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Division of Sciences news

The psychology of COVID-19 conspiracies

Wednesday, 20 May 2020 1:14am

Psychology PhD candidate Ana Stojanov tells us more about her research into conspiracy theories, their implications for news on COVID-19, and how she ended up at Otago.

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PE School holds virtual graduation party

Thursday, 14 May 2020 12:14am

The School of Physical Education Sport & Exercise Sciences, University of Otago didn’t let lockdown prevent them from celebrating their graduating students over the weekend – replacing a physical morning tea with a virtual party.

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Otago’s Marine Science growing Antarctic research links

Wednesday, 13 May 2020 3:14pm

Department of Marine Science’s Associate Professor Ceridwen Fraser has been invited to represent New Zealand in a new and significant Australian Antarctic programme, adding to the Department’s growing recognition for contribution to Antarctic research.

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Time to kill the scientific zombie that is the ‘Nature v Nurture’ debate

Wednesday, 13 May 2020 1:54pm

A scientific article out of the University of Otago’s Department of Zoology is calling for an end to the seemingly un-killable ‘nature versus nurture’ debate, which the authors say creates damaging sways in the public’s view of science.

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Siouxsie Wiles the guest of Science Communication’s first live online event

Thursday, 7 May 2020 8:59pm

The COVID-19 response has shown what is possible when good science and good communication come together.

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Opinion: How self-isolation is bringing us closer to nature

Thursday, 7 May 2020 8:07pm

COVID-19 and its associated lockdown has given us a rare opportunity to pause and consider the natural world around us. In this opinion piece (first published at, Otago wildlife biologists Professors Philip Seddon and Yolanda van Heezik encourage us to maintain this connection as we re-enter our busy lives.

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Marine Studies Centre Activities go online 

Wednesday, 6 May 2020 9:48pm

For more than 20 years, Otago's New Zealand Marine Studies Centre (NZMSC) has played a key role connecting communities with their local marine environment through a wide range of outreach and education programmes and resources. Now it is doing the same thing - online.

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Six new approaches in a world beyond lockdown

Friday, 1 May 2020 10:19am

Centre Director Associate Professor Janet Stephenson latest opinion piece looks at what she think we’re learning as a society through the COVID-19 experience.

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PhD Scholarship available

Thursday, 30 April 2020 2:22pm

The Centre for Sustainability is currently advertising a 3 year PhD Scholarship  to study earthquake-related legislation in lower seismic hazard zones.

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Redirecting our economy to a more sustainable path

Thursday, 30 April 2020 1:56pm

Centre Director Associate Professor Janet Stephenson says “There are many things we can be doing to be setting our economy and society into a sustainable future.”

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Science goes online and virtual

Tuesday, 28 April 2020 8:46pm

The COVID-19 lockdown has created unique challenges for science online learning and the translation of lab work and field trips traditionally considered essential for experiential learning. The Otago Bulletin Board “visited” the Department of Geology and the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences to see how they have responded.

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Study finds Joker movie adds to prejudice of mental illness

Tuesday, 28 April 2020 1:52pm

A collaborative study lead by the University of Otago has found viewers of the award winning 2019 movie Joker experienced increased feelings of prejudice towards people with mental illness.

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NZ right whales fat and healthy compared to northern cousins

Friday, 24 April 2020 9:57am

New research by an international team of scientists, including researchers from the University of Otago, reveals that endangered North Atlantic right whales are in much poorer body condition than their counterparts in the southern hemisphere.

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University of Otago calling for survey participants for study on lockdown life

Wednesday, 22 April 2020 10:53am

Researchers from the University of Otago’s Department of Psychology are urgently seeking participants for research into life under the lockdown imposed in response to Covid-19. Participants would be required to take a 15 minute survey.

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Human Nutrition experts offer lockdown advice for families

Wednesday, 22 April 2020 8:08pm

As other parts of our lives have shut down during lockdown, food has become increasingly important as a focus in our daily routine. Mary Spiers and Dr Claire Smith discuss some food-related challenges and offer simple advice.

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COVID-19 has nothing on what’s coming

Monday, 20 April 2020 11:26am

The current nationwide pause as a result of Covid-19 is an extraordinary opportunity, and probably the only one we will get, to redesign our economy so that it no longer threatens life on this planet.

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PE expert offers exercise tips to families

Thursday, 16 April 2020 1:25pm

PE’s Emily Scott, a mother of three and a specialist in primary school physical education, offers guidance for getting kids active during lockdown.

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New Zealanders needed to investigate link between COVID-19 and smell loss

Wednesday, 15 April 2020 12:47pm

New Zealanders who have COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of the virus are being urged to participate in two surveys – a global and national one - that aim to better understand how COVID-19 impacts a patient’s loss of taste and smell.

