work closely with the local communities and this input has had significant positive impacts on education and training in remote Pacific regions.
She willingly gives public lectures and radio interviews to local media in the Pacific Island nations in which she undertakes research (Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga) and has contributed to the Pacific Peoples installation at Otago Museum.
Hallie’s research on Pacific related topics has greatly enhanced our understanding of prehistoric diet and health and this helps us to understand some of the health issues facing these communities today. Hallie is a trusted and respected advisor to many in the Pacific and is a worthy recipient of this award.
Distinguished Teaching Fellow/PPF Science: Dr Bradley Hurren
This award acknowledges the vital contribution made by Professional Practice Fellows/Teaching Fellows to the academic life of the School and is awarded to Bradley Hurren for his passionate, enthusiastic and effective teaching across a range of years and subjects. Brad’s teaching evaluations of 98 and 99% reflect his ability to explain the most difficult concepts with ease and enthusiasm.
Brad always has time for students and they value this immensely. Some of the comments on his evaluations include “always willing to help, encourage and support”, “we need more staff like him who believe in the students”.
His ability to create a comfortable and inclusive teaching environment was acknowledged by his award earlier this year of the OUSA’s Most Inclusive Teacher Award.
Voted on by the students, the inclusive teaching award “recognises excellence in inclusive teaching and a commitment to understanding disability as a human rights issue, thus enriching the Otago experience for students who have a disability, impairment or medical condition, an honours a university staff member whose teaching and actions exemplify the ideas of inclusivity and advances equity and opportunities for all students”.
Distinguished TF/Professional Practice Fellow Professional Programmes: Dr Latika Samalia
This award acknowledges the vital contribution made by Professional Practice Fellows/Teaching Fellows to teaching in the professional programmes. Latika is a lynch-pin in ELM2&3 where she provides outstanding delivery of gross/clinical anatomy teaching in the Dissecting Room. This includes support for the laboratories and oversight of the OSPEs (practical exams).
In addition to her medical teaching, Latika has taught in a wide range of courses, consistently achieving excellent student evaluations. She is also an innovator – contributing to developing the ANAT component in the HUBS papers; and involved in developing ultrasound practicals for ELM3. She has also designed and implemented a world first annual dissecting competition for ELM3 students. This voluntary activity has proved popular and educational and has also led to a publication in Anatomical Sciences Education. She also teaches in a number of postgraduate workshops and courses, one of them being the FRACS course.
In addition to her teaching roles, Latika has for many years supported Pasifika students, both in the Department of Anatomy and OSMS. She is the OSMS Pasifika support person and a member of the OSMS PSF group.
She has recently contributed to writing chapters for the Totora/Derrickson Anatomy and Physiology 1st Asia-Pacific edition which is a First Year Health Science equivalent textbook.
Latika demonstrates excellence in teaching, leadership, innovation and pastoral care and is an outstanding member of the clinical anatomy teaching team.
Sustained Research Support Staff Award: Mr Robbie McPhee
Mr Robbie McPhee has been working as an Illustrator/Graphic Artist in the Department of Anatomy for over 30 years. During this time Robbie has utilised his skills across many changes in media and technique – moving from canvas and paintbrush, photographs, Letraset, and computer-generated illustrations.
Robbie’s work has featured in numerous prestigious publications, including cover pages of the Journal of Clinical Anatomy and illustrations in the 150th anniversary edition of Gray’s Anatomy.
Robbie also assists with diagrams for publications, grant applications, conference posters, and illustrations for journals and books. Researchers rely on his calm, no-fuss manner – particularly
as deadlines loom, and, with the increasing importance placed on the visual communication of research outcomes, Robbie plays a pivotal role in enabling researchers to effectively communicate their research.