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Marsden Fund awards $43.8 million dollars

Marsden Fund awards $43.8 million dollars


$43.8 million dollars has been allocated to original and exciting research in this year's Marsden Fund round.

For the first time ever, funding for an iwi-based collaborative research project has been granted by the Fund. This proposal, which had to undergo rigorous evaluation, could provide a new model for the development of further such partnerships in other areas of the country. This project, initiated by Ngati Hine, will trace the history of pre-treaty Bay of Islands by synthesising European and Maori collective histories. "This exemplifies the ground-breaking work that the Marsden Fund is associated with," said Dr Diana Hill, Chair of the Marsden Fund Council.

The Marsden Fund is administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand and funded by the Government.

"This year, $43.8 million was granted to support 105 projects over three years, 19 more than last year. This represents 14.2% of all applications, an increase from 10.7% last year. This increase is due to an extra $1.95 million from the 2003 budget and the remainder came from the Royal Society reserves," said Dr Hill. This is also the first time that funding for five years - long term support that will allow greater research continuity - has been offered. Three projects have been selected for this longer term funding.

The variety of research initiatives funded is spectacular. Ranging from stick insects to sticky seaweed and ancient Greece to the Chatham Islands, research ideas have been selected for their exciting potential. Racing against time to save dying languages, robot research, and studies into fertility and Parkinson's disease all feature.

"This year an unprecedented amount - $2.7 million - has gone to emerging researchers of outstanding potential," added Professor Hill. The Fast-Start Marsden grants, first funded in 2001, give $50,000 each year for up to two years.

The 28 Fast-Start projects for 2003 include Massey University's Dr Chris Wilkins' study of the role gangs play in the illicit markets for cannabis, amphetamine and ecstasy and Dr Christine Cheyne's work on New Zealander's interactions - or lack thereof - with local government.

Included with this press release are specific details of studies that will be of strong interest to your audience. A complete list of the 105 grants, including the name of the principal investigator, and the institution, will be on the Royal Society website from Wednesday afternoon http://www.rsnz.org

ENDS

GRASS - GLORIOUS GRASS!

New Zealand's development and success as a trading nation relies heavily on our agricultural innovation and large-scale pastoral farming methods.

But the swathes of green stuff that carpet the country are a far cry from 150 years ago. Then, three-quarters of the country was either forested or covered in tussock.

But how did we effect such momentous change? Did we simply follow established farming models inherited from the old country, or did we craft unique procedures to meet new indigenous challenges? As we developed as a nation, how much did international demand for wool and meat drive these environmental changes?

Successive Governments, the establishment of a national scientific research institute, farmers wielding #8 wire and the network of Stock and Station agents throughout the country - all are some of the parts of the intricate history that has shaped the land we live on today.

Farms in Canterbury, Hawke's Bay, Southland and Manawatu all have stories to tell. A team led by Associate Professor Tom Brooking from the University of Otago and Professor Eric Pawson from the University of Canterbury will look back at their past, seeking to identify what drove the agricultural experimentation in our history, and what lessons can be learnt for successful sustainable land management in the future.

Researcher: Associate Professor Tom Brooking History Department, University of Otago

Professor Eric Pawson, Geography Department, University of Canterbury, 03 364 2930

Associates: Professor Peter Holland, University of Otago Dr Jim McAloon, Lincoln University Dr Te Maire Tau, Te Tapuae o Rehua, Christchurch James Williams, University of Otago

Funding: $201,000 per year for three years

THE PLANT PUZZLE Vegetation response to climate change during greenhouse worlds

As the earth has warmed and cooled over millions of years, plants have silently responded. During the early Cenozoic (60-50 million years ago) 'greenhouse' world, two trillion tons of methane gas seeped into the atmosphere, evolution altered course as primates appeared and global warming peaked when the temperature rose 5-8°C over 10,000 years.

It's predicted that in the next 100 years, another global warming explosion spurred by human activity will again increase the world's average temperature - but this time, at least 10 times faster than before.

