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Symposium initiates new Canterbury women’s research networks

09 June 2021

Women researchers from across Canterbury gathered at Haere-roa at the University of Canterbury (UC) today, 9 June, to share knowledge, learn from each other’s experience and engage in discussions about future research.


UC Professor Ximena Nelson (centre) initiated the idea of a Women's Research Symposium and was delighted with the outcomes of the event today.

Opening the event, UC’s Tumu Tuarua Akoranga | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Catherine Moran said it was exciting to see so many women researchers together in one place. “What strikes me as I think about what this day means, is that it’s about women empowering women, celebrating one another and coming together to be stronger than we are on our own,” she said.

Women's Research Symposium Ideas flowed and new connections were forged at the Women's Research Symposium at UC.

She welcomed her colleagues from across UC, as well as researchers from Ara Institute of Canterbury, Lincoln University, Crown Research Institutes and other organisations.

The scene was set with a Mātauranga Māori panel featuring Kay Lee Jones, lecturer in the School of Education at UC, Liz Brown, Amokapua Māori | Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori, and Associate Professor Amanda Black, Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University.

The participants then went into a World Café session where they joined discussions on various topics from social media to sustainability, and generated an impressive list of preliminary interdisciplinary research topics.

UC’s Tumu Whakarae | Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey contributed to the mentorship session, sharing her experience of leadership at UC and at Pretoria University prior to coming to Aotearoa New Zealand.  

Professor Ximena Nelson, from UC’s College of Science, first raised the need for a women’s research symposium. “I am super chuffed, it’s gone brilliantly,” she said. “I love the hum of chatter in a supportive and collegial environment.”

The event also inspired the curiosity of the students passing through Haere-roa. “When we explained what was happening, they said ‘how cool is that; we know how busy our staff are and they are taking some time to discuss research together’. That to me is very meaningful actually,” Professor Nelson said.

By the final session, the ‘Unconference’, three pages of A3 paper packed with research questions filled the tables. The afternoon offered an opportunity to further develop research questions and form partnerships and networks.

Professor Nelson expected that new research projects would eventuate from the symposium but even if not, the chance to meet and share knowledge had been invaluable for participants.

“The fact that people now know each other and are enthused and can say ‘hello’ is a win already, but I would expect one or two projects might go through.

She was grateful for the support of her colleagues in bringing the vision to reality, including both academic and non-academic staff.

“I would like to thank the committee because it has gone flawlessly, but there has been a lot of work that has gone into this,” she said. “Before the day even began, the symposium was a win for me. Through the group of organisers, from each of the colleges, I met new people and got to see lots of different skills at work. It was enlightening for me to see the different ideas and how the synergies worked and how we worked together better than the sum of our parts.”

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