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Otago Innovation companies help winning scientist

23 June 2005

Otago Innovation companies help winning scientist

Sitting behind Jessica North’s win in the MacDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year award last night are two young Otago companies based at Otago University’s Centre for Innovation.

Jessica is working on her PhD under the supervision of Dr Russell Frew, senior lecturer in chemistry and Director of Iso-trace New Zealand Limited, a University owned company that is offering a range of services using its stable isotope technology. Jessica works as an environmental consultant for Iso-trace.

In her work for her PhD and at Iso-trace, Jessica is focusing on a technique to identify contamination in the environment from the toxic soup that accumulates at the base of landfills.

The technology she has developed has already been used in some commercial applications, through Iso-trace, and the Otago Regional Council may become one of the first regulatory authorities in the world to include isotopic fingerprinting as part of the monitoring required when resource consents are issued for landfills.

When Jessica decided to enter the MacDiarmid awards, she needed to develop a poster to explain her work.

For that she turned to the team at Straylight Studios, another company based in the Centre for Innovation, which offers a range of services including design, computer game development and web development.

“They did an amazing job, in a very short time, I developed the concept and they worked hard with me to transfer my research into a different medium. We developed a poster including the cartoon approach I’d decided to go for. Their artist and design team came up with wonderful work that simply explains a quite complicated piece of research,” Jessica says.

“My colleagues in Iso-trace have been fantastic especially Dr Rob Van Hale and Ken Neal who at times have been running analysis for me under tight time frames, their advice and help has been invaluable. Prof Warrick Silvester from Waikato has also been very generous with his time and support,” Jessica says.

Dr Frew says the co-operative approach to Jessica’s entry in the awards is a good example of the way the companies in the Centre for Innovation are designed to work.

“We’ve worked with Straylight before. The co-operative approach between the companies is what was foreseen when the Innovation Centre was set up. It’s great to be part of this approach and especially in supporting Jessica in her win of this prestigious award,” Dr Frew says.


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