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Science rapping alumnus an idol to NZ kids

Volume 18, Number 3, August 2012

Science rapping alumnus an idol to NZ kids

Recent American Fulbright alumnus Tom McFadden undertook an extensive tour of New Zealand primary, intermediate and secondary schools in May and June to promote the Science Idol competition, an initiative he developed as part of the 2012 New Zealand International Science Festival to engage young people in science through the creation of songs and music videos on scientific topics.

Tom came to New Zealand as a 2011 Fulbright US Graduate Student to study science communication at the University of Otago, where he is still completing his two year Master’s degree. He has a particular interest in popularising science with students in the digital age, which builds on his own underground YouTube fame as a “science rapper” under the pseudonym The Rhymebosome. | read the full story online

Grantee Voice: Jessica Hinojosa – Living big dreams in New Zealand

Jessica Hinojosa
Jessica Hinojosa from Dallas, Texas is mid-way through her Fulbright exchange year in New Zealand, on which she is conducting a paleoclimatalogical analysis into the Roaring Forties winds, at the University of Otago. Jessica recently transferred from a Master’s to PhD programme, extending her planned stay in New Zealand to several years.

In recent years I’ve seen a certain criticism of my generation pop up again and again: we feel entitled to a career in which we are totally happy and satisfied, which is idealistic and perhaps unrealistic. I had a conversation with older members of my family where they remarked that for them, putting in hours at work was just something you did to provide for your family, and fun was reserved for time at home and vacations. I understand that many jobs that keep the world running are not glamorous – we need janitors and jail wardens as much as we need graphic designers and venture capitalists, if not more. But I won’t fault my generation for being dreamers. In fact, it’s that spirit of achievement that I credit for bringing me to where I am today, both in terms of my career path and my Fulbright award. | read the full story online

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Alumni Voice: Douglas Pratt – The persistence and problem of religion

Douglas Pratt
Fulbright alumnus Douglas Pratt from the University of Waikato was a 2010 Fulbright Visiting Scholar in New Zealand Studies at Georgetown University’s Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies in Washington, DC, where he researched religious pluralism and extremism, Christian-Muslim relations and interfaith dialogue, and taught a course on religious plurality and the problem of extremism. These themes were the focus of Douglas’s inaugural professorial lecture at the University of Waikato in May, and in October he will give Fulbright lectures on the same topic in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Your recent inaugural professorial lecture and upcoming Fulbright lectures are on the topic ‘The Persistence and Problem of Religion’. Is there any suggestion today of major religion(s) declining or dying out in New Zealand or elsewhere in the world?

No, quite the contrary. Certainly it is true that the census results in many countries, including New Zealand and Australia, show both an increase in individuals returning a ‘non-religious’ category, suggesting an overall decline in religious memberships. And for the most part there continues to be a fairly consistent decline in individuals identifying with the historically main religion of Christianity, at least in respect to many of its variant denominations. But for the most part these changes are recorded as percentages of the total population, not necessarily in terms of absolute numbers. Census data do not tell the whole story; even an adequate one. Such data may indicate an interesting sociological trend, but it tells us nothing about the vitality and so the persistence of either the religion or any of its variant expressions. | read the full story online


1.09Mb PDF

Also in this issue:
Grantees honoured at awards ceremony
Additional awards for US graduate students
Māori Scholars-in-Residence bound for US
Alumni Association update
A bequest is an investment in your country’s future
Arrivals and Departures

Grantee and Alumni News
Fulbright grantee Ghazaleh Golbakhsh (2011 NZ Graduate Student) had her short film Iran in Transit selected by public vote to screen in the 2012 Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival in June. Ghazaleh’s film was picked as winner of the “alternative competition”, judged by online voters on the festival’s website in advance of the event. As her prize Ghazaleh was flown to attend the film’s premiere screening at the festival in Tel Aviv from her current base in Los Angeles, where she is completing a Master of Fine Arts degree in film production at the University of Southern California. The biennial Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival is one of the largest and most important student film festivals in the world.
above: Glenda Anthony;
: Alice Te Punga Somerville

Several Fulbright alumni were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday and Diamond Jubilee Honours List in June. Peter Bergquist (1961 NZ Graduate Student) was appointed as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to science. David Ivory (2008 Study of the US Institute) was appointed as a Member of the same order for services to education and the community, and Glyn Harper (2010 NZ Research Scholar) was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to historical research.
Fulbright alumna Glenda Anthony (2011 Fulbright-Harkness NZ Fellow) is to help lead a substantial new research programme in mathematics education, funded by a $450,600 Teaching and Learning Research Initiative grant from the New Zealand Council of Education Research. The project aims to improve mathematics teaching methods and increase the number of students who engage with the subject. Glenda plans to build on teacher training reforms she observed during her exchange to the US, developing instructional activities to help teachers engage more effectively and ambitiously in the inquiry-based learning model.
Several Fulbright alumni were involved in the major Poetry Parnassus event in London in June, as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad in build-up to the Olympic Games. The largest poetry festival ever staged in the UK, the Poetry Parnassus aimed to bring together poets from all competing Olympic nations. Bill Manhire (1999 Visiting Professor in New Zealand Studies) represented New Zealand, Tusiata Avia (2005 Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency) represented Samoa and Selina Tusitala Marsh (1995 NZ Graduate Award) represented Tuvalu, each attending to read their poetry at the international event. Works from each poet were collected in the publication The World Record: International Voices from Poetry Parnassus (Bloodaxe Books), and recorded readings are available for free download at

