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Future Scientists Of NZ Get Funding Boost

12 November 2008

Future Scientists Of New Zealand Get Funding Boost

Six top students from throughout New Zealand are the new beneficiaries of an environmental research scheme funded by Bayer New Zealand Ltd. The students, selected from among 45 entries, are from Auckland, Te Awamutu, Bay of Plenty, Taupo, Nelson and Otago.

The 2008 BAYERBoost environmental scholarship winners include three secondary school and three tertiary students who will receive funding to pursue research over a six to 12 week period, under the guidance of their nominated host organisations.

They will be working on a range of environmental research projects this summer from researching the impact of catering consumables used by a city council to investigating skinks and invertebrates. Three of the students will be undertaking projects involving local city councils, the results of which could have impacts for councils throughout New Zealand.

BAYERBoost, administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand in partnership with Bayer New Zealand, offers students a unique opportunity to be involved in hands-on research and to learn skills appropriate to their chosen fields of study through summer work projects.

This year’s successful students will receive between $3,000 and $6,000 grants, depending on their level of study.

Bayer spokesperson William Malpass says that as a research-based global company, Bayer has supported environmental and education initiatives for more than 100 years and supports a number of global projects aimed at increasing environmental awareness and improving knowledge of the environment among young people.


“New Zealanders like to be at the forefront of change and innovation, so it’s exciting to see so many of our young people dedicated to making improvements in our environment and protecting our natural resources. These young people are pushing the boundaries of what so many of us take for granted and they should be heralded for their passion and commitment. It is truly exciting to be part of that,” he says.

Through the partnership with the Royal Society, Bayer is contributing $120,000 over three years to the BAYERBoost scholarship scheme.

To be eligible for a BAYERBoost scholarship, students must be under the age of 24, enrolled in a New Zealand senior secondary school or undergraduate tertiary programme, and studying environmental sciences or related areas.

The 2008 BAYERBoost Environmental Scholarship winners:

Amy Holliday (20), Year 2 University of Auckland, Host: Motuihe Trust
Research: Investigate best location for placement of up to 12 artificial water facilities on Motuihe Island and monitor the activities of the birds thereafter
The first part of this project will be to investigate where the best locations are for the placement of up to 12 artificial water facilities. This will be achieved through a combination of efforts including aerial photographs and ground surveys, and consultation with the Motuihe Trust and Department of Conservation (DoC). These organisations have preferences for water trough placement that would attract and establish bird populations in certain areas. Half the water troughs will be placed in the forest interior while the other half will be placed on the forest margins for the comparison of the influence of different vegetative habitats on water trough usage.

The activities of the birds will be monitored at up to 12 water facility locations prior to their placement.

This will be followed by monitoring the presence and activities of birds at the same locations once the artificial water troughs have been put in place.
The results from the two periods of observations, before and after the water troughs are in place, will give an indication of the impacts of water availability to the behaviour of different native bird populations.

Courtney Devlin (18), Yr13 Te Awamutu College, Host: Waipa District Council
Research: Securing Biodiversity at a District Level
The project aims to identify, through contact with landowners, incentives that can be included in the Waipa District Plan to help secure and manage natural heritage sites and features on private land. The diverse and attractive landscapes of Waipa, comprising a rich mosaic of geological and ecological features within an agricultural landscape, make a very significant contribution to the Waipa District being a desirable place to live.

However, increasing demand for land to support agricultural production and to provide land for urban sub-division has substantially increased land prices. This has led to land being used more intensively and pressure on “marginal” land to become economically productive. Many wetland – swamps, soaks and bogs, remnant kahikatea stands, shrublands and lowland forest, are being lost, degraded and increasingly isolated as a result of land pressures.

Simon Hudson (19), Year 1 Bay of Plenty (BOP) Polytechnic, Host: BOP Polytechnic

Research: Understanding Bay of Plenty duneland invertebrates
The proposed project is part of a larger two-year project with an overall goal of increasing and promoting the understanding of BOP duneland invertebrates and discovering the impact that non-indigenous dune vegetation has on their conservation.

