News Archive - Biological Sciences - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

News Archive for Biological Sciences


NZ Ecological Society Award

Prof Jason Tylianakis has been honoured by the NZ Ecological Society who presented him with the Te Tohu Taiao award. This award "is presented annually to recognise individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the study and application of ecological science" in New Zealand.

Rugby impacts investigated

The impact of a game of rugby can lead to trauma similar to that seen in car accident victims. Assoc. Prof. Steve Gieseg explains the research to 3News.

2 PhD Scholarships - Rehabilitation and Restoration of Mining-Impacted streams

We welcome applications from high-calibre students to join a successful multi-disciplinary research team investigating important applied issues and the fundamental processes, to find solutions in mining landscapes. We are looking for students who can undertake innovative research that will both improve our understanding of fundamental issues in freshwater geochemistry and ecology, while also enhancing mine management practices in New Zealand. Applications closed.


Royal Society Fellowship

Prof David Schiel has been honoured with a Royal Society of New Zealand Fellowship. The Fellowships Honour and encourage outstanding achievement in the sciences, technologies and humanities.

Rutherford Discovery Fellowships

We welcome expressions of interest from potential Rutherford Discovery Fellowship applicants, further details. 

Nigerian forest research featured

Find out more about the history of the Biological Sciences' Nigerian Montane Forest Project by listening to an interview of Assoc. Prof. Hazel Chapman by Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand. Listen here via the RadioNZ website.

Bring back the moa?

Moa researcher Prof Richard Holdaway shares what it would take to return the giant birds from extinction on TVNZ's Breakfast show.

Infectious research in Antarctica

A team of researchers, including our Dr Arvind Varsani, funded by the National Science Foundation (USA) has reported finding a novel papillomavirus among the Adélie penguins on Ross Island. Read more about this work featured online in The Antarctic Sun.

Discovery through photography

UC botanists discover and name a new mistletoe species (read article).


  • Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (18 Oct) Congratulations to Prof Juliet Gerrard on being elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Being elected as a Fellow is an honour given to New Zealand's top researchers for showing exceptional distinction in research or in the advancement of science, technology or the humanities.
  • PhD Scholarship: Linking plant carbon input with changes in soil carbon storage in response to land-use change. (28 Sept)The research will investigate soil carbon dynamics in relation to soil management and land use change. Stipend 3 years @ NZ$25,000 p.a. (tax free) plus tuition fees and research costs. Scholarship details (PDF, 40kb)
  • Seminar: Evolution of vertebrate sex chromosomes and sex determining genes (11 Oct) Professor Jennifer A.  Marshall Graves, La Trobe Institute of Molecular Science.
  • PhD Scholarships (2)  – Plant nutritional physiology (3 May) We seek two PhD candidates to join a 3-year international research program to investigate environmental and internal regulators of forage pasture crop nitrogen uptake and utilisation. Applications close 25 May 2012.
  • Fellowship for renowned scientist (12 March 2012)
    Top biochemist Professor Juliet Gerrard has been appointed Industrial Research Limited's (IRL) second Industry and Outreach Fellow.
  •  UC academic appointed new Marsden Fund Council Chair (15 February 2012)
    University of Canterbury scientist Professor Juliet Gerrard has been appointed the new Chair of the Marsden Fund Council.


  • Silt chokes Christchurch rivers (25 Oct)
    UC freshwater biologist Jon Harding says the rivers could take decades to recover unless streams at the top of their catchments are urgently cleared of silt. Full article on

  • Biological Sciences Photo Competition (10 Oct) Entries are on display in the Edgar Stead Atrium, Dr Paul ProadyBiology Research building, from Friday 21 Oct.

  • Dr Paul Broady - UCSA Science Lecturer of the Year 2011 (19 Sept) Congratulations to Paul who has been awarded as the best science lecturer at the annual students' association LOTY awards.

  • Predicting the risk of failure in nature and business (15 Sept) Newly published research has found that the old adage "only the good die young" rings true when it comes to the nature of co-operative networks in the ecological and economic worlds.

  • Ant PoolePrestigious Rutherford Discovery Fellowship
    (8 Sept) Dr Anthony Poole has been awarded one of 10 Fellowships. He will use the fellowship to use a combination of computational and experimental approaches to test four specific hypotheses relating to the emergence of biological complexity with the aim of elucidating the mechanisms by which complex molecular and cellular systems evolve.

  • Teaching Award winner Jon HardingBiologist named one of NZ's top tertiary teachers (4 August) Freshwater ecologist Associate Professor Jon Harding has been recognised as one of New Zealand’s top tertiary teachers.


  • Dr Tammy Steeves

    University Teaching Award (15 July) Lecturer Dr Tammy Steeves has been presented with a University Teaching Award in acknowledgement of her outstanding teaching achievements.

