Category Archives: Research & Innovation

UC membership in The Conversation gains momentum

By now, we hope you’ve heard the exciting news that UC is a member of The Conversation, which has the primary and lofty goal of “democratizing knowledge.”

The Conversation is an independent, non-profit publisher of commentary and analysis, authored by academics and edited by journalists for the general public. These pieces are syndicated by media outlets across the world.

In addition to the measurable visibility through readership of The Conversation and its network of re-publishers (national and international journalists and media outlets), authors report significant increases in requests for further academic collaborations, support for current or future grants or funding support, citations for scholarly articles, influence on policy by decision-makers and requests for media interviews (radio, print and TV).

Some recent UC articles include:

If you want to know more or need support to submit an article contact your dedicated communications advisor or Margaret Agnew:

Breeze RobertsonArts
Aleisha BlakeBusiness and Law
Breeze RobertsonEducation, Health and Human Development
Hannah SeeleyEngineering
Corrina DonaldsonScience


How it works

  • Academic staff submit brief “pitches” for possible stories to The Conversation editors, in response to topic-specific requests, or proactively to share research, scholarship or creative work of interest to the public. Pitches can be made directly to editors through a simple online form, or with facilitation from their dedicated Communications Advisor*.
  • The UC Communications team also receives an expert callout email each day from The Conversation and will follow up directly with relevant academics to see if they can write an article.
  • Once a pitch is accepted, academics collaborate directly with editors from The Conversation to develop the article. Once complete, the piece is published in the online edition of The Conversation, included in the outlet’s outbound emails and made available to a network of potential re-publishers. UC Communications also shares content by its authors through appropriate UC channels, including UC News, e-newsletters and social media. 
  • As with other news media, “pitches” need to be topical and timely. Once accepted the articles need to be quickly written and approved for publication, otherwise the moment is lost.
  • Authors have access to an analytics dashboard and can see the number of reads the article has received, the geographic location of readers and where the piece has been republished. Dashboards also monitor all engagement on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as comments on the site, which authors can respond to, providing an opportunity to network with other academics.

Questions? Feel free to reach out to Jayne Austin at or Margaret Agnew at, Communications and Events:

UC contributes to fight against COVID-19

From the maths behind the lockdown, to a prototype face shield for health workers – UC staff and students are providing a range of important contributions in the fight against COVID-19.  

Below is a snapshot of just some of the incredible research and work our community is currently involved in. Tangata Tū, Tangata Ora – Engaged, Empowered, Making a Difference.

  1. Shayne Gooch and other staff are collaborating with Professor Alexander Slocum from MIT to evolve a new design for a low-cost ventilator based on a Bag Valve Mask (BVM) type, which is commonly used to provide positive pressure ventilation in emergency care situations.
  2. Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase is working with his          former PhD student Dr Yeong Shiong Chiew (now based at Monash University, Malaysia) and his EU H2020 research consortia partner Dr Thomas Desaive (University of Liege, Belgium) along with their ICU partners at CHU de Liege, to develop a way to safely ventilate two patients on one ventilator.

    There is strong interest in ventilating multiple patients on a single ventilator due to the overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients – especially in areas like Italy and New York City. They have developed a low-cost, simple design that removes the risks associated with current proposals for ventilating multiple patients, and creates a safe, effective way to put two patients on a single ventilator. Professor Merryn Tawhai (University of Auckland and Director of the MedTech CoRE) has joined the team, which brings together world leaders in lung modelling and intensive care research, and has strong clinical links in Europe and locally with Christchurch Hospital Senior ICU Specialist and University of Otago School of Medicine Professor Geoff Shaw. They are now applying for funding to prototype and prove their ideas, translating them to low-cost, easily used hardware, and intend to share their design worldwide for everyone’s benefit.

