List of UC Summer Research Scholarships 

(Art History and Theory - Economics and Finance)

Art History and Theory

Project # 68

Project title A History of SCAPE Public Art in Otautahi Christchurch

Project leader: Barbara Garrie and Warren Feeney

project description: 

SCAPE Public Art has been presenting public art projects in Otautahi Christchurch since 1998, and a new publication documenting the history of SCAPE is planned for publication in 2018. The book will outline SCAPE’s role in supporting public engagement with contemporary art in Christchurch, and in providing opportunities for artists to develop their practices. The summer scholarship project will engage a student to act as research assistant to the book’s editor. Key responsibilities in this role will include: archival work at the Christchurch Art Gallery Library; reviewing past SCAPE publications; and interviewing artists.

student requirements:

tudents with a background in either Art History or Fine Arts, particularly those with an interest in contemporary art practice, are sought to undertake this 10-week summer scholarship project. Applicants should be able to demonstrate strong research skills, and experiencing working in archives would be an advantage. Well-developed written and oral communication skills will also be required.

Biological Sciences

Project #5

Project title: Spatial Heterogeneity of House Mice in open habitats

Project leader: Dave Kelly

Project description:

Existing mouse tracking tunnel monitoring protocols used in forested habitats may not be optimal for monitoring mice in open habitats. We'd like to test habitat characteristics around tracking tunnels and investigate how patchiness of mice relates to habitat types on a micro and broader scale.

Existing tracking tunnel, trail camera and artificial egg data can be used as an index of mouse density. Habitat covariate data would need to be collected in the field.

 

Project # 69

Project title: Untangling the adaptive dynamics of ecological communities in changing environments

Project leader: Daniel Stouffer

project description:

Understanding the way different species interact with each other and the implications of these interactions for the dynamics of entire ecological communities is one of the central challenges in ecology. One way to study those communities is by characterizing them as networks, where the different species and their interactions are represented as nodes and the links connecting them, respectively. Over the last few decades, ecologists have observed that the shape of these networks can have crucial implications for the dynamic stability of the species forming them as well as help disentangle crucial information regarding the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms shaping the interactions. For example, it has been shown that ecological networks have multiple macroscopic properties that are common across environments, and some of these macroscopic properties seem to play key roles on helping ecological communities hold up to environmental variability or disturbances caused by invasive species and habitat fragmentation.

Despite the aforementioned advances, we are still searching for the best approach to understand changing ecological communities. This is because the way in which ecologists have been studying the dynamics of ecological networks is almost exclusively mediated by sophisticated mathematical models. Although these models can simulate the dynamics of a given community and potentially predict species extinctions, they rely on multiple ecological assumptions and simplifications that can severely compromise the ecological realism of the results. An alternative approach that has yet to be fully explored in ecology is to exhaustively compare multiple networks along ecological gradients or time series. By comparing networks within a changing environment, one can understand how the roles of different species evolve and change under different pressures, untangling a crucial aspect of the dynamics of ecological networks. In this summer project, we will use one such network-comparison technique— network alignment, a novel approach for comparing ecological networks—as a way to study ecological communities and shed light on their underlying dynamics. In particular, we will compare a large dataset of networks across a known ecological gradient and work to understand the mechanisms by which species adapt themselves and modify their ecological roles on a changing environment.

student requirements:

We seek an inquisitive, motivated student who is not afraid of computers, math, or statistics. At least some prior programming experience is required, and the student should list languages with which they have experience on their application. Most importantly, the students should be interested in pursuing research that uses theoretical approaches to answer fundamental ecological questions.

 

 

Project # 29

Project title: Can hydrogen act as a metaphoric life-line for thermophilic cells undergoing starvation?

Project leader: Matthew Stott

project description: 

This research project aims to determine whether thermophilic bacteria utilise atmospheric hydrogen gas during starvation when subjected to environmental conditions beyond their normal growth range.

It has been well established that the majority of microorganisms in soil are inactive and not growing. Recent research has demonstrated that representatives of common soil bacterial phyla utilise tropospheric concentrations of H2 to maintain vital cellular functions and cellular integrity [1,2]. However, these data have only been obtained from microbial isolates that are experiencing starvation under ideal environmental conditions (ie at the strains reported optimal nutritional, temperature and pH conditions). What is less understood is whether H2 consumption continues when the cells are subjected to environmental conditions that are not conducive to growth.

We have undertaken a series of environmental molecular survey of alpine desert soils in Tongariro National Park and found, despite the psychrophilic to mesophilic soil temperatures (0-20C), the soil is dominated with thermophilic bacterial amplicons. What is most intriguing about this result is that the soils are spatially distant from geothermal sources and raising the question about how these strains are surviving outside their know growth ranges.

We hypothesise that these thermophiles are consuming tropospheric H2 for the purpose of maintenance and survival in these non-conducive growth conditions. The summer studentship will investigate the rates of hydrogen consumption of three characterised thermophilic bacteria - representatives of which were detected in the Tongariro National Park. The bacterial strains will be incubated under conditions outside their normal growth range (low temperatures and/or low O2 tensions) and rates of H2 consumption quantified. Some genome analysis work, with reference to hydrogenase genes, may be undertaken.

These data will contribute to a broader effort to understand survival and growth under energy limiting conditions. We are aiming to generate a publication from this research.

REFERENCES

1. Greening C, Biswas A, Carere CR, Oakeshott JG, Russell RJ, Taylor MC, Stott MB, Cook GM, Morales SE. 2015. Genome and metagenome surveys of hydrogenase distribution reveal that microbial H2 metabolism is diverse, ancient, and ubiquitous. ISME J, 10(3): 761-777.
2. Greening C, Carere CR, Rushton-Green R, Harold L, Oakeshott JG, Russell RJ, Taylor MC, Morales SE, Stott MB*, Cook GM. 2015. Persistence of the dominant soil phylum Acidobacteria by atmospheric hydrogen scavenging. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA, 112(33): 10497-10502.

student requirements:

The student:
• Will ideally have Completed BIOL213 and/or BIOL313 Microbiology (or equivalent courses) and is keen to continuing taking microbiology undergraduate courses and/or 400 level microbiology courses.
• Is keen to gain experience laboratory-based research project
• Be willing to undertake research at GNS Science in Wairakei (near Taupo) over the (majority) of the duration of the scholarship
• Will be abide by GNS Sciences’ H&S requirements.
• Be willing and capable of undertaking geothermal field fieldwork.