  • 2012 Handbooks now available (6 Sept) Our degrees help prepare you for a career in biology across a wide range of areas. You will find our courses exciting, challenging, and at the cutting edge.
    Undergraduate Handbook 2012 (PDF 1.4 MB)
    Postgraduate Handbook 2012 (PDF 2.2 MB)

  • Summer Scholarship Projects (9 Aug) Bored of flipping burgers? How about getting paid $5000 to do research over the summer? Biological Sciences has 27 projects available for 300 level students. See UC Summer Scholarships website Applications closed
  • Forensic Biology Summer Course (21 July) An intensive, short course introducing you to techniques used by forensic scientists. Enrolments open October 2011.
  • DNAPhD Opportunity in RNA Bioinformatics (18 July) The candidate will be involved in analysing a wealth of data generated by new sequencing technologies. Applications closed
  • PhD Opportunity in Food Web Ecology (19 July) This project will determine how real-world plant-herbivore-parasitoid networks are assembled, flourish then decay. Applications closed

  • Food Web

    Major academic prize for top student (14 July)
    UC biology and psychology undergraduate student Sarah Bynevelt is the 2011 recipient of a major academic prize valued at $25,000.

    UC academic's contribution to NZ horticultural science recognised (12 Jul 2011)
     Biological Sciences Head of School Professor Paula Jameson has been made a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science for her "outstanding contribution to New Zealand horticultural Science".

  • UC forges closer connection with the "green heart of our city" (6 July) Research and education in botanical studies at the University of Canterbury has been enhanced by the signing of an agreement between the University’s School of Biological Sciences and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
  • Cooks PetrelMigration patterns linked to genetic differences in NZ seabirds (1 June)
    Conservation and evolutionary geneticist Dr Tammy Steeves is part of an international research collaboration that has revealed new information about migrating bird behaviour.
  • New viruses discovered in dragonflies (25 May) A Biological Sciences collaborative team of entomologists, virologists and plant biologists has discovered new viruses in dragonflies in the Kingdom of Tonga.
  • Viruses in dragonflies discovered in TongaAmazing navigational precision of humpback whales revealed (21 April)
    Dr Richard Holdaway is part of a UC team that has provided unprecedented insights into the spatial precision of whale migrations.

  • spiderSmelly feet prove irresistible to malaria mosquito predator (18 Feb)
    Biological Sciences researchers Dr Fiona Cross and Professor Robert Jackson have found that the East African spider that feeds on a notorious malaria-carrying mosquito is attracted to smelly human feet.

  • Professor Dave Kelly and Jenny LadleyStudy finds plant life affected by declining bird numbers (4 Feb)
    Researchers at the University of Canterbury and the University of Auckland are calling for stronger action to protect and increase native bird populations after finding proof that low bird numbers are causing a decline in plant life.
  • Seminar
    Regulation of GM Foods: Case Studies from New Zealand and India, Dr. Lou Gallagher  from the US FDA.
  • Dr Daniel StoufferWelcome to Dr Daniel Stouffer (5 April) Daniel joins our academic staff with a research focus upon the structure and properties of ecological networks, in particular food webs. His office is in Room 470 of von Haast.


  • Biologists receive new Rutherford Discovery Fellowships (11 Nov)
    Two UC Biological Sciences researchers are among the first recipients of a new government-funded scheme designed to support early to mid-career researchers. Also see: News release from the Royal Society of New Zealand
  • Kaki - Black StiltUC scientists dispel long-held fallacy about NZ black stilt (4 Nov)
    Scientists at the University of Canterbury have found evidence that one of the world’s rarest birds, the New Zealand black stilt or kakī, is a genetically distinct species and thus worthy of protection.
  • Vice-Chancellor General Staff Development Award (14 Dec)
    Congratulations to Manfred Ingerfeld, Microscopy Technician. The award will allow him to attend the New Zealand Microscopy Society Conference in Wellington as well as the associated workshops on High-Throughput Confocal Microscopy.
  • New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Conference success (29 Nov)
    The following prizes were awarded:
    • Dr Hamish Greig (now a postdoc at University of British Columbia) - best paper published by a student in the last year for: Greig, H. S. & Wissinger S. A. 2010 Reinforcing abiotic and biotic time constraints facilitate the broad distribution of a generalist with fixed traits Ecology 91: 836-846.
    • Teresa Burrell (MSc student) - SIL Trust Prize Best Masters or Honours Oral Presentation
    • Simon Howard (PhD student) - Department of Conservation prize for Best Conservation Oral Paper
  • Promotion success (29 Nov)
    Our heartiest congratulations to our staff who were successful in the 2010 promotions round: Angus McIntosh to Professor; Steven Gieseg to Associate Professor; Jason Tylianakis and Hazel Chapman to Senior Lecturer Above the Bar; Ximena Nelson, Chris Glover, Anthony Poole, Arvind Varsani and Tammy Steeves to Senior Lecturer; Progressions were successful for Juliet Gerrard, David Schiel and Jim BriskiePractical Taxonomy Field Course
  • Summer Field Course in Practical Taxonomy (26 Oct)
    An intensive, short course providing training in the collection, preparation, and identification of botanical specimens.
    The course is suitable for participants with various entry levels: from students with a limited plant knowledge to experienced career professionals.