We know there is a lot more great work like this happening at UC. If you’d like to share your work, email

Intelligent Automation empowering University staff

For the past seven months, the University of Canterbury (UC) has been undergoing an extensive Intelligent Automation programme that has seen 11 process improvements through building software robots that complete manual, repetitive, high volume tasks. UC has been building an internal team to identify and improve business processes from various departments including Finance, HR, Student Services and Academic Colleges.

UC’s approach to intelligent automation has been exemplary, PwC Director Matthew Whitaker says. “The culture UC has grown to support this programme has led to innovative uses of automation from a technology solution application perspective but more importantly UC has cultivated the human led thinking to drive the opportunity identification and solutioning that is not constrained by a single technology to achieve the outcome.”

The programme is part of achieving a key theme in UC’s 10 year strategy, organisational efficacy. By building robots to complete the manual, repetitive tasks, it empowers staff to complete more value-added work. Already approximately 7,000 hours are to be saved per annum through automation and process improvement.  

UC CFO Keith Longden is impressed with the programme and believes the programme will bring a wide range of benefits to the university.

“There’s been a realisation on how beneficial RPA can be, and how it can apply to part of a process and not the whole process. Because of the success, it’s made it easier to open doors in other areas of the university. Teams have seen that their own process has been looked at by the university, so they’ve felt more valued.”

The robot squad so far:

  • BUCK: Validates differences in pay for staff
  • Reubot: Reconciling the daily bank statement
  • Manwell: Registers students to the recreation centre
  • Murray: Transfers data from various systems into Dynamics 365 (CRM Tool)
  • RoboMatt: Calculating and processing agent commission payments
  • HireMe: Onboards new staff administration through Peoplesoft
  • PayMe: Invigilator timesheets entry
  • AutoBnB: Processes applications for student accommodation to send to students’ hall of first preference
  • Unicorn: Contract Management

More information on each process completed so far can be found on the UC Intranet

If you know of any processes you think would be great to automate, please get in touch with the automation team at:

Geospatial Research Institute Seminar: Saving your life, without you even knowing it

Join us on 27 March to hear from Steve Abley and Chris Morris from Abley Limited talk about the “MegaMaps” tool – Saving your life, without you even knowing it.

New Zealand now has a tool especially developed to identify high risk locations for safety interventions: The Safer Journeys Risk Assessment Tool or “MegaMaps”. This tool, will help to reduce the horrific financial and emotional cost of road fatalities.

“MegaMaps”, has been developed by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency with the assistance of Abley Limited. Steve and Chris, will explain The Safer Journeys Risk Assessment Tool or “MegaMaps”, how it came to exist and why it is unique nationally and globally.

This seminar will be of interest to students, academics, practitioners involved in data analytics as well as road safety practitioners.

Come for a networking free lunch at 12:30 pm, followed by our guest talk at 1:00 pm.
Haere mai!  All are welcome!

Location: University of Canterbury, Ernest Rutherford building, room 263

Please sign up (free) via the Eventbrite link so that we can accommodate for catering:

UC Business School Social Impact Presentation

UC Business School Logo

The UC Business School Research Committee has recently supported the creation of a ‘Social Impact Group’. The group exists to support multi-disciplinary research that focuses on social well-being, welfare and external impact.

This seminar will be an opportunity to share the kaupapa and vision for this group. We will also share some early ideas of growing the group’s ability to generate external funding and support for research that has a well-being focus.

We encourage anyone working in a similar area to come to the hui to see what is happening so far and learn how they can be a part of the group’s ongoing passion for this type of research. We have no methodological boundaries or specific focus on unit of analysis at this stage. Micro, meso or macro level research is all welcome.

The group is co-directed by Prof. Ekant Veer and Dr. Ann-Marie Kennedy and is open to new members of any level who wish to be part of this type of research and engagement community on campus.

The seminar will include morning tea. Please RSVP to for catering purposes. Please note, this is a UC Business School venture and not aligned with any other research group processes.

Day:               Wednesday 18 March 2020
Time:             10-11am
Venue:          Meremere 236, 2nd floor, College of Business and Law
RSVP:            Please rsvp to this email invitation by 9 March to