OSMS Postgraduate Symposium
Best Paper Award 2012
8 February 2012
Knapp, M; Horsburgh, A; Prost, S; Stanton, J; Buckley, H; Walter, R; Matisoo-Smith, E (2012): Complete mitochondrial genomes from the earliest New Zealanders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 109, 18350-18354.
This publication presents the first complete mitochondrial genomes from a human population in the Pacific at the time of the settlement of East Polynesia. The individuals that were sequenced represent the first known New Zealanders. The study therefore provides unprecedented insights into the genetic makeup of the earliest New Zealand settlers. It helps us understand the mechanisms of settlement and provides a glimpse into the health of early Polynesian voyagers. Furthermore the study is part of a major collaborative project between Rangitane iwi and the University of Otago.
The manuscript was submitted to PNAS because the journal is one of the most influential and prestigious science journals. It has an impact factor of 9.68 and reaches a wide, inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary audience. This paper has received international media attention, including TV, radio and print interviews. Professor Richard Blaikie described the paper as “a shining example that we can add to our repertoire to show how our research connects to the communities and outcomes of importance to New Zealand”. All authors are affiliated with the University of Otago and all, apart from Prof R Walter, are OSMS staff members.
Distinguished Research Support Awards 2012
8 February 2013
In every department in the OSMS there are individual staff members who are key to the functioning of that department and this year we are making two awards to two staff members who are essential cogs in their departmental wheel.
Dianne Galvin performs an absolutely essential service as the Financial Manager in Physiology and this service is critical to the research success of the Department. Dianne performs her tasks with unswerving dedication, an exemplary attention to detail and just the right mix of friendly support and firm decision making. As the Financial Manager she is responsible for administering all research grants (typically around 50 separate accounts representing approximately $15M in research contracts). Anyone who has ever been involved in any level of financial administration will realize just how complex this is. Dianne is particularly deserving of this award due to the extended length of her service, her unfailingly supportive and helpful attitude in the face of difficult situations and her meticulous attention to detail. These combine to provide the bedrock upon which research now thrives in the Department of Physiology. Dianne’s reputation extends beyond the department and she is a very well-respected member of the OSMS financial team.
Carol Dunstone is the Technical Manager in the Department of Anatomy and in this role has a wide range of jobs and responsibilities including the supervision of technical staff, oversight of purchasing and involvement in various departmental management committees. Carol is adept at identifying problems and providing solutions and in the last few years has been involved in the development of new research space, large equipment purchasing (e.g. LN generator, microscope), distribution of research funds. Carol performs all these tasks efficiently and reliably with a minimum of fuss. She has a reputation for ‘making things happen’ and has provided much invaluable support for the research groups in Anatomy.
Excellence in Postgraduate Supervision 2012
8 February 2013
Dr Gold is a relatively new staff member of the OSMS (appointed as a Research Fellow in 2009 and as a confirmation-path lecturer in 2011). It is very pleasing that she has so quickly established herself as a successful postgraduate supervisor in the area of prostate cancer research. Dr Gold’s students commented that she is enthusiastic, positive and motivating. She has an open-door policy and is very approachable and supportive and encourages her students to take an active part in planning experiments and developing their research. Students describe her as ‘very kind’ and noted that her ‘complete lack of selfishness’ is her most impressive quality as a supervisor.
Bruce Todd - Sustained Research Support 2012
8 February 2013
Bruce Todd has been with the Department of Microbiology & Immunology for 42 years and has provided consistent and excellent service during this time. For many years (no-one is quite sure how many) he has been the Senior Technical Officer. He is involved in almost all aspects of departmental life – from preparing material for undergraduate laboratories to fixing -80 degree freezers. His particular expertise is with equipment and he is involved in all aspects of this – from assisting the research committee with their decision-making to the purchase and installation of the equipment and from there (inevitably) to equipment repair and maintenance. Bruce manages a happy and productive team that services all aspects of the department from research to undergraduate teaching. He gets on well with a diverse range of people, resolves problems, is instrumental in ensuring new staff settle in, and is a genuinely nice person. The committee was convinced he should receive this award even before they read that he takes everyone on fishing trips!