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EQC Allocates $3m To Country’s Top Scientists For Natural Hazards Research

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) is launching a revamped $3 million University Research Programme to support EQC’s aim of building New Zealand’s resilience to natural hazards.

From today, the programme will fund eight leading scientists at Auckland, Massey, Victoria, Canterbury and Otago universities for research into the impact of natural hazards on New Zealanders, and ways to reduce that impact.

Each research project will receive $125,000 a year for three years.

Dr Jo Horrocks, EQC Head of Resilience Strategy and Research, says that New Zealand is well known as one of the riskiest countries in the world from a natural hazards point of view. “But what we’re also known for is having some of the best natural hazards scientists in the world who are dedicated to understanding our natural hazard risks, and finding way for us to reduce the impact.

“Our University Research Programme funding helps these visionary scientists make further advances in each of their fields, which range from paleoseismology, geology and engineering to economics and applying Mātauranga Māori to disaster risk reduction.”

The eight successful applicants were selected by a high-calibre international assessment committee that included academics from several universities, as well as engineers, researchers and a local government chief executive.

Dr Horrocks says that while EQC has funded research in universities for many years, the new programme ties research more closely to EQC’s goals of stronger buildings, better land, resilient infrastructure and access to insurance.

“Over the past two years, we have reviewed how EQC can best contribute to New Zealand’s resilience, and how all parts of our annual $17 million investment in scientific research and data can make the biggest difference. These eight projects in the University Research Programme will deliver results that can be used by other scientists, and the wider community to continue to build a more resilient New Zealand.

Dr Horrocks says that as well as breaking new ground in research, each of the lead scientists are committed to developing New Zealand’s next generation of natural hazard scientists.

“Through the Programme, we will also be helping support more than 30 students at Masters and PhD level to develop their skills and knowledge under expert guidance. Our natural hazards will always be with us, so it’s important that we keep building world-class natural hazard science talent here in New Zealand.”

“I want to congratulate all the lead scientists and their teams on being part of the Programme. I am greatly looking forward to seeing the new knowledge they will deliver to New Zealand,” says Dr Horrocks.

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