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Collaboration with ESR boost research capabilities

Collaboration with ESR boosts research capabilities

The University of Canterbury and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd (ESR) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement paving the way for greater collaboration in the areas of research, education and public programmes.

ESR, one of nine Crown Research Institutes, is New Zealand’s leading provider of scientific services in environmental health and forensic science. It employs approximately 300 staff across its three centres located in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The memorandum signed yesterday formalises strong links which already exist between the University and neighbouring ESR.

Many of ESR’s scientists lecture to undergraduate students at the University, and PhD students are jointly supervised by staff from the University and ESR. Each year ESR awards summer studentships, masters and PhD scholarships in areas of study designed to “protect people and their environment”.

“There are opportunities to build upon these links and expand into other research areas for greater mutual benefit to both organisations,” said ESR Chief Executive Officer Dr John Hay.

“The memorandum will accelerate the process that has already been started.”

In the spirit of greater co-operation, Dr Hay announced the appointment of Professor Ian Shaw as an adjunct senior science leader at ESR. Professor Shaw headed the National Food Safety Programme at ESR but is leaving to take up the position of Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Science) at the University. During his time at ESR, Professor Shaw was an adjunct professor in the chemistry department.

“Stronger links between the two organisations will give us a competitive edge when we apply for research funding because of the potential to achieve even higher quality outcomes, said University of Canterbury Vice-Chancellor, Professor Roy Sharp. “Such partnerships will also strongly contribute towards the scientific education of both the current and future workforces.”

Key areas of interest in collaborative research include the health sciences, where research is currently being carried out on the health effects of chemical and microbial contaminants in diets and drinking and recreational waters.

In the field of chemistry two PhD students, Barbara Thomson and Anna McCarthy, are researching xenoestrogens and their receptors and are jointly supervised by staff from both organisations.

In response to the controversial and complex issues associated with sustainable development, research is being carried out into water management and the role of science in environmental policy and decision-making.

The MOA has been signed for an initial period of five years.

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