Summer research scholarship Projects

(Management Marketing and Entrepreneurship - WRC)


Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship

Project # 56

Project title: Marketing for credibility: case of quality, environmental and social voluntary schemes

Project leaders:  Pavel Castka and Mesbahuddin Chowdhury

project description: 

Voluntary standards and certification schemes present a great opportunity to address important issues related to quality of products & services, environmental and social responsibility; i.e. fair trade, forestry standards such as FSC or various carbon standards. The credibility of these schemes is largely affected by the certification intermediaries. The role of certification intermediaries is to audit and check the adherence of a firm to environmental and social standards in question. Yet the literature shows that there are inconsistencies amongst certifiers. Anecdotal evidence indeed suggests that the growth in certification has been accompanied by some questionable practices in the certification industry. For instance, debates in the 2013 focus group event (organised jointly by JAS-ANZ, Monash University and the University of Canterbury held in Melbourne) revealed some disturbing issues, such as that “some CABs get through the accreditation, though they should not” and that “an illegal bargain between low performing CABs and low performing firms may exist”. 
In this project, we will built on this understanding and investigate a link between marketing of certification intermediaries and their performance. In other words, can we infer from the marketing campaign (i.e. how a certification intermediary presents itself), how it actually performs (i.e. how consistent are their audits?). During this project, a student will firstly conduct literature review on credibility in marketing and will develop a theoretical concept to evaluate marketing campaigns of certifiers. Second, the student will collect the data on marketing campaigns. The dataset will be created by coding the websites of major certification intermediaries in AU and NZ. The student will learn how to code the websites using the theoretical concept developed from the literature. Third, the student will merge the dataset with the performance data and run a set of statistical tests to determine the relationship between marketing campaigns and performance. We envisage that the student will produce a short report and the project leader will continue with the project to expand on the scope and publish the work in Int J of Production Economics (A* in ABDC). Both project leaders have successfully published in this journal in the past.

student requirements: 

The project is ideal for a student with commerce background (more specifically in management or auditing & accounting), student with basic training in social science research and/or quantitative research methods (basic training in statistics would be sufficient). The project will allow the student to learn about the complexities of academic research – even though on a small project – and prepare the student for further postgraduate study or jobs that require analytical thinking and research.


Project # 55

Project title: Global supply chains and suppliers safety performance in developing world: myth or a changing plain field?

Project leaders: Mesbahuddin Chowdhury and Pavel Castka

project description: 

Workplaces in lower cost emerging economies have undergone continuous and substantial changes due to the outsourcing practices of the firms in European and North American countries. This project focuses on Bangladesh, a lower cost emerging economy, where readymade garment (RMG) manufacturing and export has become a lifeline for both urban and rural people. It is a labour intensive industry with a huge potential for generating employment and contribute 80% of total export from Bangladesh in 2014-2015. Nonetheless, the several disasters that have occurred in garment factories, claiming thousands of lives, have notoriously become the subject of much concern recently, both in the country itself, as well as internationally among the globally renowned buyers, trade unions, and monitoring authorities. For example - the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse, where a number of a readymade garment facilities were located, resulted in deaths of 1129 people and life-threatening injuries of 2,515 workers. This accident exposed poor health and safety practices of many of the leading brands and their global supply chains. This single catastrophe drawn tremendous attention of international business community and led to creation of Accord and Alliance on Factory and Building Safety in Bangladesh and extensive audits and assessment of facilities in the industry. As a result, a large dataset is now available on safety of the facilities in Bangladesh. This dataset allows to answer various questions related to occupational safety and supply chain management.
In this project, the student will learn key skills that are essential to conduct research in the field of business and economics. The project will start with literature review on safety performance and organisational safety. Whilst conducting literature review, we will guide the student to develop a conceptual model - especially focusing on the building of the model based on the gaps from LR – and to develop a set of hypothesis for further testing. Subsequently, we will introduce the student to Accord Alliance database and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) database. These databases are publicly available. Accord Alliance database contains data on approximately 1500 facilities in Bangladesh. The database contains detailed assessment and audit reports of fire, structural and electrical safety of the facilities. It also contains levels of compliance/non-compliance, dates of assessment and current status of compliance. The BKMEA database complements the previous database by providing firms background data (such as location, sizes, complexity of operations and similar). Student will learn how to download, transpose and merge the data for the analysis. After this step is finalized, the student will use SPSS Package to analyse the data. We are prepared to assist with the analysis in expectations that an UG student will have very limited expose to SPSS package. The final step in the process is a report write up and we expect a brief report of approximately 2000 words. Further work by project leader will result in a peer reviewed publication – currently planned for Journal of Safety Management (ranked A in ABDC).

student requirements: 

The project is ideal for a student with commerce or engineering background with basic training in social science research and/or quantitative research methods (basic training in statistics would be sufficient). The project is particularly suitable for students with an interest in social responsibility, supply chain management and international business. The students will study global trends in supply chains and specifically, what leading firms now require from their suppliers. Studying the problem in Bangladeshi context will allow the student to understand the practices at the level of a developing world. The project will also allow the student to learn about the complexities of academic research – even though on a small project – and prepare the student for further postgraduate study or jobs that require analytical thinking and research.


Project # 91

Project title: The role of Organisational Citizenship Behaviours in post-crisis recovery and resilience

Project leader: Sanna Malinen

project description: 

This project aims to develop a clear understanding of the role of Organisational Citizenship Behaviours (OCB) in a post-disaster context. Altruism, conscientiousness, loyalty, assisting others, and ‘fair play’ are all examples of values and behaviours frequently associated with OCB that can be observed in the workplace. OCBs can be directed to specific colleagues in the workplace, and they can be performed either within an employee’s role or outside of day-to-day workplace engagement. OCBs have been shown to directly benefit the organisation through fostering innovation, engagement and response to changing circumstance.

While the field of OCB is generally well understood, much less is known about the contribution of OCBs in post-disaster contexts. Some evidence suggests that OCBs play a critical role in the resilience of organisations following a significant disruption event. This project aims to explore the contribution of OCBs to organisational recovery, with a specific focus on the extent to which OCBs and associated goodwill can be relied on, as well as the ‘tipping point’ beyond which citizenship contribution to the organisation is likely to diminish.

The project has two phases:

1. Literature review - this phase will require an extensive review of the existing literature on the antecedents of OCB. The main purpose of this review is to provide a non-crisis context for understanding those factors that contribute to OCB. 
2. Desk research – Using secondary data sets, the second phase will involve the student to explore OCBs and its antecedents in a post-disaster context. It is envisaged that the student will work across multiple existing data sets (qualitative and quantitative) gathered from post-disaster research, to establish factors that may diminish engagement with OCBs in the workplace over time.

student requirements:

This project would best suit a social science student, with particular interest in psychology in the workplace. The student will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement related to data collected under prior ethics agreements

Mathematics and Statistics

Project # 62

Project title: Few or none? Pest detectability at low population levels

Project leader: Alex James

project description: 

Small pests, such as stoats, possums and rodents, pose a major threat to many of New Zealand’s native flora and fauna. Modelling has proved a powerful tool for wildlife management, by describing and predicting how populations of mammal pests change over space and time. Typically, these models are fitted to census data but it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to census an entire population, especially for small mobile animals. Instead, methods such as camera trapping, tracking tunnels or chew cards, are used to sample the population, and detection probabilities are calculated. Unfortunately, the detectability of pest species can vary dramatically due to a whole range of factors, including habitat, seasonality, sampling method, or weather. This causes problems when assessing if a pest eradication programme has been successful: if no animals are detected has the population has been eradicated, or do some individuals remain but are not being detected? Models that include detection probabilities allow us to say which of these two outcomes is most likely.

Some detection probabilities are already reported in the literature, for particular species under certain environmental conditions. The aim of this project is to fill in the crucial knowledge gaps, by using unpublished data sets along with published results, to paint a more comprehensive picture for detectability of NZ species under a range of different environmental conditions. In particular, the project will address some of the following questions: how does detectability vary across different habitats? Is there any seasonal variation? How is detectability affected by predator control pressure? How do detection probabilities change with population density, in particular at very low densities? In 2050 results from this project will help us be certain that we have actually achieved our Predator Free target.

student requirements:

The successful applicant will have a strong quantitative background preferably with some statistics courses and a healthy interest in ecology.


Project # 93

Project title: Gender and science societies

Project leader: Alex James

project description:

Science is sexist. Men outnumber women in almost all the physical sciences including physics, maths and engineering. Even in the life sciences, including biology, medicine and veterinary science, where women outnumber men at undergraduate level, the leaky pipeline results in men dominating at higher academic levels.

Most subject areas have a national body that represents them, e.g. the NZ Association of Economists, the Ecological Society of Australia. This project will collect and analyse data to explore how these societies contribute to disciplinary gender differences. At a local level do we favour men or women in our prizes? Are our society presidents male or female? Do our national societies re-enforce gender biases or strive to equalise them?

student requirements:

This project will suit a student with a background in quantitative methods (from any subject area) and an interest in the politics of science and gender.


Project # 46

Project title: Using Big Data to help understand social isolation

Project leaders: Jennifer Brown, Hamish Jamieson, Richard Scarse

project description:

This project will look at factors associated with social isolation and loneliness among adults aged 50-74 living in New Zealand.

1. To identify the degree of social isolation and reported loneliness among community dwelling older adults aged 50-74.
2. To identify to what degree social isolation and loneliness are associated with entry into adult residential care, hospital admission, and mortality.
3. Identify the ethnic and cultural background of this cohort.
4. Identify the risk factors for reduced social engagement and loneliness.

The issues of social isolation and loneliness in the older population are frequently the focus of Government funded community supports and interventions such as day care centres and at home visiting services. However, many of these are targeted at the oldest old or those with cognitive impairment and they may not be age or culturally appropriate for those New Zealander’s aged 50-74 experiencing health related issues. This study may be particularly significant for Maori and Pacifika elders who enter health services which specialize in older adults at an earlier age because of health inequities.

By identifying the issues associated with loneliness and social isolation at an earlier age we may be able to provide appropriate interventions in order to reduce the likelihood of these issues remaining a problem as people age. In short, the earlier we identify and tackle the issues, the more likely we are to improve outcomes.

A preliminary examination of the data shows that this population group (aged 50-74) consists of over 16000 older adults living throughout New Zealand, with some 3500 of these being aged 50-64. Of particular interest is the fact that approximately 22% of this younger sub group identified as Maori, significantly more than the number identifying as Maori in the New Zealand population as a whole. In addition, we will use the interRAI database to consider a range of possible confounders and risks associated with the issues in question.

This is an exciting opportunity to use your skills to work with data to help make a real difference in health care. By participating in the project you will be working closely with researchers from both inside UC and outside in the health sector. You will develop not only your analysis skills but will gain experience in working with real, big data, and in an environment where your findings will have an impact.

student requirements: 

Some experience in working with data is desirable. This project will appeal to a student in statistics, health science, psychology, geography, mathematics or computer science.


Project # 89

Project title: Deep neural networks - guardians of biosecurity

Project leader: Varvara Vetrova

project description: 

Have you ever wondered why there are such strict biosecurity rules in New Zealand and why you could be fined 400$ for a banana? Are you interested in learning techniques hidden behind driverless cars and most recent artificial intelligence advances? (description incomplete - more to be submitted shortly)

student requirements:

Extensive programming experience is highly encouraged. Prior taken courses in computer vision, data mining or machine learning is a definite advantage. Prior experience or exposure to deep neural networks is fantastic. 


Mechanical Engineering

Project # 92 (Health Sciences and Mechanical Engineering)

Project title: Concussion in rugby: assessment and prevention

Project leaders: Nick Draper & Keith Alexander

project description:

The collisions in rugby and other contact sports have major health concerns for players past and present as well as coaches and the sports organisations in general. The collisions in sports occur as direct impacts, or as rotational impact events or in combination. While there are a number of products to measure forces in direct impacts this is not the case for rotational forces. A week-long pilot study review of current literature and a patent search suggests that there is room to: (a) develop a system/equipment to measure rotational forces occurring in some collisions and (b) examine possible materials, methods and systems to establish improved protective headgear for players. The aim of this project will be to investigate both these aspects and to move towards a potential proof of concept.

The tasks addressed in the Summer Scholarship Project will consist of some of the following:
• Review testing equipment and procedures from various standards and research papers
• Develop concepts for test apparatus that could measure rotational impacts on a helmet
• Undertake initial design and CAD modelling of one chosen concept
• Build and test a simple rotational impact measuring apparatus

• Undertake a more focussed literature review based on particular helmet requirements, 
• Develop concepts for helmets that might reduce the effect of rotational impact
• Do CAD modelling of a chosen concept

Due to the commercial sensitivity of this work, and the associated IP, it is not possible to describe in further detail at this stage the work completed to date, however, after signing the confidentiality document the successful summer scholarship student will be fully briefed on the work to be completed and approach to be taken.

student requirements:

The ideal student for this project would be one with a background in mechanical engineering and with a passion for sport and/or sport science research.


Project # 72

Project title: Design and fabrication of vacuum micro-droplet generators

Project leaders: Mark Jermy (Dept. Mechanical Engineering); Sarah Masters (Dept. Chemistry)

project description: 

This project will complete the design and construction of a nozzle which produces a stream of 100 nanometre droplets in a vacuum chamber. You should be a Mechanical or Chemical & Process Engineering student with an interest in conceptual design, hands-on fabrication, precision engineering and testing.
The project is driven by the need to map the molecular structures of proteins to understand their chemical and biological roles. Many important proteins cannot be crystallised for X-ray diffraction studies, and dehydrating them changes their structure. An alternative is to suspend the proteins in small droplets of water which pass through the probe beam. Once the nozzle is completed, we intend to use a free-electron laser to probe the structure of proteins in a vacuum chamber at the DESY facility in Hamburg. The engineering challenge, and the subject of this summer project, is to produce these droplets consistently from a ‘gas-dynamic virtual nozzle’ which uses a stream of gas to induce controlled instabilities in a water jet to break it up into uniformly sized droplets.
A prototype nozzle has been constructed, and shown to work. The next step is to reduce the droplet size and improve reliability. You will generate concepts to improve the nozzle, build new prototypes with the help of the UC glassblower and other specialists, and test them using high speed video and a vacuum chamber on the UC campus.

student requirements:

You should be in the third professional year of Mechanical Engineering or Chemical & Process Engineering.


Project # 129

Project title: Finite Element and Fluid Dynamic Modelling of Seismic Damping Devices.

Project leader: Geoff Rodgers

project description: 

In the wake of earthquakes worldwide, including those in Canterbury in recent years, there is huge research attention being put into new methods of low-damage structural design. Common to all of this research is the need to absorb earthquake response energy and control the response of structures. Research at Canterbury over the last few years has developed several different designs of damping devices, from custom-design viscous fluid dampers to metallic dampers that use a reversible extrusion process to dissipate energy.
A majority of this past research has used broad design techniques and empirical relationships from experimental data to guide future designs. However, there is a big desire to better understand to the detailed internal reaction mechanisms to fully delineate the response mechanics of these devices and how they develop reaction forces to provide damping to a structure.
This project will be primarily focussed on modelling strategies to understand reaction mechanisms of extrusion-based and viscous fluid-based dampers. Finite element solid modelling with large inelastic response is necessary for the extrusion devices, and moving-mesh computational fluid dynamics modelling will be required to better understand the viscous fluid dampers. The focus of the project across these two areas can be tailored based upon the specific interest of the summer scholar.

student requirements: 

The project will be best suited to a mechanical or mechatronics student with an interest in finite element modelling of solids, or computational fluid dynamics.