What will happen by the end of this century? Will plants take a sudden peak in global warming in their stride? Or will the temperature increase of 2-5°C over the next 100 years threaten their survival?

Clues to how vegetation might respond to this dramatic change are hidden 50 million years in the past where fossil records have archived the surprisingly modest impact on vegetation change.

Dr Erica Crouch of Lower Hutt's Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences is the scientific sleuth who will predict the response of New Zealand plants by putting together the fossil clues that remain in the sedimentary rocks of central Westland and North Canterbury.

By comparing and contrasting the microfossil (spores and pollen) records found in New Zealand with fossil records collected from North America, Europe and Australia, Dr Crouch hopes to discover how critical the length, speed and size of climate change is to plants. Her work may help food producers planning their crops in the upcoming era of climate change.

Dr Crouch is one of the 28 selected researchers to receive Fast-Start funding for recently-graduated researchers.

Contact: Dr Erica Crouch, GNS

Other researchers Dr Scott Wing, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute, Washington.

Funding: $50,000 per year for two years

BRAINY SNAILS

Strokes are the third most common cause of death in New Zealand. Is the key to their prevention busy munching lettuce at the bottom of the garden?

University of Otago researcher Dr Paul Donohoe has made a remarkable discovery that snails have a unique ability. When their brain cells detect a drop in oxygen levels, the cells rapidly dial down their need for it. In contrast, our brain cells die.

Using a Marsden Fund grant, Dr Donohoe will research how the snail brain cells both sense the lack of oxygen and then alter the cell's behaviour to cope. Once these processes are understood, the principles may lead to the saving of lives.

The project is being funded by a Fast-Start grant, awarded to recently-graduated researchers.

Researcher: Dr Paul Donohoe Dept of Physiology, University of Otago

Funding: $50,000 a year for two years.

THE WRITE TIME

As the new century dawned, people gathered around the world to witness the historic moment. Or did they? Debate raged about when to celebrate - midnight 2000, or midnight 2001? Which was the right one - and, why did it matter?

Mankind's relationship with time has changed across continents, cultures and time itself. From watching the sun to the elaborate measurement of seconds and years, different cultures have created their own system of time reckoning.

Funded by a Marsden grant, Associate Professor Robert Hannah will research and write a history on the measurement of time, concepts of it and how societies used it.

He focus will start on Archaic Greece and Imperial Rome (750 BC-300 AD). By the 5th and 4th centuries BC the Greeks had created a water clock (klepsydra), treated time as a science and philosphers such as Plato, Aristotle and, much later, Newton developed essential theories on the nature of time.

Professor Hannah's reasearch will cover the concepts of cosmic time, human time and the nature of time and he hopes to travel to Europe to examine the remains of some ancient clocks as part of his research, including the 2000 year old Tower of the Winds in Athens.

He will then use the results of his research to publish a book: Time in Antiquity.

Researcher: Assoc. Professor Robert Hannah Department of Classics, University of Otago

Funding: $70,000 per year for three years

THE PLEASURE OF LEARNING

In showbiz, the saying goes "don't work with children or animals". The idea is that their unpredictable behaviour can cause disaster when you least expect it. On the other hand, experience in both show business and everyday life clearly shows that offering rewards is a powerful way to encourage desirable behaviour. New research into the brain chemical dopamine is throwing light on the role of dopamine and reward in the learning that occurs as movie directors, parents and pet-owners struggle to teach and control their erratic charges.

We all like the pleasurable feelings of being rewarded, but how do rewards get translated into future actions? It might be because dopamine creates a link in the brain between certain behaviours and the receipt of rewards.

Seeking that pleasure again is a strong incentive to repeat the behaviour - to get the reward that makes you feel good. This cycle of behaviour mediated by dopamine forms the basis for learning - but also may underlie addiction, an undesirable learning outcome.

