Friday, 11 September 2020
Two University of Otago proposals have been awarded over NZ$27 million in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Endeavour Fund 2020 grants.
Professor Craig Rodger, Head of Otago’s Department of Physics, has received NZ$15,038,728 over 5 years for research into Space-Weather prediction and risk mitigation for New Zealand energy infrastructure, while Sesquicentennial Distinguished Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman receives NZ$12,393,935 over 5 years for research into public housing and urban regeneration to maximise well-being. (Both figures are GST exclusive).
Professor Rodger’s grant is the highest ever awarded to an Otago Endeavour Fund project. It will focus on the hazards posed to electrical power networks by solar events such as geomagnetic storms.
“We are thrilled MBIE has given such positive support of our proposal. Space weather events have already impacted New Zealand’s power grid, and these will happen again. Less frequent extreme events will likely cause much more significant damage. Funding for this project enables us to better understand and mitigate the risks posed by such events,” Professor Rodger says.
Professor Howden-Chapman’s social research and public well-being project will focus on public housing as a driver of well-being and sustainable urban regeneration.
“I am excited and delighted that our fundamental research on how public housing can further enhance the well-being of households and communities has been recognised. In these challenging times, how best to build sustainable communities around warm, dry, safe housing is a wonderful opportunity. Our multi-disciplinary, cross-agency team is looking forward to working together,” Professor Howden-Chapman says.
University of Otago Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie, is extremely pleased for the research teams.
“The programmes, whilst in quite different domains, are both critical for maintaining and enhancing social and economic resilience in Aotearoa. Recent events have shown how critical it is to be prepared for predictable but unwanted crises, be it in housing, infectious diseases or the challenges our natural world throws at us.
We wish them every success in their endeavours,” Professor Blaikie says.
The Endeavour Fund is New Zealand’s largest contestable research fund. Since the first Endeavour Round in 2016 (and not including the 2020 round), MBIE has invested in 265 projects with a total value of nearly $1 billion.
Further information on the 2020 Endeavour Fund’s successful proposals can be found here.
For more information contact:
Sesquicentennial Distinguished Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman
Department of Public Health
University of Otago, Wellington