Project # 128

Project title: Hip Replacement Implant testing and modelling to understand implant mechanics and failure modes using Acoustic Emissions

Project leaders: Geoff Rodgers (UC), Gary Hooper (Dept of Orthopaedics, University of Otago Christchurch)

project description: 

Total joint replacement (TJR) surgery is typically the last resort for people with degenerative joint disease. TJR surgery is extremely successful (~90%), but these joints need to be replaced due to wear and/or premature loosening of the implant after 10-15 years.
We are investigating acoustic emission (AE) monitoring as a method to provide insight into implant condition and provide early detection of wear and loosening.
The project will involve physical testing of artificial hip replacement implants to understand vibration modes induced and signals emitted from artificial hip implants during a range of different motions and mechanical testing. These experimental results can then be linked to finite element modelling and modal analysis to relate the physical testing results to the computational studies.
This project will also involve some signal processing of acoustic emission data, to help undertake the relationship between vibrations emitted from an implant and the underlying implant failure modes.

student requirements: 

This project will be best suited to a mechanical or mechatronics student. Understanding of Matlab, signal processing methods, physical testing and finite element modelling will all be an advantage.


Project # 90

Project title: 3D Printed Disaster Relief Homes

Project leaders: Don Clucas (Mech), Allan Scott (Civil)

project description: 

3d printing of concrete structures has been demonstrated but there is very little information available about how the processes work and the concrete recipe used.

Cyclones in the pacific islands wreak havoc to the communities and for long periods the local people don’t have satisfactory living conditions due to destruction of their flimsy houses. Often the damaged materials are reused to rebuild their homes which will be destroyed by the next cyclone. The same can be said for the recent hurricane Irma and it is likely that the ferocity will increase. Physical and psychological harm are also of concern when light structures are used. The indigenous and poor people generally suffer the most. A solid concrete home would be a permanent solution but traditional building techniques are slow and often require imported materials and skilled tradesman. The purpose of this summer research project is to research the viability of rapidly 3d printing concrete homes on site. This will be a collaborative project with the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering. The primary topics to be covered will be:

Research the application and create the specifications for a 3d Printed home to be grown on site using mostly locally available materials (~3 week)

Research the possible concrete aggregates and mix of cement. Test and select possible recipes. (~2 weeks)

Design a house to meet the structural and domestic needs. (~1 week)

Design, build and test a prototype ¼ scale 3D printer that will use the concrete developed above. (~4 weeks)

Write a 20 page project report. 

Present a 5 minute PowerPoint presentation on your findings.

Success of the project will assist future funding applications for the project and possible PhD continuation.


student requirements: 

Ideally the candidate will be able to demonstrate excellence in research, design, and an ability to confidently make and test mechanical equipment.


Project # 70

Project title: Tribology of 3D Printed Titanium vs Titanium

Project leaders: Don Clucas, Bruce Robertson

project description: 

3D Printing titanium is very popular and parts are being made for many applications. For example, the Shell Eco Marathon car for next year's competition has a mostly 3D Printed titanium engine. Titanium has many advantages such as the high strength to weight ratio.

Titanium against titanium is traditionally known as a poor sliding combination as it welds together very easily. So making fully 3d printed titanium machines that do not use bearings and slides of different materials is not currently ideal. The sliding properties of 3D Printed titanium have not been thoroughly investigated and it may be possible to to coat the sliding surfaces of the titanium to make them better sliding partners.

The research student will research the tribology of 3D printed titanium vs 3D printed titanium sliding combination. The project will begin with a thorough literature review and then progress to developing a test device. Many combinations and operating conditions will be tested and reported. Surface coatings will also be tested.


Literature review
Test device design
Manufacture the device
Test results
Journal publication
5 minute PowerPoint presentation

student requirements:

The successful candidate will have completed his/her Mechanical Engineering degree subjects with an overall GPA of not less than 7. Choice of elective subjects is not relevant in this case.


Project # 117

Project title: Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and Acoustic Emissions data synchronisation and patient gait analysis for hip implant monitoring.

Project leaders: Geoff Rodgers (UC); Justin Fernandez (University of Auckland); Gary Hooper (Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Otago Christchurch)

project description: 

Total joint replacement (TJR) surgery is typically the last resort for people with degenerative joint disease. TJR surgery is extremely successful (~90%), but these joints need to be replaced due to wear and/or premature loosening of the implant after 10-15 years.
Therefore, there is a challenge to develop effective screening programmes for detecting early TJR wear or failure for orthopaedic surgeons to properly manage revision surgery. Early diagnosis of impending failure can save significant time, cost and more serious surgery.
We are investigating acoustic emission (AE) monitoring as a method to provide insight into implant condition and provide early detection of wear and loosening. We are developing the AE concept for use as a diagnostic tool to assess implant designs and materials. We have added Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) to the sensing hardware to enable lower-limb joint angle tracking and gait analysis to link acoustic emissions with the different phases of human gait (swing phase, stance phase etc)
The project will involve setting up communications protocols and data synchronisation to ensure that acoustic emissions data and IMU measurements are linked in time and can be meaningfully assessed as reliably synchronised data. Additional goals, which may be included if time permits, are developing a simplified lower limb model to relate IMU measurements to joint angles, and phases of the gait cycle. Support for the biomechanical modelling will be available from Dr Justin Fernandez at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) at the University of Auckland, who has 15 years experience in human gait analysis.

student requirements: 

This project is best suited to a Mechatronics student. Experience and an interest in IMUs, embedded systems and serial communications is important. Reasonable experience with Python would be advantageous.