A research team from the University of Otago will use a Marsden Fund grant to measure the levels of dopamine in an animal brain. They have already discovered that when dopamine is present it makes brain signals stronger as the bond between behaviour, reward and pleasure is formed.

If we can discover the relationship between brain dopamine levels and normal learning, it might be possible to better understand maladaptive learning that occurs in addiction, and how to treat human behavioural disorders in which changes in reward sensitivity may affect learning, such as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

By using state-of-the-art methods for measuring dopamine changes down to a thousandth of a second, the research team will search for biological clues that might one day teach us the best way to teach!

Researcher: Dr Brian Hyland, Department of Physiology, University of Otago

Assoc Prof Jeff Wickens Dept of Anatomy and Structural Biology, University of Otago

Associate: Dr John Reynolds, University of Otago Professor Greg Gerhardt, University of Kentucky, USA

Funding: $300,000 per year for 3 years

SHEEP DETECTIVES SEARCH FOR FERTILITY CLUES

In spring, thousands of lambs are born around the country, bringing a smile to the faces of farmers who rely on a good lamb return for farm income.

As a boost in lamb production also boosts cashflow, farmers want more lambs per sheep. Scientists at AgResearch have already identified two genes (Inverdale and Booroola) for which selective breeding will boost lambing. Now they have discovered a third and will research its effects with a grant from the Marsden Fund.

The Woodlands gene is named after the farm where this unique fertility inheritance pattern was discovered. It is seen in action after a ewe carrying the gene passes it through her sons to grand-daughters who have more lambs.

Another surprise is that young lambs with the Woodlands gene also have unusual ovaries. The ovaries are nearly six times larger than normal, and more active. But when the lamb matures, the ovaries return to the normal size. Then, the ewes that have received the gene in the pattern described above, have more lambs.

The enlarged ovary is not unlike those seen in women suffering from polycystic ovary disease, and the relative comparison between the sheep and human reproductive systems may mean that this research holds clues for treating this disorder.

Researcher: Dr Kenneth McNatty, AgResearch Wallaceville, Upper Hutt

Dr Jennifer Juengel, AgResearch Wallaceville, UpperHutt

Associate: Dr George Davis, AgResearch Invermay Professor Heywood Sawyer, University of Wyoming.

Funding: Year 1: $220,000 Year 2: $200,000 Year 3: $220,000

WALKING WITH ROBOTS

Robot and rocket research supported by the Marsden Fund may give a boost to people using prosthetics.

Collaborating with NASA, researcher Dr Michael Paulin wants to take the principles that our brain uses to control movement and use them to design a robot brain.

It is currently impossible to physically build a robot of this complexity, but by using recent research on how movement-sensing neurons in the brain controls body actions Dr Paulin proposes to develop a virtual model of a sophisticated bio-bot.

A successful design has potential to be used in video animations and computer games as well as diagnosis, rehabilitation and prosthetics for patients with neuromuscular disorders.

With assistance from the Marsden fund, this project will give an enthusiastic and talented PhD student the opportunity to visit UCLA and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and develop multi-disciplinary skills in physics, engineering, computing and biology. At NASA, the student will participate directly in NASA's advanced research programme to develop robots for planetary exploration.

Researcher: Dr Michael Paulin, Department of Zoology and Centre for Neuroscience, University of Otago

Associates: Professor Larry Hoffman, UCLA School of Medicine Dr Chris Assad, NASA - JPL

Funding: $185,000 per year for three years

THE CHATHAM ISLANDS - NOAH'S ARK OR THE PICTON FERRY?

The Chatham Islands have long thought to be of ancient origin - a veritable Noah's Ark, perhaps 70-80 million years old.

But, new evidence suggests that the Chathams may have come up from the seabed as little as 4 million years ago. That makes them the biological equivalent of last night's Picton Ferry. And, rather than being an isolated retreat where ancient species still dwell, it transforms all life on the islands into rapid colonisers that have aggressively made themselves at home.

If this were proved to be true, it would give biologists new ideas to develop their theories of dispersal, colonisation, speciation and biodiversity.

