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Otago researchers gain postdoctoral fellowships

Students on the steps of the Information Services Building

Wednesday 18 March 2009 2:52pm

A couple of bright young Otago researchers are among the recipients of Foundation for Research, Science and Technology postdoctoral fellowships announced today.

The Postdoctoral Fellowships are designed to foster the development of New Zealand's emerging and future science leaders and build greater research capability and knowledge.

Recipients are offered an annual stipend of up to $61,000 a year for three years, plus allowances for research costs and ongoing skills development, with each fellow eligible to receive a total of up to $277,500 over the three years.

The Otago recipients are:

Dr Rebecca McLeod

Testing of biomarkers as tools for understanding coastal ecological processes:
A fundamental question for ecologists is "who" is eating "what"? Increasingly, naturally-occurring chemicals in food sources are being used as diet tracers for animals, as many of the chemicals are absorbed by the animal during digestion. Using beaches in Australia and New Zealand as case studies, this project will test the appropriateness of different chemicals as tracers for kelp in beach communities. The research will question whether kelp that is washed up onto beaches is used as a food source by animals living on the shore. Once the tracer chemicals have been determined and refined, they will be useful in a range of marine ecological studies worldwide.

Dr Fiona Jack

Towards establishing best-practice guidelines for questioning adolescents in legal contexts:
Many researchers have examined the factors that both enhance and limit children's ability to provide evidence in legal settings, leading to significant reform in policy and practice. In contrast, although brain maturation and social development continue into early adulthood, virtually no research has been conducted on adolescents' eyewitness abilities. This research will provide data on the factors that influence adolescents' ability to provide eyewitness evidence, which will be used by the New Zealand Police in the development of best-practice guidelines for questioning adolescents.

Abby Cuttriss, who was formerly at Otago, is also among the recipients announced today. Dr Cuttriss is a postdoctoral fellow at City University New York, where she is studying the role of carotenoids in enhancing stress tolerance in plants.

Further details about the latest recipients of the fellowship can be viewed at:

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