Project # 48

Project title: Optimisation of extrusion process for novel biodegradable metals based on numerical simulations and experimental tests

Project leaders: Mark Steiger, Bartosz Nowak

project description: 

Traditional biocompatible materials such as titanium alloys have been successfully used in the production of medical devices for the past decades. The manufacturing process of both the materials and devices have been extensively discussed in the medical (description incomplete, more to be submitted shortly)

student requirements: n/a


Project # 49

Project title: Computer simulations of mechanical testing of bone screws

Project leaders: Mark Steiger, Bartosz Nowak

project description: 

Many medical devices which use the concept of bone-implant interface such as bone screws, tooth implants and hip prosthesis have already become the golden standard in treatment of degenerative diseases and accidents. (description incomplete - more to be submitted shortly)

student requirements: n/a


Project # 50

Project title: Autonomous Vehicle for NZ Farms

Project leaders: XiaoQi Chen, Bruce Robertson

project description:  

Primary production in New Zealand is one of the most important sectors.  The existing trend within primary production is to use bigger, heavier vehicles to perform agricultural operations, which is often difficult to implement and incurs high capital costs. An alternative is to let small and light weight vehicles cooperate and complete a task as a team, or serve as assistants to workers who concentrate on intelligent tasks. The aim of this project is to develop an electric drive vehicle that can autonomously navigate and operate in unstructured environments with specific focus on NZ orchards and agricultural fields’ environment.  The vehicle system is expected to provide better mobility and agility for unstructured environments compared with existing systems, and has the payload capacity of 50 to 100 kg.

student requirements: 

1) Design of electric drive vehicle 
2) Knowledge of motor control 
3) Experience in sensing and instrumentation is an advantage.



Project # 123

Project title: Designing soundscapes for a virtual reality helicopter simulation

Project leaders: Hamish Oliver, Simon Hoermann

project description: 

This summer project is about enhancing a multisensory Virtual Reality (VR) system with convincing and immersive soundscapes. Our research team is currently developing a multipurpose VR helicopter simulator and is looking for a highly motivated student to contribute to the auditory user experience in that system. 
The simulator is developed using Unreal, a commercial game engine. The hardware will include high-fidelity audio equipment (headphones and a multi-channel speaker set-up), custom-made tangible interaction devices as well as a 270-degree projection system.
The first phase of the summer project is to create several three-dimensional soundscapes for various VR scenarios. The audio components that constitute these soundscapes will respond in an interactive way to the input of the user and synchronised to the visual components. The audio components will include, for example; varying rotor RPM, engine noise, wind interacting with the helicopter’s body, pilot and other headset communications, sounds from the console and from the pilot’s interaction with the console, other helicopter/aircraft sound at various distances, as well as other sounds related to changes and activity in the virtual environment. 
The second part of the project is to evaluate these soundscapes. The summer student will support a user study on the user’s experience with various soundscapes. It is envisioned to test three to four different soundscapes in terms of user’s performance as well as autonomous response (heart rate, blood pressure etc.). For example, one soundscape of audio recordings from the actual sound in a helicopter, another one with an artificially-constructed mix aimed at realism (using high quality sound recordings and interactive mixing techniques) and another one with an added non-naturalistic component (e.g. an integrated sub-sonic or hyper-sonic tone) aimed at heightening tension.

student requirements: 

The ideal candidate should have skills in using high quality microphones, pre-amplifiers and field recorders to capture the various components of the intended soundscape appropriately. For flexibility and for the ability to interactively control each layer of the soundscape, this will ideally involve recording ‘on location’ with multiple simultaneous microphones and a multitrack field recorder. The student should also have experience in audio editing and in working directly with field recordings and synthesised sounds in ‘Digital Audio Workstation’ (DAW) software (e.g. ProTools, Logic Pro, Reaper etc). They’ll be familiar with the use of tools such as dynamic compression, reverberation, equalisation and other audio tools common in DAWs – with the aim of crafting a convincing and immersive soundscape. 

 NZILBB (New Zealand Institute of Language Brain and Behaviour)

Project #66

Project title: Sociophonotactics

Project leader: Jen Hay

project description: 

Speakers of a language can identify words that are possible and impossible in that language (eg blick vs mgla in English), and also words that are more or less likely (clenk vs sishosh).
They do this by learning the statistical properties of the sound patterns in the language. This is understood to be a process of statistical generalization that operates over the lexicon
Such statistical knowledge is at the very core of what it means to ‘know a language’. In addition to underpinning intuitions about possible words, generalizations over the lexicon also influence word learning, speech production and speech perception patterns.

Many people have shown that speakers of a language make such statistical generalizations, and debate exists about the scope of the generalizations. However little consideration has been given to the fact that different individuals, and different groups of individuals, have different lexicons and phonologies. Different groups tend to have quite different distributions of lexical items. In addition, phonological mergers change the phonological system. We know that the collapse of a contrast (e,g ear/air) leads to one less phonemic category. However what has not been tested is the
prediction that the new merged category – because it is instantiated in many more words than either of the old categories, should be perceived to be substantially better by these speakers.
For example, the nonsense word ‘wup’ should sound much better to an individual with a merger between hw and w, because their /w/ category is substantially larger than a speaker
with no such merger. And the nonsense word ‘zear’ should appear substantially better to an individual with an ear/air merger than to one without. Conditioned mergers (e.g the collapse
of e and a before /l/) also considerably complicate the overall lexical statistics.

