Category Archives: Staff Success


Join us in celebrating the very substantive contribution to academia made by Professor Annie Potts and Professor Michael Plank in the next presentation of our Professorial Lecture Series for 2019.

  • Date: Thursday 2 May, from 4.30 – 6.00 p.m.
  • Location: E14 – Engineering Core

All staff and postgraduate students are encouraged to attend the lecture series to actively support our new Professors, and take the opportunity to appreciate the fantastic research being undertaken in parts of the University you may be less familiar with.

You’ll find further information on each presentation, below.

Ngā mihi

Professor Ian Wright
Deputy Vice-Chancellor | Tumu Tuarua


Presentation details:

Kapa Kaiota: The Intersectional Politics of Veganism
Presented by Professor Annie Potts 
Director of the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies

For students and researchers of human-animal relationships, the words ‘vegan’ and ‘veganism’ have begun to function not only as the descriptors of a practice – a way of living and being in the world – but also as critical terms.

In this regard we can say that ‘vegan’ and ‘veganism’ refer to a particular kind of conceptual approach, one characterised by an ethical and political commitment to the identification, analysis and rejection – as far as possible – of the ideologies that justify and enable the exploitation of nonhuman animals.

In addition veganism, both as a practice and a critical method, increasingly tends to combine with ‘intersectional’ forms of thinking, which aim to recognize the ways in which human-animal relations are intricately linked with the politics of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, class, and physical ability and disability. 

This presentation will introduce key theories of veganism, placing particular emphasis on new critical thinking emerging from Intersectional Vegan Studies.

Special attention will also be paid to representations of meat and its consumption (as well as meat and dairy refusal and veganism) – phenomena that should be central to any thoroughgoing understanding of food futures, both in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world.


Size-based models of marine ecosystems and the effects of fishing
Presented by Professor Michael Plank
School of Mathematics & Statistics

Many species of fish begin life as tiny larvae and grow to be several million times larger as adults. Over the course of its lifetime, a fish’s predators and prey change drastically as it grows bigger. This means that body size is a crucial variable in any population.

Size-spectrum models are a type of mathematical model that calculate changes in body size as a results of biomass being transferred from prey to predator, and from parent to offspring. This is a different paradigm from a classical species-based predator-prey model.

In this talk, I will give an overview of how size-spectrum models work and the insights they have given into marine ecosystem dynamics. I will show how these models can be used to investigate the ecosystem-level effects of different approaches of fishing, such as different size-based fishing regulations. This includes short-term considerations such as sustainable yield and effects on ecosystem structure, as well as longer-term change such as fisheries-induced evolution.

Are you up for the challenge with a top ranking UC team?

UC staff biked their way to win 1st place in the 500 -1999 staff category in the Aotearoa Bike Challenge held this year.

The Aotearoa Bike Challenge is a free, fun competition to see which organisation can get the most people to ride a bike. Teams earn points for riding and for recruiting new members. The competition is based primarily on numbers of staff taking part, but points are also awarded for the number of trips taken and distance ridden.

Our cycling success in the Challenge was demonstrated in many ways:

  • 262 out of 1918 staff are cycling , that’s 14% participation
  • 13,566 trips were cycled during the Challenge which is equivalent to 179,472 kilometres cycled
  • 55,515 commute kilometres/5619 commute trips
  • 15,746 kg co2 was saved by cycling

Imagine if more people rode bikes in Aotearoa New Zealand – our air would be cleaner, our cities would be more peaceful and our streets would be safer. We’d be fitter too. Studies have shown that places with higher numbers of riders have fewer accidents per rider. Increased participation leads to greater visibility and awareness and makes bicycling safer for everyone.

Let’s get out there cycling more often, whether it’s for fun, exercise or transport to work. Check out how the challenge operates and be ready for the next one.

Photo: Diana Hinterleitner is presented with the winning certificate during the Christchurch City Council’s Infrastructure, Transport and Environment Committee on 10 April.

A Fortnight dedicated to Staff Wellbeing and Self-Care

It is important to take care of ourselves in our day-to-day lives, and it becomes essential to be kind to ourselves and take time out to pause and practice some self-care in times of stress and trauma.

So, for the fortnight of Monday 29 April to Friday 10 May, you will have the opportunity to attend some lunch time sessions on various topics around self-care for you and your family.

We encourage you to attend as many of the sessions as possible, which have been planned around lunch time. Grab a drink, bring your lunch and prepare to learn and practice some techniques to enhance your wellbeing.

Free access to the RecCentre for the Self-Care Fortnight.

All staff will have free access to the RecCentre and you can bring a friend too, but you must be there to sign them in.
Contact the RecCentre for further information.

Session information:

Feeding the brain in times of stress: practical advice on how to nourish ourselves
Julia Rucklidge, Professor of Clinical Psychology
Straight-forward ways to boost your mental and emotional states via nutrition/nutritional interventions, with immediate and long-term results in adults and children.

