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Fellowships support research

For immediate release

31 October 2019

Fellowships support research into skeletal storytelling, evolutionary analysis tools, heart muscle research and early markers of preterm births

Four researchers at the height of their careers have been awarded fellowships to undertake study or research in their field of endeavour for two years, recognising their sustained research excellence.

Professor Hallie Buckley MRSNZ, University of Otago, will analyse human skeletal remains from archaeological sites in early colonial mining and pastoral settlements in Otago. She will construct osteobiographies, which are someone's personal life history as told by their skeleton, to tell the stories of everyday people who built the foundations of New Zealand’s colonial society.

Professor Alexei Drummond FRSNZ, University of Auckland, will work to develop the next paradigm for scientific computing for complex biological problems through a radical upgrade and modification of the underlying algorithms and programming languages underpinning his software ‘BEAST’. His research will result in a major advance in computational methods and tools for evolutionary analysis.

Associate Professor Andrew Taberner, University of Auckland, will develop a cutting-edge device to study how living heart muscle cells carry out their function. This will include 3D bioprinting of isolated cells in a format that allows rapid testing of their properties. His aim is to develop a technology that could provide opportunities to develop new treatments for diseases affecting the heart.

Professor Mark Vickers, University of Auckland, aims to develop an effective non-invasive clinical blood test to predict preterm birth using microRNAs, which are small non-protein coding RNAs that play a multitude of roles in gene regulation, and may indicate future complications in pregnant women. Early identification of mothers at later risk of preterm birth allows for timely intervention strategies with benefits to both mother and child.

The James Cook Research Fellowships are awarded to researchers who have achieved national and international recognition in their area of scientific research. The fellowships allow them to concentrate on a major piece of research for two years without the additional burden of administrative and teaching duties. The funding package annually is $100,000 plus GST and up to $10,000 plus GST in relevant expenses. The fellowships are administered by the Royal Society Te Apārangi on behalf of the New Zealand Government.

Royal Society Te Apārangi President Professor Wendy Larner said the Society was pleased to award fellowships to these outstanding researchers who are recognised leaders in their respective fields. “We look forward to hearing what these talented researchers uncover with their research.”

More information on the fellowship recipients is available online.


ends

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