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Otago scholars win prestigious PhD scholarships


Thursday 28 October 2010 2:57pm

Two University of Otago students have been awarded prestigious scholarships from the Rutherford Foundation to undertake their PhDs at the University of Cambridge in England, following in the footsteps of Lord Ernest Rutherford.

The successful scholarship recipients are Jake Howe and Michael Price.

Jake Howe studied chemistry at Otago. He says that in order to deal with the major environmental issues facing the world we must first understand the earth’s natural processes. He is planning to study ocean circulation. He says he will undertake research to enable better decision making for the future, based on a greater understanding of the past.

Michael Price is studying physics at Otago and he will join the optoelectronics group at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University, led by Professor Sir Richard Friend.
In awarding the scholarship to Michael, the Rutherford Foundation noted his passion for the practical applications of science, particularly the use of semiconducting polymers, in new types of solar cells. Michael attended the University of California, Berkeley, for an exchange year during his undergraduate degree.

Chairperson of the Rutherford Foundation, Professor Margaret Brimble, says it is important for our young emerging researchers to gain valuable international experience.

“Our goal is for New Zealand’s top home-grown talent to return home to lead research programmes that benefit New Zealand in the future.”

Professor Brimble says the scholars have contributed to extracurricular activities by supporting school children to engage in science, promoting science fairs, and speaking to secondary schools about science, as well as helping their peers to achieve in their areas of strength.

“The Rutherford Foundation will ensure strong links are maintained with New Zealand by funding annual return trips home for the students, and will encourage these students to return to New Zealand when they complete their overseas experience,” she says.

A third scholarship was awarded to Janina Voigt from the University of Canterbury.

The Rutherford Foundation, which awards the scholarships, is a trust set up by the Royal Society of New Zealand to provide support to emerging New Zealand scientists.

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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