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Auckland University Endows Seven New Chairs

21 October 2005

Auckland University Endows Seven New Chairs

Seven eminent researchers have recently gained chairs at The University of Auckland in recognition of their achievements in the fields of science, medicine and law.

The leading researchers, now recognised with the title Professor, are: Faculty of Science - Professors Scott Baker, Michael Walker and Jim Metson; Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences - Professors Bruce Arroll, Jill Cornish, and Peter Thorne; Faculty of Law - Professor David Williams.

The University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, congratulated the professors on their appointments.

"The chairs have been awarded in recognition of outstanding service and achievements in their chosen fields. Each of the professors has achieved distinction and contributed new knowledge in their areas of endeavour and research."

In the Faculty of Science Professor Baker has been recognised for his international standing in the fields of molecular ecology and evolution of marine species, particularly whales and dolphins. He has recently discovered a new species of beaked whale - the first mammalian species recognised primarily by genetic characters and the first new species of cetacean discovered in 15 years.

Professor Walker's research has primarily been focused on understanding the magnetic sense of animals. His work will potentially explain many of the navigational feats of animals such as trout and homing pigeons that travel long distances.

Professor Jim Metson's research interest focuses on the characteristics of surfaces and he leads a multi-university research programme looking to transform New Zealand's light metals industry. As well as being appointed to a chair, Professor Metson, who is the associate director of The University of Auckland's Light Metals Research Centre, also chairs the Government's recently established Research Infrastructure Advisory Group.

In the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Professor Bruce Arroll, who heads the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, is interested in trying to reduce the use of antibiotics in viral respiratory infections with a specific focus on the use of delayed prescriptions.

Professor Jill Cornish is a specialist in bone biology, and leads the laboratory-based research within the University's Bone Research Group. This group holds several international patents on factors that are potential treatments for osteoporosis. Current research includes the development of factors that increase the action of cells that form bone.

Professor Peter Thorne is a hearing scientist who heads the Section of Audiology and is co-leader of the Auditory Neuroscience Group. He has broad research interests in the causes and treatments of deafness, but particularly how the inner ear deteriorates with age and excessive noise exposure.

The seventh chair was awarded to Professor David Williams of The University of Auckland's Faculty of Law. A former Rhodes Scholar, Professor Williams built a reputation for actively encouraging indigenous community development and has established himself as a Treaty of Waitangi specialist.


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