Royal Society of New Zealand, Canterbury Branch
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Travel Grant Reports 2003

Australasian Polymer Symposium
Uma Adash
Department of Chemistry, University of Canterbury

The Australasian Polymer Symposium (APS) is held every 12-18 months. It is the primary forum for communicating developments in polymer science, engineering and technology. The 26th APS was held in Noosa, Queensland, Australia in July 2003. It attracted participants from Australia, New Zealand, US and Germany, from both industrial and academic laboratories.

APS organisers always try to encourage students to give oral presentations, and in that sense this symposium was no different. A number of students from various universities around Australia, New Zealand and the Unites States gave excellent talks. Organisers of the symposium praised the high standard of presentations and quality of research. Often I found it very difficult to choose between various sessions as the majority of talks were relevant to our field of research, while quite a few other presentations were simply interesting.

We presented some of the work that has been carried out to date. In that work we are concentrating on the use of novel methods of free-radical polymerisation in the synthesis of a polymer for its subsequent use in macromolecular anti-cancer agents. As the reported results provided us with more questions than answers, people showed a real interest in our poster. A number of discussions left me with a list of ideas to work on. I was also invited to work in the laboratory at the Key Centre for Polymer Colloids (KCPC) at the University of Sydney where I could use some advanced equipment and benefit from the expertise of real professionals in the area of polymer design.

I am very pleased to have attended the symposium. I found it to be very beneficial and encouraging. Without financial assistance from the Royal Society I wouldn’t have been able to attend and I am very grateful for your support.

2003 Evergreen International phage meeting ( Olympia USA) Phage Therapy in Agriculture
Sandra Romero
Soil, Plant & Ecological Sciences Division, Lincoln University


Bacteriophages are bacterial viruses that specifically lysed their targeted bacterial host. First described in 1915 and 1917 by Twort and d'Herelle respectively, bacteriophages were used to treat human infections diseases almost immediately after their discovery. The advent of antibiotics caused phage therapy to fall out of favour in the United States and Western Europe. However phages continued to be utilized therapeutically in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Much less information is, however, available about the potential usefulness of bacteriophages in non-clinical areas, such as veterinary medicine, food safety, environmental decontamination and biocontrol of plant diseases amoungst others. To examine the potential for this approach, Lincoln University has started a unique programme to assess bacteriophages as biocontrol agents for plant diseases.

The actual focus is to study the ecology of bacteriophages in walnut ecosystems around New Zealand. Twenty-nine aerial and soil phages were isolated and found to be reactive to Xanthomonas campestris pv juglandis causal agent of walnut blight. The phages have been characterised by electron microscopy, host range, survivability in storage conditions, and molecular techniques. Future studies will be focus on the selection of a group of phages that kill the broad range of bacteria and test them in glasshouse and field conditions. Positive results will be use as tools in future biocontrol programs for this disease.

Clinical Aphasiology Conference (CAC)
Bhawna Jain
Department of Speech and Language Therapy, University of Canterbury

The Clinical Aphasiology Conference (CAC) is an annual forum for clinicians and researchers engaged in the study and clinical management of persons with acquired neurologic language disorders as a result of a stroke. Participation at CAC is by invitation only. For the year 2003, CAC was held in Orcas Island, Washington, from May 27 - May 31.

My presentation at CAC was a part of the platform session 'Model based therapy'. The paper entitled, "Testing a consolidated model of sentence production using an experimental intervention", described an experimental intervention based on a consolidated psycholinguistic model of sentence production that was provided to six people with aphasia. These people were trained on verbs and nouns at three different levels of intervention for a total of 15 weeks to find the level that would result in maximum generalisation to the production of sentences and to spontaneous speech. The paper, which had important clinical implications, focused on the use of a model to drive treatment for people with aphasia. Attending this conference provided me with an excellent opportunity to get feedback on my project from some of the foremost authorities on aphasia such as Prof. Cynthia Thompson, Prof. Roelien Bastiaanse and Dr Margaret Rogers.