So how do we find out? A team of geologists and biologists from Otago, Lincoln and Massey University will join forces with colleagues from the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences to be detectives.

Relationships between plants on the island will be scrutinised, and contrasted with plants on the mainland. Beetles and other bugs will be catalogued and compared. Soils and rocks from the highest parts of the islands to lake sediments will be examined for evidence of age.

Then, we will know if the Chatham Islands are the new kids on the block, or whether they as old as the hills?

Researchers: Dr Hamish Campbell, GNS

Dr Steve Trewick, Massey PN,

Associates: Dr John Begg, GNS, Lower Hutt Assoc Prof Charles Landis, University of Otago Assoc Prof David Given, Lincoln University Dr Rowan Emberson, Lincoln University Dr Adrian Paterson, Lincoln University Dr Karen Armstrong, Lincoln University

Funding: Year 1: $300,000 Year 2: $320,000 Year 3: $250,000

THE QUICK STICK Seaweed reproduction and survival

In the relatively protected and small area of human womb, the sperm and egg still must overcome enormous odds to unite and grow. Now imagine fertilisation in the sea - eggs and sperm must fight the wind, tide and predators for the cycle of life to continue.

But despite surmounting formidable obstacles, the microscopic offspring of NZ's large brown seaweeds have one last hurdle to overcome. Caught in the turbulent environment of a nearshore rocky reef, it must somehow penetrate the surface of a slimy rock. Before they can call this rock home, they must stick - quick!

How do these tenacious tiny seeds succeed? Funded by a Marsden Grant, Associate Professor David Schiel from the University of Canterbury will lead a team using the sciences of ecology, chemistry and physics to delve deeper into this aquatic challenge.

Researcher: Assoc Prof David Schiel, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury Associates: Dr Craig Stevens, NIWA, Greta Point, Wellington Assoc Prof Andrew Abell, Dept of Chemistry, University of Canterbury

Funding: $220,000 a year for three years

THE MATHEMATICS OF LIFE

As Charles Darwin watched and listened to the life on the Galapagos Islands he created views on the origin of the species that revolutionised the world.

But now, instead of looking from the outside, we search at the molecular level for the clues that tell us how all life is related. With thousands of genes on the human chromosomes recently unravelled during the Human Genome Project, and with the continuing discovery of genetic sequences from other species, the time has come for new tools to decipher the web of biological relationships.

World-leading researchers Dr Charles Semple and Professor Mike Steel from the University of Canterbury have recently published the first book that provides the mathematical methods that are essential to navigating this maze of information that genetics has uncovered for us.

By using a Marsden grant to further develop these methods, they will help us trace the history of species, populations and individuals.

Researchers: Dr Charles Semple, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Canterbury

Professor Mike Steel, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Canterbury

Associates Dr Arne Mooers, Simon Fraser University, Canada Professor Daniel Huson, Universitat Tuebingen, Germany

Funding $120,000 per year for three years

THE LANGUAGES OF MALAKULA

Somewhere in the world, a language dies every two weeks. One of the countries with the most languages is the island grouping of Vanuatu, with just under 100 distinct languages. On the island of Malakula, there are over 40 languages, all of them in danger of extinction, and only two of which have ever been well documented.

Racing against time to conserve four of these languages is Associate Professor Terry Crowley from the University of Waikato. In the unique languages of Malakula you find unusual word structures and rare oral features - a 'bilabial trill' (similar to the Vrrrm that children make when they imitate cars), and a consonant that you can only produce if you stretch your tongue out to your upper lip. With many of the speakers elderly, and already over a dozen languages lost when epidemics ravaged the islands in the early 20th Century, some of the remaining languages will soon be gone.

Tape is one of these languages - with only 10-15 elderly speakers remaining. Naman is spoken by only 20 people. Unua-Pangkumu and Aulua are two languages with about 800 speakers each. Although substantially more than Tape and Naman, the future of both languages remains uncertain.

