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Research centres

University of Otago has some of the best research facilities in the country, with field stations and research vessels extending the reach to the sub-antarctic islands, Rakiura (Stewart Island) and Doubtful Sound. On-campus facilities and interdisciplinary collaborations create a wide range of possibilities.

Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies

Officially launched on 17 February 2015, the Dodd-Walls Centre is the first Centre of Research Excellence to be hosted by the University of Otago.

The Dodd-Walls Centre encompasses investigators from universities across New Zealand and is focused on the fields of precision atomic and quantum optical physics. DWC 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.

The Dodd-Walls Centre has research teams built around four themes: Sensors and Imaging, Sources and Components, Quantum Fluids and Gases, and Quantum Manipulation and Information, and dedicated outreach teams. The Industry Team works towards the translation of the Centre’s research in to profit-making businesses and the establishment of new companies. The Educational Outreach Team works in partnership with the NZ museum sector, and especially the Otago Museum, to spread the excitement and passion for science and technology inherent in the Centre. Training of postgraduate students is also a key activity of the DWC.

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Brain Health Research Centre (BHRC)

The BHRC is an interdisciplinary group of neuroscientists and clinicians that undertakes internationally excellent research aimed at understanding the mechanisms of brain health, disease and repair. Its mission includes the development of new treatments for neurological disorders, building research capacity for New Zealand by provision of high quality training of the next generation of neuroscientists, and actively engaging with relevant community groups and individuals.

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Brain Research New Zealand ( BRNZ)

Brain Research New Zealand - Rangahau Roro Aotearoa (BRNZ) is a national Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) undertaking ground-breaking research on the ageing-brain and ageing-related neurological disorders. We are a collection of leading neuroscientists and clinicians from across the New Zealand who are working alongside community organisations to combat disorders of the ageing brain. Conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease and sensory loss pose the greatest medical and social challenge of our generation. Our interdisciplinary approach, founded on excellence and innovation, is the driver for undertaking research that will be translatable to the clinical setting, with the ultimate aim of improving brain health for all New Zealanders in the years to come.

Brain Research New Zealaland is co-hosted by the University of Auckland and the University of Otago, in collaboration with the University of Canterbury and Auckland University of Technology.

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Campbell Microanalytical Laboratory

The Campbell Microanalytical Laboratory in the Department of Chemistry has, for over 60 years, provided an internationally recognized, reliable microanalytical service for New Zealand and overseas scientists. It specializes in the elemental microanalysis of research, environmental and industrial samples. Specific analytical research on problem samples and the development of new methods are also undertaken. Attention to quality and accurate work are hallmarks of the Laboratory.

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Centre for Applications of Statistics and Mathematics (CASM)

The Centre provides statistical advice to University staff and students, as well as to external clients. This work ranges from straightforward application of standard techniques to full collaboration on a major piece of work, often requiring development of an analysis tailored to the research question. In addition, the Centre arranges specialised short courses, both at the university and for external clients.

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Centre for Neuroendocrinology

The Centre for Neuroendocrinology explores the neuroendocrine control of reproduction, in particular the regulation of neuronal structure and function by reproductive hormones. The neurological and neuroendocrine adaptations of the maternal brain, Hyperprolactinemia and infertility. Particular interests are in the neurobiological and neuroendocrine adaptation to different reproductive states.

In addition to the work described above, the lab maintains a number of active collaborations in areas of neuroendocrinology, with groups from University of Queensland, Australia; University of Maryland School of Medicine, USA; Tufts University, Massachussets, USA; and University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Centre for Protein Research

The Centre for Protein Research (CPR) is a facility that is supported by the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology & Immunology, and is available to all researchers within the University of Otago. The CPR combines both a service facility and a user laboratory that supports research projects largely within the University of Otago. Analyses for external institutes are also provided.

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Centre for Trace Element Analysis

The Centre for Trace Element Analysis is a world-class research Centre enabling researchers to employ the latest technology in analysing trace elements for use in human nutrition, medical diagnosis and research, forensic analysis, archaeology, fisheries, biological and chemical sciences at the University of Otago. This Centre greatly enhances the existing research efforts while also allows new avenues for investigation to be explored.

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Climate Chambers, Physics Department

The Climate Chambers in the Department of Physics are temperature and humidity controlled with a range of -5oC to 50oC and 30% to 90% respectively, with the temperature controllable to +/- 0.5 degrees. The area of each chamber is 18.5m2 and has a floor loading of 1 ton. They are available for equipment testing, process development and could also be utilised as a humidity and acclimatisation facility for sports people.

Visit the Department of Physics for further information and contact details

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Centre for Materials Science and Technology

The Clothing and Textiles Centre provides research, development, and technical/scientific advice for diverse groups interested in textiles, apparel, and leather. Interactions between textiles and the human body are of special interest - effects of textiles on human performance health and safety (e.g. mandatory workplace requirements, sport, skin health), biomaterials/biogels. Cultural relevance of textiles is another area of expertise.