Simon’s objectives are to help in establishing baseline information of sand dune invertebrates and their habitats in the BOP region by taking an active role in setting and checking traps, characterising vegetation at the sites and working with volunteers over the summer.

His objectives include: paving the way for further studies of dune invertebrates and ecology in New Zealand; promoting dune invertebrates within the community; involving the community in the preservation of our precious coastal dunes; producing an educational booklet about dune invertebrates to be distributed; creating and erecting educational signs at the sites; and creating an insect reference collection to be held at the BOP Polytechnic.

Amanda Bierre (18), Yr13 Taupo-nui-a-Tia College, Taupo, Host: Taupo District Council
Research: Investigation into water usage and products of the Taupo District Council
To reduce its water usage the council needs to know how much water is being used within its buildings and public areas such as reserves, public facilities and other amenities. The council has many different buildings both within the CBD and around the district. This project will involve a series of audits of these sites. Different options to reduce water use will be drawn from these audits. The project will involve locating areas within council that use the most water and suggesting ways for them to reduce their usage.

Brittany Packer (17), Yr 12 Nelson College for Girls, Host: Cawthron Institute
Research: Impact of catering consumables
Brittany’s objective is to develop an understanding of the full life-cycle impact of catering consumables, paper cups, cutlery, etc, at public events held in Nelson. She will work with the Nelson City Council to look at ways of measuring the impact of these items and analysis tools will be developed to measure the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint on products. This, in combination with the effect of waste schemes in the Nelson area, will help Brittany to compare different catering products. It will also be important to account for the cost of these products, and how easily accessible they are to council. Brittany will be looking at the triple bottom line effect of an aspect of waste associated with council activities, such as events, that can be managed in Nelson. Her methods and results can then be shared with other councils around New Zealand.

Amanda Chamberlain (21), Year 3 University of Otago, Host: Otago University Zoology Dept
Research: Investigation into birth in the live bearing McCann’s skink
Amanda’s aim is to aid captive management efforts of threatened and endangered skinks. She will provide the first detailed records of parturition (childbirth) in NZ lizards, and this data will be used to provide guidance for conservation and captive management of other New Zealand lizards. Her research will include establishing the vulnerability of offspring immediately following birth, especially to infanticide; determining the extent of interaction between mother and offspring during birth; estimating the key factors involved in successful live births; and developing a tool for captive managers to identify when parturition is imminent.
Video footage of parturition and mother/offspring interaction of 39 mothers taken by Amanda during summer 2007/08 will provide the basis for this research. The sample size is greater than that of any previous study of this kind worldwide.

For more information see http://www.rsnz.org/education/bayerboost/ or
http://www.bayerboost.co.nz/about.html

BACKGROUND

Bayer: Science For A Better Life

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. The company’s products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time Bayer creates value through innovation, growth and improved earning power.

The Group is committed to the principles of sustainable development and acknowledges and accepts its role as a socially and ethically responsible “corporate citizen”. Economy, ecology and social responsibility are corporate policy objectives of equal rank. In fiscal 2007, Bayer employed 106,200 people and had sales of €32.4 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to €1.9 billion, the R&D budget to €2.6 billion. Form more information visit www.bayer.com

About the Royal Society of New Zealand

The Royal Society of New Zealand is an independent, non-government organisation with the objective of advancing and promoting science and technology. It is the Academy of Sciences for New Zealand and has a membership of more than 1500 individual scientists and technologists as well as about 50 constituent organisations.

The Society promotes science and technology through various channels including education programmes for primary and secondary school students and teachers and the provision of advice to government to promote evidence-based policy. The Society also administers government research funds (for research of excellence in New Zealand as well as international collaborations).
For more information visit www.royalsociety.org.nz/

ENDS

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