  • John Key with tarantulaPrime Minister opens new Biological Sciences building (7 Oct)
    The Prime Minister Hon John Key has officially opened the University of Canterbury’s new Biological Sciences Research building - Pūtaiao Koiora.
  • Marsden Fund Success (24 Sept)
    Congratulations to Dr Ximena Nelson, Assoc Prof Jim Briskie, Dr Renwick Dobson and Dr Arvind Varsani on receiving their awards. The government-funded awards, administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand, are regarded as a hallmark of excellence, allowing New Zealand’s best researchers to explore their ideas.
  • New 300 Level Course for 2011
    We are excited to announce our BIOL 355 Neurons, Hormones and Behaviour which starts in Term 2.Fiona Cross
  • Spider's use of smell nothing to sniff at (11 Aug)
    A tiny East African jumping spider has proven to University of Canterbury researchers that it uses more than just its eight eyes to hunt prey and find a mate.
  • Visiting Erskine Fellow (23 Jul)
    We welcome Dr Kevin McGraw from Arizona State University. Kevins research spans the field of behavioural ecology, physiology, evolutionary biology and vertebrate zoology. He will be here until December.
  • Clean Sweep!
    Congratulations to Laura Domigan and Sara Kross, our PhD candidates, who won 1st and 2nd places at the CoS final of PhD in 3. Sara went on to win 2nd overall prize ($2k conference package) and Laura won the 'audience's choice' award at the UC finals. (26/27 May)
  • climatechangecoversmlDr. David Leung, of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury, contributed a chapter to a recently published textbook on climate change. Climate Change and Sustainable Development was published in March 2010

  • mortonNewly identified disease strain a potential threat to NZ parrots (22 March)
    New Zealand’s endangered parrots could be under further threat from a new genotype of a virulent disease that biologists at the University of Canterbury have recently helped identify.
  • Tough to be a boy (8 Feb)
    A research team based at the University of Canterbury has found that adult males were rare in the moa world.
  • Prestigious Fellowship for Spider Researcher (12 Jan)
    Dr Fiona Cross
    has been recognised as being among New Zealand’s brightest young scientists with the awarding of Postdoctoral Fellowships from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST).
  • Hot New Paper by Dr Jason TylianakisJason Tylianakis talks with  and answers a few questions about this month's New Hot Paper in the field of Environment/Ecology. (8 Jan 2010)
    Article Title: Global change and species interactions in terrestrial ecosystems
    Authors: Tylianakis, JM;Didham, RK;Bascompte, J;Wardle, DA
    Journal: ECOL LETT, Volume: 1, Issue: 12, Page: 1351-1363, Year: DEC 2008


Multi-million dollar boost for research centre (15 Dec) The Biomolecular Interaction Centre (BIC) has been selected to receive multi-million dollar, multi-year investment by the university in a bid to raise its international profile and allow it to become widely known as a world-class institution.

Prof Matthew TurnbullHonoured for outstanding contribution to science (24 Nov) Professor Matthew Turnbull received the Roger Slack Award from the New Zealand Society of Plant Biologists (NZSPB). The award is based on the merit of original published research, focused on one area, in the five years preceding the presentation of the award.

Black Robin BlogYoungster's winning flag design to fly in the Chatham Islands (11 Nov) A flag designed by Diamond Harbour School pupil Theo Fowler will fly over a hut on Rangatira Island in the Chathams this summer after the youngster won a competition run by the College of Science’s Outreach Programme. Follow the black robin researchers:

The Alluring Power of Blood in Spiders (28 Oct) What drives a jumping spider wild? A certain fragrance among members of the opposite sex, apparently, that is acquired by eating blood. Read the full New York Times Leigh Taitarticle on research by Dr Fiona Cross and Prof Robert Jackson.

Student scoops two prizes for marine algae research (9 Oct) PhD student Leigh Tait won not one, but two student prizes at the annual New Zealand Marine Sciences Society and Meteorological Society Joint Conference last month.

colour of lifeBiology students’ photographic talent put on show (9 Oct) National Geographiceat your heart out. Biologystudents at the University of Canterbury are showcasing a flair for nature photography to rival the pros.

