Infrequently Asked Questions

Diabetes – the long road of discovery

Lynley Hargreaves Mar 08, 2015

Professor Frances Ashcroft Late one night in 1984, Frances Ashcroft found a key link between the blood sugar level in your body and insulin secretion. That discovery helped transform the lives of those with a rare inherited form of diabetes. The Oxford-based Royal Society Research Professor is in New Zealand this month, speaking about electricity in our cells, the … Read More

Student – cow trampling increases nitrate leaching

Lynley Hargreaves Feb 18, 2015

Kyle Roberston It’s 2015, the International Year of Soils, and eighteen-year-old Kyle Robertson has been doing his bit for New Zealand dirt. By squashing soil with a press and pouring fake cow pee on top, the former Palmerston North Boys’ High School student has modelled the effect of cow trampling on nitrate leaching, with some surprising results. He explains … Read More

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Future proofing our pastures against drought

Lynley Hargreaves Feb 11, 2015

Minushika Punchihewa New Zealand may have escaped another official declaration of drought, but climate-change forecasts make dry periods more likely. Good news, then, that a New Zealand high school student has helped improve the drought-resistance of future pastures. Former Palmerston North Girls’ High School student Minushika Punchihewa explains her Gold CREST research that ensures successful cross-breeding just by looking … Read More

Sediment success – our expanding mangrove forests

Lynley Hargreaves Jan 28, 2015

With World Wetland Day next Monday, celebrate the most successful of New Zealand wetland types – the mangrove. While we’ve lost 90 percent of our swamps and bogs, the area covered by our only salt water tree has been expanding, driving many bach owners and other recreational beach users crazy. The University of Waikato’s Associate Professor Karin Bryan and co-principal … Read More

At the beach? Meet global warming’s evil twin

Lynley Hargreaves Jan 15, 2015

Kina, or New Zealand sea urchin One third of our carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the world’s oceans, which increases the acidity of the water and affects marine life. The University of Auckland’s Associate Professor Mary Sewell looks into the impacts on kina, or the New Zealand sea urchin, and how their fertilisation, early development and metabolism change. Read More

Ask Facebook: how drunk were you last night?

Lynley Hargreaves Dec 31, 2014

Professor Antonia Lyons Feeling the after effects of a big New Years Eve? Then consider the role social media had to play. Massey University’s Professor Antonia Lyons and her team have studied young adults’ drinking and social media use. They found an airbrushed drinking culture with insidious alcohol marketing acting in ‘friend’ relationships. She explains why it matters that … Read More

Peacekeeping in the Pacific begins at home

Lynley Hargreaves Dec 17, 2014

Dr Steven RatuvaThe last decade in the Pacific has brought civil wars, riots, and a military coup. In coming years, regional stability is likely to be complicated by increasing interest from China. The University of Auckland’s Dr Steven Ratuva investigates the traditional, community-based ways of solving problems that are strongly adhered to still. Sometimes, these can be effective in … Read More

Using computers: your way is the slow way

Lynley Hargreaves Dec 03, 2014

Professor Andy Cockburn One of the mysteries of the modern age is why, when there are lots of ways to improve efficiency and productivity with computer-based systems, people don’t use the tools available. Sophisticated file search utilities, shortcut keys, and powerful commands are seldom used. Canterbury University’s Professor Andy Cockburn explains why most people trap themselves in ‘beginner mode’, … Read More

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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