 

 

Project # 30

Project title: Identification and characterisation of the microbial community involved in methane-promoted denitrification of oxic groundwaters

Project leader: Matthew Stott

project description: 

Denitrification does not occur in oxic groundwater and thus presents an issue in groundwater impacted by land use activities. Nitrate entering into groundwater from anthropogenic activities passes into groundwater and can be transported vast distances in oxic groundwater. Unless passing into an anoxic (anaerobic) environment, no reduction in nitrate levels occurs. There is a drive to reduce nitrate levels in drinking water sources, including groundwater. The proposed MAV (maximum acceptable value) for drinking water is 11.3 mg/L. Currently, many groundwater environments are close to this level. This may also only be the tip of the iceberg, as we are currently only seeing the impact of anthropogenic activity 30-40 years in the past. Since the 1990’s there has been an increase in intensification in farming and with that increases in application of nitrogen fertilisers occurred, meaning the issue of nitrate will only get worse.

There is the potential to drive denitrification in oxic groundwater environments by adding methane into the system. This has been shown to enhance denitrification in other environments, such as wastewater. A study is being undertaken at ESR to investigate the potential for dentrification to be driven by addition of methane into an oxic groundwater. The first step in this research is to undertake controlled laboratory experiments in a flume system. The flume has groundwater with nitrate passing through it. Into this system methane is added and the system monitored to identify if denitrification is occurring. We are monitoring the oxygen, nitrate and a proxy for methane levels throughout the flume.

We propose a summer scholarship aimed at identifying key species present in the flume and the changes that occur in the abundance and diversity over time after addition of methane into the flume. Samples will be taken at weekly intervals from positions within the flume, downstream and up stream of the methane injection point. Samples will be sent for sequencing and the dominant species present identified.

The outcome of this project will inform the bigger project on the microbial dynamics of oxic groundwater systems and the potential of these microbial systems to undertake denitrification. The ideal candidate will have knowledge of molecular biology and microbiology.

student requirements:

The student:
• Will ideally have Completed BIOL213 and/or BIOL313 Microbiology (or equivalent courses) and is keen to continuing taking microbiology undergraduate courses and/or 400 level microbiology courses.
• Is keen to gain experience laboratory-based research project
• Be willing to undertake research at UC (Biology) and the Upper Riccarton ESR campus.

 

 

Project # 39

Project title: Threats to sustainability of shellfish in the Avon- Heathcote Estuary/Ihutai

Project leader: Islay Marsden

project description: 

Following the removal of treated waste water from the Estuary and the reestablishment of sewerage infrastructure, environmental conditions are likely to improve. One aspiration of the Ecological Management Plan is to be able to resume safe shellfish harvesting some time in the future. Despite notices advising the public against gathering and eating shellfish, people are seen regularly digging in the mud and removing shellfish. Is this removal likely to affect the sustainability of the shellfish beds? This student research will evaluate the current shellfish resources and associated biota in two areas within the estuary including the area close to the causeway and towards the estuary mouth. The research will also include a recreational survey of estuary users similar to those we have used previously to determine how the mudflats are used by the public and the extent of shellfish harvesting. It will establish how people value the resources, including the shellfish and the extent that shellfish are being harvested at low tide. The values determined by the public in this survey will be compared with the natural values including the benthic biodiversity and the abundance and diversity of birds. Regular bird surveys will be taken over the summer recording the abundance of wading birds and their foraging behaviour on the shellfish beds. This study, which uses mixed methodologies is novel and would provide a baseline which can be used to measure future changes resulting from improved habitat quality.
The research from this study would be written up as a report for the Trust and the student expected to do an oral presentation.

student requirements:

Completed third year courses in marine science or geography including marine biology, physiology, ecology or ecophysiology.
Willingness to undertake field work outside of normal office hours to accommodate field work related to tides.
Good level of fitness
A clean drivers licence
Access to personal vehicle.
Valid first aid certificate.

 

Project # 41

Project title: Recovery of intertidal communities following the Kaikoura earthquakes

Project leader: Islay Marsden

project description: The magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake on 14th November 2016 resulted in various degrees of intertidal uplift along the coastline and significant loss of intertidal habitats. This research will determine the effects of earthquake disturbances on the zonation pattern on rocky outcrops on the Kaikoura Peninsula, which experienced up to 1m of uplift.  We will quantify the zonation patterns at selected rocky shore sites and compare these with pre-quake values. Some non-mobile species such as attached seaweeds and barnacles have been lost but mobile species may have moved and occupied new habitats. The research will examine the theory that those species which previously had the widest intertidal range are the most resilient to earthquake disturbances. There will be some laboratory physiological testing on key species.  Following the earthquake, significant areas of bare rock have become available for resettlement. This scholarship  research, which will be undertaken approximately 1 year post quake, will determine whether there has been significant recruitment of key organisms such as barnacles, limpets, crabs and topshells. It will also determine if selected seaweed and animal species have recovered. The marine intertidal communities on the Kaikoura have been disturbed less than areas of the coastline. They may therefore  be important in the recolonization of intertidal habitats to the north and south of Kaikoura which experienced 4-6m of uplift. This research is necessary because the quality of the habitat in the intertidal areas in the Kaikoura affects the subtidal environment and the sustainability of nearshore coastal fisheries.           

student requirements:

Completed third year courses in marine biology, physiology, ecology or ecophysiology
Willingness to undertake field work in Kaikoura outside of normal office hours to accommodate field work related to tides.
Good level of fitness
A clean drivers licence
Access to personal vehicle.
Valid first aid certificate.

 

Project # 16

Project title: Kea use of 'jungle gyms' to ameliorate kea/human interactions

Project leader: Ximena Nelson

project description: 

Human-wildlife conflict is an issue of growing concern to conservation biologists worldwide. With an estimated 3,000 - 7,000 animals left (Josh Kemp, DoC, pers. comm), kea (Nestor notabilis) are classified as being ‘Nationally Endangered’ by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (Robertson et al. 2013), yet, for many of the reasons that they are globally famous, kea are possibly New Zealand’s best example of a species that suffers from human-wildlife conflict.

