We were delighted that Dr Katrin Amian, head of the Australia – New Zealand division of the Humboldt Foundation, visited New Zealand in November. She attended the joint meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Humboldt Associations held in Wellington from 17-19 November. She then spent three days promoting the activities of the Foundation in Wellington and the Universities of Auckland and Massey. Her presentation at Auckland, organised by Leo Cheng, at the Auckland Bioenginering Institute, is available online.
Dr Katrin Amian (centre) with Dr Anna Bauer (DAAD representative in New Zealand) and Professor Eamonn O’Brien (University of Auckland) at Auckland on 21 November.
Professor Rod Downey from the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at VUW received a Humboldt Research Award to conduct research at the University of Heidelberg. Downey works at the interface of computer science and mathematics. His works seeks to understand what parts of mathematics can be made computable, and if so, how computable it is in terms of computational complexity. He developed a branch of complexity theory called parameterized complexity which uses bounds on parameters to explore efficiency, and has more recently been involved in algorithmic information theory, and effective algebra. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_Downey
Prof. Kathy Lüdge has been awarded a Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers. Her hosts during her 11 month stay at the University of Auckland are Prof. John Harvey from the Physics Department and Prof. Bernd Krauskopf from the Mathematics Department. While in Auckland she is working on the theoretical understanding and bifurcation analysis of coupled mode-locked lasers which are integrated semiconductor lasers with absorbing and amplifying sections. The goal is to predict optimal operation regimes for regular optical pulse trains, i.e. pulse trains with small timing jitter as needed for example for optical data communication. The project is separated into three main parts which are traditionally established in three different communities: mathematical bifurcation analysis, numerical modelling of photonic devices, and experimental photonics.
In November 2016, Dr Reece Miller from the University of Otago was awarded a Research Fellowship to work with Professor Nils Metzler-Nolte at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. During his PhD, Reece investigated inorganic complexes capable of electrochemical and/or magnetic switching. At Bochum, he plans to apply these skills in the development of electrochemically activated antimicrobial agents in an attempt to counter antibiotic resistance.
In February 2016, Prof. Nicolas Cullen from the University of Otago
received a Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Research to conduct research with Professor Thomas Mölg at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg. The aim of the research is to determine the physical processes governing glacier advance and retreat in the Southern Alps (the effect and “local footprint”) by revealing how modes of climate variability (the cause) impact weather and climate over a hierarchy of space-time scales.
In February 2016, three Feoder Lynen Fellows joined the CTCP at Massey University:
Dr. Paul Jerabek from the Philipps University of Marburg, Dr. Jan Mewes from the University of Heidelberg, both collaborating with Prof. Peter Schwerdtfeger
, and Dr. Thomas Engl from the University of Regensburg collaborating with Prof. Sergej Flach.
The next biennial joint meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Associations of Alexander von Humboldt Fellows will take place in Wellington in November 2017.
Here is the critical information.
Start: Friday evening, November 17, 2017
End: Sunday lunch time, November 19, 2017
Location of meeting: Royal Society of NZ Building, Wellington
The meeting will have a broad theme, covering both humanities and sciences, and will provide opportunities for invited and contributed lectures by Humboldtians and others.
We hope to provide some financial support for Research Fellows, Feoder Lynen Fellows and Humboldt Research Award recipients to take part in the meeting; the quantity of such funding will depend on the outcome of an application early in 2017 to the Humboldt Foundation.
The success of the application will depend on the number of Humboldtians who participate in the meeting. We need your input now to make a successful application, so please complete and return this Expression of Interest form to me.
We look forward to you joining us for what we hope will be an excellent meeting.
Eamonn O’Brien, University of Auckland
Chair, Organising Committee
Professor Helmut Schwarz, President of the Humboldt Foundation, delivered the 2016 Sir Neil Waters Public Lecture in the School of Business at Massey University, Albany Campus, on Wednesday 10th of February. His lecture to an audience of 60 was entitled
“The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge: on the Vital Role of Basic Research in Preserving Societies’ Dreams and Aspirations.”
The lecture was very well received and provoked a lively discussion and large number of questions and comments from the audience.