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First tuatara hatchlings discovered at Orokonui Ecosanctuary

Wednesday, 8 April 2020 9:20am

Two tuatara hatchlings have recently been sighted at Orokonui Ecosanctuary by University of Otago researchers and are the first to be seen since adult tuatara were released at the ecosanctuary in 2012.

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Reducing Greenhouse Gases on Farms

Monday, 6 April 2020 10:40am

Britta Hamill and Associate Professor Janet Stephenson have published a summary of options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on New Zealand livestock farms.

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Health and wellbeing in parks and nature in 1800s Aotearoa New Zealand

Friday, 3 April 2020 5:04pm

A recent blog from our colleague Dr James Beattie, University of Victoria.

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Consumers should cut down food waste: Otago study

Monday, 30 March 2020 10:32am

More than three quarters of New Zealand’s retail food waste is being saved from landfill, in stark contrast to Kiwi households, Otago researchers say.

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Otago scientist joins international COVID-19 consortium to investigate sensory systems

Friday, 27 March 2020 3:32pm

The fast-moving COVID-19 pandemic has seen the international scientific community rallying to detect, understand and combat this global threat.

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Changes at the Consumer and Applied Science Building

Wednesday, 11 March 2020 2:27pm

Staff and students are being relocated from the Consumer and Applied Science Building so it can be earthquake strengthened.

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Brain Awareness Week begins

Friday, 6 March 2020 12:24pm

Brain Awareness Week starts this weekend. Otago’s very own Brain Health Research Centre brings research together from across departments, and during Brain Awareness Week there are many opportunities to get involved and learn more.

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University of Otago grows Pacific science connections

Friday, 28 February 2020 9:08am

Building and connecting the University of Otago’s work in science with the Pacific, in order to contribute to development and help address the region’s challenges, is the priority of Dr Losa Moata’ane.

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Botany Department leading One Billion Trees project

Wednesday, 26 February 2020 10:54pm

Aotearoa’s One Billion Trees programme is working with the University of Otago’s Department of Botany to deliver a project looking to establish large tracts of native forest directly from seeds.

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Study reveals links between bee brains and human brains

Wednesday, 26 February 2020 3:07pm

In a discovery which could open new avenues for understanding of the brain, researchers have found similarities between the brain activity of honey bees and humans.

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Science Communication launches Aotearoa Stories in Sound project

Tuesday, 25 February 2020 11:28pm

If there was a soundtrack to represent the stories of Aotearoa, what would it sound like?

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BEATS symposium celebrates achievements and shares results

Monday, 24 February 2020 10:48pm

The Built Environment and Active Transport to School (BEATS) Research Programme had two great reasons to get together for its annual symposium last week.

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Otago physicists grab individual atoms in ground-breaking experiment

Thursday, 20 February 2020 12:58pm

In a first for quantum physics, University of Otago researchers have “held” individual atoms in place and observed previously unseen complex atomic interactions.

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Earthquakes disrupt sperm whales’ ability to find food

Thursday, 20 February 2020 11:10am

Otago scientists studying sperm whales off the coast of Kaikōura have discovered earthquakes affect their ability to find food for at least a year.

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Three new professors for Department of Nutrition

Tuesday, 11 February 2020 1:21pm

Today’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the Department of Human Nutrition’s three new Professors.

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Testing seawater of the future? A study at Whakaari/White Island

Wednesday, 5 February 2020 1:30pm

University of Otago scientists are leading research into the possibility that the shallow submarine vents off New Zealand’s volcanic Whakaari/White Island could provide a natural laboratory to study the impacts of future climate change on our oceans.

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Scientists again highlight need for fault avoidance zone at Franz Josef town

Tuesday, 4 February 2020 2:12pm

New research has reinforced that the way the town of Franz Josef Glacier is situated and occupied could mean a very real and significant loss of life and property when the Alpine Fault next ruptures.

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Study promotes NZ open water environments for water safety teaching

Friday, 31 January 2020 8:59am

With summer water safety a key priority for the start of another school year, new research shows teaching water safety in a range of natural open water environments, in contrast to learning in a swimming pool, may be more beneficial for learning.

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2020 Harraways Visiting Professor named

Monday, 20 January 2020 11:43am

A world-class food engineering educator and researcher has been named this year’s Harraways 1867 Visiting Professor as a guest of the University of Otago.

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Aged care residents at risk of malnutrition, Otago study shows

Wednesday, 15 January 2020 3:41pm

More than half of aged care residents are not eating enough and are missing out on essential vitamins and other nutrients despite being offered a variety of food, Otago research shows.

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Scientists seek urgent action on impacts of climate change on reptiles and amphibians

Tuesday, 14 January 2020 12:01pm

World leaders in reptile and amphibian research say there is an urgent international need to acknowledge the evidence for global climate change and take immediate action to help save these vulnerable animals.

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Two awards for Ewan Fordyce

Friday, 20 December 2019 1:12pm

Geology’s Professor Ewan Fordyce has received two significant awards, honouring his contributions to his field.