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Critical Support For New Zealand’s Budding Researchers

Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall

Associate Minister of Research, Science and Innovation

Fellowships to attract and retain talented researchers in the early stages of their career, have been awarded to 30 New Zealanders, Associate Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today.

“I am pleased to congratulate these researchers, who will be receiving funding through the MBIE Science Whitinga Fellowship. They are some of our best and brightest early career researchers, and are invaluable to the science system. Throughout their careers, they will contribute to positive outcomes for New Zealand,” Ayesha Verrall said.

COVID-19 prompted the establishment of the Fellowship, as the pandemic has had widespread impacts across the science system; including on the research workforce. Travel restrictions have meant many researchers have been unable to gain overseas experience after completing their PhD.

In recognition of this, the Fellowship will help support researchers to grow and develop their research skills in New Zealand; providing them with much-needed certainty. Such investments are a vital part of the Government’s efforts to support New Zealand’s recovery from Covid-19.

The one-off fellowships, each worth $320,000 over two years, have been awarded for research undertaken in any field, including the humanities, mātauranga, and social science, at eligible New Zealand research institutions.

“This Fellowship is committed to diversity, as it’s vital for our Research, Science and Innovation system. Diversity ensures we capture the very best ideas and talent to support the highest quality research, which leads to better outcomes for New Zealanders. Māori and Pasifika researchers make up 40 percent of the Fellows receiving funding, while 60 percent of the Fellows are female. It’s great to see,” Ayesha Verrall said.


For the purpose of these fellowships, early career researchers are those who have completed their highest research qualification within the last four years.

To apply for the MBIE Science Whitinga Fellowship, individuals had to meet the following criteria:

· Applicants must be either New Zealand citizens, or permanent residents

· Applicants must have gained a PhD on or after 1 January 2017

· Applicants must be supported by a New Zealand-based research organisation, which can demonstrate it is capable and willing to provide appropriate support and facilities that will enable the applicant to succeed in their Fellowship

· Applicants must not be currently employed in a long term research position (excluding part-time positions)

Selection criteria took account of academic and research excellence, potential for career development, appropriateness of the proposed research programme, ability of the host organisation to supervise and support the applicant.

The full list of Fellows:

· Dr Sylvia Frain, (Auckland University of Technology), for research entitled: A Second Sun: The Legacies of Nuclear Imperialisms across Oceania.

· Dr Tui Matelau-Doherty, (Auckland University of Technology), for research entitled: The value of positive ethnic and national identities for Māori and Pacific people in New Zealand.

· Dr Reem Abbas, (Auckland University of Technology), for research entitled: Enhancing New Zealand’s Response and Resilience to Future Pandemics: Towards A Minimum Dataset for Health Disasters.

· Dr Greer Gilmer, (GNS Science), for research entitled: Southward migration of the westerly wind belt: What is the impact on South Island water resources?

· Dr Leon Salter, (Massey University), for research entitled: Examining the effects of the expansion of gig work on health and wellbeing in a post-pandemic economy.

· Dr Mahonri Owen, (Massey University), for research entitled: Semi-Autonomous Brain Controlled Interfaces to Overcome Physical and Nervous system Disorders.

· Dr Rebecca Fitzgerald, (Massey University), for research entitled: Forecasting volcanic ballistic projectile hazard from blue sky eruptions at touristic volcanoes.

· Dr Rebecca Campbell, (Plant & Food Research), for research entitled: High resolution epidemiological models for plant disease prediction and risk management in Aotearoa New Zealand.

· Dr Kris Taylor, (The University of Auckland), for research entitled: 'Boys Talk': Working with boys and young men towards the prevention of gender-based harassment and violence through a series of workshop interventions.

· Dr Jennifer Eom, (The University of Auckland), for research entitled: Dissecting the molecular and functional diversity of tumour associated fibroblasts in the tumour microenvironment.

· Dr Febelyn Reguyal, (The University of Auckland), for research entitled: NZ electric vehicles: Eco-friendly now, how about in the future?

· Dr Anna Forsyth, (The University of Auckland), for research entitled: Developing neuroimaging biomarkers of drug action for mental health medicines.

· Dr Jesse Wiki, (The University of Auckland), for research entitled: Developing a spatial microsimulation model for population health and health policy in Aotearoa New Zealand.

· Dr Moeata Keil, (The University of Auckland), for research entitled: ‘It takes a village’: Caring for children in Pacific post-separation families.

· Dr Siobhan Tu'akoi, (The University of Auckland), for research entitled: Co-designing a health promotion intervention for sustained rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease prevention in South Auckland Pacific communities.

· Dr Samantha Heath, (Unitec New Zealand), for research entitled: Fit for the future: Reimagining nurse preparation for practice in New Zealand’s changing demography.

· Dr James Hewett, (University of Canterbury), for research entitled: Deep vein thrombosis: getting to the heart of the problem.

· Dr Wei Teng, (University of Canterbury), for research entitled: In the Lay-reader’s Eyes - Reassurance of Translation Quality.

· Dr Amba Sepie, (University of Canterbury), for research entitled: Strategies for Decolonisation: Indigenous Knowledges and Regenerative Cultural Design.

· Dr Anne Marie Sohler, (University of Otago), for research entitled: A New Life at the Bottom of the World: Exploring the Embodied effects of Colonialism in 19th Century Pākehā and Chinese Migrants to New Zealand.

· Dr Xiaolin Cui, (University of Otago), for research entitled: Minimally invasive delivery of exosomes for myocardial infarction therapeutics.

· Dr M-Remy Muhsin, (University of Otago), for research entitled: Targeting Cryptosporidiosis with Novel Peptoid Therapeutics.

· Dr Paul Brown, (University of Waikato), for research entitled: Developing Accurate Preventative Crime Models that Reduce Systemic Biases.

· Dr Jessica Tupou, (Victoria University of Wellington), for research entitled: Culturally responsive early intervention for tamariki Māori with takiwātanga/autism.

· Dr Katharina Robichon, (Victoria University of Wellington), for research entitled: Towards personal medicine – Analysis of Receptor abundances in Multiple Sclerosis to determine treatment regime.

· Dr Tara McAllister, (Victoria University of Wellington), for research entitled: Transforming how we do science in Aotearoa with mātauranga Māori.

· Dr Juergen Oesterle, (Victoria University of Wellington), for research entitled: Using cosmogenic radionuclides and fission-track thermochronometry to benchmark human-enhanced erosion in a time of rapid climate change.

· Dr Matt Majic, (Victoria University of Wellington), for research entitled: Mean path length in optical billiards.

· Dr Samuel Crawley, (Victoria University of Wellington), for research entitled: Comparing public opinion on climate change in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia: belief and issue salience.

· Dr Julian Mackay, (Victoria University of Wellington), for research entitled: Chainmail: Holistic Specifications for Robust Programs.

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