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UC dominates Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships

UC dominates Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships

University of Canterbury students have scooped a quarter of the Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships announced today by Tertiary Education Minister Pete Hodgson.

Eight UC doctoral students have been awarded Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships, collectively worth nearly $750,000. A total of 32 scholarships have been awarded nationally.

The UC students are undertaking a variety of research projects from studying atmospheric mountain waves using sailplane flight data to an examination of the impact of American culture in New Zealand from 1945 to 1965. The student involved in this project is 64-year-old Gary Whitcher, a retired school teacher who is in the first year of his PhD studies.

He was encouraged to return to university by some of his former pupils at Rangiora High School where he taught Classics, History and English. He says he is finding his university studies very enjoyable and he is very happy to have been awarded a Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarship.

The single largest scholarship goes to Muhunthan Rajaratnam (Biological Sciences) who has been awarded $98,679 to study cytonkinin-regulatory genes and seed development of perennial ryegrass.

The other scholarship recipients are: Jessica Boyce (Psychology), Wanting Jiao (Chemistry), Anna MacDonald (Mathematics and Statistics), Lois Tonkin (Sociology), Laura Young (Biological Sciences) and Ni Zhang (Electrical and Computer Engineering).

Assistant Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Postgraduate Studies, Professor Steve Weaver, describes the students as “outstanding” and says the University is delighted they have been recognised nationally for the quality of their research proposals.

“That such a high proportion of scholarships available throughout New Zealand has gone to Canterbury speaks volumes about the excellence of not only our postgraduate student body but also the academic staff who will supervise and support these projects. The scholarships cover a range of disciplines in the Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities and Engineering - testifying to the breadth of excellence at the University of Canterbury.”

A former Canterbury student is one of two students awarded scholarships to study overseas. Konstantin Zakhorov, who graduated with a BSc (Hons) in 2005 and an MSc (Distinction) in 2007, has been awarded $178,560 over three years to study at the University of Leeds.

Konstantin’s research will focus on improving the methods of cardiovascular disease diagnosis. He hopes to design an algorithm for providing a patient-specific model of coronary artery supply using (three-dimensional) MRA and directly relating it to dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging findings. He has already received an Overseas Research Award and a Tetley and Lupton Scholarship.

The Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships are awarded to students undertaking research in a variety of disciplines at a New Zealand or overseas tertiary institution. If the research is undertaken overseas, the student must return to New Zealand on the completion of the scholarship for a period equal to that of the scholarship. The scholarships are administered by the Tertiary Education Commission.


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