Conserving these endangered languages will help construct a wider understanding of how the languages of the Pacific inter-relate, and contribute to our overall understanding of how language has developed.

Researcher: Professor Terry Crowley (away on Malakula until October 30) Department of General and Applied Linguistics University of Waikato

Associates: Dr Elizabeth Pearce, Victoria University of Wellington,

Dr Martin Paviour-Smith, Massey University

Funding: Year 1: $113,000 Year 2: $110,000 Year 3: $110,000

WHAT LIES BENEATH Magma in the Taupo Volcanic Zone

The discovery of magma at the heart of New Zealand's volcanic zone will give geologists a world-class opportunity to study the earth's behaviour.

Not previously seen in a continental rift setting, the magma feeds the Central North Island's volcanoes, and will give geologists an exciting opportunity to explore the mechanics of continent formation.

Using explosives to cause artificial earthquakes, a research team lead by Associate Professor Tim Stern of the Victoria University of Wellington will use the results to uncover the structure and shape of the earth beneath us, and predict how it could move and erupt in the future.

Principal Researcher: Associate Professor Tim Stern, School of Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington

Associates: Dr Stephen Bannister, IGNS Professor John Gamble, University College, Cork, Ireland Dr David Okaya, Dept of Earth Sciences University of Southern California Professor Euan Smith, School of Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington

Funding: $200,000 per year for three years

STICK INSECTS STICK AROUND

It's been a while since some stick insects had sex. Say, a few million years. So, how do they manage to - well, stick around?

Out of New Zealand's 22 species of stick insect, one group (Acanthoxyla) has seven species that clone themselves to survive. Asexual species have been believed to be evolutionary dead ends because not only don't they adapt, but eventually mutations in the gene stock accumulate until the species dies out.

But it appears that these stick insects may have been going strong for more than a million years. And, despite not having sexual reproduction to rely on, several different species of asexual stick insect have evolved - an extremely rare event in animal biology. What's going on?

Dr Thomas Buckley is determined to find out. The recipient of a Marsden Fund Fast-Start grant for recently-graduated researchers, he will collect and examine genetic variation in the New Zealand stick insects. Then, he will look at what has happened to their close cousins - stick insects that do reproduce sexually. With his results, he hopes to find out why some stick insects are sexy, and some aren't.

Researcher: Dr Thomas Buckley Landcare Research, Auckland

Associate: Dr Benjamin Normark, University of Massachusetts

Funding: $50,000 per year for two years

SPERM SECRETS STUDIED New research into sperm may ultimately lead to treatment for infertile couples.

In 1978 the first IVF baby was born and the dream of family life became a reality for many. But the search to improve fertility has never ceased.

Now, 25 years later, Dr Larry Chamley and Dr Andrew Shelling of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology want to know if SPRASA* - a protein they discovered last year - will help.

Located on the surface of sperm, they believe it might be an essential part of the fertility puzzle, helping fuse the sperm to the unfertilised egg.

Infertile couples can carry antibodies to it. Is the reason they can't conceive because this tiny protein's important work is blocked?

And if it is, can successful treatment be designed so couples that carry antibodies to SPRASA can finally conceive?

On the other hand, if it can block conception, SPRASA might be an important new tool in designing and developing contraception methods for pest control.

*Sperm Protein Reactive with AntiSperm Antibodies.

Researchers: Dr Larry Chamley Dept of O&G, University of Auckland

Dr Andrew Shelling Dept of O&G, University of Auckland

Funding: $220,000 per year for three years

REDUCING RAT RISK - A MODEL APPROACH

Islands remain one of the last refuges of endangered and unique species such as the kakapo and tuatara. But once a refuge has been successfully established, the ever present threat of rat invasion remains. How strong is this threat? If just one pregnant rat landed on an island, would she quickly create a new army of rodents that would wreak havoc and destruction?

