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Hazard Planner Wins Zonta/Building Research Award

Media Release Embargoed until 28 May 2008


Natural Hazard Planner Wins Joint Zonta/Building Research Award

Lower Hutt scientist Wendy Saunders has been declared the winner of the 2008 Zonta Building Research Award. His Excellency the Governor-General of New Zealand, The Honourable Anand Satyanand PCNZM presented Wendy with her prestigious prize, at Government House last night.

The Zonta Building Research Award, which is presented biennially, is worth $75,000 and provides the means for a women scientist to become a PhD. Wendy is currently studying for a doctorate at Massey University.

Sue Hope, the Award Convenor says, "We look for an exceptional woman who not only contributes to science but also helps others in the wider community. Wendy is a worthy recipient who more than fills the Award criteria."

The Award, which was established in 2004, aims to encourage women to pursue a career in science and provides positive acknowledgement of the valuable contribution they make. Preference is given to studies applicable to the building and construction industry.

Wendy attended Hamilton High School before gaining a BSc and MSc in Social Sciences with first class honours from the University of Waikato, Hamilton. She now works at GNS Science in Lower Hutt as a Natural Hazard Planner with the Social Science team. Her PhD addresses natural hazard planning, linking this to innovative land use planning and natural hazard risk reduction.

Wendy enjoys an active lifestyle with a variety of activities, including swimming, running, mountain biking and cycling. She has set a personal challenge to complete one half marathon a year. In 2007 she completed the Taupo event and this year is heading to Christchurch to compete. Wendy is a keen musician, playing the flute and bassoon, and has produced a CD with the 'Kilkenny Cats'.

Dr John Duncan, the Levy Investment Manager at Building Research was pleased with the quality of applications for this year's Zonta/Building Research Award. He was equally impressed with the research topic and says, "This general area of hazard recognition and understanding the measures necessary to lessen the risks of injury and damage to people and property is an important one. The Government recognised this by specifically allocating additional funding to hazards management research in the budget last week. We expect that Wendy's work will allow better use of building control regimes to address the problems from flooding and the potential effects of tsunamis”.

Dr Duncan acknowledged Zonta's contribution and went on to say, "Building Research is now investing some $200,000 a year in scholarships and study awards to meet the needs of the building and construction sector. We are proud to be a sponsorship partner with the Zonta Club of Wellington. Helping students like Wendy complete their studies is an investment in the next generation of New Zealand scientists. We congratulate Wendy and look forward to following her progress."

ENDS


Background

Previous Zonta Building Research Award Winners:

• 2004 Helen Greenep, inaugural winner of the Building Research award
• 2006 Caroline Shorter, researching the levels and characteristics of fungi (moulds) that influence air quality in New Zealand homes.

Zonta International

Zonta is an international organization of executive and professional women working together to advance the status of women. There are over 33,000 members in 1,242 clubs in 68 countries around the world.

Zonta International Holds consultative status with United Nations’ agencies – UNICEF, UNESCO, ECOSOC – and has permanent observers at the UN in New York, Paris and Geneva. It undertakes international funding projects to which all clubs throughout the world contribute. For example the Amelia Earhart Scholarship is awarded annually to 15 postgraduate students to pursue work in the aerospace science.

Over one million dollars has been contributed to the United Nations Unifem Fund to aid the economic development of women in ten of the world’s poorest nations. In addition, the fund-raising activities of local clubs support local organizations.

The Zonta Club of Wellington is one of 29 clubs in New Zealand. The original Zonta Science Award was initiated by the Wellington Club to fulfil one of Zonta’s main objectives, to improve the economic, legal and political status of women. Visit our website at http://www.zonta.org.nz


ENDS

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