Fulbright alumna Alice Te Punga Somerville (2000 NZ Graduate Award) published her first book, Once Were Pacific: Māori Connections to Oceania (University of Minnesota Press), in June. Launched at Waiwhetū Marae in Lower Hutt, the book explores how Māori and other Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand frame their connection to the ocean, to New Zealand and to each other through various creative works including in poetry, fiction, theatre, film and music. The book was researched and written with the support of a Marsden Fast Start grant.
Fulbright alumna Briar March (2009 NZ Graduate Student) returned to New Zealand in June, just in time to screen her new 20 minute documentary Smoke Songs in Auckland as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival in July. Briar completed the film about Navajo punk rock band Blackfire as part of her thesis work for a Master of Fine Arts degree in documentary film and video from Stanford University. She was delighted for the film to receive its first New Zealand screenings as part of the festival. To find out more about the film, which has screened at several US festivals and was a finalist for the 2012 Student Academy Awards, visit

In Memoriam
We are saddened by the recent passing of the following alumnus:
Michael Green (1970 NZ Graduate Student)

Important Dates
25 Fulbright Reflections: Te Moana – The Ocean
As part of a quarterly series of Fulbright alumni talks, three alumni – Peter Douglas, Joan Druett and David Wratt – share their personal stories of passion, inspiration and thought leadership in relation to the ocean.
3:00-4:30pm, Te Marae, 4th Floor, The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington
See for more information

Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy Seminars
This year’s six Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellows in Public Policy present the research they have conducted at host New Zealand government agencies. Fellows’ published policy reports will be launched at each seminar.
All seminars 12:30-1:30pm, Nau Mai Room, Ground Floor, Te Puni Kōkiri House, 143 Lambton Quay, Wellington
IPANZ members register online at; non-members RSVP to

See for more information
20 Caroline Park – New Zealand Marine Fisheries: Devolution, Self-Governance and Other Service Delivery Models
21 David Vannier – Primary and Secondary School Science Education in Aotearoa New Zealand: Policies and Practices for a Better Future
22 Cornelia Weiss – Respecting Human Rights and the Rule of Law: The New Zealand Defence Force
24 Bruce Vaughn – The United States and New Zealand: Perspectives on a Pacific Partnership
27 Craig Lebamoff – If You Trust Us, You Trust Us. New Zealand in the Post 9/11 World: Balancing Security and Privacy Rights the Kiwi Way
29 Christian Stearns – Rebuilding Sustainable Communities: Partnerships for Social Housing
17 Harkness Fellowships in Health Care Policy and Practice applications close
These awards, valued at up to US$107,000, are for promising New Zealand health policy researchers and practitioners to conduct a policy-orientated research project and work with leading health policy experts in the US for up to 12 months.
See for more information
1 Fulbright-Meg Everton Professional Enhancement Awards in Education applications close
These awards, valued at up to NZ$5,000, are for New Zealand teachers, principals and educational researchers in early childhood, primary or secondary education to undertake a professional development activity in the US for 12 to 90 days.
1 Fulbright US Graduate Awards applications close
These awards, valued at NZ$30,000 plus travel, are for promising US graduate students to undertake postgraduate study or research in any field at New Zealand institutions.
See for more information
1 Fulbright New Zealand Travel Awards applications close
These awards, valued at up to NZ$5,000, are for New Zealand academics, artists or professionals to visit the US for 12 to 90 days in order to present their work to American audiences.
See for more information
Fulbright-Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga Travel Awards in Indigenous Development applications close
These awards, valued at up to NZ$5,000, are for New Zealand academics, artists or professionals to visit the US for 12 to 90 days in order to present their work on a theme of indigenous development to American audiences.
See for more information
Fulbright Specialist Awards applications close
These awards, valued at up to NZ$8,400 plus travel, are for New Zealand academic institutions to host US academics, artists or professionals for two to six week programmes of lectures, seminars, workshops, conferences or symposiums.
See for more information

This electronic newsletter features only selected highlights of our full Fulbright Quarterly newsletter. The full newsletter can be downloaded in PDF format here:
Fulbright New Zealand Quarterly, August 2012 (1.09Mb PDF)


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