Major funding boost for Science at University of Auckland

02 November 2017

More than $8 million in new funding has been awarded to scientists at the University of Auckland for research across a diverse range of science projects, from answering questions on the origins of life to the vocal learning ability of birds.

Thirteen research projects across mathematics, computer science, cosmology, astrobiology, biological sciences, statistics, chemistry and psychology are funded with $8,778,000 from the Marsden Fund for 2017.

Dean of Science, Professor John Hosking, says the range and quality of research proposals that have received funding this year reflect the strength and calibre of science inquiry at the University.

“I am extremely pleased with this investment and the support it provides for the pioneering work that is being done within the faculty,” he says.

“I want to congratulate all those who have been successful in seeking funding this year.”

Three major projects approved for funding this year explore some of the most fundamental questions of science. In Physics, work led by Professor Richard Easther receives $956,584 to explore the behaviour and observable signatures of ultralight dark matter, a project focused on understanding the evolution of galaxies and theories of fundamental particle physics.

Professor Kathy Campbell receives funding of $958,080 to investigate hydrothermal deposits in the earliest-known hot springs at sites in Western Australia, South Africa, Patagonian Argentina and New Zealand to help solve one of the great questions of our existence: did life begin on land or in the sea?

Dr Matthew Egbert from the Faculty’s Department of Computer Science will investigate the role behaviour played in facilitating the very earliest stages of life’s evolution. He has been awarded a Marsden Fund grant of $300,000.

Two projects to receive funding this year are concerned with sound in relation to animals and animal conservation. Associate Professor Rachel Fewster from the Department of Statistics receives $719,776 for her work to build fully-automated acoustic analysis of species’ vocalisations to estimate population size and population trends.

Dr Kristal Cain from the School of Biological Sciences receives $300,000 to explore the vocal abilities of New Zealand wrens using newly developed acoustic tools and techniques to investigate whether the species are vocal learners. The work aims to answer questions about the evolutionary origins of vocal learning.

The annual Marsden grants are administered by the Royal Society Te Apārangi and allocated over three years.

Additional information:

University of Auckland celebrates $19.8 million in Marsden Fund awards

Marsden minds: Amazing projects revealed

For more information contact:

Anne Beston, Media Relations Adviser
University of Auckland
Tel: +64 9 923 3258
Mobile: + 64 (0) 21 970 089