Regional Health Research Body Chair (9 Oct) Dr Steven Gieseg hasbeen appointed the 2010 chair of the Health Research Society of Canterbury(HRSC).

Dr Steven GiesegEcology graduates achieve major research success (9 Oct) UC’s Freshwater Ecology Research Group is celebrating the latest in a string of successes for its graduates. Dr Michelle Greenwood postdoctoral fellowship by the Rutherford Foundation of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Dr Jon HardingFreshwater Stream Protocols Published (9 Oct) Stream Habitat AssessmentProtocols for wadeable rivers and streams in New Zealand, a guide and reference book which provides a suite of practical, cost-effective and standardised protocols for the assessment of physical habitat in New Zealand’s streams and rivers.

Funding Success (8 Oct)
Congratulations to Prof Jack Heinemann, Drs Arvind Varsani and Grant Pearce on their Marsden fund success. The awards are government funded and are administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the Marsden Fund Council.

Marine Ecology PositionsMarine Ecology Vacancies (2 Oct) Two PhD and one MSc Position are available in in Soft-Sediment Ecology in a new program entitled “After the outfall: recovery from eutrophication in degraded New Zealand estuaries

Erskine Fellow Assoc Professor Bridget Mabbutt (7 Sept)From Macquarie University, Sydney. Her areas of expertise are: structure and function of proteins; protein NMR; structural genomics of the bacterial mobile metagenome.

Erskine Fellow Professor Evan DeLucia (1 Sept) From University of Illinois. His areas of expertise are: physiological ecology of vascular plants; photosynthesis; plant architecture; stress; and climate change.

Blue Duck ResearchBlue duck research sets standards (28 August) PhD student Amy Whitehead was announced as runner-up in the MacDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year contest. Her research has boosted the chances of conservation workers pulling back the endangered native blue duck from the brink of extinction.

Dr Tammy SteevesExtinct seabird rediscovered in laboratory (12 August) World first rediscovery of an extinct bird using classical palaeontological data combined with ancient and modern DNA data. “In addition to reporting the rediscovery of an ‘extinct’ seabird taxon, our study highlights the need for a multidisciplinary approach when classifying both past and present diversity.”


Biology Photo Competition 2009Enter the School of Biological Sciences Photo Competition
(21 August) This year the theme is 'The Colour of Life'. The competition is open to all current UC Biology students, entries close 18 September. Prizes include scuba dive training with Awesome Scuba.

Stream Habitat Assessment ProtocolsStream Habitat Assessment Protocols published
(21 July) In response to an increasing need for better and more consistent tools to characterize and quantify stream habitats Dr Jon Harding et al have produced a guide outlining a set of practical, cost-effective and standardised protocols for the assessment of this habitat.

Estuary ResearchEstuary research receives $1 million in funding
(17 July) A Canterbury University-led research project has received almost $1 million in funding from the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST).

Post Doctoral Fellow in Freshwater Ecosystems
(1 July) A Post Doc position is available within the Freshwater Ecology Group to undertake research investigating the fundamental aspects of stream ecosystem functioning within agricultural and urban river networks.

Black RobinUC scientist takes school students on virtual field trip
(21 May) Secondary school students are being given a chance to visit a remote wildlife sanctuary and experience life as a scientist thanks to a virtual field trip following the work of Biological Sciences researcher Dr Melanie Massaro.

giesegBiochemist Dr Steven Gieseg (16 April) has been honoured for contributions made over more than a decade of research at the forefront of medical science.
Dr Gieseg was awarded the Blair-Curtius-Pfleiderer-Waschter Award for Pteridine Research at the 28th International Winter-Workshop on Clinical, Chemical and Biochemical Aspects of Pteridines .

gerrardTop appointment for Gerrard
(20 March) Biochemist Professor Juliet Gerrard has been appointed to the Marsden Fund Council. Professor Gerrard is one of three new members named today by the Minister for Research, Science and Technology Wayne Mapp.

Dr Hema NairRadiata pine researcher receives FRST fellowship (8 Sept) Dr Hema Nair was about to leave New Zealand for postdoctoral research when she received word that she had been granted a Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST) Postdoctoral Fellowship.

View Construction of the New Biology Building (30 May 2008) Preliminary work has begun in the carpark for the new 6 story research building. Completion of the building is due towards the end of 2angus_jon009.

Charitable foundation funds new Chair in Freshwater Ecology (18 Feb 2008) The Ashburton based Mackenzie Charitable Foundation has granted the University $1.3 million over five years into work in Freshwater Ecology.

