Faculty of Engineering Success at Vice-Chancellor Research Excellence Awards

12 May 2017
VC commercilization medal 9 May17
Associate Professor Charles Clifton (second from left) and Associate Professor Patrick Hu (centre) joined by Hon Paul Goldsmith (Minster for Science and Innovation and Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment)
Jenny Malstrom
Dr Jenny Malmstrom

Three Faculty of Engineering Academics have received prominent research excellence awards for their work at the University of Auckland.

Dr Jenny Malmstrom won a University of Auckland Early Career Research Excellence Award, and Associate Professor Charles Clifton and Associate Professor Patrick Hu scooped two of the top prizes, each winning a Vice-Chancellor Commercialisation Medal.

Based in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Dr Malmstrom's research focuses on functional bio-interfaces and nanomaterials. Her award recognises her research achievements and leadership during the early stages of her career. She has received both a Marsden grant and a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship for this research.

The $25,000 prize that came with the award will be used to extend her current research into the development of smart bio-interfaces, as well as that of advanced applications of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). She plans to travel to the United States to get advanced training in the use of AFM, which will create the foundation for a successful research programme to synergistically support other University of Auckland researchers.

Dr Malmstrom says that receiving this award is an honour, and she has been lucky to be surrounded by fantastic collaborators and students, without whom this work would not have been possible.

"My research in engineering functional surfaces is underpinned by an understanding of the molecular interactions between biomolecules and surfaces. This can be studied using atomic force microscopy, and associated functional nanoscale measurements. I will use this award to attend specialised training in these functional measurements to extend my expertise in this area".

Associate Professor Charles Clifton, a structural steel expert from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering was recognised for his sustained commitment to research excellence over his career. 

His work in structural steel has shaped the building industry of New Zealand, in particular the rebuild of Christchurch city centre following the 2011 earthquake. The city has been rebuilt using 90% structural steel, in direct opposition to the reinforced concrete that was industry standard before Charles' research. His work is the principal basis for current New Zealand design of steel buildings for earthquake, fire, and durability used by structural and civil engineers in New Zealand.

He invented a Sliding Hinge Joint with Asymmetric Friction Components, a unique beam-to-column connection. During an earthquake, this hinge joint allows building columns to rotate relative to the beam with controlled friction sliding, and then to become effectively rigid after the shaking stops. This hinge joint, in conjunction with a unique asymmetric friction sliding detail at the bottom of the steel beam, has been incorporated into NZD 4billion of new buildings since 2005. These include five high-storey buildings in Wellington that have experienced earthquakes close to or exceeding the ultimate limit state design level. These buildings have self centred and required no repair following the earthquakes.

Associate Professor Patrick Hu received his award for his long career of research excellence. 

Patrick is a leading researcher in wireless power technologies. He holds about 20 patents in wireless/contactless power transfer and microcomputer control technologies, published more than 200 peer reviewed journal and conference papers with more than 3000 citations, authored the first monograph on wireless inductive power transfer technology, and contributed four book chapters on inductive power transfer modelling/control as well as electrical machines.

Patrick is currently the Deputy Head of Research of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He is also the Head of Research of PowerbyProxi Ltd, as well as guest professor of ChongQing University and TaiYuan University of Technology, China. He is a Senior Member of IEEE, the former Chairman of IEEE NZ Power Systems/Power Electronics Chapter and Chairman of NZ North Section. He served as Secretary/Treasurer of NZ Chinese Scientists Association, and now the vice president. His research interests include wireless/contactless power transfer systems, and application of power electronics in renewable energy systems.

The Faculty of Engineering wishes to congratulate our researchers on their success, and wish them luck for their future research.

In 2013, Marek earned a place on the Dean of Graduate Studies list (Dean’s List) in recognition of his PhD thesis on the construction of childhoods, and last year he won the prestigious American Educational Research Association's (AERA) Qualitative Dissertation Award .

