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Christchurch school students learn about the power of microbes

Department staff often have opportunities to get involved with schools and community groups, teaching them about the microscopic world around us. Ros Kemp and Kirsten Ward-Hartstonge visited Hornby High School recently to talk to Year 7 kids about immunology,

Hornby High School is one of the Christchurch schools being used as a test case for intermediate-high school integration. The local intermediate, Branston Intermediate, was closed after the earthquake. The Year 7 class asked to have some “girls scientists” come to talk – their request was granted, along with some fun practical activities that demonstrate microbes in action.

The students played two iPad games: in one they selected the right drugs to kill different types of microbes, and the other challenged them to create a microbe that could kill the world, taking into account spread, infectivity and lethality. There was also a vaccination game, where only the kids with the right vaccine "jandals" could fight off the disease "balls" thrown at them. Only a few of them survived - those who were vaccinated against everything.

Ros and Kirsten also spent some time with the Year 11 and 12 students, telling them about the Hands On Science programme.

Ros and Kirsten in classRos and kids

Posted by Jo Cramond on 20/10/2014 at 11:00 AM

Professor Frank Griffin featured in three farming publications

Dairy cowsFrank Griffin has been profiled recently in three farming publications: Farmer’s Weekly, Country-Wide magazine and Dairy Export News.

The article from Farmer’s Weekly highlights the high cost of infectious disease to the rural sector. The flipside of this, Professor Griffin says, is a high return for investment in intervention.

Decades of research by Professor Griffin and the Disease Research Lab has focused on Johnes diagnostics, predominantly in deer due to the availability of an effective model, but the dairy industry is where research results offer the most valuable application.

Professor Griffin believes that, increasingly, more than just milk price will be factored into the value of New Zealand’s dairy industry. Environmental impact and animal health costs are both critical variables in the farming profitability equation.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Michel

Posted by Jo Cramond on 15/10/2014 at 11:00 AM

Dr Heather Brooks a consistent favourite in OUMSA teaching awards

Dr Heather Brooks has received two accolades in this year’s Otago University Medical Students’ Association (OUMSA) Teaching Excellence Awards.

Each year medical students vote for their preferred teacher from that year’s classes, with the top three receiving formal recognition for their outstanding contribution to the medicine course.

This year, Dr Brooks was awarded the best lecturer award by both second and third-year students. This is the sixth year in a row that she has received the award for the second-year programme and one of several years that she has received both awards, recognising her ongoing commitment to quality teaching.

Posted by Jo Cramond on 9/10/2014 at 12:00 AM