Researchers receive career awards

Five up-and-coming University of Otago scholars, described as ''shining examples'' of academic talent, have been recognised through Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research.

Recipients of the university's latest annual early career awards are Dr Karen Brouneus, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies; Dr Lyndie Foster Page, dentistry; Dr Carla Meledandri, chemistry; Dr Virginia Toy, geology; and Dr Suetonia Palmer, of the Christchurch campus.

Their research spans the psychological aspects of peace-building, improving young people's oral health, developing nanoscale materials for nanomedicine, as well as structural geology and seismic processes, and improving kidney disease treatment.

Announcing the awards, the deputy vice-chancellor, research and enterprise, Prof Richard Blaikie said the five scholars were ''shining examples'' of the depth and breadth of talent among the university's up-and-coming researchers.

Their work was already creating ''new knowledge that underpins improvements in health, technology, social wellbeing and our understanding of environmental processes'' .

The five academics were well-placed to be among Otago's future research leaders, Prof Blaikie said.

Each award winner receives a $5000 grant to use for research and scholarly development, and becomes a member of the university's O-Zone group of early-to-mid career researchers.

Dr Brouneus is a recipient of Otago's New Supervisor of the Year Award and has a PhD from Uppsala University, Sweden. She has helped establish the New Zealand's first Peace and Conflict Studies Centre at Otago University, and now lectures there.

Dr Lyndie Foster Page is a senior lecturer in the Otago Faculty of Dentistry and her research covers a wide range of oral conditions and problems, particularly involving dental caries and young people's oral health.

A lecturer in chemistry, Dr Meledandri gained a PhD from Dublin City University in 2008, and her research focuses on the design and preparation of nanoscale materials, particularly for use in nanomedicine.

An Otago graduate, Dr Virginia Toy is a senior lecturer in geology who is extensively involved, both as a researcher and as a co-ordinator, in scientific drilling into active structures such as New Zealand's Alpine Fault. She co-ordinates the Deep Fault Drilling Project.

Dr Suetonia Palmer, an Otago graduate and kidney specialist at the university's Christchurch campus, won a prestigious L'Oreal Unesco For Women In Science Fellowship last year.

Her research translates new discoveries in kidney disease into usable information for patients, clinicians and policy-makers.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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