Professor Schwarz took the opportunity to honour Distinguished Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger (pictured below left) of Massey University (a recent Rutherford Medal winner and Humboldt prize winner) on his 60th birthday and paid tribute to the tremendous contribution Peter has made to New Zealand and international scientific research.
As part of the recent Annual Meeting of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Berlin, a special ceremony was held to confer this year’s Humboldt Research Awardees. At the ceremony, 2 awards were presented to New Zealanders.
Prof Leo Cheng from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute of the University of Auckland, will use his award to work with colleagues at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology and Automation in Stuttgart on developing methods for non-invasively recording and interpreting the weak electrical and magnetic fields that result from the heart, gastrointestinal smooth muscle and skeletal muscle.
Prof Barry Scott from Massey University’s Institute of Fundamental Sciences is using his award to work with colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg on his speciality of plant-microbe symbiosis and understanding how each partner communicates with one another. The plants provide nutrients for the microbe and in return the microbe provides benefit to the plant such as increased growth or protection form insect herbivory. These associations are widespread and in both natural and agricultural ecosystems so it is important to understand how they function.
Photo: Humboldt-Stiftung/David Ausserhofer
Prof Hemut Schwartz, left, with the New Zealand Humboldt Research Awardees, Prof Leo Cheng and Prof Barry Scott and the President of the NZ Humboldt Association, Dr Andrew Matthews.
Two New Zealand Humboldtians received major awards at the Royal Society of
New Zealand Research Honours Event in Wellington on November 26.
Distinguished Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger [pictured below left] from Massey University was awarded the Rutherford Medal for his world-leading contribution to
fundamental aspects of chemical and physical phenomena in atoms,
molecules and condensed matter. Professor Schwerdtfeger is a Humboldt
Prize winner and is the former President on the New Zealand Association
of Humboldt Fellows. Further details of this award can be found here.
Distinguished Professor Marston Conder [pictured below right] from the University of Auckland was awarded the Hector Medal for his outstanding contribution to mathematics. He is a world authority on discrete objects with maximum possible symmetry in their class. Professor Conder is a Humboldt Research Fellowship awardee. Further details of this award can be found here.
We congratulate both on these major achievements.
Prof. Barry Scott of the Massey University’s Institute of Fundamental
Sciences in Palmerston North has just been awarded a prestigious
Humboldt Research Award. The Humboldt Foundation grants up to only
100 Humboldt Research Awards annually. Prof Scott will take up his
award later in 2014 working with Prof Dr Regine Kahmann, at the Max
Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg.
Prof Scott’s research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of
symbiotic interactions between plants and microbes: in particular the
mutualistic symbiotic interaction between the endophyte Epichloe
festucae and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne). Perennial ryegrass
is the most common grass on New Zealand farms and therefore extremely
important to the dairy, sheep and beef industries. The ryegrass host
provides nutrients for endophyte growth and a means of dissemination
through the seed, whereas the endophyte provides biological protection
to the host. The endophyte colonises the intercellular spaces of the
leaves to form an interconnected hyphal network throughout the aerial
tissues of the grass. Importantly growth of the endophyte is kept in
check by chemical cross talk between the grass host and the fungus.
Using genetic tools, Prof Scott’s group at Massey has identified many
of the key fungal genes required to maintain this symbiotic hyphal
network and shown there is a very fine balance between a beneficial
(mutualistic) and detrimental (pathogenic) interaction. He is now
interested in deciphering how those genes are “wired” within the cell
and what metabolites are exchanged between each partner to maintain a
balanced and beneficial symbiosis. Therefore his focus in Germany,
using the Humboldt Research Award, will be to collaborate with his
host, Dr Regine Kahmann, at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial
Microbiology in Marburg. They will attempt to develop and apply the
tools of proteomics and metabolomics to decipher the fungal-plant
symbiotic code. There will also be involvement in this project from
fellow scientists from Göttingen University, Freiburg University,
Münster University and the Braunschweig University of Technology.