Facilities include instruments for determining physical properties of fabrics, yarns and fibres (e.g. thermal and moisture transfer, tensile, impact, abrasion, microscopic, accelerated ageing) and sensory properties of fabrics and apparel (e.g. tactile, visual). Conditioned and climate-controlled facilities which meet international standards are available.

Enquiries from prospective post-doctoral fellows and postgraduate students are welcome at any time.

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Cognitive Ergonomics and Human Decision-making Laboratory

Research projects on aeronautical decision making, safety, situational awareness, understanding weather forecasts, cockpit displays and flight performance. Several research projects utilize our latest flight simulator which is set in a fibreglass cab equipped with a Precision Flight Controls Cirrus II Flight Console featuring fully functional analog flight controls along with a heavy-duty metal yoke. Flight instruments are presented on two 15" LCD flat panel monitors and can be configured to show a traditional cockpit, glass cockpit or moving-map GPS. The external view is produced by a high-resolution NEC WT600 short-throw projector and is viewed through a glass windshield.

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CSAFE - Centre for Study of Agriculture, Food and Environment

This is an interdisciplinary centre working on sustainability issues and their social impacts. It builds on the longitudinal study ARGOS which has operated for 30 years as a collaboration between Drs Hugh Campbell and Henrik Moller.

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Disease Research Laboratory

The DRL provides the scientific resources to study immunological markers associated with protection or disease caused by the Mycobacterial infections. Interactions between natural infection, vaccination, and experimental infection are covered in the work done by the laboratory.

Learn more about the Disease Research Laboratory

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Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry Unit

A service previously provided by Iso-trace NZ Ltd

The Isotope Ratio Mass Spectroscopy Unit conducts analyses using Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) and works with samples that contain hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulphur. Iso-trace is equipped with a six isotope ratio mass spectrometers and a range of preparation devices including elemental analysers, and a gas chromatograph combustion isotope ratio mass spectrometer (GC-C-IRMS) for compound specific analysis. Isotrace is equipped to handle samples in solid, liquid, and gaseous form.

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LINZ ® Nutrition and Activity Research Unit

The LINZ® Unit facilitates public health research, from inception and design of projects to collection, analysis and reporting of results. The Unit has a number of consultants, including nutrition, medicine and biostatistics.

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Marine Science and Aquaculture Research Centre

The Portobello Marine Laboratory is home to a wide range of research projects which make the most of Otago's unique coastal environment. Research topics include marine conservation, ocean physics, marine biology and ecology, and aquaculture. The research vessel RV Polaris II effectively extends the research range of the Portobello Laboratory.

Learn more about the Marine Science facilities

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Otago Energy Research Centre

The Otago energy Research Centre is an interdisciplinary collaboration exploring sustainable energy generation as well as energy-efficient industrial applications.

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Otago Centre for Electron Microscopy (OCEM)

The Centre is well equipped for ultrastructural studies. It has a Philips CM 100 transmission electron microscope (TEM) and a Philips 410LS TEM. Both TEMs are fitted with Megaview digital camera systems. The Centre also has a JEOL 6700F field emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM) and a Cambridge S360 conventional SEM. The FEGSEM is fitted with an Alto high resolution cryostage for working with frozen hydrated samples and an elemental analysis (EDS) system. The Centre has particular expertise in ultrastructural immunocytochemical techniques and both TEM and SEM cryopreparation techniques. The Otago Centre for Confocal Microscopy operates in conjunction with OCEM (contact Andrew McNaughton).

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Quantum Science Otago

Quantum Science Otago is a research unit exploring various aspects of quantum physics and its applications in super computing. The research group comprises leading theorists as well as experimentalists, and active collaborations worldwide.

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Plant Extracts Research Unit (PERU)

This Unit is a collaboration between Plant & Food Research and the University of Otago. New flavour chemicals, natural relaxants and plant disease indicators are some of the products being developed in this research group.

Projects include:

Natural products chemistry: discovering new compounds in foods and in native plants, by isolation directed by biological assays, with structure identification by combined NMR spectroscopy and molecular modelling. We also study biosynthesis in plants and ecological roles of natural products.
Synthetic organic chemistry: studies on biomolecules to understand the relationship between structure and biological activity, and to produce more active and selective compounds.
Analytical chemistry: using NMR, LC, GC, MS and Raman microscopy, to locate and quantify plant metabolites, food bioactives and flavour chemicals.

Learn more about the Plant Extracts Research Unit

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Polar Environments Research Theme

The Polar Environment Research Theme is a multidisciplinary network for scientists at the University of Otago with an interest in high latitude and high altitude environments. Our goal is to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and research in polar studies at the University of Otago.

Learn about the Polar Environments Research Theme

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Product Development Research Centre

The Centre undertakes comprehensive research programmes to improve commercial profitability and assist with product development for the food industry. Researchers' expertise includes product development, food chemistry, encapsulation and controlled release, flavour science, food microbiology, malting and brewing science/technology and lipid technology.

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Te Koronga

Te Koronga's kaupapa is Māori research excellence based on the aspirations of Māori communities underpinned by a Kaupapa Māori ethos.

Te Koronga is comprised of two parts:

  • Graduate research excellence
  • Indigenous Science Research Theme

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