Two PhD Scholarships in stream ecology available 2008-09 Available for research on topical and applied aspects of the ecology of urban and agricultural stream ecosystems. Applications close 15 September 08

Male bellbird singingResearch shows bellbirds able to outwit predators (9 June 2008) Research led by Dr Melanie Massaro and Dr Jim Briskie (Biological Sciences) showing that the New Zealand bellbird is capable of changing its nesting behaviour to protect itself from predators, may be good news for island birds around the world at risk of extinction.

Landmark volume a must-have for natural scientists (22 May 2008) Natural scientists throughout the country had better make some space on Natural History edstheir bookshelves as the expansive third edition of The Natural History of Canterbury is launched next week by Canterbury University Press.

Melt Your Pet Protein at BIC Symposium (13 June 2008) As part of a Biomolecular Interaction Centre (BIC) symposium participants are invited to bring along a protein to melt. Samples will be heated to investigate their stability at high temperatures with results returned the same day. Everyone welcome.

Angus UC biologist recognised as one of NZ's top teachers (13 June 2007) Ecology lecturer Associate Professor Angus McIntosh has been recognised as one of New Zealand's top tertiary teachers. Well done Angus.


wetaBUGZonline Digital Library Launched (13 December 2007) A 2 year project to create a full-text web based archive of the bibliography of New Zealand Terrestrial Invertebrates has been completed by a team led by Drs Raphael Didam and Steve Pawson. >>

Confocal Microscope (28 September 2007)
Our new Leica TCS SP5 confocal laser scanning microscope has arrived and is up and confocal at UCrunning. It was purchased in partnership with Crop & Food Research and the Biomolecular Interactions Centre. >>More information

Ecology Field Assistants Required (18 September 2007) We are looking for several motivated people to help with forest ecology research projects between November 07 and Feb 08. Not only will you gain valuable research experience but you will also receive a Summer Scholarship valued at $4000. A range of other casual jobs are also available.

A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Studying Moa Biology (2 August 2007)
PhD Scholarship
This project is part of a major research programme on the ecology and genetics of moa, supported by the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

SkullsMuseum Detective Podcast (9 March 2007)
Listen as technician Joanne Burke takes the Museum Detective on a behind the scenes look at the School's Zoological Collection. Topics include flesh-eating bugs, anatomically correct sexual poses and an academic with a hippopotamus in his office.

HemaCongratulations to All Graduands (27 April 2007)
The School wishes to congratulate all of its students graduating today. We wish you every success for your future. Keep in touch. >>UC Alumni Association


Duncan GreyThe Trouts Larder: A Colourful look at Trout Food (9 Oct 2006) PhD Student Duncan Gray has co-authored a full colour 150 page book that takes the reader on a tour of New Zealand with a twist, it investigates the range of creatures that are food for trout. A must have guide for trout fishers.

UCSA Best Lecturer Award (20 Sept 2006) Dr Paul Broady has been voted best lecturer in the College of Science by the undergraduate students. Well done Paul.
Marsden Fund success For Researchers (8 Sept 2006) Professor David Schiel, Associate Professor Matthew Turnbull and Adjunct Professor Richard Holdaway and their teams have been successful in gaining Marsden grants.

MattQEII Technicians' Study Award (8 Sept 2006) Digital Imaging and Photographic Technician Matt Walters has received a study award to investigate new practices in science communication at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and the University of Oxford. He will also use the trip to re-visit the montane forests of Nigeria with Dr Hazel Chapman.

Award for Research at International Conference (4 Sept 2006) PhD student Michelle Greenwood has been awarded the prize for the best oral presentation in basic research at the meeting of the North American Benthological Society, the first non-North American to win this award.

Scientific Imaging Competition Entries Online (21 August 2006) All entries submitted to the imaging competition Inside Outside Upside Down are now available for viewing. Page 1 | Page 2

Victoria MetcalfHat Trick For Antarctic Researcher (28 July 2006) Postdoctoral research fellow Dr Victoria Metcalf has continued in her winning ways. She has also been awarded a SCAR Fellowship (Scientific Committee of Antarctic Research) at the recent Open Science Meeting in Hobart.
SCAR Fellowships aim to strengthen international capacity and cooperation in Antarctic research. Five were awarded internationally this year.

Professor Bill DavisonHonorary degree surprises Antarctic fish specialist (11 July 2006) Goteborg University, Sweden, has conferred upon Professor Bill Davison the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa. The degree is in recognition of his unique knowledge of Antarctic fish physiology and ecology.

Thanks Bruce (19 Sept 2006) Glasshouse Assistant Mr Bruce Boon has decided to hang up his watering can after over 30 years of loyal service. We wish you well in your retirement.