Dr. Paul Oestreicher was born in 1931 in Meiningen, Thuringen. His
father, a Jewish pediatrician, took his family into exile in New
Zealand in 1939. Paul has a BA in Politics and German from Otago that
he completed in 1953 and an MA (Hons) in Politics (Victoria) in
1955. The MA Thesis was entitled “History of Conscientious Objectors
to World War II in NZ”. His supervisor at Victoria was General
Kippenburger who had lost both feet at Monte Casino. The young
pacifist and the retired general became friends.
President of the NZ Humboldt Association, Dr Andrew Matthews with Canon Dr Paul Oestreicher recently in Wellington
Envoy and authorised Minister of the German Government, Erich Boltze,
established the German Embassy in New Zealand in late 1953. He then
quickly promoted the new Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to
universities around New Zealand. When Paul Osetreicher’s father
learned of this opportunity, he asked Minister Boltze whether his son
might qualify. Bolzte was unsure but sent a copy of Paul’s Master’s
thesis from Victoria to AvH in Bonn. Bonn came back with the reply
that had such a thesis ((book) been submitted in Germany, the
applicant would have easily qualified for a doctorate. AvH asked where
Paul would like to study? Having read in Wellington a copy of Helmut
Gollwitzers’ book “Unwilling journey”, Paul immediately suggested that
he would like to join Gollwitzer’s group in the Theological Dept at
the University in Bonn. Gollwitzer was approached and was happy to
accept Oestreicher, even without a doctorate! The problem was,
however, that Oestreicher had a degree in political science and not in
theology. Fortunately, a flexible Department of Social Science allowed
Paul to enrol with them but to work in the Dept. of Theology.
From Bonn Paul went to England and spent 2 years studying to become an
Anglican priest and as his bio shows, went on to build an illustrious
career in the peace movement, including being a founding President of
Amnesty International and then Director of the Centre for
International Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral. He holds a DD
(Lambeth), Hon LLD Sussex, Hon DLitt (Coventry) and Hon DD (Otago] and
has been awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse. In 1992 Paul
needed a break from the day to day stressof human rights and peace and
approached the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to ask if he could
claim the 2nd year from the Fellowship in Bonn in 1955/56, 37 years
later. The answer was certainly yes. So in 1992/93, Paul joined
Prof. Marquardt at the Institute of Religious Studies at the Free
University of Berlin working on Church-State relations in the GDR.
Paul is married to a New Zealander, Prof Barbara Einhorn, who is
Emeritus Professor of Gender Studies at the University of Sussex,
UK. She is also a graduate of the University of Otago, and wrote a
doctoral thesis on ‘The Novel in the GDR 1949-1969’. She was awarded a
DAAD scholarship in 1964 and became one of the first holders from New
Zealand. Paul was one of the people who worked to free Prof Einhorn
when in 1983 she was imprisoned in the DDR for her contact with
As Emeritus Canon from Coventry Cathedral, Paul and Barbara split
their year between the UK, Germany and New Zealand.
Prof. Neil Boister of the University of Waikato’s Law Faculty was
awarded a prestigious Humboldt Research Award in February 2014. The Humboldt Foundation grants up to only 100 Humboldt Research Awards annually. Prof Boister
will take up his Award in December 2014 working with Prof Dr Florian
Jessberger in the Faulty of Law at the University of Hamburg.
His proposed research project will focus on the role that The European
Union has played in initiating the development of transnational
criminal law, the system of international treaties and domestic laws
designed to suppress transnational crime. A considerable amount of
research has been done into the role played in the past by the United
States in the development of transnational criminal law, in
identifying threats and developing substantive and procedural criminal
laws to suppress those threats, and then setting about globalising
those laws through a treaty basis. There has, however, been little
work done on the role played by the European Union and its agencies
such as the European Police Office (Europol) and the European
Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in the development of transnational criminal
law. While the EU is well known as a laboratory for developing
responses to crime internally, the EU has been globally active in a
range of areas including anti-money laundering and anti-tobacco
smuggling legislation. It has been pushing the models it has developed
globally and inevitably states like New Zealand are faced with the
decision of whether to adapt their law to in this case EU
model. Broadly speaking this research project will thus examine how
and why the EU has developed into a ‘transnational norm entrepreneur’
within transnational criminal law, and what this means for
transnational criminal law.