This project will test:
(1)Whether different social groups show different wellformedness judgements of non-words, in a way that reflects statistical differences in their lexicons.

(2) Whether listeners show different wellformedness judgements to the same word produced by different voices, depending on the overall phonological system that the voice appears to
produce (e.g. would ‘glaught’ be judged to be better in an American voice with a cot/caught merger than in a NZ voice where such a merger would not occur).

The student will help develop, run and analyse experiments designed to test these questions.

student requirements:

 Undergraduate degree in Linguistics. 


Project # 118

Project title: Sociomorphology

Project leader: Jen Hay

project description: 

The frequency distributions of words and word-parts affect their morphological status.
However words and word parts are not equally distributed across speakers and contexts. We can extract statistics from our corpora for example, to show that NZ males are more likely to
produce the words vehicle, trout and guitar, whereas females are more likely to produce shells, library and pony. There are also differences across different ages. 
These types of differences are predicted to have morphological consequences. Using our unique corpora of NZ English, we can establish, for example, that the ratio of whole word to base is more than twice as large for males than females for the words basically, definitely, normally,physically and easily. And it is more than twice as large for females for the words finally possibly, recently, totally, and usually.

The cumulative effect of many examples such as these, is that the morphological productivity patterns should be slightly different for males and females. 
If speakers have different distributions of words, the resulting morphological generalizations will also be different. The examples given here come from gender, but a similar argument can also be constructed for younger and older speakers, who also have quite different lexical frequency distributions. This project will conduct analysis of our corpora, and decomposition experiments to test:

(1)Whether individuals of different ages and genders show differential decomposition behaviours in a way that would be predicted by their different lexical frequency distributions

(2) Whether listeners decompose words differently when hearing them in voices with different social characteristics, in a way that would be predicted by different lexical frequency distributions

(3) Whether different social groups show evidence of different affix productivity behaviours,

in a way that is predicted by different lexical frequency distributions.

student requirements:

Undergraduate degree in linguistics


Project # 120

Project title: Neurodevelopmental Outcomes of Adolescents born to Opioid Addicted Mothers in Methadone Maintenance treatment during Pregnancy

Project leader: Jacki Henderson

project description: 

Opioid abuse in pregnancy and the associated negative infant clinical outcomes are an increasing global concern. Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) remains one of the gold standard treatments for opioid dependent pregnant women providing numerous health and other benefits for the women and their unborn children. Children born to opiate dependent women, and who are prenatally exposed to methadone are at high risk of poor neurological and psychological developmental outcomes, and early psychosocial adversity. To date, there are no investigations that have examined the individual or combined effects of these factors in this population during the critical developmental period of adolescence. 
From 2002, the Methadone in Pregnancy Study at the University of Canterbury has been following and conducting assessments with 100 Methadone families and a comparison group of families at birth, at 18 month, 2 years, 4.5 years and currently at 9 years of age. This is a world first systematic longitudinal prospective study investigating neurodevelopmental outcomes in to 9 year old children prenatally exposed to methadone in pregnancy. In 2018 we aim to start the Adolescent (age 15 years) follow-up assessment study, that will examine the interplay of the biological and social influences on the neurodevelopmental/ neurobehavioral outcomes to elucidate the mechanisms driving the developmental processes of this unique and very high risk group of children and their families.
• The project will review the theoretical and empirical research literature to identify key neurodevelopmental/neurobehavioral variables and measures that may be employed in the 14 year follow-up assessment. 
• A further focus of the review will involve reviewing the literature on risk taking in adolescence and neurobehavioral disinhibition. This will also involve working with a clinical psychologist to develop a neurodevelopmental assessment battery, and to determine the usefulness of psychobiometric measures that maybe available to be used in the study.
• Project findings will used to design the research protocol and an ethics application for the study.

student requirements:

Undergraduate degree in Psychology (Courses completed in Statistics and Abnormal Psychology preferred) 
Honors year completed in Psychology (Courses completed in Statistics, and either Behavioral Interventions, Family Psychology and Health Psychology preferred)


Project # 126

Project title: Connexin and ageing

Project leaders: John Dalrymple-Alford (UC) and Colin Green (Auckland)

project description: 

Excess or malfunctioning connexin hemichannels may promote neuroinflammation and contribute to reduced brain function in ageing. The purpose of the summer scholarship is to collect behavioural and neurobiological data from young adult rats that we will th (description incomplete more to be submitted shortly)

student requirements: 

Ideally, the applicant would have experience and interest in the neuroscience of ageing, with a view to developing their skills and eventually becoming involved in related studies as part of the NZ-wide Brain Research New Zealand CoRE research group. 