Kea are famously clever, playful, bold, curious, opportunistic, and destructive (Huber & Gajdon 2006), and these attributes cause conflict with humans. Historically, high country farmers reported incidences of kea attacking sheep (Orr-Walker & Roberts 2009) and a bounty was instituted by the government to cull kea, leading to c. 150,000 birds being killed over a 100 year period (Temple 1996). Full protection under the Wildlife Act was afforded in 1986 (Seal et al.1991), yet conflict remains ongoing, as kea damage human property, disrupt work sites, steal food, etc. In return, kea face both deliberate and direct persecution, and indirect human-induced mortality, including vehicle strike and lead poisoning (Seal et al. 1991). Near the Homer tunnel on the road into Milford sound, this problem is particularly evident, as kea congregate at the entrance to the tunnel and tourists stop to interact with them, leading to a self-reinforcing cycle. Among other things, this causes traffic bottlenecks, the kea are fed anthropogenic foods - which often directly or indirectly leads to their death, and the proximity of moving vehicles puts kea at risk of being run over. In order to mitigate the problem, the Department of Conservation is trialling the placement of a kea ‘jungle gym’ near the tunnel, the aim of which is to keep kea away from the road while still allowing tourists to photograph the kea but not be physically interacting with them.

This project aims to determine how effective this jungle gym is, which will be assessed trough behavioural observation of both humans and kea – and their interactions. Video of both the tunnel and of the jungle gym location will be obtained from Downer construction for one week prior to the jungle gym placement in order to obtain baseline levels of kea and human activity in the two areas. This video will be compared with that obtained after jungle gym placement. Additionally, kea and human behaviour will be monitored through daily observations in the area over a period of up to four weeks. DOC Accommodation nearby will be available to the student. Data will then be collated and analysed to determine whether the jungle gym is successful at luring kea away from the road, and whether direct human-kea interactions (e.g., feeding) are reduced.

student requirements:

The student must have taken Animal Behaviour, and be knowledgeable about observation techniques and kea behaviour. Preference will be given to students with experience working with kea.

 

 

Project # 59

Project title: New Zealand native vegetation and the beneficial reuse of treated municipal wastewater

Project leaders: Brett Robinson, Matthew Turnbull, Paula Jameson

project description:

In New Zealand, the land application of Treated Municipal Wastewater (TMW) is the preferred option over discharge into waterways or the ocean, where it can exacerbate eutrophication and / or toxic algal blooms. The root-zones of plants remove nutrients contained in the TMW, kill pathogens, and break down or immobilise contaminants that would otherwise degrade water bodies. TMW can reduce or eliminate the need for mineral fertilisers such as superphosphate, which contain elevated concentrations of toxic cadmium, fluorine and uranium that can accumulate in soil. This project investigates the interactions between TMW and NZ native vegetation, with a view to growing valuable native products or the creation of zones of ecological value. The project will involve experimentation on a field plot in Duvauchelle, Banks Peninsula, where TMW is being irrigated onto 11 species of NZ native vegetation. The ideal candidate should enjoy fieldwork and have a passion for improving environmental outcomes in NZ. 

student requirements:

Background in either plant biology, chemistry, or environmental engineering. Current driver’s licence

 

Biomolecular Interaction Centre/School of Biological Sciences

Project # 36

Project title: Characterising the active site of nagA an enzyme critical for bacterial sialic acid catabolism.

Project leader: Ren Dobson

project description:During pathogenesis, methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) utilises sialic acid and N-acetylglucosamine as a food source.  The molecules are accessed from degraded human glycoproteins providing a nitrogen, carbon and energy.  Catabolism is mediated by the Nan and Nag enzymes, which ultimately produce fructose-6-phosphate that enters glycolysis.  N-acetylglucosamine-6-phosphate deacetylase, NagA, is a potential drug target for inhibition of MRSA infections.  Knockout studies indicate that deactivation not only prevents the catabolism pathway, but cellular regulation pathway prevents glucose being directed to cell wall synthesis, slowing growth and lowering resistance to methicillin.  This characterisation study will focus on the metal ion active site of NagA.  Comparative studies indicate that MRSA utilises a novel dual ion system, which has not been characterised elsewhere and also may present a potential feature for inhibitor targeting.  The project will begin with expression and purification of NagA protein.  The protein will then be used for protein crystallisation, differential scanning fluorimetry, analytical ultracentrifugation, and kinetics studies.

student requirements:

The project requires that the student have advanced biochemistry (at least equivalent to 3rd Year at UC) and some laboratory experience (e.g. BCHM381).

 

Project # 35

Project title:  The captain of the men of death: how does Streptococcus pneumoniae cope with hydrogen peroxide?

Project leaders: Ren Dobson (UC), Mark Hampton (University of Otago Christchurch)

project description:

One hundred years ago Streptococcus pneumoniae was branded the “captain of the men of death” due to its ability to cause pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis. It still kills over one million people per year, primarily children and the elderly. We are particularly interested in the ability of this bacterium to generate large amounts of hydrogen peroxide, which is thought to inhibit the growth of other bacterial species attempting to establish themselves in the same vicinity as S. pneumoniae. Human cells generate their own hydrogen peroxide as a signalling molecule, where it modulates a broad range of functions ranging from proliferation and differentiation through to regulated cell death pathways. S. pneumoniae does not have catalase, the main enzyme for detoxifying hydrogen peroxide, raising the question of how the bacterium survives. Two thiol peroxidases are proposed to provide protection, and would therefore be potential targets for novel antimicrobial compounds, but these proteins are poorly characterized. In this project, the student will begin examining the biochemical properties of the thiol peroxidases and assess their role in protecting S. pneumoniae from hydrogen peroxide. The project will be based at the Biomolecular Interaction Centre, UC, but in collaboration with Prof. Mark Hampton, University of Otago Christchurch."
Addition Information should read: "This application has been sent to the CMRF for funding consideration. This is a joint project with Prof. Hampton (UOC) who has applied for separate summer scholarship funding from the University of Otago for a student to be based at UOC. If successful, both students (the UC based and the UOC based) will be supervised together by Dobson and Hampton as a team to seed/build this project."

student requirements:

The project requires that the student have advanced biochemistry (at least equivalent to 3rd Year at UC) and some laboratory experience (e.g. BCHM381).

 

Project # 37

Project title: Characterising protein-protein interactions in complex solutions.

Project leaders: Ren Dobson and Dr Volker Nock

project description:

Biomolecular interactions of macromolecules are inherently difficult to characterise and measure, especially in complex solutions.  Emerging devices harnessing the unique physics of multi-stream microfluidic flow provide a promising platform technology for new analytical tools to study these interactions.  The aim of this project is to develop microfluidic devices for commercial problems.  However, we need first to understand the diffusional processes of macromolecules in microfluidicdevices

student requirements:

The project requires that the student have advanced biochemistry (at least equivalent to 3rd Year at UC) and some laboratory experience (e.g. BCHM381).

