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Otago research rewarded with NZ$27.4 million in Endeavour Fund grants

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.

Craig Rodger image 2020Professor Craig Rodger

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.

Philippa Howden-Chapman image 2020Sesquicentennial Distinguished Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman

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
Email philippa.howden-chapman@otago.ac.nz

Professor Craig Rodger
Department of Physics
University of Otago, Dunedin
Tel +64 3 479 4120
Email craig.rodger@otago.ac.nz

Mark Hathaway
Senior Communications Adviser
University of Otago
Mob 021 279 5016
Email mark.hathaway@otago.ac.nz