Project # 95

Project title: Guided learning versus instructions as ways to learn an algebra 

Project leaders: Randolph Grace & Simon Kemp

project description: 

The project is an important tangent to a larger research project which is funded by a Marsden Grant (M1192). The larger project examines how people represent the magnitudes of stimuli (for example, areas of surfaces, numbers of dots, greyness of patches), whether such magnitudes are described by an approximate number system, and the nature of the algebraic structure that relates them. The novel twist to our answering of this question – the question has been around for nearly 150 years – is that our main line of experimentation does not use explicit instruction (e.g. Tell me how much greater area A is than area B?) but instead uses a non-verbal training task. Participants relate different areas (for example) by indicating a position on a line. Feedback then tells them whether they were right or wrong; we can examine the learning that takes place, and also examine the participant’s judgement when confronted by wholly new pairs of areas.
The summer project looks at an issue that is not part of the original Marsden proposal but is closely related to it. That is, how do the results obtained via the non-verbal training task relate to results obtained by using explicit instructions? Very basically, each participant in the experiment(s) will perform under both explicit learning and non-verbal training conditions and the learning will be compared. The number of participants will not be large – this suits a summer project – but each will participate in more than one session. Counterbalancing will be employed. It is likely that this will extend to counterbalancing over different types of stimuli to avoid carryover effects. (For example, participant 1 will have explicit instructions for an area relation task and then use non-verbal learning for a greyness relation task; participant 2 will have non-verbal learning for an area relation task and explicit instructions for a greyness relation task; participants 3 and 4 reverse the orders; etc.) 
The project student will run the experiment.

student requirements: 

The student needs to have a good knowledge of psychological research procedures, and PSYC206 and PSYC344 (or their equivalents) are minimum requirements. A knowledge of mathematical statistics or pure mathematics would be an advantage. He or she also need to be able to recurit participants and comfortable with doing it.


Project # 23

Project title: USER: Undergraduate Studies in Earthquake Resilience (up to 10 scholarships available)

Project leader: Brendon Bradley

project description: 

USER is a summer research programme led by QuakeCoRE: The NZ Centre for Earthquake Resilience ( at the University of Canterbury. The aim of the USER programme is to provide multi-disciplinary research opportunties for undergraduate (UG)  (description incomplete - more to be submitted shortly)

student requirements: n/a

Spatial Engineering Research Centre

Project # 103

Project title: Development of an automated pipeline for 3D Mapping roadside infrastructure using vehicle mounted LIDAR

Project leader: Josh McCulloch

project description: 

The primary goal of this project is to streamline the collection of data from a vehicle mounted LIDAR used for mapping roadside infrastructure. Currently, a raspberry pi is used to store the raw LIDAR data to a file where it is later copied to a workstation for reconstruction and classification. The proposed improvements include developing a web interface to allow the Raspberry Pi and LIDAR to be configured in the field using a phone, and to automate the upload of collected data when the system is within range of the base station.

student requirements: 

1. Experienced programming in Python, some C++ would be useful but not a must 
2. Experience with the Linux Terminal 
3. Understanding of basic network configuration and socket programming will be advantageous as the LIDAR communicates using UDP over Ethernet

Teacher Education 

Project # 130

Project title:  “Mātauranga Māori hei marautanga” is a research project which seeks to explore how Māori epistemological approaches can be used to inform schools and kura curriculum development. 

Project leaders: Angus Macfarlane and Te Hurinui Clarke

project description: 

Mātauranga Māori hei marautanga is a research project which will critically examine mātauranga Māori: Māori ways of knowing and engaging with their environment in traditional and contemporary contexts as a means of developing a kaupapa Māori based curriculum (description incomplete - more to be submitted shortly)

student requirements: 

Improved research skills in the disciplines of Health and Education 
Exposure to a large, multi-disciplinary, nationally-funded project 
Opportunity to learn from the Professor of Māori Research on a kaupapa Māori project 
Enhance knowledge and skills


Project # 132

Project title: Tikanga and rautaki whakaako reo: Exploring communicative methodologies and strategies in Māori and bilingual contexts.

Project leaders: Angus Macfarlane and Te Hurinui Clarke

project description: 

Tikanga rautaki whakaako reo will explore, develop and critically assess communicativemethodologies and strategies for a range of learners and learning styles in Maori bilingual and immersion settings.  (description incomplete - more to be submitted shortly)

student requirements: n/a


Project # 61

Project title: Leading co-teaching in flexible learning spaces to enable better learning outcomes for all students

Project leaders: Julie Mackey, Jo Fletcher, Letitia Fickel

project description: 

This Summer Scholarship Project involves working with a research team comprising senior academic staff and the Kairahi Pasifika from the College of Education, Health and Human Development on a project to develop knowledge and capability for primary school principals to implement co-teaching in flexible learning spaces (MOE, 2015).
Many schools in New Zealand are being remodelled or rebuilt in accordance with Ministry of Education Innovative Learning Environment (ILE) guidelines (Ministry of Education, 2015a) for classrooms that accommodate several teachers and a large number of learners in one space. This trend to modern spaces (OECD, 2015) multi-teacher, multi-class teaching raises anxiety about the impact on student learning with references to the demise and failures of the ‘open plan era’ of the 1970s and 1980s and concerns about how diverse student learning needs can be met in such large groupings. While there is an urgent need for greater understanding of co-teaching to enable all students to achieve, this project includes a particular focus on the achievement of Māori and Pasifika students in multi-class, co-teaching environments.

The research has been shortlisted for external funding through the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI), and the outcome of this application will be known by mid-October. In the meantime, data has been collected from a pilot study of one local school and a national questionnaire on co-teaching in flexible learning spaces. There is scope for further analysis and reporting of this data.

A Summer Scholarship is offered to a student who is (a) interested in school-sector education and the needs of priority learners; and (b) who has the appropriate skills to update a literature review; and undertake analysis of qualitative data (including observations and interviews). This project would suit someone who is confident in their own ability to use digital technologies for research, who is organised and self-motivated, and who possesses exceptional written communication skills.