 

Chemical and Process Engineering

Project # 99

Project title: Investigating moisture content variations of freeze dried products

Project leader: Alfred Herritsch

project description:

This project is co-funded by Waitaki Biosciences, an innovative developer, manufacturer, and marketer of nutraceuticals, based in Christchurch.
A uniform final moisture content is important to allow further processing steps and/or to achieve the final product specifications. In this project, a near infrared spectrometer will be calibrated, its accuracy evaluated and tested during production. The aim is to develop efficient, repeatable experimental methods allowing the quick testing of freeze dried products.

student requirements:

Chemical and process engineering student or science student (Biochemistry, Chemistry, Physics) with experiences handling analytical equipment (NIR, preferred but not essential)

 

Project # 24 

Project title: Ultra-high temperature viscosity measurements

Project leader: Matthew Watson

project description: 

In this project the student will be working with a post-graduate student to measure the fluid properties (rheology) of molten slag at temperatures of between 1700 - 2000 K in a specially designed vertical tube furnace. The goal is to determine the effect

student requirements: 

All 3rd and 4th year science and completing engineering students will be considered, but I prefer the student to have taken courses on fluid mechanics/fluid dynamics or to have an understanding of rheological properties.

 

Project # 26

Project title: Ultra-high temperature electrolysis to produce titanium

Project leader: Matthew Watson

project description: 

In this project the student will work with a postgraduate student to operate the ultra-high temperature electrolytic cell at temperatures of up to 2000 K. Characterization of the oxidation state of the titanium state before and after electrolysis will be carried out.

student requirements:

3rd and 4th year science and completing engineering students will be considered. However, I prefer the student to have some basic knowledge of electrolysis and electrochemistry.

 

Project # 1

Project title: Domestic Production of Maple Syrup

Project leader: Matthew Watson

project description: 

The overarching goal of this project is to determine the feasibility of using the so called “plantation method” to commercially grow maple trees for the harvesting of maple sap and the production of maple syrup. This project will be building on 3 prior final year BE Honours projects: one looking at the overall economics of the proposed idea; one looking at potential locations in NZ where the plantation would be situated; one looking at the use of reverse osmosis as a means to concentrating the sugar in the maple sap.

The goal of this project is to develop working prototypes for the vacuum harvesting of maple sap from saplings, from connection to freshly coppiced limb to tubing network and interconnects, to vacuum system and pressure regulation. While there is some information in the literature on this, the technique is new and not fully commercialized and requires additional research and refinement.

student requirements: Engineering or science student with good grades and a can-do attitude

 

Project # 27 

Project title: 3D printing of ceramics

Project leader: Matthew Watson

project description: 

In this project, the student will be working alongside a postgraduate student to complete the construction and commissioning of an open-source ceramic 3D printer. Specifically, the software to drive the printer and the ink formulation and physical properties characterization of the ink formulations will be the focus of the project.

student requirements:

3rd and 4th year science and completing engineering students will be considered. Any experience writing Arduino Sketches will be particularly valuable for this project.

 

Chemistry 

Project # 82

Project title: Magnetic Spin Switching in Metal-organic Frameworks

Project leaders: Paul Kruger and Hayley Scott

project description:

Transition metal ions with 3d4 to 3d7 electronic configuration can exist in the high spin (HS) or low spin (LS) state depending on the ligand field strength. In strong fields the LS state is stabilised while in weak fields the HS state is stabilised. In intermediate fields the energy difference between the HS and LS states may be such that a minor external perturbation can cause a reversible change in spin state. This is known as spin crossover (SCO). This phenomenon is characterised by temperature-dependent changes in colour, structure and magnetism. SCO can be triggered by the variation in external stimuli such as temperature, light, or pressure leading to potential uses of SCO complexes as the active components in visual displays, memory devices and magneto-optical switches. SCO is best exemplified by Fe(II) complexes as they show the largest differences in structure between their HS and LS states. The d6 electron configuration of Fe(II) also leads to dramatic switching between paramagnetic (HS) and diamagnetic (LS) states. Most Fe(II) SCO research has focused on mononuclear complexes, however, recently higher nuclearity complexes have been reported to display interesting SCO behaviour. In this project we will incorporate SCO into Metal-Organic Framework (MOF’s) materials.
By virtue of their unprecedented surface areas that surpass those of zeolites and activated carbons, porous MOFs are widely regarded as promising materials for applications in catalysis, separations, gas storage, molecular recognition etc. However, in contrast to the traditional micro-porous materials, MOFs have the potential for flexible and rational design, through control of the architecture and functionalisation of the pores. In this way the modularity of an organic ligand (steric-electronic properties, chirality, size and functionalisation etc.) may be fused with the inherent physico-chemical properties of transition metals (colour, magnetism, catalysis, chemical and photo-reactivity etc.) to yield ‘smart’ hybrid compounds with manifold potential applications. Our aim is to produce new classes of porous materials, where it will be possible to translate molecular properties into the designed solids so that they may act as new platforms for potential use in catalysts, sensors, separations, enantio-selective processes, transformations, information storage, polymerisation, carbon dioxide sequestration, strategic gas storage, encapsulation, magnetic materials, luminescent materials, drug storage and delivery, nano-particle immobilisation, spin crossover materials….

student requirements:

We are seeking highly motivated students with great initiative. Academic standard comparable to a GPA 7-9 with a major in Chemistry and/or a related discipline. The successful student would need to have completed an advanced synthetic laboratory course (equivalent to CHEM281 or CHEM381) and/or have conducted an advanced research project within a synthetic chemistry laboratory.

