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Research Medal winners announced

Research Medal winners announced

This year’s winners of the University’s most prestigious research awards, the Massey University Research Medals, have been announced by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Nigel Long (pictured, right).

The 2006 Medals and Teaching Awards will be presented at a gala dinner to be held in Palmerston North on 5 October to pay tribute to research and teaching excellence.

A highlight of the dinner will be guest speaker Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty. Professor Doherty, an immunologist from St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, who was jointly awarded a Nobel prize in physiology/medicine in 1996 with Rolf Zinkernagel for their discoveries concerning "the specificity of the cell mediated immune defence" – research undertaken while employed at the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra, Australia.

The Research Medal winners are:

Professor David Lambert – Individual, Professor Robyn Munford – Supervisor, Dr Barbara Holland and Dr Sara Ross – Early Career, and the Centre for Public Health Research – the Research Team medal.

Other research awards include Mäori awards, women’s awards, post-doctoral fellowships, research fellowships, and technicians’ awards.

Outstanding Individual Researcher

Professor David Lambert is a Distinguished Professor and Professor of Molecular Ecology and Evolution based in Auckland, whose successes in ancient DNA research, and those of his research group, feature frequently in leading publications and attract international attention.

A principal investigator in the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution – one of the centres of research excellence established by the Government, Professor Lambert has published more than 130 research papers and made a major contribution to evolutionary genetics.

Most recently, through his work with DNA analysis, he has made news with revelations on the New Zealand moa and his evolution study with Adelie penguins.

In the decade that he has been at the University he has been awarded approximately $26.4 million in research funding including nine Marsden grants.

The award is worth $20,000 to the centre.

Team Research Medal

The Centre for Public Health Research

In the six years since the establishment of the Centre, Professor Neil Pearce and his team have produced an extensive track record in public health research, workforce development and team-based research.

The Centre is a multi-disciplinary team of researchers based on the University’s Wellington campus. Its research programme covers all aspects of public health research, with a focus on

- non-communicable diseases (respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes)
- occupational health
- environmental health
- socio-economic determinants of health
- Mäori and Pacific health research.

Research findings have major implications for prevention and treatment of asthma and cancer, provision of health services to Mäori and Pacific people, and managing occupational health and safety.

Associate Director Jeroen Douwes says the centre was delighted to win the Research Medal. “It is wonderful to receive recognition for the centre’s work. It is a great pleasure to be able to work with a team of highly motivated and talented researchers.”

The principal investigators on the centre’s research projects are Professor Neil Pearce, Associate Professor Jeroen Douwes, Dr Mona Jeffreys, Dr Lis Ellison-Loschmann, Dr Andrea 't Mannetje, Dr Dave McLean, Dr Ate Moala, Dr Sunia Foliaki, and Dr Christine van Dalen. The team also includes researchers, biostatisticians, field workers and support staff.

The award is worth $25,000 to the centre.


Professor Robyn Munford graduated with New Zealand’s first social work degree, from Massey University in 1979. She achieved first-class honours. She ran an Intellectually Handicapped Children residential home for two and a half years then studied at the University of Calgary in Alberta for her masterate, returned to Massey in Palmerston North to complete her PhD and, in 1991, took up a position as a lecturer.

In 1998 she became head of the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, a position she vacated at the end of August this year to devote more time to research, the mentoring of new researchers, and her work on international boards.

Since 1991 Professor Munford has supervised 20 doctorates and 15 masterates, mostly as leading supervisor. All of her masterate students received distinction or honours and many have gone on to become respected researchers in their own right or to occupy important managerial positions in New Zealand and overseas.

She has also made a substantial contribution to staff development by encouraging staff (particularly Mäori and Pacific Islanders) to complete higher degrees. “The support of Mäori research and the completion of postgraduate qualifications by Maori researchers is a key goal in the school’s research strategy,” she says.

The award is worth $10,000.

Early Career Medalists ($10,000 each)

Dr Barbara Holland is a research fellow in the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution who has moved rapidly from her position as a PhD student to a researcher of international reputation.

Centre co-director Professor Mike Hendy says Dr Holland has achieved more in research output than any other graduate he has known, and cites her success in winning research grants as a particular highlight for the centre.

Dr Holland was awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand Hamilton Memorial Prize last year for her mathematical research in evolutionary biology, described by the society’s academy council as “pioneering” work.

After a one-year post-doctoral position at the University of Bochum in Germany, she was awarded another at the Allan Wilson Centre, returning to Massey in 2002. Last year she was awarded a Foundation of Research, Science and Technology Bridge to Employment grant and received a full Marsden grant as the project’s principal investigator.

Her research focuses on phylogenetics – the study of evolutionary relatedness among various groups of organisms.

Dr Sarah Ross is a scholar of early modern English literature who joined the School of English and Media Studies in 2003 and is rapidly building a reputation as a significant contributor to the academic field of women’s renaissance poetry.

In addition to her individual research focus on poetry, women’s writing, literature in relation to poetry and society, manuscript studies and bibliography, Dr Ross has contributed to two major British projects specialising in 17th century literary history.

While completing her DPhil thesis at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, on women and religious verse in English manuscript culture (1600-1668), Dr Ross was awarded the Margaret Roper Prize for graduate research. From there she was appointed to the prestigious post-doctoral post of John Nichols Research Fellow at the University of Warwick.

Since 2001 she has published major articles on renaissance religious manuscripts and the poetry of Katherine Austen, four items in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, two articles on Hester Pulter in a collection of essays on early modern women for Routledge, several reviews, and a co-edited edition of essays on contemporary British novelists.

To view the full list of medal winners, check the website:

To view the recent release on recipients of Marsden and Fast-Start awards: Releases/09-07-06a.html

To view the earlier release on Massey’s Tertiary Teaching Excellence awards, see:

And for the release on the national teaching awards:


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