His latest research award comes with $25,000, which Marek will use to pursue his next research project - an investigation into young children’s relations to materiality of the places or spaces they live and play in, and how their nature and culture comes together in order to influence local policies.

This research project will involve working with early years centres, children, teachers and parents, to research the notion of child-friendly cities in New Zealand’s North Island.

Marek says the study will respond to a lack of research theorising young children’s voices of their experiences of their childhoods in the city. It will also use the narratives of children, their parents and teachers to produce an analysis of data that maps children’s perceptions of New Zealand society and urban life.

“This new knowledge will inform policy and planning decisions for young children, to enhance their experiences and wellbeing in local urban spaces, and it will make an original contribution to international scholarship, that informs planning for young children in cities around the world, that honours children’s rights.” 

Marek says the award was and “incredible honour” and encouragement to continue his research work with young children and and their childhoods.

“It justifies the importance of early childhood education and childhood studies, and most importantly the voices of young children that need to be taken seriously to create a just and fair society in the urban world dominated by adults' notions and ideas.” 

The Research Excellence Award (REA) received by Professor Stuart McNaughton with Dr Mei Lai, Dr Rebecca Jesson and Dr Aaron Wilson highlights a 12 year commitment to developing and testing a model to raise and extend student achievement. ,

The research team worked in more than 50 schools and with more than 10,000 children to develop the Learning Schools Model (LSM).

This model is a design-based approach for whole-school improvement, based on research and professional partnerships, and developing bespoke solutions to context-specific educational problems.

Principal investigator Stuart McNaughton says, “The model has been tested and shown to be effective in a number of experimental intervention studies in different schooling contexts (urban, rural), across all sectors (primary and secondary schools), across the Trans-Tasman and in different domains of learning  such as reading, writing, and curriculum subject areas. It is also recognised as one of New Zealand’s most successful research programmes to improve educational results for Māori, Pacific and children from low socioeconomic communities.”

 

In 2013, Marek earned a place on the Dean of Graduate Studies list (Dean’s List) in recognition of his PhD thesis on the construction of childhoods, and last year he won the prestigious American Educational Research Association's (AERA) Qualitative Dissertation Award .

His latest research award comes with $25,000, which Marek will use to pursue his next research project - an investigation into young children’s relations to materiality of the places or spaces they live and play in, and how their nature and culture comes together in order to influence local policies.

This research project will involve working with early years centres, children, teachers and parents, to research the notion of child-friendly cities in New Zealand’s North Island.

Marek says the study will respond to a lack of research theorising young children’s voices of their experiences of their childhoods in the city. It will also use the narratives of children, their parents and teachers to produce an analysis of data that maps children’s perceptions of New Zealand society and urban life.

“This new knowledge will inform policy and planning decisions for young children, to enhance their experiences and wellbeing in local urban spaces, and it will make an original contribution to international scholarship, that informs planning for young children in cities around the world, that honours children’s rights.” 

Marek says the award was and “incredible honour” and encouragement to continue his research work with young children and and their childhoods.

“It justifies the importance of early childhood education and childhood studies, and most importantly the voices of young children that need to be taken seriously to create a just and fair society in the urban world dominated by adults' notions and ideas.” 

The Research Excellence Award (REA) received by Professor Stuart McNaughton with Dr Mei Lai, Dr Rebecca Jesson and Dr Aaron Wilson highlights a 12 year commitment to developing and testing a model to raise and extend student achievement. ,

The research team worked in more than 50 schools and with more than 10,000 children to develop the Learning Schools Model (LSM).

This model is a design-based approach for whole-school improvement, based on research and professional partnerships, and developing bespoke solutions to context-specific educational problems.

Principal investigator Stuart McNaughton says, “The model has been tested and shown to be effective in a number of experimental intervention studies in different schooling contexts (urban, rural), across all sectors (primary and secondary schools), across the Trans-Tasman and in different domains of learning  such as reading, writing, and curriculum subject areas. It is also recognised as one of New Zealand’s most successful research programmes to improve educational results for Māori, Pacific and children from low socioeconomic communities.”