Seventeen academics promoted to professors

Friday 1 February 2013, 3:42PM
By University of Auckland

Seventeen associate professors at The University of Auckland have been promoted to professor.

Promotion to professor is a mark of distinction. It recognises professional and academic eminence at an international level.

“We are proud to acknowledge these fine academic leaders, and proud that our university and its students benefit from such a wealth of knowledge, perspectives and experience. The quality of the applications and the achievements of the candidates were highly impressive,” says Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon.

The new professors hail from the Faculties of Arts (4), Creative Arts and Industries (1), Engineering (3), Medical and Health Sciences (4), and Science (5).

Professor Frederick Kroon (Department of Philosophy) has research interests in mathematical and philosophical logic, the philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and the philosophy of fiction. His work is published extensively in books and journals, among them some of the most prestigious English-language journals in philosophy, such as the Philosophical Review, the Journal of Philosophy, Nous, Ethics, and Philosophical Studies. Much of his recent work has resulted from invitations to contribute to essay collections for publishers such as Oxford University Press, for whom he is currently completing a book on language and pretence. For the past 15 years he has also been an editor (more recently an author) for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Professor Kroon has served as Head of the Philosophy Department, and has chaired the University’s Human Participants Ethics Committee. He is currently the Associate Dean (Postgraduate) for the Faculty of Arts.

Graduating from the University of Otago with BA, MA First Class Hons, and PhD in Anthropology in the 1970’s, Professor Julie Park (Department of Anthropology) received academic appointment to the University of Auckland in 1993. Her research interests include medical anthropology in New Zealand and Polynesia, transnationalism, and New Zealand anthropology. She is currently working with colleagues on projects funded by the Health Research Council of NZ (HRC) and Marsden Fund respectively, on Pacific health, and on moral reasoning at the intersection of reproductive technologies and genetic difference in New Zealand. A book, co-edited with Dr Susanna Trnka and Dr Christine Dureau, Senses and Citizenship: Embodying Political Life (Routledge) is due out in April. Amongst significant publication of journal articles, books and monographs, Professor Park’s publications include “Whakapapa in anthropological research on tuberculosis in the Pacific” (Sites, 2011); “Tuberculosis and syndemics: Implications for Pacific health in New Zealand” (Social Science & Medicine, 2009); and Ladies a Plate (Auckland University Press, 1991). Professor Park’s current teaching and graduate supervisions include Medical Anthropology, Ethnographic Research Methods, and New Zealand ethnography.

Professor Laurence Simmons (Film Television and Media Studies) was co-founder of the Department of Film, Television and Media Studies at the University of Auckland in 1992, employed full-time in the Department 2005, and appointed Head of Department in 2010. He has three main research and publication interests: contemporary art and film; Italian Renaissance culture and Italian film; and critical theory (including film, media and television theory) and visual culture. His publications include a book on contemporary New Zealand painting and photography, The Image Always Has the Last Word (Dunmore, 2002), a volume on Freud’s papers on aesthetics, Freud’s Italian Journey (Rodopi, 2005), Rethinking New Zealand: Essays and Interviews on Intellectuals and Public Culture (Auckland University Press, 2006) and Tuhituhi: William Hodges, Cook’s Painter in the South Pacific (Otago University Press, 2011). Professor Simmons has been awarded two Creative New Zealand grants, a Senior Fulbright Fellowship and Visiting Scholar awards at the Universities of UCLA Santa Barbara, Australian National University and the University of Cambridge.

Professor Joanne Wilkes (Department of English) was educated at Sydney and Oxford Universities and specialises in Romantic and Victorian Literature. Her 1999 book, Lord Byron and Madame de Staël: Born for Opposition, won two international prizes. Her most recent critical study, Women Reviewing Women in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Ashgate, 2010) examined how women literary critics responded to novelists such as Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot. Professor Wilkes also has a long record as an editor of women’s writing, beginning with Geraldine Jewsbury’s 1848 novel, The Half Sisters (1994, revised 1998). She went on to edit for Pickering & Chatto Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton in 2005, and has recently been involved in editing / co-editing for the same publisher, three volumes of the literary criticism of Margaret Oliphant (1828-97). She has been active too in service at Departmental, Faculty and University levels, and is currently Head of the English Department.

