Tue 23 July 2019: Cancer immunotherapy; where does New Zealand fit in?

Tuesday 23 July 2019 at 6pm

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 1

Joshua Lange, PhD Candidate, Malaghan Institute

“Gold coin plus” donations for the benefit of the Malaghan Institute

The human immune system is a complex network of cells and processes that is able to protect us against a wide array of diseases. When our immune system fails, our body can succumb to infections, auto-immune diseases and cancerous malignancies. Our work at the Malaghan Institute combines the use of world-class biotechnology and a community of scientists from all around the world to investigate the mechanisms that drive our immune system and how we can re-engineer it to overcome life-threatening diseases.

This lecture will be given by one of the Malaghan Institute’s PhD students, Hawke’s Bay born and bred Joshua Lange.

Joshua will give an overview on the fundamentals of immunotherapy and how
researchers are using it to re-empower a patient’s own immune system to fight off cancer.
He will also discuss the work surrounding a new major clinical trial at the Malaghan Institute
in close collaboration with the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine. This study is trialling
Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell therapy (CAR T cells) in New Zealanders with B cell
lymphoma, which will be the first time this technology is able to be used in New Zealand.

Joshua received his Bachelor of Science with Honours in 2015 from the University of Otago, working on infectious disease. Since 2016, he has been a PhD candidate at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research in Wellington as part of the Cancer Immunotherapy Programme. His research focuses on the development of novel vaccine constructs to drive immune responses to cancer. In close collaboration with the Ferrier Research Institute, these cancer vaccines have been shown to be able to modulate immune cells so that they better recognize and target cancer cells.

In 1966 a group of far-sighted New Zealanders set a course for world-class independent medical research to be carried out right here. In 2016, the Malaghan Institute celebrated 50 years of achievements in cancer, asthma, allergy, gut health and other research.

Tue 18 June 2019: Youth Sexual Health in 2019

Tuesday 18 June 2019 at 6pm

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 2

Assoc. Professor Sonja Ellis

Te Kura Toi Tangata, Division of Education, University of Waikato

Members of the public are welcome – gold coin donation please

The prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is an important public health measure for maintaining sexual health at a population level. In Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) sexual health surveillance data suggest that young people are at substantially higher risk of contracting STIs than in other western countries including the UK and Australia.  While the issues around engaging young people in good sexual health practices are not new; the contextual landscape (e.g. the acceptance of casual sexual engagement, increasing visibility of same-sex sexual relationships, and changing understandings of gender) is markedly different than in previous generations. Drawing on my expertise in LGBTIQ psychology, my recent study of sexual health practices in 16-19 year olds in NZ, and current international research, this talk explores some of the contemporary challenges of sexual health promotion and STI prevention among today’s youth. Implications for sexual health education/promotion will be discussed.

 Sonja J. Ellis is an Associate Professor in Human Development at The University of Waikato, and is known internationally for her work in the field of LGBTIQ psychology. She is co-author of the textbook Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer Psychology: An Introduction(Cambridge University Press, 2010) – the substantially revised and updated version of which is due out later this year. In 2013 she was awarded the Gender Identity Research & Education Society Research Award for her involvement in the UK Trans Mental Health Study 2012.

Having recently completed a Master of Public Health degree for which she undertook research around youth sexual health, Sonja is now working on a small-scale collaborative project with colleagues on suicide risk in trans and gender diverse persons in Australasia.

Tue 21 May 2019: The Urgent Transition to Minimise Climate Disruption – An Engineer’s take on the Science, Politics and Economic Solution

Tuesday 21 May 2019 at 6pm

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 1

Geoff Henderson
Founder and Managing Director, Windflow Technology

Admission by Gold coin donation

It is a truism to state that the sun powers the Earth’s biosphere, has done for billions of years, and will do for billions to come.  And that our civilisation has developed in the last 5,000 years, but now has an existential dilemma due to the way we harness the sun’s energy and have inadvertently been trapping too much of it.

Four paradigm shifts about energy have been slowly unfolding since the 1970s:

  • Fossil solar energy needs to transition to sustainable solar energy
  • Excess solar energy is being trapped by the products of burning fossil solar energy causing “global warming”
  • That warming is causing temperature rise (and in turn more energetic weather events), but also sea-level rise which may be more of a threat to civilisation
  • The abundance of solar energy means that the problem of (and hence solution to) global warming is more economic than technical.

