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University announces early career research awards

Lecture theatre

Tuesday 7 September 2010 11:20am

The 2010 recipients of the University of Otago’s Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research were announced by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Enterprise) Professor Harlene Hayne this week.

Associate Professor Richard Gearry (Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch) and senior lecturers Dr Simone Celine Marshall (English) and Jessica Palmer (Faculty of Law) have been selected for the award on the basis of their outstanding research achievements.

The recipients’ respective research focuses are inflammatory bowel disease, medieval literature and the area of equity in law.

Professor Hayne warmly congratulated the winners and said that their achievements exemplify the high quality research being carried out by Otago’s early-career staff.

“I am thrilled to formally acknowledge the excellent work of these leading up-and-coming researchers. They are making a major contribution to the research culture of their departments and to the wider University.”

The Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research were introduced in 2004 to recognise and nurture the University’s most promising early career researchers. Each recipient will receive $5000 to support their research and scholarly development.

2010 Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research Recipients:

Dr Simone Celine Marshall

Photo of Simone Celine Marshall. Dr 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.

Since Dr Marshall took up her position at the University of Otago in 2007 she has been awarded several internal research grants and, in 2010, received a Fast-Start Marsden Research Grant.

Dr Marshall’s current research focuses on the reasons for authorial anonymity in medieval literature, and she has published two monographs and a series of journal articles on this subject. This project radically revises modern scholarship on medieval literature because despite nearly 95 per cent of medieval literature being anonymous, the reasons for authorial anonymity have never been identified. This 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, Dr Marshall recently discovered a previously unknown edition of The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, which significantly alters previously held knowledge about Chaucer’s canon and his place in English literature.

Mrs Jessica Palmer

Photo of Jessica Palmer. Jessica Palmer has been a lecturer and now senior lecturer at the University since 2005. She has Masters degrees from both Auckland and Cambridge Universities and has worked at a large national law firm and as a judges’ clerk.

Jessica’s 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 avenues available to non-beneficiaries to access trust property. She 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.

Associate Professor Richard Gearry

Photo of Richard Gearry. Associate 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. Following the completion of his advanced training in Gastroenterology, Dr Gearry undertook a PhD at the University of Otago, Christchurch then Fellowships at Box Hill Hospital, Melbourne, Australia and St Mark’s Hospital, London, UK.

Since his appointment as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Medicine, Dr Gearry has established an active research programme in luminal gastroenterology, particularly inflammatory bowel disease epidemiology, genetics, clinical outcomes and biomarkers.

Key research findings have included describing the very high incidence rate 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.

Dr Gearry has published 79 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has written two book chapters. He has held a variety of national and international grants to support his work. He was recently promoted to Associate Professor.

For more information, contact

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

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