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Our research frontiers cluster highlights groups working at fundamental scientific levels.

Visit the listings of our research groups or our featured projects:

Allan Wilson at Otago

A University of Otago Research Theme

Using human evolutionary genomics to understand modern genomic diversity

Lisa Matisoo-SmithOur research unites world leading scientists across the University with leading international researchers in human evolutionary genomics. We seek to reconstruct the biological, linguistic and cultural history of humans using cutting-edge tools and technologies in genomics and bioinformatics.

Using a participatory science framework, we investigate evolutionary factors impacting modern human genomic diversity and the implications for understanding the health and histories of New Zealanders.

We will continue to celebrate the legacy of Allan Wilson and the recognition of his impact on evolutionary research through our research outputs.


Centre for Bioengineering and Nanomedicine | Te Pokapū mō te Pūkaka me te Whaiora Mōkitokito

A University of Otago Research Theme

Developing biomaterials, imaging, point-of-care technologies and regenerative medicine for applications in healthcare

Bioengineering scaffoldWe work to improve clinical health outcomes and to translate research into products and services. Our vision is to be an interdisciplinary, pure and applied research-led centre with an international reputation for excellence.

Our centre performs cutting-edge research and it also gives postgraduate students and industry the opportunity to conduct bioengineering and nanomedicine research with world-class scientists.

Our fields of expertise include: biomaterials, imaging, point-of-care technologies, and regenerative medicine.


Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies

A Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE)

At the forefront of photonic and quantum technologies

Optical lab equipmentWe aim to produce the next generation of light sources for scientific and industrial applications and harness the quantum world of atomic physics for the new wave of quantum technology.

Our Centre encompasses investigators from universities across New Zealand and is focused on the fields of precision atomic and quantum optical physics. Our research explores the limits of control and measurement at the atomic scale through the use of laser light, the generation and manipulation of light at its most fundamental quantum level, and the processing and physical nature of information in this quantum realm.

We have research teams built around four themes:

  • Sensors and imaging
  • Sources and components
  • Quantum fluids and gases
  • Quantum manipulation and information

Solving industry problems (YouTube)


Genetics Otago

A University of Otago Research Centre

Seeking genetic solutions in agriculture, conservation, and medical sectors

genetics research lab Our expertise reaches across science, health, technology and law, our infrastructure enables world-class research, and our unique and rich natural surrounds inspire novel research and insights.

Otago's genetics research drives innovation across New Zealand's agricultural, conservation and medical sectors. It also deepens our understanding of our origins, our humanity and our natural world.


Genomics Aotearoa

A Strategic Science Investment

Supporting New Zealand's economic, environmental and social wellbeing

Cellular image Genomics Aotearoa (GA)  is an agile, leading-edge and collaborative platform, established to ensure that New Zealand is internationally participating and leading in the rapidly developing fields of genomics (the study of the genome, the complete set of genetic material present in a cell or organism) and bioinformatics (the development of methods and software tools for understanding the biological data derived from genomics).

GA is undertaking a suite of nationally significant research activities. The projects are underpinned by the development of a national genomics data repository and bioinformatics analytical platform, and by enabling and growing the skills and capability of researchers in New Zealand.


Research frontiers featured projects | Rangahau kei te hāputa o tōna ao

Extracting stories from teeth

Dr Carolina Loch Dr Carolina Loch (deputy director of Dentistry's Sir John Walsh Research Institute) is a world authority in unlocking the histories of teeth.

“You can get so much information: age, diet, health and disease, lifestyle, exposure to chemicals in the environment – I'm exploring the potential of teeth being a 'black box' that can unveil the secrets of a mammal's life.”

Improving IT

Daniel Alencar da Costa sitting on a bench outside next to a coffee truckDr Daniel Alencar da Costa: “You never know how a software will look until developers and designers start to prototype and develop it. Then, based on clients' feedback, the software keeps changing and evolving. The opportunity to improve this creative process through my research is what excites me.”

Message from Mars

Dr Courtney Ennis imageUniversity of Otago astrochemist Dr Courtney Ennis (Chemistry) and his team are looking to Titan to understand more about the evolution of molecules pivotal for the formation of life.

At first glance it is hard to see what Titan, Saturn's largest moon, could teach us about the origin of life on Earth.

Reforming our legal framework for human embryo research

Jeanne Snelling thumbnailDr Jeanne Snelling, of the Law Faculty and Bioethics Centre, outlines her concerns about New Zealand's Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004.

“Ministerial overreach, as well as a lack of transparency and accountability on the part of decision makers, undermine the legitimacy of the current embryo research policy. This regime not only unjustifiably prevents the conduct of valuable embryo research, but also hinders simple quality improvement practices undertaken in the course of ordinary IVF service provision.”

World first wasp genome project

Wasp vulgaris thumbIn a world first, New Zealand researchers have sequenced the genome of three wasps, two of which are invasive wasps in New Zealand, paving the way for new methods of control for these significant pests.

Research in our four academic divisions | Te rangahau ki ō mātou whare mātauranga e whā

View more research activity in our academic divisions:

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