Zonta Science Award for Role Model (14 June 2006) Postdoctoral research fellow Dr Victoria Metcalf has received national recognition as a female ambassador for science.
Prime Minister Helen Clark presented Dr Metcalf with the 2006 Zonta Science Award at a ceremony in the Grand Hall of Parliament Buildings, Wellington, on Tuesday evening.

Antarctic Science Bursary Victoria has also been awarded an Antarctic Science Bursary by the journal Antarctic Science . This international award is to support a promising young scientist engaged in Antarctic research.

Inside outside upside down (13 June 2006) School of Biological Sciences Scientific Imaging Competition
Congratulations to Mathieu Rapp, announced the overall winner with his dot drawings of the immture stages of the giant timber fly. Browse web gallery showing all entries.

Water Spiders Make a Big Splash (4 May 2006) A group of Burnside High School students have produced a winning video based on Dolomedes Aquaticus and the Work of Michelle Greenwood. Big Science Adventures challenged schools to make a video on an interesting science topic. The six winning teams will go on film-making field trips with some of the country's top scientists to be judged by Sir Edmond Hilary.

The Centre for Integrated Research on Biosafety (INBI) (1 March 2006) From March 2006, the New Zealand Institute of Gene Ecology will be known as the Centre for Integrated Research on Biosafety (INBI). This change reflects its growing maturity in the field of biosafety, and the changes in the field and to international practice since 2001 when the original Institute concept was established. The new name was chosen in order to better represent the transdisciplinary approach of the Centre, which employs both scientists and social scientists in collaborative biosafety research.

Evolutionary theory aids species conservation (16 January 2006) Two University of Canterbury biologists are part of a team whose evolutionary informed approach to conservation is aiding the recovery of New Zealand's critically endangered parrot, the kakapo.


EsmeAntarctic Fishing Frenzy (29 November 2005) Assoc Prof Bill Davison along with Dr Victoria Metcalf and student Esme Robinson are currently having a very successful fishing season in Antarctica. The research into temperature physiology of antarctic fish continues year round at UC with the aid of specially designed cold water aquaria. Photos of Bill and Esme below.

Prestigious UK scholarship win (2 November 2005 ) Ecology Honours student Robert Holdaway is one of four 2006 Woolf Fisher Scholarship recipients. Robert, who graduated at the end of 2004, is going to Cambridge University where he will investigate energy and carbon fluxes in forest communities. Well done Robert.

UC Postgraduate Conference Winners (2 Nov 2005 ) Biology students won both the best presentation and best poster prizes at the recent UC Postgrad Conference open to all Canterbury postgraduate students.Josekutty won with his presentation on the Conservation of Endangered, Nutritious Micronesian Bananas. Best poster went to Lily Chin.

Invitrogen Merit Award (7 October 2005) Invitrogen are generously sponsoring a new award for 4th year students in the School of Biological Sciences.

Biology Posters Judged the Best (29 Sept 2005) The College of Science and the Society of Science Poster Competition awards were dominated by Biology, taking out 3 of the 5 prizes including the top prize. Posters are on display in the Central Library. Winners were:
Overall best poster: Marc Thomas, Controlling butterfly bush
Best artistic display: Michal Sarfati, Insect phenology of Chionochloa
Best first poster: Anneke van den Brink, Sex on the beach

Students Win at Joint Conference (15 Sept 2005) The NZ Freshwater Sciences Society and NZ Ecological Society recently held a joint conference in Nelson (Ecology at the waters edge 2005). Two of our freshwater post grads picked up the 2 top student awards. Michelle Greenwood (PhD) won the best student oral presentation award, and Rebecca Eivers (MSc) won the best student poster award.

Lifetime Achiever Recognised (29 August 2005) Congratulations to Emeritus Prof George Knox who has been awarded a Lifetime Honorary Membership of INTECOL for his long service to the International Association for Ecology. George is one of the original founding members.

Student Predators - Its Just a Game! (22 July 2005) Dr Culum Brown has been awarded a Teaching Development Grant to produce a computer game to teach BIOL272 students about the anti-predator benefits of group living (safety in numbers, confusion and oddity effects) and optimal foraging theory. The game is called "Student Predators" and as you can guess the students make predatory decisions and the game tracks their behaviour and produces results for statistical analysis. The game teaches students about biological concepts and also fun.

Success at MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards (24 June 2005) Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Roger Dungan is the winner of the Environmental Sciences category prize at this year's MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards. He has also received a special commendation from the judging panel for the quality of his research. The research, titled Miniature Farmers on a Massive Scale investigates the sap-feeding, sooty-beech scale insect's ability to stimulate photosynthesis and compensate for carbon loss in native New Zealand beech forest. >>View Poster (pdf,200kb) >>University Chronicle Article (pdf, 400kb)

New Course: Science, Maori and Indigenous Knowledge (25 May 2005) This is an integrated multi-disciplinary course between the School of Maori and Indigenous Studies and the College of Science, studying Maori and other indigenous people's knowledge and its relevance to today's western science. The course runs in the second semester.