 

Project # 2

Project title: In silico prediction of biological activity from fractionated cannabinoid extracts

Project leaders: Deborah Crittenden and Matthew Watson

project description: 

The aim of this project is to establish likely bioactivities of differently sized cannabinoids that are produced in medical marijuana. It is based upon developing the chemical processing technology required to separate out and characterize different mass fractions of active substances within cannabis oil, and performing in silico screening using computational methods that are also currently under development. These computational tools will be completed by the scheduled start time of this project.

student requirements:

BCHM/BCHM 300-L student

 

Project #45 

Project title: Undergraduate support for PhD projects in anti-cancer drug discovery

Project leader: Richard Hartshorn

project description: Two PhD students are currently working with Associate Professor Richard Hartshorn on projects aimed at developing new metal ion based anti-cancer drugs. Progress on these projects will be significantly enhanced if these PhD students have assistance in the preparation of synthetic intermediates required for the projects. The target intermediates will include both organic molecules and coordination compounds, thereby giving the summer scholar experience in both organic and inorganic reactions. The summer scholar will be involved in optimising and scaling up the reactions, checking for reproducibility of the synthetic routes, and gain experience with the instrumental methods used to characterise such molecules (e.g. NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, UV-visible and FTIR spectroscopy). 

student requirements:

Candidates should have completed CHEM 381 Advanced Synthetic Techniques

 

Project # 44

Project title: Modelling superphosphate production and investigating consequences of differential phosphate rock reactivity (2 Scholarships available)

Project leaders: Richard Hartshorn and Daniel Holland

project description: 

The Ravensdown fertiliser works at Hornby treats imported phosphate rock with sulfuric acid (manufactured on-site) to produce superphosphate fertiliser. Rocks from different sources have different intrinsic reactivities. This project will involve a systematic study of the effect of changing the relative amounts and timing of addition of different phosphate rocks. The purpose of this summer research project is to establish whether the results of detailed characterisation and reactivities of phosphate rock feedstocks (using benchtop model reactions), and their mixtures, can be correlated with plant performance, and possibly with results from a research pilot plant that may shortly be commissioned. Techniques to be applied may include X-ray powder diffraction (XPD), Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) spectroscopy, Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA), and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectometry (ICPMS). Data will be gathered on current phosphate rock shipments and some legacy samples. Studies of these kinds will also allow us to draw conclusions on the uniformity/homogeneity of phosphate rock shipments and to develop ideas for improving plant performance by using combinations of rock from different sources.

student requirements:

Students should have a background in either Chemistry or Chemical and Process Engineering

 Civil and Natural Resources Engineering

 

Project # 116

Project title: High-resolution topographic survey of Koukourārata/Port levy

Project leader:Matthew Hughes

project description: The community at Koukourārata/Port Levy is facing issues around economic development, sustainable water use, landscape and wider environmental management, all against the background of natural hazards and climate change. To begin to address research on these issues, high-resolution topographic models of the area need to be constructed. This project will use a fully autonomous quadcopter drone to capture high-resolution aerial photogrammetric imagery, and the data collected from this survey will generate a point cloud describing high-precision elevations of the ground surface, vegetation and structures. An interpolated digital elevation model of the area will be generated to support future hydrologic and terrain modelling. A research report of the data capture and analysis will also be produced.

student requirements:

Proficiency in: 

Microsoft Office products - Excel, Word, Powerpoint
ArcGIS software

Course Pre-requisite:
It is strongly recommend that applcants have completed GEOG208 Remote sensing for geospatial analysis.

 

Project # 115

Project title: Geospatial infrastructure assessment for disaster impact analysis

Project leader: Matthew Hughes

project description:

Collation, categorisation and geospatial analysis of infrastructure data are crucial for understanding disaster risk, and cascading impacts on society. This project will work with a local electricity company as part of a wider research team, to collate information and spatial data on disaster impacts on the electricity system, and begin to compile a detailed spatio-temporal damage and repairs database. Preliminary geospatial analyses correlating impacts with hazard footprints will also be conducted. A research report will be produced documenting the database development process and preliminary finding from geospatial analyses.

student requirements:

Proficiency in:
Microsoft Office Products - Excel, Word and Powerpoint
ArcGIS software

 

Project # 85

Project title:The Impact of Ventilation on Firefighter Safety in Residential Building Fires

Project leader: Charles Fleishmann

project description: 

According to the International Association of Fire Chiefs and National Fire Protection Association, today’s fires release energy quicker, reach flashover sooner, reach higher temperatures and are much more likely to become ventilation limited than fires of even a few years ago. These changes in the speed of fire development have increased the risk to the public and especially firefighters. With the ever increasing hazards that firefighters face every day, their tactics and training must continue to improve to help mitigate the risks. However, changes to tactics and training must be carefully considered, structural fires create a complex and continually changing environment. The actions taken by firefighters can have both positive and negative effects on the fire environment. The simple act of ventilating a building fire can clear the smoke making it easier to enter the building, rescue the occupants and find the fire. However, providing ventilation can also provide the oxygen the fire needs to grow and can lead to a rapidly developing fire that can injure or even kill firefighters. A lack of coordination on the fire ground can have disastrous consequences.

In the last decade, significant research has been conducted overseas particularly by National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Underwriters Laboratories. This research has increased our understanding of fire behaviour and the impact of specific actions taken by firefighters. Such research is changing the tactics and training for firefighters around the world. However, this research cannot be directly applied in other countries without careful consideration of firefighting operations and building practices. Fire and Emergency New Zealand, has been carefully monitoring the research in firefighting operations and has asked the UC Fire Engineering Group for assistance in evaluating the suitability of this research in New Zealand.

In this project, the student will conduct an evidence based review of the research on the effects of ventilation and flow path on the fire dynamics in residential scale buildings. This is part of the overall research titled: Structural Firefighting Tactics: Evidence Review and analysis of relevance to the NZ context. The research project is being led by Professor Fleischmann and will involve 5 researchers. Student will be responsible for attending weekly group meetings and reporting on their findings to the larger group. At the end of the summer, student will write a report that will include a bibliography of all recent research and summarizes their findings.

student requirements:

preference will be given to students who plan on enrolling in PG study in Fire.

 Preference given to students that are also volunteer firefighters

 

Project # 86

Project title: The Impact of Different Water Application Techniques on Residential Fires

Project leader: Charles Fleishmann

project description: 

According to the International Association of Fire Chiefs and National Fire Protection Association, today’s fires release energy quicker, reach flashover sooner, reach higher temperatures and are much more likely to become ventilation limited than fires of even a few years ago. These changes in the speed of fire development have increased the risk to the public and especially firefighters. With the ever increasing hazards that firefighters face every day, their tactics and training must continue to improve to help mitigate the risks. In addition to the increase in risk, there is also an increased awareness of firefighter health & safety needs and fire services all over the world as questioning the viability of interior firefighting tactics.