Science relies on data and research to build models that will allow risks like this to be measured and assessed. Dr Rachel Fewster, a statistician from the University of Auckland is going to create just such a model. By using data obtained from another study which placed a pregnant rat on an island and monitored its progress, she will define what factors affect the likelihood of rats re-colonising an island after eradication.

Her study will also look at the genetic variability of rats on islands to give an analysis of the ability of rats to disperse by swimming, hitching a ride as well as what effect the isolation of the island and terrain have on rat recolonisation.

Once the research is completed, Dr Fewster will construct a computer program that will predict re-invasion risks for islands and ensure that conservation resources are targeted to islands that have the best chance of remaining rat-free after eradication.

Her program will allow managers to:

· maximise the number of rat-free islands in an area

· maximise the total area of rat-free island space

· minimise the invasion risk for a specified set of islands.

Researcher: Dr Rachel Fewster Department of Statistics, University of Auckland

Associate: Associate Professor Mick Clout School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

Funding: $50,000 per year for two years

SINGING AND SEX: A BIRD'S EYE VIEW

When they heard the Pied Piper of Hamlin play, all the rats had to run away. Although that's a fairy-tale, the idea of music compelling action is surprisingly true in the animal world.

When male birds sing during breeding season, an available female does more than just flutter her eyelashes. She is compelled to perform a 'solicitation display'. If it attracts the male, they breed.

But outside breeding season, no such luck. The male bird will get no response to his song.

What makes the difference? Do hormones take the brain and body hostage to ensure breeding? How are the brain's activity and the body's reactions hot-wired together?

Using the canary as an example, Associate Professor J M Wild from the University of Auckland will try to discover the switch that controls this compelling behaviour.

Researcher: Associate Professor Martin Wild, Faculty of Medical and Health Science, University of Auckland,

Associate Dr A Van der Linden, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Funding. Year 1 $275,000 Year 2 $275,000 Year 3 $275,000 + funding for Year 4 & 5

DECISIONS, DECISIONS: A PLANT'S LIFE

If plants were people, they might all be accountants. Each day, a plant has to allocate resources between strategies for growth, survival and reproduction. This endless balancing act should maximise the plant's chances of evolutionary success - but how does a plant decide what to do when faced with frequent fire?

Dr Ashley Sparrow from the University of Canterbury will use a Marsden Fund grant to study why some plants choose to store reserves in the face of fire and sprout back to life afterwards, while others produce seed before the fire and regrow as seedlings. The unpredictability of the fire means that the plants must gamble on which strategy is more successful in both the short and long-term.

Comparing the reactions of plants in fire-prone Western Australia, with plants on the South Island of New Zealand that rarely experience fire, he hopes to find answers to about how plants optimise the allocation of their resources to give themselves the best chance of success.

Researcher: Dr Ashley Sparrow, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury

Associates: Dr Peter Bellingham, Landcare Research, Lincoln Professor William Bond, University of Cape Town, Sth Africa Professor Byron Lamont, Curtin University, Perth.

Funding: $200,000 per year for three years

NEW ZEALAND LEADS INTERNATIONAL PARKINSON'S STUDY

A grant from the Marsden Fund means that New Zealand will play a leading role in a large international study with the potential to discover new treatments for sufferers of Parkinson's disease.

James Parkinson termed the condition named after him as "the saddest of diseases". The hand tremors, slowness of movement, muscle stiffness and disturbed gait and speech mark the 8,000 older people in this country who suffer from Parkinson's disease.

But the discovery that the brain, like the skin, has the ability to sense temperature, has led to new research into the disease.

One section of the brain (the Substantia Nigra) has been found to have channels in cell membranes that open and close in response to very small changes of temperature near 37ºC. Flowing easily through these channels is calcium - which in high concentrations damages brain cells. The role of calcium-caused damage in Parkinson's disease is still being investigated. But it's possible that if the mechanism for controlling calcium flow in these channels is uncovered, it could also control the symptoms of Parkinson's.

Scientists from the University of Rome and Georgia State University will collaborate with University of Auckland researchers to see if not only the symptoms, but also the sadness of Parkinson's disease, can finally be a thing of the past.

