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Previous Presenters

On 10 September 2019, New Zealand held its Falling Walls Lab event with presenters from around New Zealand and the Pacific.


Videos of the presentations are available to watch on Royal Society Te Apārangi YouTube channel and Photos from 2019 Falling Walls Lab New Zealand. 


2019 Falling Walls Presentations:

Name Organisation Presentation title Problem Solution
Mylene Anwar University of Otago Breaking the Wall of Poor Gut Health Taro mucilage is a promising prebiotic material. However, the lack of effecient method to obtain the mucilage limits its use as a prebiotic that can be useful for gut health and intestinal disease. Develop simple and effecient technology to obtain taro mucilage and investigate its prebiotic potential to improve gut health and intestinal disease such as Necrotising enterocolitis.
Joachim Arikibe University of the South Pacific, Suva Breaking the Wall of Non-biocompatibility in Hydrogels In Fiji and the Pacific islands generally, the potentials of coconut being in abundance is yet to be fully harnessed besides its current uses, to create jobs  and obtain new materials for biomedicine. Coconut can be used to obtain food dessert called 'Nata de coco' via fermentation process which can create jobs. Nata can be modified for biomedical applications as it is biocompatible and nontoxic.
Déanna Ayupova Victoria University of Wellington Breaking the Wall of Cancer Detection Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. Early diagnosis of cancer is highly desirable, as treatment is more successful with early stage cancers. The potential of EVs, and especially exosomes, as sources of biomarkers is very high as has been identified through several comparative proteomic analyses of exosomes from different biological fluids.
Gabby Bush TasiLua  Breaking the Wall of Individualised eGovernance  eGovernance Services are failing Maori, Pacific Islanders, the elderly and other minority groups from communal cultures by establishing individual and not shared access to public services. Tatou is an inclusive online platform where people can register as collectives, allowing digital public services to centre around whanau sharing the responsibility of access, assistance and support.
Jake Campbell University of Canterbury Breaking the Wall of Unaffordable Diabetes Management In diabetes management, continuous glucose monitors are the most accurate and convenient means of controlling blood sugar levels, but are invasive and too expensive for low income individuals to use. I have developed a non-invasive continuous glucose monitor with a 20-40x cost reduction, allowing all demographics to access the best form of diabetes management without the pain of a needles.
Melissa Derby University of Canterbury Breaking the Wall of Early Literacy Challenges Māori children in New Zealand are overrepresented in the cohort of learners who do not meet the minimum standard of literacy at primary school. This has implications on formal education and beyond. A culturally-responsive literacy intervention that uses traditional Māori pedagogy and cultural practices to strengthen key cognitive skills critical to early literacy success.
Thomas Devine University of Otago Breaking the Wall of Indigenous Inequality Despite New Zealand being a low TB burden country, TB disease has a disproportionately higher incidence in Māori (six-fold) and Pasifika (twelve-fold) when compared to New Zealand Europeans. Unraveling the complex combination of factors (human, socio-economic & bacterial factors) in a culturally appropriate manner and with extensive community engagement in study concept and design.
Shwetha Ann George Auckland University of Technology Breaking the Wall of Unsuccessful Stroke Prevention To date, education-based, health behaviour change interventions critical to mitigating the risk of stroke have only reported a short-term (<3 months) maintenance of preventative behavioural changes. Long-term maintenance of health behaviour change requires one to be highly motivated a self-regulatory capacity dependent on one's health beliefs and cues such as socioeconomic deprivation and stress.
Seer Ikurior Massey University Breaking the Wall of Resistant Worms  Gastrointestinal worm infections are a major animal health challenge for grazing lambs. Overuse of anthelmintic drugs to control these worms has led to an alarming rate of drug resistance development. Early stages of infection involve changes in grazing behaviour. I am exploring the use of these subtle changes, recorded by GPS and accelerometer sensors, to identify and treat ONLY lambs who need it.
Roshan Khadka University of Auckland Breaking the Wall of Artificial Olfaction Technologies mimicking the sense of vision (eye-camera), hearing (ear-cochlear devices) and touch (skin-touch screens) are out there but sense of smell (nose) and taste (tongue) has not been explored. Developing a biosensor device (portable and hand-held like smartphones) using insect olfactory receptors would be a breakthrough technology which can even lead to the early diagnosis of cancer.