This paper presents some simple numbers which underpin these shifts. However the process remains slow because of societal inertia.  A sustainable solar energy future will arrive, but the transition could be tempestuous and diluvian for human civilisation unless collective decisions manage to effect a rapid, peaceful transition.  The are some signs of hope that Generation X and the Millennials will act with more urgency than the Baby-Boomers have to date.

Geoff Henderson is the founding director and currently the Managing Director of Windflow Technology Ltd which, since 2001, has raised $150 million to build 106 mid-size (500 kW) New Zealand-made wind turbines in NZ and Scotland. He has been involved in wind power engineering since 1984, including seven years in California and England working at the forefront of wind power technology.

Wed 15 May 2019 Rutherford Memorial Lecture: How plants decide what to do

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser
Director of Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge

6pm Wednesday 15 May

MTG Hawkes Bay Tai Ahuriri Education Centre
1 Tennyson Street, Napier, 4140

Book Here

‘Thinking like a vegetable: how plants decide what to do’
Dame Ottoline Leyser speaks about how plants adjust growth and development to suit their environmental conditions.

It’s easy to imagine that plants don’t do much if we equate action with movement. But plants are as busy of the rest of us, assessing their surroundings and changing their activity accordingly.

All the time they are balancing competing needs, such as whether to invest limited resources in roots or shoots. Plants make these decisions without the benefit of a brain instead using a sophisticated distributed processing system. Understanding how plants decide what to do has important implications for agriculture.

About the speaker

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser DBE FRS, Univeristy of Cambridge, Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory aims to understand how plants adjust their growth and development to suit the environmental conditions in which they are growing. In particular, she is studying how plants change the number of shoot branches they produce depending on factors such as nutrient supply and damage to the main shoot. She is particularly interested in the roles and mechanisms of action of plant hormones such as auxin.
One of her discoveries — the auxin receptor — has helped to explain how hormone signals shape the response of a plant to its environment. She began studying the growth of shoots in the 1980s in Arabidopsis, which at the time was an emerging model for plant biology.

Ottoline was awarded a CBE in 2009 in recognition of her pioneering work in plant science. In parallel to her research, and in conjunction with the Royal Society, she collated Mothers in Science: 64 Ways to Have it All (PDF), a book that highlights how female scientists have successfully combined parenting with their research careers.

The 2019 New Zealand Rutherford Memorial Lecture is proudly presented by Royal Society Te Apārangi in partnership with The Royal Society, London, and with thanks to Auckland Museum Institute.

About the Rutherford Memorial Lecture

The Rutherford Memorial Lecture was established in 1952 by The Royal Society (London) and since that time, in association with the Royal Society of New Zealand, triennial visits have taken place to New Zealand to present the Rutherford Memorial Lecture. In accordance with the Rutherford Memorial Committee guidelines, the Royal Society of New Zealand Council, now known as the Royal Society Te Apārangi Council, is requested to recommend possible lecturers to The Royal Society (London). Lecturers are chosen from Fellows of The Royal Society (London).

Thu 9 May 2019: Reflections of New Zealand in New Zealand children’s picture books

Thursday 9 May at 6pm

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 2

Dr Nicola Daly

Te Kura Toi Tangata, Division of Education, University of Waikato

Admission: Gold coin donation

Children’s literature tells us a lot about the culture and society in which we live; our values and beliefs. Nicola’s research examines linguistic diversity and the importance of children seeing themselves in the books that they read, enabling children both a view into other people’s worlds (windows), and to see their own reflection (mirrors). When you are part of a small country or a minority culture, your opportunities for windows often outstrip your opportunities for mirrors.

Nicola will describe the process of putting together a set of 22 picture books that reflect New Zealand national identity, and describe what characteristics were reflected in the books. She will also share her more recent research concerning the use of languages in the increasing number of New Zealand bilingual picturebooks, and reflect on what this tells us about language attitudes in Aotearoa.