Nigerian Students Raise Funds for Field Station Library (13th May 2005) Junior High Senate and National Junior Honor Society students from the American International School in Lagos, Nigeria, joined together for a walk-a-thon to raise $5,300 towards books for the library of the brand new field station of the Nigerian Montane Forest Project. Dr Hazel Chapman is a firm believer that education is the key to the long term survival of these forests, and next year high school students from Lagos will spend a week in the field with MSc and PhD students from UC and Nigeria, learning about the forests and field research. >>Nigerian Montane Forest Project

Fish from the frozen continent can handle the heat (3 May 2005) Researchers, led by Associate Professor Bill Davison, using what they describe as a fish treadmill have found that fish accustomed to freezing Antarctic waters can thrive in warmer conditions, suggesting that some species may have a greater chance of surviving climate change than previously thought.

PhD Scholarship (22 April 2005) A PhD Scholarship is available from July 2005 for someone interested in working with a team studying techniques for preserving fish tissues following harvesting. The position would suit someone with experience in biochemistry and/or animal physiology. This position is sponsored by the Crown Research Institute, Crop and Food Research and while the person would be based in Christchurch they would be collaborating with scientists in C & FR’s Seafood and Marine Extracts group, based in Nelson. The research is expected to include work with living animals, and should not be considered food processing, though applicants with those skills might be suitable.

Vacancy - Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Genetics (21 April 2005) Applications are invited for the position of Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Genetics in the School of Biological Sciences. The School is seeking to make a tenured/continuing appointment in Genetics to enhance its research and teaching capacity in these areas.

Laura J Clad Memorial Scholarship Awarded (11 March 2004) MSc student Laura Young has been awarded the Laura J Clad Memorial Scholarship for 2005. The object of the scholarship is to help an outstanding student of environmental studies or related courses who shows potential to contribute to the preservation of ecology and the environment. Congratulations Laura

PhD scholarship opportunity (3 March 2005) Can amyloid fibril formation in heterogeneous protein mixtures be increased by specific deactivation of molecular chaperone proteins? Stipend: AU$20,000

Two for two against Australia (3 March 2005) A recent tour of Australia by a PhD student from the School of Biological Sciences, Mike Griffin, brought a stunning success rate. Mike entered his poster presentation at two conferences: the BioMolecular Dynamics and Interactions Symposium, coinciding with the opening of the Bio21 Institute in Melbourne; and the 30th Annual Lorne Conference on Protein Structure and Function, at Philip Island. He scooped the poster prize at each venue, arriving home several hundred dollars richer than he left and with the Australians smarting.
This is the second year in a row that the Gerrard lab has taken the poster prize at Lorne. Last year the award went to Dr Renwick Dobson.

FRST NZ Science and Technology Postdoctoral Fellowships (21 January 2005) Biological Sciences will host 2 of the 5 FRST NZ Science and Technology Postdoctoral Fellowships received by the university. The successful recipeints are Victoria Metcalf and Grant Pearce. “Through these fellowships the University of Canterbury will have the opportunity to employ top quality fellows to undertake research projects and act as role models for other students. It further increases the level of top researchers at Canterbury, ensures we retain our world-class Kiwi researchers and encourages our research graduates who are coming through.”


For He's a Jolly Good Fellow... (3 Dec 2004)A Royal Society James Cook Research Fellowship has been awarded to Professor Robert Jackson, the Fellowships are awarded to "forward thinking" researchers who will make a significant contribution to New Zealand's knowledge base. The Fellowships allow them to concentrate on their chosen research for two years. Royal Society press release (PDF 23kb)

University Research Medal Awarded to Prof Robert Jackson (5 November 2004)Professor Robert Jackson from the School of Biological Sciences is the 2004 winner of the University of Canterbury Research Medal. The medal is awarded annually For Excellence in Research and will be presented to Robert at the December graduation ceremony. Read Full Research Medal Announcement

Late Change Charges Late (16 December 2004) The Oh Bees Biology Team was placed down in the field at the end of the recent University Fun Run. This was due in part to the late charge of late entrant Ralph Bungard. The Team Nicki, Jenny, Neil, Matt W and Ralph finished 15 minutes ahead of their estimated time. Rumours of steroid use have been denied!

