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Second day of record-breaking Research Symposium seals a stellar year for Unitec research

  • research day

Unitec’s record-breaking Research Symposium wrapped up this week with the second day of presentations covering Research with Impact, as well as Early Career Research.  

Unitec members of the STRATUS team, conducting research into cybersecurity, gave the keynote address, while David Glover, Executive Director, Partnerships and Student Recruitment, presented the awards.  The judging panel included David Glover; Director - Māori Success, Toni Vaughan; and Head of the School of Community Studies, Katie Bruffy.

The annual Research Symposium attracted a record number of entries this year with more than 160 research submissions from tertiary institutes from all round the country.  Tūāpapa Rangahau Research and Enterprise Director, Associate Professor Marcus Williams, said the number of entries this year was unprecedented, and the convening team made the decision to stage the Symposium over two separate days in order to accommodate more presenters.  The first day of the Research Symposium was held in October.  

The Research with Impact category on Day 2 of the Symposium was won by the Plastic Minimisation Construction Project team, made up of Associate Prof Linda Kestle, Associate Prof Terri-Ann Berry, German Hernandez, as well as Industry Partners Annette Day (Naylor Love) and Simon Burden (Mitre 10). 

The project was praised by the judging panel, saying, “This project showed amazing industry collaboration from the get-go and as a result, presents the opportunity to have high social impact by changing both construction supply chains and on-site work practices.  Let’s hope Auckland Council continues to fund further innovations like this.”

Winner of the Early Career Researcher award was Caralyn Kemp from the School of Environmental and Animal Sciences for her project, Affecting Change: Donation Giving in a Zoo, which looked at the effect that that Human-Animal Interactions (HAI) had on visitors to zoos.


The results from Day 2 of the Research Symposium are:

Research with Impact Winner

Plastic Minimisation Construction Project

Associate Professor Linda Kestle, Associate Professor Terri-Ann Berry, German Hernandez and Industry Partners Annette Day (Naylor Love) and Simon Burden (Mitre 10)


Research with Impact Runner-Up

Future Nursing Workforce: Student nurse intentions to work in aged care after registration

Dr Samantha Heath, Pam Williams, Ruth Jackson, Robina Mall, Gil Graham and Shobha Johnson


Early Career Researcher Winner (Peoples’ choice)

Caralyn Kemp School of Environmental and Animal Sciences

Affecting Change: Donation Giving in a Zoo


Early Career Researcher Runner-up (Peoples’ choice)

Rishna Bogati  (student)

Supervisor: Dr Babar Mahmood

Assessment of Grease Traps Used in the Food Services Sector in Auckland


Results from Day 1 of the Research Symposium, held in October, are:

3-Minute Thesis Competition

  • Runner-up: Taine Murray, School of Architecture, for ‘Regenerative Manifesto’
  • Joint Winners: Ying Olivia Chiang, School of Architecture for ‘Be Still’ and Rob Small, School of Architecture, for ‘Mana Kai and Mana Rongoa’

Research with Impact (Day 1):

  • Runner-up: Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan, Director – Ngā Wai a Te Tūī and Community Researchers
  • Winner: Hermione Keepa and Rihi Tenana, Researchers, Ngā Wai a Te Tūī

Early Career Researcher Award (Day 1):

  • Runner-up: Tui Matelau, Senior Lecturer, School of Bridgepoint
  • Winner: Whitiao Paul, Community Researcher, Ngā Wai a Te Tūī

Tūāpapa Rangahau Awards:

The Unitec 2020 HoS CoLab Research Dissemination Innovation Award was awarded to Dr Samantha Heath, Lecturer and Research Leader, School of Healthcare and Social Practice. Samantha was recognised for her leadership in creating research opportunities for staff in the Bachelor of Nursing.

The Unitec Award for Outstanding Contribution to Research Excellence was presented to Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan, Director, Ngā Wai a Te Tūī for her leadership in establishing and growing Ngā Wai a te Tūi, Unitec’s Māori and Indigenous Research Centre

A special award was presented to for Outstanding Contribution to Research Support and Culture, to Cynthia Almeida, Postgraduate Academic Administrator, Tūāpapa Rangahau Research and Postgraduate Office. Cynthia was recognised for the support she gives to student researchers.