Nick Lowther Wellington Blood & Cancer Centre and University of Canterbury Breaking the Wall of Radiotherapy Toxicity According to the Ministry of Health NZ, 520 new cases of head and neck cancer are registered each year. With a five-year survival rate of 60% this is a significant health issue and is complex to treat. Optimisation of treatment margins and treatment plans alongside the implementation of quality management tools and clinical results revision in my PhD research into head-and-neck radiotherapy.
Zhizhong Ma Massey University Breaking the Wall of Unintelligibility Impaired-Speech About 130k Kiwis are suffering from Motor Speech Disorders but there are less than 1k Speech-Language Therapists for them. I aim to develop an Intelligent Assessment and Therapy System to fill the gap. The proposed system will be capable of providing:(i) objective assessments, (ii) adaptive intervention plans, (iii) automatic monitoring tools and (iv) digital communication. 
Helen Murray University of Auckland Breaking the Wall of Neuroanatomy Alzheimer’s disease causes complex anatomical changes in the brain that we don’t fully understand because current visualisation techniques are limited. I am using a novel technique to label up to 100 markers of interest on a single slice of brain tissue which allows for comprehensive analysis of the cellular microenvironment in disease.
David Nair University of Otago Breaking the Wall of Neonatal Thoracoscopy Through Simulation Acquiring the technical skills required for thoracoscopic repair of oesophageal atresia is challenging due to the rarity and complexity of the condition and procedure. Limiting exposure for trainees. We addressed this by designing and validating a fully synthetic neonatal simulator for the thoracoscopic repair of oesophgeal atresia and tracheo-esophageal fistula.
James Ramsay University of Canterbury Breaking the Wall of Energy Lost to Thin Air Drag and fluid resistance increases the energy demand on almost every engineering process in the world. In NZ, ~9% of our emissions arise from overcoming drag in transportation alone. Autogenous suction can be used to control the flow of fluid over an object directly - with no extra energy input. With this, the drag on a body can be greatly reduced without changing its shape.
Pritika Reddy University of the South Pacific, Suva Breaking the Wall of Digital Divide in the Pacific Islands There is no tool to measure digital literacy status of the people in Fiji and there is no underlying research done on the digital literacy status of people in Fiji. The solution is to:  1. Designing and validating a digital literacy scale using existing frameworks to measure digital      literacy  2. Designing and piloting a digital literacy remediation tool.
Imogen Roth Gillies McIndoe Research Institute Breaking the Wall of Brain Cancer Treatment Glioblastoma is the most common and most aggressive primary brain cancer. Despite aggressive treatment, recurrence is almost inevitable and patients relapse and die within 12 to 15 months of diagnosis. A new treatment to repurpose common drugs to eliminate the cancer stem cells present within glioblastoma by targeting the renin-angiotensin system which is present on cells and drives cancer stemness.
Rebecca Soffe University of Canterbury Breaking the Wall of Point-of-Care Insulin Detection Blood sugar control with insulin in diabetes is difficult and risky. PoC insulin measurement will reduce risk & adverse outcomes. Currently there is no PoC insulin measurement & tests require 1-3days. This project will develop a new PoC MEMs microcantilever sensor technology to detect insulin/biomolecules in real-time with high sensitivity.  My role is to design, develop and fabricate prototypes.
Connor Talbot University of Auckland Breaking the Wall of Antiquated Prosthetic Sockets The big issue in Prosthetics is socket fit. Sockets are made of hard inflexible plastic causing limb pain & discomfort. 100% of the worlds 40 Million+ amputees face fit issues & 75% suffer skin issues. We are creating World-first flexible, cushioned, low cost sockets that conform to amputees limbs through the day, reducing pain. We achieve this by smart design, 3D printing, & a quantitative approach.
Catherine Tsai University of Auckland Breaking the Wall of Infectious Diseases Vaccines have been the most feasible method for infectious diseases control, but several barriers such as high cost, safety concerns and the requirement for trained personnel to perform injection render the desired outcome of vaccination. A novel vaccination strategy utilising the bacterial pilus structure to deliver peptide antigen via a food grade bacterium. This strategy can develop safe, inexpensive and needle-free vaccines without compromising the efficacy.