Immerse yourself in a week of intellectual stimulation and social enjoyment designed to expand your mind and brighten your winter.

Monday 4 – Friday 8 July 2016

winter-week-talkWinter Week is an award winning event which opens a fascinating window into some of the world-class research carried out at the University of Auckland.

Morning and afternoon sessions feature lectures by distinguished University of Auckland faculty members, chosen for both their subject expertise and their passion for teaching adult students.

You’ll join a group of enthusiastic adults who not only have a love of learning but also enjoy the opportunity to debate current issues and meet new people.

Your enrolment in Winter Week entitles you to attend all three lectures per day Monday – Friday(15 lectures in total) and includes morning tea.

TimeMonday 4 JulyTuesday 5 July Wednesday 6 July Thursday 7 JulyFriday 8 July
Faculty of ScienceFaculty of ScienceFaculty of ScienceEducation and Social Work Medical and Health Science
10 - 11amThe Psychology of SeeingUrban Biodiversity Island restoration through invasive mammal eradication Academic acceleration: One answer for bored gifted studentsDrug delivery to the eye – Innovation in sight
11 - 11.25amMorning tea*Morning tea*Morning tea*Morning tea*Morning tea*
Medical and Health Science
Business and EconomicsMedical and Health Science Creative Arts and IndustriesFaculty of Arts
11.30am - 12.30pmUnderstanding the development of Obesity and type 2 DiabetesExploring Gender and EntrepreneurshipSaving babies brains New Zealand's Jazz Age A visual feast: the Last Supper in the Italian Renaissance
12.35 - 1.25pmLunch breakLunch breakLunch breakLunch breakLunch break
Faculty of ArtsFaculty of EngineeringFaculty of ArtsMedical and Health Science Faculty of Science
1.30 - 2.30pmImagining development: urban development challengesLooking after your kneesDark Figures: Studying the Criminal GeniusReversing the obesity epidemicHow binary stars make merging black holes

* Tea and coffee are provided for morning tea each day


Select a tab below to view the programme for that day.

  • The Psychology of Seeing

    10:00 – 11:00am Professor William Hayward, BA, MA, PhD

    For most of us, seeing is effortless. We open our eyes, and the world is instantly available to us. But the ease of the process belies its complexity, and we are only just beginning to understand how the brain creates our visual sense of the world. In this lecture I’ll talk about what it means to see and how the brain is more important than the eyes for accomplishing this feat. I’ll discuss a range of visual phenomena, like 3D TVs and visual illusions, and why you can’t safely talk on your phone while you’re driving.

    Will Hayward is Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland. Originally from Christchurch, he studied at the University of Canterbury before gaining a PhD from Yale University. Before coming to Auckland he taught at the University of Wollongong (Australia), the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the University of Hong Kong. He studies visual perception of objects and faces. He writes a blog,, on the psychology of everyday life.

    Towards understanding the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes

    11:30am – 12:30pm Dr Troy Merry, BPhEd, PhD

    It is well publicised that obesity and type 2 diabetes are increasing at an alarming rate, and are significant burdens on the New Zealand healthcare system. Unlike other diseases, in many peoples view the onus for obesity and type 2 diabetes remains squarely on the individuals’ choices. This has resulted in the generalised treatment approach of ‘eat less and exercise more’, which so far has proven to be largely ineffective in curbing the incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes in New Zealand. This seminar will discuss the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes and consider why broad-spectrum public health approaches not be effective in all individuals.

    Dr Troy Merry graduated with Hons; 1st Class in Exercise Phyiology, The University of Otago and went on to complete his PhD in Phyiology in 2010 at the University of Melbourne. Dr Merry is currently a Ruther Discovery Research Fellow with the Faculty of Medical Sciences at The University of Auckland, New Zealand. Dr. Merry’s current field of expertise is in insulin signalling, type 2 diabetes and obesity, muscle and exercise metabolism, and reactive oxygen species. Dr Merry also has vast experience investigating the molecular mechanisms governing insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and skeletal muscle glucose metabolism using a range of models including tissue culture, preparations, human subjects and in particular transgenic mouse models (knock and Cre-plox systems). In 2012 Dr Merry received the Deans award for excellence in PhD thesis, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Science at the University of Melbourne, Australia

    Imagining development: urban development challenges

    1:30 – 2:30pm Dr Anita Lacey, BA(Hons) (Monash), PhD (Monash)

    With the world’s population shifting increasingly to cities, increasing attention needs to be paid to the challenges that are posed by urbanization in conjunction with wider development issues. This lecture asks whether development pressures are unique in urban environments and presents key insights into the livelihood, resource, security, access and sustainability pressures that are felt in both the widely recognized large urban centres of our urban imaginations as well as in the smaller scale urban cities and towns. This lecture seeks to address the ways in which the contemporary development gaze does not easily accommodate urban lives. The argument is raised that donor actors and non-governmental organizations must recognize the different challenges that urban settlement patterns and poverties pose, in order for development that meets peoples’ needs and desires to be achieved. A range of case-studies will be discussed.

    Anita Lacey is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, University of Auckland. She is an activist academic and her research, teaching and activism intersect. She has published a co-authored book on the governance of global poverty and the new global aid regime, and several journal articles and chapters on resistances to neoliberal globalization, non-governmental organizations, feminist teaching praxis, protest and gendered protest spaces, mobility, and development and women’s livelihoods. Anita is currently researching relationships between urbanization, gendered insecurities and women’s livelihoods. Her research focuses largely on Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Namibia, although she is engaged in research in the wider Pacific context, and one of her current research projects considers women’s economic and political participation in Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Solomon Islands.

  • Urban Biodiversity – Does it have value and are we losing it?

    10:00 – 11:00am Dr Margaret Stanley, BSc(Hons) (Otago); PhD (Monash)

    There is a global trend toward urbanisation, and New Zealand is no different, with more than 85% of people living in urban areas. While urban areas are often considered of low biological value, this is far from true. Recent research shows a huge amount of biodiversity living within our cities. Furthermore, studies show that people’s physical and mental health is linked to nature, meaning maintaining urban biodiversity is important for both us, and the ecosystems in which we live. However, urban biodiversity is under threat. So what are the drivers of biodiversity decline and loss of function in urban areas? In this lecture Margaret will discuss current research around threats to urban biota, including invasive species, humans feeding wildlife, changes in artificial lighting and intensification. Then she’ll end on some positive messages about improving urban biodiversity!

    Dr Stanley’s research interests in terrestrial ecology are diverse, but much of her research seeks to understand and mitigate human impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, particularly invasive species and urban development.

    Why can’t a woman be more like a man? Exploring Gender and Entrepreneurship

    11:30am – 12:30pm Dr Janine Swail, PhD

    Whilst the popularist heroic representation of the contemporary entrepreneur has been largely discounted such that the ‘every-day’ nature of most entrepreneurial activities is now recognized, the dominant ideology still presents a field where individuals can realize their personal potential given the centrality of agency. If applied with sufficient energy and determination, personal agency has the capacity to overcome structural challenges impeding personal advancement. Thus, the popularized image of entrepreneurship is imbued with a presumption of meritocratic equal opportunity given the dependence upon agent effort in conjunction with an absence of formal entry requirements.

    This lecture will challenge how this popular image fails to recognize the institutional constraints embedded within contextualized cultural norms which consequently limit the scope of who can enter the field as credible entrepreneurial actor. The emergence of a gendered critique upon the notion that entrepreneurship is an open and meritocratic field of agentic activity reveals the fragility of this popularized image. Indeed, it is now recognized that the prevailing entrepreneurial discourse is inherently masculine, which in effect positions women as ‘other’ within the field and in turn problematizes the feminine. In so doing, critical entrepreneurial attributes are positioned as normatively masculine which privilege men, creating a hierarchical ordering where women, as feminized subject beings, are defined as lacking and thus under-perform as entrepreneurs.

    Janine is a Senior Lecturer at Auckland University Business School. Prior to joining Auckland University in February 2016 she was working in the UK at Nottingham University Business School (2013-2016) and Newcastle University (2007-2013). She completed her PhD in gender and nascent entrepreneurship at the University of Ulster (2003-2007). Janine’s research interests are in nascent entrepreneurship, and in particular how women navigate the entrepreneurial process and develop legitimacy for their emerging businesses. She has additional research interests in the role of media and culture in influencing entrepreneurial intentions, particularly among young people. She is a co-editor of the Routledge Books Masters Series in Entrepreneurship and was a former Associate Editor of the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research.

    Looking after your knees: can we slow the progression of knee osteoarthritis?

    1:30 – 2:30pm Associate Professor Thor Besier, BPhEd (Hons), PhD

    Articular cartilage is an extremely resilient tissue that enables frictionless movement of our joints. However, when cartilage starts to degrade (a disease process known as osteoarthritis) the loads experienced by our joints become painful, reducing quality of life and ultimately requiring joint replacement. Our ageing and increasingly overweight population is creating an epidemic of osteoarthritis and the number of knee joint replacements is anticipated to rise by 700% in the next 15 years. Our health system will struggle to cope with this massive increase in demand, so we need alternative methods to alter the course of this debilitating disease.

    This lecture will introduce you to the wonderful biology of articular cartilage and give you an appreciation for the intimate form-function relationship that exists in our skeletal tissues. You will then discover a novel intervention that aims to change the way we walk to alter the loads experienced by our joints and slow the progression of joint degeneration. This personalised intervention brings together wearable sensor technology and computational models to provide real-time haptic feedback to retrain your walking gait.

    Thor is an Associate Professor at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute and Department of Engineering Science and leads the new MedTech CoRE theme on Assistive Technologies. Prior to joining the University of Auckland in 2011, Thor was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at Stanford University (2003-2010) and gained his PhD in Biomechanics at the University of Western Australia in 2000. His research focuses on understanding and preventing musculoskeletal injury and disease.

  • Island restoration through invasive mammal eradication

    10:00 – 11:00am Dr James Russell, PhD

    Expanding from early work in New Zealand, over 1,000 eradications have now occurred on islands around the world. Over 561 populations of 216 native vertebrate species on 176 islands have benefitted. However, there is a number of emerging challenges in the use of eradications as an island restoration tool. Tropical islands are under-represented, more challenging for mammal eradications, and require greater conservation investment. Better prioritization of islands and species is required. Island eradications must be scaled up to larger and inhabited islands. Doing so will require a better understanding of the sociology of island communities. The validity of this conservation tool must be defended against ethical challenges and from those who might deny the impacts of invasive species. Mammals can reinvade islands rapidly and a better understanding of the biological processes involved as well as tools for prevention and reaction are required, in order to protect investment in mammal eradications.

    James Russell is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Auckland School of Biological Sciences and Department of Statistics, Strategic Advisor to the Predator Free New Zealand trust, Associate Editor of the journal Biological Invasions and member of the IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group. His work brings together diverse scientific approaches to solve contemporary conservation problems such as achieving and maintaining pest-free status on islands and reserves, and restoring terrestrial animal communities. Results from this work have been used both for conservation, and testing ecological theory, on islands around the world. In particular he has worked closely with the Department of Conservation for twelve years developing and testing tools to detect and monitor rodents at low densities, and keep islands rodent-free. His recent work additionally focuses on environmental attitudes to pest management and tools, and scaling the application of eradication technologies to very large and inhabited islands. James was the 2012 Prime Ministers Emerging Scientist prize winner, and from 2015 is an MBIE Rutherford Discovery Fellow. James lives in the foothills of the Waitakere Ranges in the shadow of the Ark in the Park.

    Saving babies brains – hypothermia, hemichannels and other potential treatments for ischaemic brain damage in the newborn

    11:30am – 12:30pm Dr Joanne Davidson, PhD

    Oxygen deprivation (ischaemia) before or around the time of birth can result in death or lifelong disability. Currently, the only available treatment is therapeutic hypothermia, which involves cooling the new-born baby. Although hypothermia significantly reduces brain damage, many babies will still suffer severe injury despite treatment. The aim of Joanne’s research is to investigate ways to improve treatment with hypothermia or find combination treatments to use alongside hypothermia to improve treatment of these babies. Ways to improve hypothermia include optimising the duration of treatment and the rate of rewarming after treatment. Joanne’s research has shown that connexin hemichannels play a critical role in the early spread of injury after ischaemia and that these may be a potential target for treatment of babies with ischaemic brain damage. Improving treatment with hypothermia and the development of new treatment options will reduce death and disability in babies exposed to ischaemia before birth.

    Dr Joanne Davidson’s is a Sir Charles Hercus fellow, working in the Fetal Physiology and Neuroscience Group in the Department of Physiology. Joanne is passionate about improving treatment for babies suffering brain damage as a result of oxygen deprivation (ischaemia) before birth. She has shown for the first time that connexin hemichannels play a critical role in the spread of brain damage after ischaemia in both the preterm and full-term neonatal brain. Her research highlights connexin hemichannels as a potential therapeutic target for treating brain damage and seizures in the neonate. She is also interested in optimising treatment with hypothermia, currently the only available treatment for ischemic brain damage.

    Dark Figures: Studying the Criminal Genius

    1:30 – 2:30pm Dr James Oleson, BA, MPhil, JD, PhD

    Intelligence is the most studied human faculty, and within criminology, below-average intelligence (IQ) is a well-established correlate of delinquency and crime. Nevertheless, although the association between IQ and crime has been studied for a century, little is known about offenders with high IQ scores. A handful of studies have examined bright delinquents; but virtually no criminological research has been conducted with gifted adults. My study examined the self-reported offending of 465 high-IQ individuals (mean IQ = 148.7) and 756 controls (mean IQ = 115.4) across 72 different offences (ranging in seriousness from abuse of work privileges to homicide). Counter to prevailing theory, a larger percentage of high-IQ respondents reported offences, and reported more offences per offender, than did controls. This lecture summarises what little we know about this extraordinary criminal population.

