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Carl Smith Medal recognises Otago researchers’ early-career achievements

Students in the Commerce building

Thursday 5 May 2011 1:40pm

Photo of Richard Troughton
Associate Professor Richard Troughton

Two up-and-coming University of Otago researchers, Senior Lecturer in Law Ms Jacinta Ruru and Christchurch-based Associate Professor of Medicine Richard Troughton, are the latest recipients of the Rowheath Trust Award and Carl Smith Medal.

The Award and Medal recognise outstanding research performance of early-career staff at the University and are accompanied by a $5000 grant for personal scholarly development.

Research Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne congratulated the pair, saying that the honour is a much-deserved recognition of their impressive achievements at an early stage of their academic careers.

“Within a short time, both have made remarkable contributions within their respective areas of research,” Professor Hayne says.

In 2002, as her first career appointment, Ms Ruru joined the Faculty of Law as Lecturer. In her areas of research, which include indigenous people’s rights to own, manage and govern land and water, she has since made a national and international impact through the high-quality and innovative nature of her scholarship.

Photo of Jacinta Ruru
Jacinta Ruru

Ms Ruru is coordinator of the University’s Research Cluster for Natural Resources Law, co-leader of the Centre for Research on National Identity ‘Landscape’ project and co-leader of a four-year water governance research project based at Landcare Research.

She has been the recipient of several awards including the University’s Early Career Award for Distinction in Research (2006) and in 2002 she was the first legal academic and the youngest person to receive a Fulbright New Zealand Travel Award.

Among her recent research highlights are co-authoring a book published by Oxford University Press, which examines how colonisers in North America, New Zealand and Australia applied the ‘doctrine of discovery’ to assert ownership and control over indigenous lands and peoples. Other internationally collaborative work includes hosting an indigenous legal water forum and guest-editing a special issue of the UK Journal of Water Law dealing with indigenous peoples’ rights to water.

Ms Ruru says that she is delighted to be honoured with the Award and Medal.

“I feel incredibly privileged to be able to research and write on issues that mean so much to me and my whanau. It has led to many wonderful opportunities to collaborate on research and conferences with Indigenous peoples, including legal academics in Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas. This work is improving the understanding of the positive role law can play in creating more respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples.”

Associate Professor Troughton joined the Department of Medicine at the University of Otago, Christchurch, as a Senior Lecturer in 2003. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2008. He is also a consultant cardiologist at Christchurch Hospital.

While also holding considerable clinical and teaching responsibilities, he has in a short time forged what colleagues describe as an outstanding research career. He is currently clinical co-director of the Christchurch Cardioendocrine Research Group and has, as a primary investigator and co-investigator, attracted significant external research funding.

His research interests include improving the understanding of how neurohormones regulate the heart and circulation in health and cardiovascular disease, and the role of heart hormones as disease markers and potential therapies. He has gained a reputation as a world leader in research into monitoring and guiding therapies in heart failure patients by using heart hormones and new implantable devices.

Associate Professor Troughton says that he also is very honoured to receive the award.

“Successful research requires teamwork and I am very fortunate to be member of an excellent research team and a department with a rich pedigree in research. I am very grateful to Professors Gary Nicholls and Mark Richards who continue to be mentors. I am also grateful to members of the Cardioendocrine Research Group and colleagues in my department, including Professor Evan Begg, who have supported and fostered my early research career.”

He says he finds academic medical research very rewarding, especially when it has a direct impact on patient care and outcomes, which much of his research has.

“Active involvement in research also helps to hone the critical reasoning skills that are essential for good clinical care,” he says.

Ms Ruru and Associate Professor Troughton will be presented with the Carl Smith medal when they give public lectures later this year.

The Rowheath Trust was established in 1964 by Carl Smith – whose family lived in the Rowheath area of England – to support the University. Mr Smith received an honorary doctorate from Otago in 1968.

For more information, contact

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