For decades firefighters have entered buildings to extinguish the fire. The long held belief that interior attacks reduce the damage and are safer for any occupant trapped inside is being questioned. In the last ten years, significant research has been conducted overseas particularly by National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Underwriters Laboratories. This research has increased our understanding of fire behaviour and the impact of specific actions taken by firefighters. Attacking the fire from outside the building was believed to more hazardous to the occupants and cause more damage because the fire can be “pushed” into other parts of the building. However, recent research has shown that exterior suppression may be more effective than previously believed and safer for firefighters. Recent research has shown that exterior attack can allow faster fire “knockdown” and may improve the survivability conditions inside a building.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand, has been carefully monitoring the research in firefighting operations and has asked the UC Fire Engineering Group for assistance in evaluating the suitability of this research in New Zealand. In this project, the student will conduct an evidence based review of the research on the effects of different water application techniques in residential scale buildings. This is part of the overall research titled: Structural Firefighting Tactics: Evidence Review and analysis of relevance to the NZ context. The research project is being led by Professor Fleischmann and will involve 5 researchers. Student will be responsible for attending weekly group meetings and reporting on their findings to the larger group. At the end of the summer, student will write a report that will include a bibliography of all recent research and summarizes their findings.

 

student requirements:

preference will be given to students who plan on enrolling in Postgraduate study in Fire.

Preference is also given to students that are volunteer firefighters

 

Communications Disorders

Project # 76

Project title: Communicating when speaking isn't possible anymore: a comparison of the usability of alternative communication devices in older people

Project leaders: Catherine Theys, Dean Sutherland and Megan McAuliffe

project description:

Background
When referred a client with a degenerative disease such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the speech language therapist (SLT) may want to advocate for the implementation of an Augmentative or Alternative Communication (AAC) device. These devices, either low tech (paper based) or high tech (computer based), can aid the person to communicate as the disease progresses. In clients such as those with ALS, eye movement may eventually become the only form of usable movement (Kent, 2012). While this may seem restricting for communication, there are a number of AAC options which could be suitable for a person with only eye movement. These can even be as simple as blinking versus winking to indicate yes/no. With the rise of technology, mobile devices, and human controlled computer solutions, many options for high tech AAC devices are being developed and marketed to patients and SLTs.

Statement of problem
The problem is, how does a SLT decide which is the best option for their client? A current study in UC’s Speech Lab addresses this question by comparing the usability of three AAC systems from low tech to high tech in healthy young participants. As older people (60+) may be less confident or require more training when using high-tech devices, the current project seeks to assess the usability of these same three systems in people aged over 60 years of age.

Research design / Methodology
The project will evaluate the differences between three AAC systems:
- an EyeLink board (low tech clear plastic board with letters) used with a communication partner.
- A computer keyboard accessed via an eye tracking camera.
- A brain computer interface consisting of EEG data controlling a matrix of letters via detection of P300 event-related potentials.

Five participants will be asked to attend six sessions of ~2 hours. The first three sessions will be training sessions, followed by three trial sessions. One AAC system will be used in each session, presented in a randomized order.

Research questions
- In the learning phase, which AAC system is the fastest to learn, most accurate, and rated as having the best usability and preference?
- In the trial phase, which AAC system provides the fastest, most accurate communication and is rated as having the best usability and preference?

Outcome
The results on speed of learning, usability and preference will enable us to judge relative strengths and weaknesses of each of the devices.

student requirements:

The student must have completed a neuroscience course (e.g., CMDS162) and must have a background in Communication Disorders (i.e., sound understanding of speech production, communication disorders and alternative means of communication).

 

 

Project # 83 

Project title: Controlling dose parameters for citric acid cough testing

Project leader: Phoebe Macrae

project description:

This project will assess the effects of various methodological variations on cough reflex testing (CRT). CRT is a method of assessing airway sensitivity, by using citric acid inhalation to irritate the larynx, thereby inducing a cough response. This provides an indication of how the airway will respond to food and fluid going down the wrong way, which is of concern following neurological injury. Various methodological variations exist in the literature for completing CRT. Many of these variations are adopted by previous studies without explanation or justification. In our recent research, we have noted large differences in participant cough reflex thresholds according to some of these parameters. This indicates that these methodological variants need controlling to ensure optimal participant inhalation.

The use of a dosimeter to ensure consistent citric acid output is a well-known control to ensure a consistent volume of citric acid is delivered to the participant. However, the breathing behaviour of a participant can influence factors such as inspiratory flow rate and nebulizer output, thereby influencing how much of the dosed citric acid reaches the participant. The method by which the citric acid is inhaled, via mouthpiece or facemask, also appears to heavily influence citric acid cough thresholds, indicating that one method may involve a more direct deposition to the airway structures.

This study proposes a systematic investigation of methodological variants of citric acid cough testing. The first variant will be the effect of inhalation method (mouthpiece vs facemask) on inspiratory flow rate. This will be achieved by measuring participant inspiratory flow during inhalation of saline solution using a facemask and a mouthpiece. The second variant will be the effect of inhalation method on nebulizer output and cough thresholds. This part will be achieved by having participants undergo citric acid cough reflex threshold testing, using a mouthpiece and a facemask. Each method will be separated by one week, to ensure thresholds are not influenced by the previous test. Participants will complete a maximum of 3 inhalations for each of 6 citric acid concentrations. After each inhalation, the nebulizer will be weighed to determine nebulizer output. The citric acid concentration at which the participant produces a cough on 2/3 presentations will be deemed their threshold.

Thresholds, nebulizer output, and inspiratory flow rate for the facemask will be compared with the mouthpiece to determine differences in participant inhalation of citric acid according to inhalation method.

student requirements:

CMDS 365 and CMDS 366

 

 

Project # 33

Project title:Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation for Swallowing Rehabilitation: A Systematic Review

Project leader: Maggie-Lee Huckabee

project description: 

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) involves delivery of an electrical current from surface electrodes into the muscles involved in swallowing with the presumed effect of improved safety and efficiency of swallowing. The efficacy of this treatment approach and indeed, the theoretical justification in terms of neurophysiological change, has long been disputed. Although NMES is heavily used overseas – driven by commercialisation – New Zealand has taken a more conservative approach. In 2007, Huckabee and Doeltgen, completed a systematic review on behalf of the New Zealand Speech Language Therapists Association (NZSTA). Based on this review, the use of NMES was considered not suitably substantiated through research with potential adverse effects not fully evaluated. Thus, its use was not sanctioned by this organisation for clinical use in New Zealand. Considerable research has been published in the ensuing 10 years and thus a second systematic review is warranted. This project will critically evaluate the literature relative to application of NMES in swallowing rehabilitation to provide a foundation for policy decision related to clinical service delivery.

