Thursday, July 18, 2024

$77m pledged for 113 research projects

More than a hundred new research projects will be funded over the next three years, supporting researchers to explore new ideas, Research, Science, and Innovation Minister, Ayesha Verrall has announced.

Newly funded projects include those looking at stimulating immune cells to combat cancer, harnessing the power of thermal spikes, and understanding the sounds of te reo Māori in an acoustically varied world.

Other successful recipients will focus on climate change, diabetic heart disease, antibiotic resistance and exploring aspects of our cultural history.

A total of 113 new projects have been approved for funding, with $77.391 million being invested over the next three years.

The Marsden Fund Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden supports research across a wide range of disciplines from biomedical sciences, engineering, mathematics, physics and chemistry, through to social sciences including Māori studies, public policy, social linguistics, and the humanities.

Marsden Fund Council Chair Professor David Bilkey says the successful projects are of world-class standard, having made it through a highly rigorous selection process, including substantial international peer review.

“Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden was created to enable our leading and early-career researchers to develop their most inspired and ambitious ideas. Support for curiosity-driven ‘blue-sky’ ideas is vital sustenance to feed the healthy, resilient, and diverse research culture we have in Aotearoa. The resulting mahi can be expected to challenge accepted ways of thinking, introduce new lines of enquiry, and sometimes lead to unexpected discoveries,” he said.

“The depth and breadth of knowledge represented in this year’s funded research is something to be proud of, with research excellence and scholarly impact in areas such as adapting to the climate crisis, improving hauora health and wellbeing, and advancing fundamental research that underpins new technologies.

“Māori research and mātauranga Māori has been recognised across a range of disciplines this year,” said Professor Bilkey.

“For example, one project will use materials science and mātauranga Māori to try to explain the special physical properties of Pounamu, and in another example the aim is to understand and leverage mātauranga Māori-led recovery approaches to improve how we recover from disasters.”

Some examples of Kaupapa Māori approaches funded this year include an exploration of Māori views and expressions of emotions, and another which uses a Kaupapa Māori research paradigm to understand how mainstream sport can be decolonised to enable Māori self-determination.

“There is strong representation of the diversity of Māori world views in this research, which will benefit Aotearoa in many ways – for example, by helping us to better understand who we are, and by applying transformative approaches to some of our most pressing problems,” said Professor Bilkey.

“Marsden is our premier investigator-led fund, it supports bright ideas from our top researchers. This investigator-led research has resulted in many unexpected discoveries in the past, such as how melanin operates to protect our skin from UV radiation,” said Dr Verrall.

“This year, there were no COVID-19-related disruptions to the funding round processes. Contingency planning and lessons from the past two years ensured the Fund maintained a fair, robust and defensible process.

“Encouragingly this funding round has seen 1 in 10 researchers of successful projects identify as Māori.

“Supporting Māori researchers in our research system is an important priority for the Government.”

The full results and researcher contact details for media comment will be on the Royal Society Te Apārangi website at www.royalsociety.org.nz.

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