The conference also provided me with an opportunity to attend a mentoring lunch and a workshop. The mentoring lunch was organized for all students, post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty, to discuss the three major advances in aphasia research of the past 5-10 years and to discuss the obstacles to progress. The workshop that I attended was on "The contributions of lexical and structural information in language comprehension", a topic that is related to my current research.

This trip was a wonderful experience for me both in terms of gaining knowledge and in making contacts with people. I would like to thank the Canterbury branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand for helping me so generously with my travel costs.

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Voice Foundation's 32nd Annual Symposium: Care of Professional Voice
Marilyn Adeline LIM Mei
Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Canterbury University

I attended the Voice Foundation’s 32nd Annual Symposium: Care of Professional Voice that was held from 4-8 June 2003, at the Double Tree Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The conference was attended by more than 200 delegates from all over the world, with backgrounds in Medicine, Speech and Language Therapy, Audiology and Speech Pathology, Singing, Engineering and Neurology.

There were more than 100 presentations, 8 workshops sessions as well as poster sessions held in the 5-day conference. A number of these presentations were directly related to my research work which included: tutorials on the basics of speech production, synthesis and perception of voice, (free) interactive tool for synthesizing and understanding speech production by modifying articulatory parameters, standards for voice study and data collection instrumentation and an interesting topic on the use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) images to create 3D modeling of the vocal tract for both vowels and consonants.

My paper titled, "Vowel Effect of Glottal Parameters and the Magnitude of Jaw Opening" was presented on Friday, 6 June 2003. Besides learning from the professionals in this field, I am pleased that I was also able to share my ideas with them.

In addition to attending the conference, I also took the opportunity to visit Dr. Robert Yantorno, the director of the Speech Lab at the Temple University in Philadelphia to discuss about my project. He was involved in a similar project a few years back.

Overall, attendance at the Voice Conference and the visit to Temple University has been a very positive experience for me. It has improved my understanding about speech production, perception, synthesis and analysis, increased my knowledge and help to keep me up-to-date with the current speech research carried out overseas. I would like to thank the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation, the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Royal Society of New Zealand Canterbury Branch for their generous financial support that made it possible for me to attend this conference.

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2003 EGS-AGU-EUG Joint Assembly, International Geoscience Conference
Caroline Francois
Civil Engineering Department, Canterbury University

Alpine fault Study area

PhD candidate in Seismology, Caroline Francois, in the Civil Engineering Department received a grant for travel to a geoscience conference where she presented a poster entitled: Design and Installation of a dense array of strong motion instruments for the Alpine fault–New Zealand

I attended the 2003 EGS-AGU-EUG Joint Assembly, an international conference in geoscience from April 6th to 11th in Nice, France ( The conference gathered scientists from 18 fields of Geophysics including seismology, magnetism and hydrological sciences. Over 14,000 abstracts were submitted and around 10,000 people attended.

It could have been easy to feel lonely amongst all the participants. But seismology is a "small" community and this event was actually the occasion to keep in touch with French, Italian, American and Kiwi colleagues and to be introduced to scientists of similar interests.

My poster got a lot of interest because there has been little research on dense strong motion arrays to date and because the area of study was the Canterbury-West Coast region of New Zealand. New Zealand has unique and fascinating tectonics and people were really interested in the aspect of the research relating to the Alpine fault.

The presentation of my research in a major conference allowed me to get excellent feedback and further motivation for my work as well as to make contacts with researchers in my area of study. The most encouraging aspect of the meeting was the technical discussions with researchers working on the same method of seismic signal analysis, about "seismic dense arrays" in general and "dense array signal processing" in particular.

To make the most of such a long trip, and encouraged by my supervisor John Berrill, I gave an oral presentation to the Institute for Earth Sciences in Strasbourg (from where I obtained a degree in Geophysics Engineering 3 years ago) and to the Geophysical Research Laboratory of Grenoble.

This trip has been very valuable for my research and I am very grateful to the Canterbury Branch of The Royal Society of New Zealand for having offered this travel award.

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