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Spying For Sharks, Caring For Kākā, And Burying Briefs – Community Research Projects Receive Funding

While Otago carefully begins to return to normal activity, eight newly funded community research project teams are also planning for their year ahead. From using 3D models to communicate about local climate change impacts in Queenstown Lakes District, to investigating soil health in North East Otago by monitoring the digestion rate of buried cotton underpants, this round of Otago Participatory Science Platform projects covers some diverse and interesting research topics. A full list of the projects funded can be found at

“Once again, the Otago Participatory Science Platform (PSP) Panel and Board were very impressed by the quality of applications received”, says Dr Claire Concannon, the programme coordinator for the Otago PSP at Otago Museum.

“This round has a good geographic spread of projects – communities across Otago will be involved in answering different research questions important to them. Projects are in the planning phase now and will be ready to start activities when it is safe to do so.”

The Otago PSP is managed by Otago Science Into Action – a collaborative partnership coordinated by Otago Museum and involving the University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and the NZ International Science Festival – with funding provided by the Minsitry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) under the Curious Minds initiative to engage more New Zealanders in science.

Since starting in 2015, the Otago PSP has funded 66 projects across the Otago region. Groups can apply for up to $20 000 to help answer their research question.

Laura Black, chair of the Otago PSP Board, says, “Past projects have significantly added to our collective knowledge and acheived some remarkable outcomes for their communities, so we are really pleased to support this new round of projects. I very much look forward to seeing the results of their research.”

While project funding is now allocated for 2020, seed funding of up to $2000 is available at any time to develop an idea into a research plan. Those with a research question that is of importance to their community, on any topic, can contact the PSP team to be connected with the scientists and the funding to develop it. Visit or email for more information.

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