Professor Michael Parekowhai (Elam School of Fine Arts) is one of New Zealand's most important contemporary art practitioners. His work is held in all significant public and private collections throughout New Zealand and Australia, as well as in permanent collections across the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. He has an extensive exhibition history, including the Venice Biennale (2011); the Asia Pacific Triennial (2006-2007); the Gwangju Biennale (2004); and the Sydney Biennale (2002). Professor Parekowhai received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2001 and was awarded the Premier of Queensland Sculpture Commission in 2012.

Professor Grant Covic (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) heads power electronics research at The University of Auckland and co-leads the inter-operability sub-team within the SAE J2954 wireless charging standard for electric vehicles. He graduated from the University BE (Hons) PhD and was appointed as a full time lecturer in 1992, a senior lecturer in 2000, and associate professor in 2007 within Electrical and Computer Engineering. In 2010 he co-founded (with Professor John Boys), a new global start-up company “HaloIPT” focusing on electric vehicle (EV) wireless charging infrastructure. Today his research and consulting interests include power electronics, electric vehicle battery charging and inductive (contact-less) power transfer (IPT).

Professor Jason Ingham (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering), did his BE (Hons) and ME (Dist) at The University of Auckland, followed by a PhD at the University of California at San Diego where he investigated the seismic response of elevated concrete freeway frames. Professor Ingham joined The University of Auckland as a staff member in 1995 and undertook a University of Auckland MBA in 2004. In that same year he was awarded a $3.75M research grant to investigate and develop guidelines for seismic assessment and retrofit of earthquake prone buildings. This project led to The University of Auckland being admitted to the Natural Hazards Research Platform in 2010 with Professor Ingham subsequently receiving further grants linked with reporting the damage to unreinforced masonry buildings in the Canterbury Earthquakes and research recommendations arising from the earthquakes. Currently Professor Ingham is also the President of the New Zealand Concrete Society.

Professor Poul Michael Fønss Nielsen (Auckland Bioengineering Institute, Department of Engineering Science, and Liggins Institute) is a Principal investigator in the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, an academic member of the Department of Engineering Science, and an Honorary Professor of the Liggins Institute. Professor Nielsen’s research focuses on using novel instrumentation, detailed computational models, and quantitative descriptions of physical processes to gain a better understanding of human physiology. Many of his projects couple mathematical modelling with innovative instrumentation to improve our ability to understand and interpret measurements of complex biological systems, subject to the constraints of well-understood physical conservation and balance laws.

Professor Frank Bloomfield (Liggins Institute and Department of Paediatrics: Child and Youth Health) completed his clinical training as a neonatologist in England, Canada and New Zealand and studied for his PhD at The University of Auckland. After a postdoctoral placement at the University of Toronto in Canada, he returned to join the staff of The University of Auckland. Professor Bloomfield practises clinically at National Women's Health, Auckland City Hospital, and heads the LiFePATH research group at the Liggins Institute. He leads a large multidisciplinary research group of scientists, clinicians, research nurses, technicians and administrators in a programme focusing on fetal and neonatal nutrition, growth and development. He is well-known internationally for his research on development of the fetal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the developmental consequences of altered intrauterine growth and is currently President of the Perinatal Society of New Zealand and President-Elect of the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Professor Simon Malpas (Department of Physiology, School of Medical Sciences, and Auckland Bioengineering Institute), investigates the role of the central nervous system in the development of cardiovascular disease, with a specific focus on the sympathetic nervous system. His research team has developed a range of platform technologies for the wireless monitoring of physiological signals. This research was commercialised in 2005 through the spin-out company Telemetry Research, which maintains a strong research and development programme in collaboration with the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. More recently the company merged with Millar Instruments and Professor Malpas is Chief Scientific Officer for the company. He is a graduate of Victoria University and The University of Otago and did postdoctoral research in Japan, the United Kingdom and Australia before returning to New Zealand in 1996 to an academic position in the Department of Physiology.

Professor Phillippa Poole (Department of Medicine) has a BSc in Mathematics and MBChB from The University of Auckland and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. She gained an MD (Auckland) in 2012. Professor Poole has contributed strongly to the development of medical education throughout Australia and New Zealand. She is now Head of the Department of Medicine, and combines her clinical academic position in the department with her work as a specialist general physician with Auckland District Health Board. Her strong and continuing commitment to the health of New Zealanders is shown in her research interests, which span two distinct areas. One is in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the other is in medical education and development of an appropriate medical workforce for NZ, which was the topic of her MD research and has been a continuing theme in her career.

