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Eight Victoria Science Scholarships Awarded

Eight students have won Victoria University Science Scholarships that will help them research topics ranging from anti-cancer compounds to business clusters and the effect of drugs on the perception of time. One PhD and seven Honours scholarships have been awarded.

"It’s great that the scholarships, which were awarded on the basis of academic merit and a written research proposal, have been won by students from a diverse range of disciplines, ages and backgrounds," said Shona de Sain, Associate Dean of Students.

"We’re particularly pleased to see female, Maori and Pacific Island students among our top achievers in the sciences."

The winner of the $15,000 per annum PhD scholarship is Khanhav-Au, 23, who is researching the statistical theory of risky asset models, which are used by financiers to price financial assets.

Khanhav says his decision to study at Victoria was mainly driven by his admiration for his supervisor, Professor David Vere-Jones, and the excellent reputation of the School of Mathematical and Computing Sciences. However, as he says, "there’s also the beautiful view of Wellington city and harbour from outside my office!"

The other scholarships, each worth $7,500, have been awarded to seven BSc Honours students.

After two years juggling part-time study and a family, mature student Jane Perrott was delighted to received her scholarship, which will enable her to complete her Honours degree in Psychology full-time.

Jane has already completed her research into the effects of amphetamine and haloperidol on the perception of time, and will use this year to analyse and write up her findings. "The two drugs work on the same neurotransmitters in the brain but have opposite effects," she says.

Bridget Stocker and Catherine Muller, both 22, will use their scholarships to complete BSc Honours years in Chemistry. Bridget who has an interest in medicinal chemistry, will study an anti-cancer agent. Catherine will analyse the structure of the compound ‘pelorusidea’, which is found in sea sponges. The compound is known to have high biological activity, an indicator of anti-cancer potential.

Claire Turner, who has also received a Victoria Graduate Award, will pursue her BSc Honours in genetics in the School of Biological Sciences.

Heather Voden (21), Namouta Poutasi (21) and Ryan Cleverly (23), all of the School of Earth Sciences, are the other winners.

Heather Voden will specialise in human geography, researching whether the development of business clusters is behind economic success in Nelson. A former Nelson resident, Heather says the region has growing business clusters in the areas of fishing, aviation and engineering. She will be working closely with the Nelson City Council on her project.

Namouta Poutasi, who has completed a BA in anthropology as well as her BSc, will also specialise in human geography, looking at the relationship between low income and employment location for Pacific Islanders in New Zealand. Namouta has a Samoan background and says she wanted to do research that benefited the Pacific Island community.

Ryan Cleverly (Ngatarangi) will be focusing on physical geography and exploring raparian (river) protection zones. He will study the stabilising effect of vegetation on river banks and the contribution this makes to river water quality. Comparing a vegetated and a non-vegetated riparian zone, Ryan will measure solute and phosphate levels to assess water quality and conduct ‘shearbox’ experiments to assess soil stability on river banks.

Both Namouta and Ryan are involved in Victoria’s Te Ropu Awhine Putaiao Science mentoring programme for Maori and Pacific Island Students. Each mentor takes on six undergraduates and provides information and support throughout the year. Namouta says she finds the programme very satisfying and a really good way of meeting and helping other students. Ryan describes it as "awesome".

A special initiative for the year 2000, the Victoria University Science Scholarships were designed to help top science students complete graduate and postgraduate study.

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