Shattered City, Struggling Science

By Michael Edmonds 22/08/2012

Quake damage in Canterbury is slowing down scientific research by Christchurch based researchers. With damage to research laboratories on the Christchurch Hospital site and the Hilgendorf science building closed at Lincoln University lab space is in short supply in Canterbury. The University of Canterbury is helping accommodate some of the overflow, while ESR has been able to accommodate some displaced researchers.

For those at tertiary institutions, laboratory space is only one issue staff have to deal with. The government seems to be giving little leeway in terms of institutions meeting their expected EFTS (Effective Full Time Students). The University of Canterbury has predicted, and is experiencing, a drop in student numbers. At CPIT, staff have been working hard to meet EFTS requirements in uncertain times, and are currently exceeding 92% of predicted EFTS, however, this has required extra work by many staff.

In the wake of the quakes in 2010 and 2011, tertiary and research institutions were innovative in adapting to the post quake environment, but many of the temporary changes are not sustainable – not without ongoing stress for researchers, particularly those who in addition to being displaced from work have also suffered significant damage to their homes.

New Zealand researchers are known for their ability to adapt and innovate and many have done so in Canterbury. However, until research facilities are revived throughout the region, research will not reach the levels it was at before the quakes. Hopefully tertiary organisations and the government will be giving the repair of these facilities the priority it deserves.

0 Responses to “Shattered City, Struggling Science”

  • V true Michael. Some of my colleagues from the Uni Otago Christchurch campus are located out at Lincoln, others in Canterbury Scientific, as well as Uni Canterbury (100% of the scientists of Uni Otago have been displaced!). We are all very grateful for the way our colleagues from other institutions have supported us.
    On the “repair” front our building with the labs in (the 8-story building in front of the hospital with “Research Saves Lives” painted on the large window) is on track to begin reoccupation later this year. Hopefully, we will all be in by Feb 2013. The Uni of Otago has also approved the building of a long awaited second building (with labs) – the eta for that is currently August 2016.
    I hear CPIT and Uni Canterbury are interested in joining us with facilities in the “health precinct” – that would be great, I hope the powers that be give the tertiary institutions first dibs at locations near the hospital because the teaching of students and research there is vital.

    • John, Yes it sounds like the new health precinct offers some excellent opportunities for collaborative research and sharing of facilities. I just hope it is given high priority (ahead of the new stadium at least). While I think research will slow in the short term, with appropriate/inspired investment new facilities should enhance research in the region.
      The supporting of varous institutions by other institutions has been one of the great things to come out of a disasterous situation. Lincoln University provided us with a building so that we could continue classes in semester 1 of last year, which was brilliant. I just wish we had the space to assist them now that the Hilgendorf is out of action.
      Good to hear the University of Otago, Christchurch is on track to reoccupy buildings later this year. Hopefully other institutions making good progress as well