A full systematic review will be conducted with identification of published research, then appraisal of that research based on Cochrane methods for systematic reviews. Review will include all research published in English and identified through usual health research databases as well as through review of reference lists of published articles. Review will encompass research that includes participants of all age levels and presenting all aetiologies. Level of evidence, quality and risk of bias will be analysed and reported. By the conclusion of the project, recommendations will be made to the NZSTA to either uphold the previous position or revise this statement accordingly. Students involved in this project will complete this work at the Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research with opportunities for exposure to other clinical research. They will refine skills in critical appraisal and systematic review without bias and will ultimately contribute to the development of practice patterns in New Zealand.

student requirements:

Students must have completed CMDS 366 and CMDS 367 and have motivation to complete post graduate studies in the area of swallowing and swallowing disorders.

 

Project # 77

Project title: Ultrasound assessment of swallowing

Project leader: Maggie-Lee Huckabee

project description: 

Swallowing impairment (dysphagia) represents a substantial health issue in New Zealand. Considering stroke alone, of approximately 9,000 new stroke events in New Zealand each year, up to 70% will present with dysphagia and up to 44% of those with dysphagia will have persisting swallowing impairment and aspiration in the post-acute phase. The scope of the disorder is compounded when one considers that dysphagia is a common symptom of a wide variety of medical conditions and affects individuals across the lifespan. Diagnosis of swallowing physiology – whether for clinical work or research – depends on instrumentation. The most commonly used instrumental method for swallowing assessment is the videofluoroscopic swallowing study (VFSS). It is often considered to be the ‘gold standard’ against which all other tools are evaluated. However, there are limitations of this technique in terms of measurement, availability and exposure to ionizing radiation that have not been resolved. Additionally, many health systems with high demands for radiographic imaging, availability of VFSS may be problematic for purposes of swallowing assessment and indeed, may not be available for some patients, such as those in intensive care units, isolation for infection control or chronic nursing facilities. Lack of availability is also exaggerated in countries such as New Zealand with many rural areas with few major healthcare centres. Identification and development of adjunctive methods of assessment to address these limitations would be of significant clinical value.

This research project will contribute to a larger programme of research designed to translate ultrasound technology into clinical swallowing assessment. This summer project will collect data to support development of normative database for two measures of swallowing using ultrasound imaging – thyro-hyoid approximation and hyoid excursion. For establishment of a preliminary normative database, 120 healthy controls (30 per age group 20-40, 40-60, 60-80, 80+; gender equally represented) will be initially targeted for recruitment. Targeted sample size will be re-calculated after collection of 50% of data based on derivation of a figure wherein the 95% confidence limits of the mean closely approximate twice the standard error of the mean. Participants will be self-reported healthy individuals with no history of confirmed or suspected swallowing impairment and no history of head and neck cancer or structural abnormality of the head and neck. For the normative database, the full cohort of participants will attend a single session, providing data (as described in detail below) from 3 dry swallows, 3 10-ml liquid swallows, and 3 10-ml boluses apple puree in each of two recording positions (for hyoid excursion and thyrohyoid approximation). From this larger participant group, a subset of 20 participants will be recruited for reliability measurement and will return for three sessions in total. In the first session, within-session trial effects will be evaluated across the three trials of dry swallows and each ingested texture. The subsequent two sessions will generate data for calculation of across-session, test-retest reliability. Video-recordings of all data will be stored for analysis of intrarater reliability of a single rater, and inter-rater reliability of 3 raters across the first two sessions.

student requirements:

Completed CMDS 365/366

  

Computer Science and Software Engineering

Project #105 

Project title:Cyber Security Modelling Tool Development

Project leader: Dong Seong Kim

project description:

The main goal of this project is to design, implement and test a performability modelling and analysis module of the existing security modelling and assessment software module. The UC cyber security lab in computer science and software engineering department at UC has developed security models for enterprise networks, Internet of things and software defined networking. The project will focus on performability attribute of such systems. When security solutions are deployed, it may cause performability degradation. This issue has been mentioned many times but not been investigated systematically for the security models. The project aims to construct system and user perceived performance and reliability/availability models and implement them in the existing security module. The existing security metrics and performability metrics will be used to evaluate the impact on security and performability for the given systems.

Related publications:

  • Mengmeng Ge, Jin B. Hong, Walter Guttmann, Dong Seong Kim: A framework for automating security analysis of the internet of things. J. Network and Computer Applications 83: 12-27 (2017)
  • Jin B. Hong, Dong Seong Kim: Assessing the Effectiveness of Moving Target Defenses Using Security Models. IEEE Trans. Dependable Sec. Comput. 13(2): 163-177 (2016)
  • Jin B. Hong, Dong Seong Kim: Towards scalable security analysis using multi-layered security models. J. Network and Computer Applications 75: 156-168 (2016)
  • Fumio Machida, Ermeson C. Andrade, Dong Seong Kim, Kishor S. Trivedi: Candy: Component-based Availability Modeling Framework for Cloud Service Management Using SysML. SRDS 2011: 209-218
  • Rahul Ghosh, Kishor S. Trivedi, Vijay K. Naik, Dong Seong Kim: End-to-End Performability Analysis for Infrastructure-as-a-Service Cloud: An Interacting Stochastic Models Approach. PRDC 2010: 125-132

student requirements: 

300 level COSC/SENG students who have taken/are taking core networking and cyber security courses. 

 

Project # 104

Project title: Enhancing the training of software engineers using advanced video watching

Project leaders: Matthias Galster, Tanja Mitrovic

project description: 

Context and problem: In addition to excellent general problem solving abilities, software engineers require a broad set of skills and expertise. Skills and expertise differ for various roles (e.g., architects, developers, testers) and software engineering activities (e.g., requirements elicitation, test case identification, bug fixing), but also based on the “type” of skills (e.g., technical skills, soft skills). Some soft skills relate to the individual software engineer (e.g., presentation and communication skills) while others relate to software engineers in teams (e.g., team work skills, leadership skills). Effectively practicing soft skills usually requires a real project setting as well as mentoring from senior engineers. However, software organizations and teams often do not have the resources to systematically support such training.
Goal and expected outcome: This research project aims at identifying how software engineers can utilize advanced video watching to learn soft skills. In particular, this project will a) conduct a literature review on soft skills of software engineers (this review will identify what soft skills are relevant for what software engineering tasks [e.g., a requirements engineer may benefit from interviewing skills]), b) identify which soft skills identified under a) are appropriate for learning through video watching (based on a set of criteria for video-based learning), c) develop a guideline to select freely available videos for video-based learning (free availability of videos is a requirement for continuous improvements and updates to video-based learning systems), and d) select a set of example videos for the skills identified under b) using the guideline developed under c).
Students will learn about computer science and software engineering research methods, software development practices, as well as general computer science education and training.

student requirements:

A background in Computer Science and Software Engineering and a basic understanding of software engineering activities is required.