  • Date: Monday 29 April, 12.00pm – 1.00pm
  • Location: Undercroft 101

Sleep, Health and Children
Jacki Henderson, Senior Lecturer, Psychology

  • Date: Thursday 2 May, 12.00pm – 12.50pm
  • Location: Check the intranet page for updates on venue

Staff Yoga
Sabine Claus, Group Fitness Instructor
Come and enjoy a free 45 minute yoga session.
Please bring your own yoga mat, as there will be limited mats available to use in the room.

  • Date: Monday 6 May, 12.00pm – 12.45pm
  • Location: Rēhua 529

The Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health
Stacey Niao, Sport and Wellness Coordinator, UC RecCentre

  • Date: Thursday 9 May, 12.30pm – 1.00pm
  • Location: Undercroft 101

Mindfulness – An introductory session
Ann Huggett, Registered Clinical Psychologist
Please bring a cushion or yoga mat to sit on as you will be sitting on the floor.

  • Date: Friday 10 May, 12.00pm – 1.00pm
  • Location: Rēhua 529

We are currently working on more speakers to share their expertise with you, keep an eye on our intranet site to find out more, or email

If you need more information on support, please visit our Staff Support page or contact your HR Advisor.

Celebrate Fresh Thinking: Professorial Lecture Series

Join us in celebrating the very substantive contribution to academia made by Professor Richard Green and Professor Adrian McDonald in the first Professorial Lecture Series for 2019.

  • Date: Thursday 4 April, from 4.30 – 6.00 p.m.
  • Location: E14 – Engineering Core

All staff and postgraduate students are encouraged to attend the lecture series to actively support our new Professors, and take the opportunity to appreciate the fantastic research being undertaken in parts of the University you may be less familiar with.

You’ll find further information on each presentation, below.

Ngā mihi

Professor Ian Wright
Deputy Vice-Chancellor | Tumu Tuarua


Presentation details:

Deep learning is Revolutionising Smart Robots, Drones and Vehicles
Presented by Professor Richard Green, Department of Computer Science & Software Engineering.

Over only the last few years, deep learning has significantly improved computer vision and machine learning to finally enable fully autonomous robots, drones, vehicles and other analysis usually performed manually.

Helping computers to unambiguously see and understand the world is a fascinating and exciting research endeavour, but also seriously challenging when they are still so dumb, and almost blind compared with human cognitive capability.

In this Professorial Lecture I will describe my contributions across these research areas, including recent autonomous systems research into drones pruning forests, robots pruning vineyards, general purpose farm robots, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) inspecting mussel lines, scanning ship hulls and wharf pylons to detect invasive bio-fouling species, mapping the seabed to locate scallops and automatic blood spatter analysis.

UC is now a world leader in this autonomous software research, with a large AI Robotics (UC AIR) research group. But this is multidisciplinary research – which only exists through collaboration with Electrical, Mechanical and Civil Engineering, together with domain experts such as those from marine biology, forestry, ESR and Lincoln University Viticulture.

Labour shortages and quality/accuracy/safety are the biggest drivers for so many of these applications – but based on this accelerated capability, how long will it be until all human manual labour tasks can be automated?


Clouds over Antarctica and the Southern Ocean: Their Influence on Aotearoa New Zealand Climate
Presented by Professor Adrian McDonald, Department of Physical & Chemical Sciences.

Clouds have a surprisingly large effect on our climate. In particular, cloud cover reflects sunlight back into space that would otherwise be absorbed by oceans, potentially raising their temperatures.

Despite their significant influence on climate, clouds still represent the largest source of uncertainty in modern climate models.  The frequency of clouds over the Southern Ocean for example is often underestimated, causing models to predict warmer sea surface temperatures than what is observed. 

Models also often misrepresent the composition of clouds because of the importance of small particles, called aerosols, which act as the starting points for cloud droplets and ice to form around. 

These deficiencies in turn leads models to predict the strength and position of the Southern Hemisphere storm tracks incorrectly. These storm tracks impact Aotearoa New Zealand directly via their influence on rainfall, and also bring extreme weather events. It is vital that our models represent clouds well so we can increase certainty in our climate projections for Aotearoa New Zealand.

In this Professorial Lecture, I discuss the use of detailed measurements to compare with simulations of the present-day to critically test the quality of cloud and aerosol simulations.

By analysing these differences and using our understanding of how cloud processes work I show how we can develop improved model simulations.

UC Teaching Awards and Teaching Medal

Do you know an excellent teacher or teaching team who deserve wider recognition?

Then take a moment to nominate them for a UC Teaching Award or the UC Teaching Medal.

Nominations for the 2019 Teaching Awards and UC Teaching Medal are open from now until 1 April, so kick start your year now.

Don’t forget that there is also an award available for implementing a single special teaching innovation, and that all teaching awards also bring with them a financial reward. The process is simple: complete a one-step form.

All awards recognise excellence in teaching (including thesis supervision) in both undergraduate and graduate programmes. The teaching medal is UC’s highest award for teaching and leadership.

Further information and nomination forms are available on the Teaching Awards or the Teaching Medal websites.