Nicola Daly is a senior lecturer at the University of Waikato where she teaches courses in children’s literature and additional language learning. She majored in Japanese and linguistics in her undergraduate degrees and completed her PhD in Human Communication Sciences at La Trobe University in 1998. She has received numerous international research fellowships including, most recently, a Fulbright Scholarship to work with World of Wordsat the University of Arizona, a collection of around 30,000 volumes of children’s literature focusing on world cultures and indigenous peoples. She is co-director of the Waikato Picturebook Research Unit, which presents an annual picture book seminar.

Thur 4 April 2019: Development of natural fibre composites for a more sustainable future

Thursday 4 April 2019 at 6pm

Professor Kim Pickering

School of Engineering, University of Waikato

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 2

Admission: Gold coin donation

Composite materials commonly contain glass fibre with a matrix, and are used in a wide range of products such as bath tubs, shower cubicles, skateboards, surfboards, furniture and even bridges, as they can be very strong and stiff. However, these materials require a high input of energy to create and they are not recyclable or biodegradable. Professor Pickering will present some of her work on high performance composites from more sustainable materials.

Kim received her PhD in composite materials in 1993 from the University of Surrey, following on from her first degree from Imperial College, University of London and industrial work in the electronic materials sector (Plessey UK). She moved to NZ shortly after, where she formed and heads the Composites Research Group in the Engineering School of the University of Waikato.

Her work involves understanding the failure mechanisms of materials to enable improvement of their performance. She has researched extracting and using the fibres from hemp, wood and harakeke (New Zealand flax), to make strong and lightweight composite materials. She has also developed bio-derived plastic matrix materials to enable production of fully bio-derived composites, along with bio-processing technology for their improvement.

In recognition of her research, Kim was elected as a Fellow of Engineering New Zealand and is a Kudos Award recipient. In 2017 she was awarded the Scott Medal by the Royal Society Te Apārangi, for development of composite materials that are more sustainable.

19 Mar 2019: Lead in Our Home and Garden – Personal and National Effects

Tuesday 19 March 2019 at 6.00pm

 

Ben Keet, MBA, FRSC, Senior Environmental Auditor

 Lecture Theatre 1, EIT, Gloucester Street, Taradale

Admission: Gold coin donation

The New Zealand government wants its citizens to be healthier and more productive. The Healthy Homes Initiative and the National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health should take care of most threats to our national health one would say. However, both overlook the large grey elephant in the room: lead. Our older housing stock, approximately 250,000 according to Statistics New Zealand, has high levels of lead in and around the house.

While lead’s toxicity was recognised and recorded as early as 2000 BC, efforts to limit lead’s use date back to the 16th century. First evidence on the impact of lead exposure at low levels began to emerge only in the 1970s.Recently, it’s been determined that there can be no safe threshold for lead exposure.

But what does low-level lead exposure mean for Kiwis and the economy of New Zealand? How are we to know if lead is a problem in our homes? And, finally, what is the possible long-term solution to the low-level lead poisoning on the New Zealand economy?

 

Ben Keet, a certified contaminated land specialist and environmental scientist with over 30 years of international experience in the management of contaminated land, has extensively studied lead poisoning and its impact on humans and the national economy of New Zealand as part of his MBA thesis. He has researched the way lead particles behave in homes and the surrounding environment.

5 Mar 2019 Ocean detectives – tracking plastics in our marine environment

Tuesday 5 March 2019 at 7pm

National Aquarium Marine Parade Napier

Heni Unwin and Ross Vennell, Cawthron Institute

Over/under split photo of a plastic bag floating on the surface of a coral lagoon

Plastic waste is a global problem and is destroying marine environments. Plastic that is dumped in the sea or ends up in the ocean can accumulate on beaches or be transported many kilometres by ocean currents.

Scientists from the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge are developing a new digital tool to track how ocean currents transport plastics.    Using modelling data for Cook Strait and Tasman-Golden Bays, they have produced an interactive tool which allows users to “drop” a piece of virtual plastic into the ocean and watch where the ocean currents take it. This tool could eventually help to manage the impact of plastics in our marine environment. It can also be used as a teaching resource for students studying marine pollution.

In this Royal Society Lecture, Heni Unwin and Ross Vennell from Cawthron will give a demo of the plastic tracking tool and talk about the ocean modelling data that drives it.