Researchers: Professor Janusz Lipski, Division of Physiology, University of Auckland

Associates: Professor Nicola Mercuri, European Institute for Neuroscience and IRCCS, Rome, Italy Associate Professor Chun Jiang, Department of Biology, Georgia State University, USA

Funding: Year 1: $211,131 Year 2: $208,383 Year 3: $209,874

BRAINY SNAILS

Strokes are the third most common cause of death in New Zealand. Is the key to their prevention busy munching lettuce at the bottom of the garden?

University of Otago researcher Dr Paul Donohoe has made a remarkable discovery that snails have a unique ability. When their brain cells detect a drop in oxygen levels, the cells rapidly dial down their need for it. In contrast, our brain cells die.

Using a Marsden Fund grant, Dr Donohoe will research how the snail brain cells both sense the lack of oxygen and then alter the cell's behaviour to cope. Once these processes are understood, the principles may lead to the saving of lives.

The project is being funded by a Fast-Start grant, awarded to recently-graduated researchers.

Researcher: Dr Paul Donohoe Dept of Physiology, University of Otago

Funding: $50,000 a year for two years

IWI RESEARCH COLLABORATION BREAKS NEW GROUND Landscape transformation and human interaction in pre-1840 Bay of Islands.

An exciting new model of iwi-based research has been announced in this year's Marsden Fund grants.

Ngati Hine, the tangata whenua of the Bay of Islands, has successfully created the first iwi-based project to win money from the Fund. They will co-ordinate research, in partnership with a multi-disciplinary team from the Treaty of Waitangi Research Unit of Victoria University and the James Henare Maori Research Centre of the University of Auckland, on the ecological impact and human interaction that occurred in their area pre-1840.

Proposals must face stiff competition and rigorous evaluation in order to receive prestigous funding. The collective research seeks to background both Maori and Pakeha historic perspectives leading up to when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.

The Bay of Islands was landfall for many settlers, but little is recorded about the history from the arrival of Captain James Cook, in 1769, up to 1840. The research will collate the evidence of this interaction, including maps, charts, sketches, paintings and European texts, journals and papers and Ngati Hine/Ngapuhi information systems that convey knowledge through place names, in song, chant, dance, poetry, proverbs, oratory and whakapapa.

This pioneer project could provide a successful model for other iwi-based collaborative research in the future.

Researchers: Erima Henare, Whangarei,

Dr Geoff Park, Treaty of Waitangi Research Unit, Victoria University of Wellington Associates: Professor Brian Murton, Department of Geography, University of Hawaii Dr Richard Hill and Cathy Marr, Treaty of Waitangi Research Unit, Victoria University of Wellington Assoc Prof Richard Benton, James Henare Maori Research Centre, University of Auckland Pereme Porter Kene Te Uira Martin Iri Matenga Armstrong Paeata Clark Rose Daamen, Brooklyn, Wellington Pita Paraone, MP Kevin Prime MBE, Kawakawa, Northland

Te Putea Rangahau A Marsden: Year 1: $190,000 Year 2: $190,000 Year 3: $160,000

SWEET REPEAT OF FUNDING SUCCESS

Palmerston North researcher Carol Taylor has received her third Marsden grant in order to carry out ground-breaking research into the structure of proteins.

Less than 15% of the applications considered by the Fund make it through the rigorous selection process. Dr Taylor's third success builds on her previous work looking at the glue that mussels use to bind onto rocks, and the chemistry of collagens - the proteins of hair, nails and ligaments.

Continuing her protein research, Massey University's Dr Taylor will model what happens to proteins that are implicated in the aging process and those whose functions change when they bind to sugars.

Dr Taylor - who received the 2001 Easterfield Award from the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry for New Zealand's most outstanding young chemist, - receives $585,000 in funding.

Researcher: Dr Carol Taylor, Institute of Fundamental Science, Massey University (PN)

Funding $195,000 a year for three years


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