 

Project # 101

Project title: Whole Slide Image Analysis Algorithm for Automatic Identification of Breast Cancer Susceptibility Genes in Tissue Micro Arrays

Project leaders: Ramakrishnan Mukundan, Logan Walker

project description: 

Conventional optical microscope based assessments of histology slides used in pathology labs are prone to errors because of subjectivity and inter-observer variability in the methods used. Such microscope based reviews are commonly used in the assessment of breast cancer tissue samples. An important recent development in the field of medical imaging technology is the availability of powerful digital scanners that can convert entire pathology specimens into whole microscope slide images (WSIs) at very high resolutions (typically of size 60,000 x 60,000 pixels) and at very high magnifications. The adoption of image analysis in digital pathology has received significant attention during the last few years, and computational algorithms are being developed for automated analysis of cell and protein structures and for identifying and quantifying prognostic biomarkers. The WSI imaging technology is gaining traction among pathologists due to the fact that automated image based assessments and analyses produce accurate and reliable results. Whole-slide images are also being increasingly used for education and research.

This project aims to develop efficient computational tools and machine learning algorithms that can process whole slide images of tissue microarrays for automatic identification of markers that can potentially predict cancer-causing mutations in breast cancer susceptibility genes (eg. BRCA1 and BRCA2). This will be a joint project in collaboration with the Mackenzie Cancer Research Group (primary contact: Dr. Logan Walker) in the Department of Pathology at University of Otago Christchurch (UOC). The Department of Pathology have recently acquired a RNAscope which can measure single mRNA molecules in histologically preserved cells.

Identification of cancer-causing mutations in breast cancer susceptibility genes has well-defined and actionable implications for disease prevention. Routine diagnostic BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene screening for deleterious mutations is typically performed for individuals from suspected high-risk breast-ovarian cancer families. However, the current criteria used to select potential mutation carriers are highly inaccurate. Furthermore, approximately >10% of clinical test results identify rare DNA variants of unknown clinical significance, thus creating a major challenge for clinical decision making. Better laboratory methods and WSI processing technologies for prioritising patients for mutation screening, and for interpreting test results will translate to greater efficiency of patient referral and improved clinical management. The primary goal of this summer project is to develop novel image analysis and machine learning algorithms that can detect candidate mRNA markers from whole slide images that are associated with BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation status.

student requirements:

The student should be proficient in Python or C/C++ programming with a sound knowledge of fundamental algorithms in Computer Science. Knowledge/experience in the field of image processing and analysis preferable.

 

Project # 94

Project title: Tree Pruning UAV (up to 6 places available)

Project leader: Richard Green, Matthew Edwards

project description: 

The tree pruning UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) team envisions a future of automated, aerial tree maintenance in the forestry sector. With labour costs increasing, pruning for ‘clearwood’ (wood without knots) is less common. Land-based robots for pruning have been developed in the past with limited success. An aerial approach means forestry on difficult terrain can be better maintained, and therefore be more profitable. Advances in computer vision and flight control algorithms together with the decreasing cost of small aerial platforms present an opportunity. The key focus areas of this project are as follows:

  •     Improving multirotor position control performance (academic research, dynamics, controls, electronics, data analysis, RC hobby experience)
  •     Computer vision algorithms for branch detection, cut planning, and visual servoing (software engineering, computer vision, ROS experience)
  •     Design of new prototype UAV platform (mechanical design, electronics, RC hobby experience)
  •     Design of new prototype aerial pruning tool (mechanical design, electronics experience)

The scholarship student(s) will be working with postgraduate students to assist in the research, development, and testing of an automated tree pruning aerial robot.

student requirements:

We are looking for students who have finished their fourth year in mechatronics, mechanical, electrical, computer or software engineering or computer science, with appropriate experience for one of the focus areas above. Please contact us if you are interested.

 

Economics and Finance

Project # 60

Project title: The Effect of TARP Funding on Bank Lending: Evidence from What Banks Say How They Will Use the Money

Project leader: Huong Dieu Dang 

project description:This project examines the extent and the manner U.S banks utilised Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funding during the financial crisis 2007-2009. The purpose of the TARF funding is to channel capitals to the non-financial sectors of the economy and help troubled banks which were short of capitals to expand their traditional lending business. The project will conduct a comprehensive texture analysis of banks’ earnings conference call transcripts, with a focus on the extent of disclosures of the amount of TARP funding banks received and their intended usages of the funding. The second aim of this study is to investigate the lending activities of banks prior to and after the time they received TARP funding. The results of this study answer the question whether banks used TARP funding as they were supposed to. The study provides insights into the effectiveness of the TARP program and has practical implications to banking regulators. 
Benefits student will gain from involvement in the project:
Upon completing this project, the student will:
- Develop a strong understanding of bank disclosures, bank lending and the evolvement of the financial crisis.
- Develop a strong understanding of the capital assistance programs initiated by the U.S. government to boost the U.S economy and expand lending activities in the U.S. financial sector during the financial crisis
- Be familiar with a variety of data sources relevant to this research project
- Improve his/ her critical thinking and statistical analysis skills 
- Develop his/ her SAS programming skills
- Develop his/her interest in research and improve his/her confidence in undertaking postgraduate study

student requirements:

Students should have a strong background in economics and finance and possess strong analytical skills. S/he must demonstrate independent thinking, pay attention to details, be capable to handle large datasets in Excel and use appropriate statistical/ econometric techniques to conduct some analysis. Experience in SAS programming is preferred but not compulsory. Most of the SAS codes and SAS training will be provided. The student may need to learn and revise the provided SAS codes to make them fit the structure of the complex datasets.
Students can get access to the following useful books on SAS programming in the library:
Cody, R., 2008. Cody's Data Cleaning Techniques Using SAS, 2nd Edition. Cary, NC: SAS Institute Inc.
Cody, R., 2007. Learning SAS by Example: A Programmer's Guide. Cary, NC: SAS Institute Inc.
Allison, P., 2010. Survival Analysis Using SAS: A Practical Guide, 2nd Edition. Cary, NC: SAS Institute Inc.

 

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