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80 postgrads outlining their research at conference

More than 80 postgraduate students outlining their research at annual conference

October 11, 2013

More than 80 postgraduate students will present their research and findings at the University of Canterbury (UC) annual biology conference on campus next week (October 17).

The study subjects range from rugby to the development of potato varieties.

Conference organiser Dr Ximena Nelson says PhD student Ardi Ashrafzadeh has been investigating the level of cadmium accumulation following fertiliser application on potatoes.

Honours student Nixie Boddy is looking at the influence that invasive species and climate warming have on ecosystems and freshwater fish.

PhD student Wafaa Hassan will talk about growth factor receptors in advanced ovarian cancer, which has the highest death rate of gynaecological cancers in New Zealand and is the fifth highest cause of death from cancer.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are commonly misdiagnosed. Hassan’s research has preliminarily found that inhibitors, when used in combination, can reduce growth of ovarian cancer cells.

Angus Lindsay has done part of his PhD thesis on the effect of acute exercise on levels of stress in competitive body-builders, Dr Nelson says.

The continuous intensity of competitive body-building requires the steady increase in activation of the immune system on a day to day basis.

``Gabriel Moinet has been researching the impacts of intensive dairy farming management on soil organic carbon dynamics while Amanda Peterson has been monitoring the long term impact of an aerial 1080 application on non-target forest species.

``Other students are investigating subjects ranging from the health benefits of kiwifruit to studying the South Island robin.

``We have some amazing postgraduate students in our School of Biological Sciences, which has now won four Rutherford Discovery Fellowships, the highest concentration in any tertiary department in the country.

``They are Dr Anthony Poole, Dr Paul Gardener, Professor Jason Tylianakis and Dr Daniel Stouffer who was recently awarded $800,000 over five years to look at a theory of evolution in ecological networks.

``The fellowships are designed to develop and foster future leaders in the New Zealand science sector. They are funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand,’’ Dr Nelson says.


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