Professor Susan Stott (Department of Surgery) completed her MBChB at The University of Auckland, became a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1989, and was awarded a Fellowship of the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitative Medicine in 2004. Professor Stott joined the University staff in 1997 after working in the United States and completing her PhD at the University of Southern California. She divides her time between the Department of Surgery and Starship Children’s Hospital, where she is a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon and Clinical Director of the Paediatric Orthopaedic Department. She is a Board Member of the Health Research Council of New Zealand and a member of the HRC Ethics Committee. Professor Stott’s research is on the impact of acquired neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy on musculoskeletal function and walking ability in childhood. She is working with colleagues from Auckland Bioengineering Institute to develop musculoskeletal models to better understand the changes in muscle and joint function in children with neurological and other physical disabilities.

Professor James Curran (Department of Statistics) is a world leading researcher in forensic statistics, in particular statistical analysis of trace evidence, forensic genetics and expert systems for evidence evaluation. He consults with forensic agencies in New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom and is involved with the production of expert systems software for the interpretation of evidence. His work has influenced forensic operations internationally, and he has developed several major commercial software packages that allow people without his level of statistical expertise to evaluate forensic evidence. In addition to his focus on forensic statistics, Professor Curran also has strong interests in statistical computing and automation projects. Professor Curran earned his BSc and MSc in mathematics and PhD in statistics from The University of Auckland. He is currently a director of the University’s Bioinformatics Institute and President of the New Zealand Statistical Association.

Professor Alexei Drummond (Department of Computer Science) describes himself as an evolutionary biologist who relies heavily on computational science to model complex biological processes. His research interests are centred around probabilistic models of molecular evolution and population genetics, using evolutionary methods to study everything from the spread of HIV to the expansion of languages. Professor Drummond completed his BSc and PhD at The University of Auckland and spent three years at the University of Oxford before returning here. He is the developer of open-source scientific software package BEAST, used by scientists around the world for the analysis of molecular sequences, and wrote the prototype for the award winning software package Geneious. He is the founding scientist and Director of Biomatters, a bioinformatics software company. Since returning to New Zealand Professor Drummond has been principal investigator on two Marsden Grants and recently was awarded a Rutherford Fellowship.

Professor Andrew Jeffs (Leigh Marine Laboratory) is an expert in aquaculture and marine biotechnology, industries that have been rapidly growing in New Zealand. His research interests are broad, ranging from applied projects working closely with the seafood industry to more esoteric marine ecological issues related to aquaculture. He undertakes consultancy in these areas for international companies and government agencies. Professor Jeffs has played a major role in the emergence of research describing the ecological significance of underwater sound in the marine environment, and has developed novel underwater equipment to advance the field. He is also a leader in the ecology and aquaculture of spiny lobsters, and studies a wide variety of commercially important species. Professor Jeffs earned his BSc and MSc in zoology and his PhD in marine biology from The University of Auckland. Before joining the University as a member of academic staff, he was General Manager for Aquaculture and Marine Biotechnology at NIWA.

Professor Paul Kench (School of Environment) is a coastal geomorphologist and a leading scholar in coral reef and reef island geomorphology. Internationally, he has developed a unique research programme focused on understanding the environmental controls on the formation and future stability of low-lying coral reef islands located throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans. His work has made a major contribution to global debates concerning the vulnerability and physical stability of small island nations. In New Zealand, his research focuses on coastal morphodynamics and processes on gravel beach systems, shore platform processes and medium-scale coastal change. Professor Kench completed his BA and MA at The University of Auckland, and earned his PhD from the University of New South Wales. He has held academic positions at the Universities of Melbourne, Waikato and Auckland and this year will take up the role of Head of School of Environment.

Professor André Nies’ (Department of Computer Science) primary interest is in computation and its connections to mathematics. Much of his work is in computability, a subfield of mathematical logic, which gives a theoretical background for applications such as analysing the limits of current computers. Over the last decade he has studied the interaction between computability and randomness, and more recently he has focused on the connection between randomness and effective analysis. Professor Nies studied at Universität Heidelberg, and has held academic positions at the Universities of Wisconsin at Madison, Cornell University for a semester each, and the University of Chicago for five years. He joined The University of Auckland in 2002, and has since won two Marsden grants as a principal investigator. Professor Nies’ research is internationally renowned and he is one of only three New Zealand-based mathematicians to be invited to speak at the International Congress of Mathematicians. His book Computability and Randomness appeared in 2009 with Oxford University Press.