One hundred raw ideas receive money for further exploration (Marsden Fund)


The odds for Lotto are only slightly worse, but that didn’t stop 1089 applications to the Marsden Fund by New Zealand  scientists for $60m of funding for early stage exploration of their ideas.

The fund, administered by the Royal Society, supports investigator-driven fundamental or blue-sky research in which there isn’t necessarily a specific end goal or income opportunity. In other words, exploring interesting ‘stuff’ without being too sure where it will head – the way a surprisingly large number of life-altering discoveries are made.

But you’d have to be an optimist in putting up a bid. Of the thousand-odd proposals, 252 were asked to submit a full proposal, with 102 or 9.5% ultimately funded; most for three years.

A full list of the CRI and university scientist winners is at http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/programmes/funds/marsden/research-portfolio/2010/ 

Projects, and their principal investigator, receiving the largest investments include:

  • Rheo-NMR of non-equilibrium transitions in complex fluids, Prof Paul Callaghan, Victoria University ($1,040,000)
  • Regenerating the kidney with stem cells. Novel insights from zebrafish, Assoc Prof AJ Davidson, Auckland University ($926,547)
  • Deep fault drilling project: Physical properties and ambient conditions within the active Alpine Fault plate boundary in central South Island, Dr R Sutherland, Dr J Townend, GNS Science ($920,000)
  • Symbiotic sycnchrony: metabolic co-regulation in a plant-fungi symbiosis, Prof D B Scott, Massey University ($900,000)
  • A new mechanism for post-transcriptional regulation in prokaryotes, Assoc Prof V L Arcus, Dr R Colangeli, Waikato University ($895,051)

There were 22 other projects whose funding over the three year period is $800,000 +.

The smallest quantity of funding of $256,000 has gone to Massey University’s Dr NC Parsons for a project, ‘Race, place and biopolitics: Zionism, Palestine and population management in the twenty-first century.

Thirty-four of this year’s awards are Marsden Fast-Starts, designed to support outstanding researchers early in their careers.

This year a new panel was formed to look at proposals in the engineering area with the view that successful projects will lead to possible new cross-disciplinary applications in science and engineering.

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About sticknz

sticK is by Peter Kerr, a writer for hire. I have a broad science and technology background and interest, with an original degree in agricultural science. My writing speciality is making the complex understandable. I am available for outside consultancy work, and for general discussions of converting a good idea into something positive
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