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Postgraduate students gain Brenda Shore awards

Students arriving in Dunedin

Thursday 16 April 2009 4:24pm

Four University of Otago graduates have received a Brenda Shore Award for Women to help support their postgraduate studies.

The 2009 recipients of the award, which is worth up to $15000, are Ecology PhD student Konstanze Gebauer, Master of Applied Science in Environmental Management student Michelle Main, Botany and Geography PhD student Teresa Konlechner and Zoology PhD student Amy Weaver.

The purpose of the award is to support women carrying out postgraduate research related to Otago, Southland and Antarctic areas, with preference given to graduates in the natural sciences.

The four projects being supported involve studying threatened skinks, the invasive weed marram grass, interactions between humans and endangered bird species and the role of bacteria in nutrient cycling in freshwater and marine habitats.

Konstanze Gebauer aims to develop a spatially explicit population model to aid efforts to protect Central Otago's threatened Grand Skink. The species, which is vulnerable to cats and other predators, is found in only two locations in the region. She will use radio-tracking to study their living habits and movements and will also investigate relative predation risks in tussock and pasture habitats.

Teresa Konlechner is examining the marine dispersal of marram grass. The grass is a significant weed in New Zealand's coastal dunes, which are one of the country's most threatened eco-systems. She will study the process by which marram grass spreads and invades by sea and the level of risk it poses to key dune systems in New Zealand.

Michelle Main will investigate cultural and ecological issues surrounding wildlife conservation in New Zealand, including distinctions between "wild" and "tame" species, and the relationship between humans and "nature". She will look at these issues in the context of intensive efforts to protect threatened iconic native birds.

Amy Weaver is studying the effect of land use intensification on nutrient loading and microbial productivity in aquatic ecosystems. She will investigate the effect of changing land use practices on bacterially-mediated cycling of land- and water-derived organic matter in Lake Wanaka through funding by the Otago Regional Council. As an adjunct, the Brenda Shore Award allows her to expand this project to include Lake Manapouri and Doubtful Sound.

About Brenda Shore and the Award:

Dr Brenda Shore taught in the University's Botany Department from 1945 until her retirement as Associate Professor in 1983. She was vice-president of the New Zealand Federation of University Women from 1974-76 and named as an "honoured member" of the Otago branch of the Federation in 1983.

The Otago branch of the Federation, which is now known as the Federation of Graduate Women, offers the Brenda Shore Award through the Brenda Shore Postgraduate Research Trust.

For more information, contact

Simon Ancell
Communications Adviser
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 5016

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