Several Te Pūnaha Matatini researchers around New Zealand have been successful in securing major funding for their research, about $4.2 million in total, from the Royal Society Te Apārangi’s 2017 Marsden Fund round.

Marsden Fund applications are very competitive. This year, it distributed an overall total of $84.6 million to more than 130 research projects across the country.

Professor Shaun Hendy, director of Te Pūnaha Matatini, says the current round was the largest number of Marsden projects awarded in one year and one of the highest success rates since 2003. “This is due to the largest real increase in funding since the Marsden Fund was created.”

“It is also pleasing that this large increase in funding didn’t simply lead to more proposals being submitted, which would have lowered the success rate and increased the burden across the sector.”

Successful projects involving Te Pūnaha Matatini investigators

Research supported by the Marsden Fund led by Te Pūnaha Matatini investigators will address diverse range of topics:

  • Professor Stephen Marsland and Associate Professor Isabel Castro (Massey) – AviaNZ: Making sure New Zealand birds are heard ($880,000).
  • Professor Murray Cox (Massey) – From genotypes to phenotypes: Quantifying the functional load ($925,000).
  • Professor Uli Zuelicke and Professor Michele Governale (Victoria) – Supercharging electromagnetism: Tuneable magnetoelectricity in unconventional materials ($905,000).
  • Associate Professor Claire Postlethwaite (Auckland) – Noisy networks: understanding how stochasticity affects mathematical models of cognitive systems ($545,000).
  • Professor Richard Easther (Auckland) – Ultralight dark matter: Dynamics and astrophysics ($910,000).

“It is fantastic to see the success of a number of Te Pūnaha Matatini researchers in the latest Marsden round,” says Professor Hendy. “The Marsden Fund supports fundamental, blue-skies research, so this suite of projects will stimulate and inspire the whole Te Pūnaha Matatini collaboration over the next few years.”

Investigator Professor Marsland says that being awarded the funding means his team can now get down to the business of conducting valuable research. “We can focus research effort on the conservation needs of New Zealand birds, and keep New Zealand at the forefront of methods of adaptive wildlife management, as well as developing novel mathematical methods for dealing with acoustic signals.”

“It also shows us that other people in New Zealand value our approach.”