A total of 88 research projects have been allocated $53.8 million of funding in this year’s Marsden Fund grants.
The Marsden Fund uses a two-stage process to assess the 1078 proposals received this year, from researchers at New Zealand universities, Crown Research Institutes and private research organisations.
For a full list of recipients, see 2011 Awards.
For details of selected projects, see 2011 Funding Highlights.
The Marsden Fund is regarded as a hallmark of excellence, allowing New Zealand’s best researchers to explore their ideas. It supports projects in the sciences, technology, engineering and maths, social sciences and the humanities. The fund is administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the government.
More than one-third of the proposals funded are Marsden Fast-Starts, which are designed to support outstanding researchers early in their careers, 0 to 7 years after completing their PhD.
Highlights from the 2011 funding round include projects that will give answers to the questions: “Are the fossils found in New Zealand the direct ancestors of our distinctive modern flora and fauna?”; “Did Moriori settle the Chathams directly from East Polynesia, bypassing New Zealand, or did they visit mainland New Zealand on the way?”; and “What are the mechanisms and conditions under the Earth’s crust that cause big earthquakes?”.
These research questions are only three of the hundreds addressed by the 88 projects funded this year.
Marsden Fund Council chairman Professor Peter Hunter said he is proud to be part of the Marsden Fund system and is continually impressed at the quality of the applicants and the proposals.
“The Marsden Fund supports leading-edge research, which creates economic growth and increases our understanding of issues, from medical advancements to social change and development.
“Most breakthroughs around the world come from this basic science end of the research spectrum, which is what makes the Marsden Fund both exciting to be part of and vital for New Zealand to invest in.
“The newly funded projects from the country’s top researchers are all excellent. However, we are very aware that there were many more extremely worthy projects that we were unable to fund.”
Applications to the Marsden Fund are extremely competitive. Of the 1078 preliminary proposals received, 250 were asked to submit a full proposal with 88 ultimately funded, giving a success rate of 8.2%. All of the funded proposals are for three years.