Infrequently Asked Questions

Protecting the big fish in the sea

Lynley Hargreaves Nov 19, 2014

Dr Michael PlankThrow the small fish back, so they can grow and reproduce. So goes conventional scientific wisdom, as well as most of the world’s fishing regulations. But research – including Marsden-funded mathematical models by the University of Canterbury’s Michael Plank – is now showing that we should be catching more small fry, and letting the big fish go … Read More

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A pacemaker for the stomach

Lynley Hargreaves Nov 05, 2014

Dr Peng Du at the clinic in KentuckyAfter no solid food for 16 months, an elderly man in Louisville, Kentucky, ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A temporary pacemaker device fitted to his stomach had resuscitated the bioelectrical waves that govern digestion. Auckland University’s Dr Peng Du tells us from Kentucky how his Fast-Start Marsden grant can help … Read More

The low down on liquefaction

Lynley Hargreaves Oct 22, 2014

Dr Brendon Bradley Since the Canterbury earthquakes, most of us are familiar with the effects of liquefaction – sand volcanoes, sunken buildings, and vast, vast quantities of mud. But scientists still don’t fully understand the interactions between the deep soft soils of the Canterbury basin and the shaking seen on the ground. Canterbury University’s Dr Brendon Bradley explains how … Read More

Reshaping our race relations? A world history of Bluff

Lynley Hargreaves Oct 08, 2014

Dr Michael Stevens at the Bluff signpost to the world. In 1807 Napoleon closed Russian ports to British traders, starving the Royal Navy of crucial hemp and spar supplies. By 1813, attempts to find alternative sources had reached New Zealand – New South Wales merchants sent a ship to investigate flax growing in and near Bluff, and Māori methods … Read More

Moa and Maori dogs – lessons for modern ecological life

Lynley Hargreaves Sep 24, 2014

Dr Priscilla Wehi As a zoologist living within a Māori community, Dr Priscilla Wehi became interested in the ecological information contained in Māori oral tradition. When she discovered a potentially new approach to exploring ecology by dating ancestral sayings, or whakataukī, she and Hēmi Whaanga at the University of Waikato developed a group. Their work on whakataukī has created … Read More

Understanding evolution – the changing enzymes of E. coli

Lynley Hargreaves Sep 10, 2014

PhD candidate Katherine Donovan, who is using mass spectrometry to look at whether the evolved protein is changing its dynamics Making a bet at a conference led to a Marsden Fund research grant for Canterbury University’s Dr Ren Dobson. His team are now looking into how nature – in, to our eyes, an apparently haphazard way – manages … Read More

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Helping autistic children to speak

Lynley Hargreaves Aug 27, 2014

A child chooses icons to ‘speak’ with Professor Jeff Sigafoos When Victoria University’s Professor Jeff Sigafoos offered autistic children the chance to communicate in three ways, it perhaps wasn’t surprising that the kids did best with the system they liked the most. It was also unsurprising, maybe, that most of them liked the computer-based system the best. But what … Read More

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Early memories: future proofing for teenage wellbeing?

Lynley Hargreaves Aug 14, 2014

Professor Elaine Reese How much of their early life will your children remember? How coherent a life story can they tell? The University of Otago’s Professor Elaine Reese tells us how successive Marsden grants are helping her unravel the links between parent conversations and the way teenagers handle life – their wellbeing, their level of trust, and whether they … Read More

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Stick Insects: The Clone Wars

Lynley Hargreaves Jul 30, 2014

Spot the Clitarchus hookeri After the end of the last Ice Age, as forest replaced the tundra covering much of the South Island, a clone army of female-only stick insects advanced slowly across the land. Thousands of years later, they are still holding ground against the more efficient sexual population of the same species living in the north. Associate … Read More

Fluorescence, quantum dots – future solar cells

Lynley Hargreaves Jul 16, 2014

Plastic solar cells – which may start appearing on hardware store shelves in the next decade – do things a little differently from the silicon-based photovoltaic variety. They’re bendy, less efficient but getting steadily more so, and they also emit tiny bursts of fluorescent light. Dr Justin Hodgkiss, Senior Lecturer at Victoria University and Principal Investigator at the MacDiarmid … Read More

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