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Published 27 October 2023

Fellowships support research into vaping and health, bacteriophage genes, and bioethics relating to anatomical skeletal legacy collections

From left: Kelly Burrowes, Peter Fineran and Siân Halcrow

Three researchers at the height of their careers have been awarded fellowships to undertake study or research in their field of endeavour for two years, recognising their sustained research excellence. They will be studying the long term health effects of vaping, the identification of essential bacteriophage genes, and the bioethics of the use, curation, and repatriation of anatomical skeletal legacy collections in Aotearoa New Zealand and the USA.


Associate Professor Kelly Burrowes of Waipapa Taumata Rau the University of Auckland is working at the interface of technology, engineering and medicine to understand lung function. In her fellowship she will study the poorly understood short- and long-term consequences of vaping on the lungs. This research will provide a holistic understanding of the vaping-related changes that occur in our bodies and the mechanisms that drive them.

Professor Peter Fineran of Te Whare Wānanga o Ōtago the University of Otago studies bacteriophages, which are viruses that infect bacteria. He will develop a novel method for generating random mutations in phage genomes to determine the genes which are important for phage function and allow them to evade bacterial defence systems. This fundamental research will facilitate the rapid generation of phages that can evade specific bacterial defence systems - an important step towards using phages for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

Professor Siân Halcrow of Te Whare Wānanga o Ōtago the University of Otago will conduct the first comprehensive survey of anatomical skeletal legacy collections in Aotearoa and the United States. She will also conduct a systematic assessment of stakeholder perspectives, including those of indigenous populations, on their use and curation. This will inform best practice and aid development of ethical guidelines and policy worldwide for use in museums, universities, schools, and other institutions. 

The fellowships are awarded to researchers who have achieved national and international recognition in their area of scientific research. The fellowships allow them to concentrate on a major piece of research for two years without the additional burden of administrative and teaching duties. The funding package annually is $100,000 plus GST and up to $10,000 plus GST in relevant expenses.

The fellowships are managed by Royal Society Te Apārangi on behalf of the New Zealand Government with funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. This is the last year of the James Cook Research Fellowship as it will be replaced by the New Zealand Mana Tūārangi Distinguished Researcher Fellowship from next year. 


More information on the fellowship recipients is available online.



Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi