New Zealand leaders in marine science join forces


The University of Auckland and NIWA have joined forces to establish a Joint Graduate School in Coastal and Marine Science. The school will offer postgraduate degrees in coastal and marine science co-supervised by researchers at the University and NIWA.

“One of the aims is to increase the number of students educated in coastal and marine science, for employment in academia and industry,” says Dean of Science Professor Grant Guilford, who has championed the establishment of joint graduate schools by the University and Crown Research Institutes.

“The University has particular strengths in coastal science and marine ecology and combining with NIWA’s complementary expertise in oceanography and modelling will broaden the range of research topics available to students as well as encouraging further scientific collaboration between the two institutions.”

“The Joint Graduate School will be interdisciplinary, drawing on staff with an interest in marine and coastal issues from right across the University,” says Associate Professor Paul Kench from the School of Environment, a leading researcher in coastal science. “It will encompass everything from marine ecology to oceanography and marine and coastal management, and it’s exciting to have a focal point to draw together those interests.

“It provides the University with very tangible connections to industry and to one of the major science providers in the country. By reinforcing the existing relationship between the University and NIWA we hope to develop and expand on collaborative research programmes that will benefit both organisations and tackle some of the major science questions that New Zealand faces.”

“The Joint Graduate Schools, of which we now have a number, have been a very important initiative for the University,” says Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon. “Not only do they bring the University and Crown Research Institutes closer together, they increase the number of students participating in joint supervisory arrangements and are therefore win-win situations for those of us who value graduate students working in our organisations.

“It is also an opportunity for the University to make the prospects for early-career researchers more visible and feed some of our graduate students through as future NIWA staff. The school will give young people an opportunity not only to work in NIWA during their degrees but hopefully to think about NIWA as a possible career avenue.”

“Worldwide we are not producing enough scientists and we need to grow the talent at home,” says NIWA CEO John Morgan. “Our local talent, particularly in the area of marine sciences and freshwater sciences, is internationally recognised and often world-leading, and that speaks volumes for our education system. As an employer of marine science staff, the establishment of the Joint Graduate School is a very exciting development.

“It is also an opportunity, at a time when there’s a lot of pressure on resources, to say that coastal and marine science is an area that counts. The marine environment is a resource that we know relatively little about, and investing in capability now is going to ensure that in future we have the skills and knowledge to make the most of this country’s prospects for economic growth.”