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Victoria University researchers scoop prestigious awards

Victoria University researchers scoop prestigious awards

Victoria University researchers have scooped three of this year’s Rutherford Discovery Fellowships.

The Rutherford Discovery Fellowships support New Zealand’s most talented early- to mid-career researchers by providing financial support of up to $200,000 per year over a five-year period to investigate a particular research topic, and help them further their career in New Zealand.

The three Victoria University researchers are Dr Nancy Bertler, for the Roosevelt Island Climate Evolution project, Dr Justin Hodgkiss, for a project to engineer solar cells that optimise light harvesting and energy conversion, and Dr Nicole Moreham, who will write a book setting out the protection of privacy in English private law.

Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says the Fellowship awards were a significant achievement for the researchers involved. “These awards, set up by the Government last year, will allow some of our best and brightest researchers achieve their potential to make an enormous contribution to New Zealand.

“We are pleased and proud that three of the ten Fellowships were awarded to Victoria University researchers. I am delighted to see those who have dedicated their career to discovery and world-leading research being supported and recognised in this way.”

The fellowships are administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand.

About Dr Nancy Bertler
Dr Nancy Bertler is jointly appointed by Victoria University and GNS Science, and leads the National Ice Core Programme and manages the New Zealand Ice Core Research Laboratory. Originally from Germany, Dr Bertler has led 11 science expeditions to Antarctica, studying the earth’s climate from ice cores from coastal regions of the cold continent, establishing ice core research as a new discipline in New Zealand.

Dr Bertler will lead as Chief Scientist the international Roosevelt Island Climate Evolution (RICE) project in Antarctica, leading a team of 16 scientists and engineers to the remote Antarctic Roosevelt Island to recover a 750 metre deep ice core. Information gained from the ice core will be interpreted to determine the stability of the Ross Ice Shelf and West Antarctica in a warming world, to predict future sea level rise.

About Dr Justin Hodgkiss
Dr Justin Hodgkiss is a lecturer in Physical Chemistry at Victoria University and a Principal Investigator in the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.

He is one of a number of scientists in New Zealand and overseas who are investigating an alternative option of making solar cells from polymers or plastic, in order to make solar energy a viable, low-cost solution, for instance in roofing materials.

Motivated by promise of abundant clean energy at low cost, Dr Hodgkiss is investigating an alternative option of making solar cells from polymers or plastic.

He will lead a research programme to develop and exploit advanced laser tools to understand the physics of photocurrent generation and guide the design of more effective solar materials. With the ability to see extremely fast processes using short laser pulses, his team will draw inspiration from natural photosynthesis to artificially engineer solar cells that optimise light harvesting and energy conversion.

About Dr Nicole Moreham
Dr Moreham is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Victoria University.

The past two decades have seen an explosion in technology, making it easier than ever to obtain, store and disseminate private material about a person against his or her wishes. The perennial tension between individual privacy rights and the media’s need to obtain and publish the news also continues to be negotiated. Dr Moreham asks how the law should respond to these, and other, privacy issues both in New Zealand and overseas. She is producing a book addressing four central questions: what is privacy, why is it worthy of protection, how is it currently protected in the law, and what further developments are needed to create a comprehensive, coherent legal privacy right which sits appropriately with competing interests?


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