UC ranked NZ's most research intensive university

06 September 2016

New Zealand's most research intensive university has generated a record amount of external research funding due to its collaborative strategy.

UC ranked NZ's most research intensive university

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation Professor Ian Wright

New Zealand’s most research intensive university has generated a record amount of external research funding due to its collaborative strategy, according to the University of Canterbury’s new Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation Professor Ian Wright.

“The University’s cooperative strategy has paid off both financially and in research activity. UC’s annual research income has surpassed $50 million, and that is a direct result of our strategy of working with other recognised research leaders,” he says.

“University of Canterbury academics have also been recognised as the most research intensive faculty of any of New Zealand’s eight universities.”

International ranking agency QS ranked the academic faculty of University of Canterbury as having the highest citation rate on average of any New Zealand university and UC as the only New Zealand university ranked in the top 200 in the world – ahead of Auckland University and the University of Otago.

“In the last Performance Based Research Fund assessment, UC earned the highest rate of funding per assessed academic staff member and had the highest proportion of all academic staff involved in both research and teaching. Now QS rankings confirm that UC is the most research intensive teaching faculty of any New Zealand university,” Prof Wright says.

UC has also seen increased Government investment in research thanks to the willingness of the University’s world-class researchers and academics to collaborate and participate in National Science Challenges, Centres of Research Excellence (CoRE) and elsewhere, he says.

“UC has come to be known as the great collaborator. This was a deliberate strategy by my predecessor, Professor Steve Weaver. It seems that, especially post-quake, UC has come to understand the need and opportunity afforded by a more collaborative model of engagement,” Prof Wright says.

UC has, to date, secured around $40 million in research contracts from 60 CoREs and Challenge projects.

For example, UC academics are involved in all of the Government’s National Science Challenges, in roles from the directorate level to research support. The 11 National Science Challenges are designed to take a more strategic approach to the Government's science investment by targeting a series of goals, which, if achieved, would have major and enduring benefits for New Zealand.

The $34 million National Science Challenge ‘A Better Start’ was launched by Minister of Science and Innovation Steven Joyce in February with the mission to find better ways to predict, prevent and treat obesity, learning and mental health problems in children and teenagers.

Many of the University’s senior academics are involved in the learning and literacy stream of this challenge including: UC College of Education, Health and Human Development Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gail Gillon (‘A Better Start’ Co-Director), Professor Angus Macfarlane (Science leadership team, and Leader Vision Mātauranga Māori), Distinguished Professor of E-Learning Niki Davis, Professor Phillip Schluter, Associate Professor Una Cunningham, Dr Brigid McNeill, Professor John Everatt, as well as Adjunct Professor Bill Tunmer and Adjunct Associate Professor Sonia Macfarlane. The College’s Kaiarahi Maori, Liz Brown, and Kaiarahi Pasifika, Tufulasi Taleni, are also supporting the Better Start Challenge.

There are numerous UC academics and researchers involved in the National Science Challenges, including:

  • UC Professor of Geography and Director of GeoHealth Laboratory  Simon Kingham is collaborating on ‘Building Better Homes & Cities’, focusing on improving the quality and supply of housing, and creating smart and attractive urban environments.
  • Associate Professor of Physics Adrian McDonald is leading the ‘The Deep South’ project “Reducing biases in the representation of clouds and aerosols in NZESM”. ‘The Deep South’ Challenge is working to understand the role of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean in determining New Zealand’s future climate and environment.
  • Marine ecologist Distinguished Professor David Schiel is involved in ‘Sustainable Seas’ as project leader of “Dynamics Seas”. The ‘Sustainable Seas’ work is focused on enhancing the utilisation of New Zealand marine resources within environmental and biological constraints.
  • Mechatronics engineer Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase is a member of Challenge Management team of ‘Science for Technological Innovation’ and leader of the project “Diabetes Type 2-insulin management spearheads”. The research areas of focus for this Challenge cover materials, manufacturing and design; sensors, robotics and automation; and IT data analytics and modelling.
  • Professor in Earthquake Engineering Brendon Bradley, Deputy-Director of QuakeCoRE: The Centre for Earthquake Resilience, is working on ‘Resilience to Nature’s Challenges’ as leader of portfolio for “Resilient Infrastructure and built environment solutions” project. The Challenge is developing technical resilience solutions and applying them in high-priority geographic and economic settings.
  • Senior Lecturer in Hazards and Disaster Management, Geologist Dr Tom Wilson is also working in the NSC ‘Resilience to Nature’s Challenges’ as leader of portfolio for the "Resilient Rural Backbone" project. The aim of the research is to enhance New Zealand’s ability to anticipate, adapt and thrive in the face of ever-changing natural hazards.
  • Professor in Terrestrial Ecology Jason Tylianakis is collaborating on ‘New Zealand’s Biological Heritage’ sub-portfolio". The Challenge’s objective is to protect and manage New Zealand’s biodiversity, improve biosecurity, and enhance resilience to harmful organisms.

For further information please contact:
Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Phone: +64 3 369 3631 | Mobile: +64 275 030 168 | margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz
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