University academics win Fulbright awards

Craig Rodger
Craig Rodger
Two senior University of Otago academics, Associate Prof Craig Rodger and Dr Sarah Young, have won Fulbright awards, enabling them to undertake research for about five months in the United States.

The Fulbright New Zealand Scholar Awards will enable Prof Rodger, a physicist, and Dr Young, who heads the Otago pathology department, to travel to the US to pursue their respective research interests, mainly in 2015.

Prof Rodger plans to study the loss of electrons from the Van Allen radiation belt into the atmosphere, at the University of Iowa, in the middle of next year.

He was also recently named as one of nine international space research leaders who will co-ordinate scientific projects for the Scientific Committee on Solar Terrestrial Physics over the next five years.

Prof Rodger was ''thrilled'' to receive the award, which provided about $25,000. He said he would be able to spend ''a whole lot of time'' with some of the world's top space scientists at Iowa University, which was deeply involved in Van Allen belt research.

Prof James Van Allen, who discovered the radiation belt which bears his name, was previously based at the American university.

Prof Rodger said it was also ''really nice'' to be following in the footsteps of the late and eminent New Zealand space scientist Dr Bill Pickering.

Dr Pickering, who had long headed Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, had earlier also received a Fulbright scholarship.

Sarah Young
Sarah Young
Dr Young said her award, involving about $30,000, would enable her to work with some of the world's top research scientists and to use ''the most amazing [research] technology'' in the United States.

Dr Young is going to Texas Children's Hospital Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to work on development of a vaccine and immune therapies for cancer.

Late this year she will initially travel to Texas, where she will undertake research with Prof Helen Heslop, a distinguished University of Otago medical graduate who is interim head of the Centre for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College.

She will undertake research at the Mayo Clinic on a separate visit later next year.

The Fulbright award, and other funding from Otago University, would also enable her to take her husband, Chris Scott, and their two children to the United States, she said.

- john.gibb@odt.co.nz