New Summer Field Course in Taxonomy (4 October 2004) BIOL 305, Practical Taxonomy for Field Biologists is an intensive, short summer course designed to meet the need for training in the collection, preparation and identification of biological material. It will be valuable for students who intend to seek employment in areas such as field ecology, conservation, biodiversity, and taxonomy or biosystematics. The venue for this course is the Mountain Biological Field Station situated at Cass, 105 km west of Christchurch in the mountains of the Waimakariri Basin, with ready access to a wide range of habitats and a huge diversity of plants and animals.

Biological Sciences very successful in Marsden Funding Round (13 September 2004) Our Marsden recipients were:"How does local adaptation maintain genetic diversity? Direct evidence for natural selection in wild populations" "When good molecules go bad: how common are paternal inheritance of mitochondria and mitochondrial recombination?" PI Neil Gemmell - AI Victoria Metcalf with K. McBride
"Evolving with feast and famine: the dynamics of tri-trophic mast-seeding food chains." PI Dave Kelly / Ecke Brockerhoff - AIs M. Turnbull, R. Pharis, O. Bjornstad and A Roques
Many congratulations to our successful Marsden Fund awardees!!

PhD Scholarship (13 August 2004) “Is the risk of consuming pesticides in food altered by food processing regimes?” A targeted PhD scholarship in conjunction with Syngenta Ltd, UK. The stipend is $25,000 per year plus fees.

“Learning coach” has been honoured at this year’s Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards (24 June 2004) Dr Juliet Gerrard was presented with the Sustained Excellence prize at a dinner last night in Parliament’s Grand Hall, hosted by the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey.

Professor Paula Jameson - Head of School (14 June 2004) Professor Jameson has BSc(Hons)and PhD degrees from Canterbury in plant physiology and has had a 24-year academic career at Otago and Massey universities. She became professor and head of department at Massey in 1994 and has published more than 75 refereed articles. Her professional service includes Cabinet appointments to the Independent Biotechnology Advisory Council and the Marsden Fund Committee and membership of the Biological Sciences Panel of the PBRF. She has served on the NZ Society of Plant Physiologists since 1982, chairing it in 1986 and 1987, and becoming a life member in 2002.

$2 million Research Project Spear-headed by graduate (2 June 2004) This year's budget contained good news for researchers in the School of Biological Sciences, who have secured a new four year research contract in a collaborative programme with Crop and Food Research. The research programme, 'Amyloid Fibrils in Bionanotechnology', will explore new ways to assemble proteins into biomaterials with a wide range of potential end uses. This research is a continuation of the reseach project of Sarah Waterhouse MSc (2003) who is now a research scientist with Crop and Food, based in the School of Biological Sciences.

PhD Scholarship - New modes of communication in ancient frogs (14 May 2004)How did frogs socially communicate prior to the evolution of bioacoustic signalling systems?

PhD Scholarship - Seed predators and biological control of weeds (12 May 2004) “Multi-targeting” of weed complexes: can more generalist biocontrol agents provide safe, efficient biological control of weeds?

To Cambridge via Panama (3 May 2004) PhD candidate Robert Ewers has been offered and accepted a research position in London. The post is a 4 year research fellowship that is funded by the Zoological Society of London, he will be based and do all his research with the Conservation Biology Group at Cambridge University. “For most of this time I will be modelling and predicting deforestation in tropical biodiversity hotspots with the goal of making specific predictions about when and where species extinctions will occur in the future. All I have to do now is attend to the minor matter of finishing a thesis. . . .” said Rob. Stop Press: He was also subsequently awarded a 12 month postdoc at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, which the ZSL has generously allowed him to take up before heading off to Cambridge. Well done Rob!

Professor Paula Jameson appointed new Head of School (April 2004) Currently a professor of plant biology at Massey University. Professor Jameson has BSc(Hons)and PhD degrees from Canterbury in plant physiology and has had a 24-year academic career at Otago and Massey universities. She became professor and head of department at Massey in 1994 and has published more than 75 refereed articles. Her professional service includes Cabinet appointments to the Independent Biotechnology Advisory Council and the Marsden Fund Committee, chairing the Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour panel, and membership of the Biological Sciences Panel of the PBRF. She has served on the NZ Society of Plant Physiologists since 1982, chairing it in 1986 and 1987, and becoming a life member in 2002.

Gene-ecology agreement circles the globe (3 March 2004) The Norwegian Institute of Gene Ecology (GenØk), based at the University of Tromsø, and the New Zealand Institute of Gene Ecology at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, signed an agreement with the United Nations Environment Programme to help poor countries build the infrastructure needed to test genetically modified organisms against environmental safety standards.


Prestigious Scholarship Awarded to Biochem Student (28 November 2003) Congratulations go to Jane Allison, BSc Hons in Biochemistry this year, who has been awarded the prestigious national Wolff Fischer Scholarship to Cambridge to do a PhD on protein structure. Well done, Jane.