This project provides a motivated student with an opportunity to work with an experienced research team in the College of Education, Health and Human Development and to further develop their skills in locating and interpreting literature, assisting with the preparation of a literature review, and analysing a range of inter-related data sources.

student requirements: 

• Exceptional written communication skills 
• An interest in education and the needs of priority learners
• Ability to locate, critique and synthesise literature
• APA referencing
• Understanding of qualitative research methodology
• Competent use of online databases, EndNote, and Microsoft Office (Word and Excel).


Project # 87

Project title: Whakamana Tamariki: A Better Start for Children

Project leader: Te Hurinui Clarke and Angus Macfarlane

project description: 

The introduction of Vision Mātauranga (VM) in the last three years into government-funded, large-scale initiatives has drawn many Māori and non-Māori researchers into this developing and contested research space. (description incomplete, more to be submitted shortly)

student requirements: n/a

Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management

Project # 42

Project title: A framework for UC campus waterways health monitoring; Compiling existing monitoring data & preliminary design of an integrated monitoring programme

Project leader: Jenny Webster-Brown

project description: 

As a part of the new UC Waterways Monitoring Framework being developed by the UC Sustainability Office, there is a need to collate and compile all of the water monitoring which has been undertaken on campus waterways in the past. There is currently no central repository for this data, and monitoring has been undertaken by individuals and departments, on different aspects of water flow, quality, cultural value and ecological habitat. There has been no need to combine data in the past, as data was collected to support particular courses or research projects, and there was no need to select and use the same sites or to standardise methodology and parameters methods etc. The purpose of this summer scholarship project is to;
• Collect this historical data through talking to academic staff who have overseen data collection, and construct a spreadsheet showing key data types, dates, sites and methods used, and results. 
• Assess various stream sites and parameters to be included in a future monitoring programme (field work to measure and assess suitability as a representative monitoring site, etc). 
The outcome of this project will be to recommend a format for an ongoing UC waterways monitoring programme that can connect to historical data but also track key parameters of waterways health into the future. A technical report will be completed at the end of this project.

student requirements: 

The completing student should have studied in at least one of the following subjects: freshwater ecology, environmental chemistry, physical geography, natural resources engineering.


Project # 43

Project title: Joint Waterways - Sustainable Waters Summer Scholarship in Microplastics Pollution

Project leader: Sally Gaw, Jenny Webster-Brown

project description: 

Microplastics are plastic particles less than 5 mm in size now found in marine environments worldwide. Because the plastics do not break down for many years, they can accumulate in sensitive environments where they may be ingested by marine organisms. This can cause physical harm to species by reducing their intake of normal food and damaging their tissues. Additionally, there are concerns that microplastics may act as a source of chemical contaminants, such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and trace metals. Microplastics have been previously identified in the Christchurch estuary, however, the concentrations of chemical contaminants have not been determined in these particles, and it is not yet known what local species could be harmed by their ingestion. These knowledge gaps could begin to be addressed with the assistance of a summer student.

The short time period of the study would be suitable for the analysis of trace metals, where a limited number of samples and experience is required for the analytical work. The proposed summer project aim would be to determine if microplastics are a pathway for the transfer of trace metals to marine organisms in the Avon/Heathcote estuary.

The tasks required are:

• Participate in the collection of representative microplastic samples from identified hotspots in the Avon/Heathcote estuary in collaboration with others involved in the Microplastic Protection project. 
• Process these samples to isolate microplastics using a methodology to be established in an earlier stage of the project. Additional microplastics samples may also be available from prior fieldwork
• Prepare the samples to be analysed by ICP-MS. 
• Use the available literature and/or field observations to identify marine organisms in the estuary that may be at risk from ingesting microplastics.
• Prepare a short report summarising the results.

student requirements: 

• Student should have some chemistry background (100 level OK) and/or background in WATR or ECOL papers.

• Student will need to be confident around water, able to drive, and physically able to get in and out of stream beds.

• Student will need to be available at key points during summer period when advisors are able to show them sites, and will need to get field buddies to accompany them into the field.

• Student will need to have a cell phone in order to contact supervisor when back from field.

• First aid certificate a plus

Wireless Research Centre (WRC) 

Project # 106

Project title:  Aerial tracking of flying insects to improve biosecurity outcomes

Project leader: Graeme Woodward, Stephen Pawson

project description:  

New Zealand’s primary production capabilities are threatened by invasive pests. Most invasive species are stopped by interventions at the border, however some individuals evade detection and sometimes establish populations. Such establishments can cost $100s of millions to eradicate and can result in long-term pest management costs if eradication is unsuccessful. New threats constantly emerge and new technologies are needed to support surveillance/eradication programmes, particularly in urban environments. Scion’s MBIE funded Urban Battlefield programme is working on new technologies and has defined a key challenge that needs overcoming. That is real-time tracking of flying insects. This project will investigate new wireless signal processing methods to be used in conjunction with a unmanned aerial vehicle to track insects for a variety of ecological purposes and most importantly to develop new technologies to deal with biosecurity threats (e.g., gypsy moth). The project will include a combination of literature research and computer modelling/simulation.  Depending upon progress and the calibre of the student, there may be the opportunity to conduct field tests with the UAV platform.

student requirements: The student must have a strong analytical background and good knowledge of wireless signal processing basics (ENEL320, ENEL420 and/or ENEL422 would be an advantage).  Some programming experience is essential, as algorithms need to be simulated using Matlab, Julia or similar modelling environment.


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