    James Oleson is an Associate Professor of Criminology at the University of Auckland. After a stint in the US Navy’s nuclear propulsion programme, he earned his B.A. in psychology and anthropology from St. Mary’s College of California, his M.Phil and Ph.D. in criminology from the University of Cambridge, and his J.D. from the law school at the University of California, Berkeley (where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the California Law Review). Between 2001 and 2004, he taught criminology and sociology at Old Dominion University, in Norfolk, Virginia. In 2004, he also was selected as one of the four U.S. Supreme Court Fellows for the 2004-05 year. At the end of the fellowship year, he was appointed as Chief Counsel to the newly-formed Criminal Law Policy Staff of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, working in the Office of Probation and Pretrial Services. He served in that capacity for five years. Since arriving at the University of Auckland in 2010, he has taught in the areas of psychological criminology, sentencing, and penology. In 2013, he used his sabbatical to study prison museums across Europe and the United States, and is working on a book about prisons in popular culture. His first monograph, Criminal Genius: A Portrait of High-IQ Offenders, will be published in October 2016 by the University of California Press.

  • Academic acceleration: One answer for bored gifted students

    10:00 – 11:00am Dr Janna Wardman, PhD, MEd

    Despite a plethora of international research studies showing the success of accelerative practices on academic and social outcomes for gifted and talented students, full-year acceleration is rarely implemented in New Zealand schools. The literature suggests that it is perceptions based on myth, rather than an examination of the evidence of published studies, which have hampered the adoption of full-year acceleration as a strategy. This lecture will attempt to explain the conundrum that has blocked full-year acceleration being adopted as widespread practice. We will then listen to the voices of teachers, parents and gifted students in the New Zealand based research. A positive collaborative approach is suggested to assist schools in providing for bored, disenchanted gifted students.

    Janna Wardman is a lecturer at the University of Auckland. Prior to gaining a M.Ed at the University of Melbourne in 2000 and a PhD at the University of Auckland in 2010 (under the supervision of Professor John Hattie), Janna was an experienced secondary practitioner. She currently teaches on post-graduate Initial Teacher Education courses, masters courses on gifted education, in addition to co-supervising masters and doctoral candidates. Janna is also the co-ordinator of HAI, an initiative that supports the learning of talented undergraduates at the Faculty of Education and Social Work. Her research projects include investigating the experiences of talented undergraduate students, in addition to her core research area of academic acceleration. A strong theoretical background, informed by research, supports her practical experience of 30 years in education in Scotland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

    Jazzy Nerves, Aching Feet, and Foxtrots: New Zealand’s Jazz Age

    11:30am – 12:30pm Aleishe Ward, PhD

    The 1920s were a period of musical, cultural, economic, and emotional turmoil around the world. In cultural histories of New Zealand however, much of this (excepting the economic issues) are glossed over. In fact reading many of these histories you might wonder if New Zealand even had jazz, let alone a Jazz Age. In this seminar we will explore the Jazz Age in New Zealand and its many facets, but especially the jazz of the Jazz Age. Because jazz was more than music in the 1920s we will delve into jazz as dance, fashion, emotions, and culture and see how jazz shaped modern New Zealand society during this fascinating decade.

    Aleisha Ward holds a PhD in music from the University of Auckland where her thesis was on jazz in New Zealand 1920-1955. She writes about jazz in New Zealand for New Zealand Musician,

    Reversing the obesity epidemic: Where is the hope on the horizon?

    1:30 – 2:30pm Professor Boyd Swinburn,MB ChB, FRACP, MD, FNZCPHM

    New Zealand has the third highest rates of adult and childhood obesity in the OECD countries. This is not a podium position to be proud of. How did we end up in this position and how can we turn it around? This lecture will trace the causes of the rise in obesity globally and some of the surprising lessons from countries around the world. More importantly, solutions to reverse the epidemic will be presented and where regulations, taxes, education, whole-of-community action, and Maori-led and Pacific-led approaches fit in. Within those solutions, where can New Zealand excel and lead the way in establishing international best practice for obesity prevention?

    Boyd Swinburn is the Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health at the University of Auckland and Alfred Deakin Professor and Co-Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University in Melbourne. He is also Co-Chair of World Obesity Policy & Prevention section (formerly International Obesity Task Force).

    He trained as an endocrinologist and has conducted research in metabolic, clinical and public health aspects of obesity. His major research interests are centred on community and policy actions to prevent childhood and adolescent obesity, and reduce, what he has coined, ‘obesogenic’ environments. He is currently leading an initiative ( to monitor and benchmark food environments internationally. He has over 350 publications related to obesity, led two Lancet Series on Obesity and is co-chairs the Lancet Commission on Obesity. He has been an advisor on many government committees, WHO Consultations, and large scientific studies internationally.

  • Drug delivery to the eye – Innovation in sight

    10:00 – 11:00am Dr Ilva Rupenthal, PhD, BPharm, DipLang

    The eye has a number of barriers and elimination mechanisms in place to protect it from the environment. However, this also means that it is difficult for drug molecules to enter the tissues of the eye, one reason why eye drops have to be applied multiple times a day. Even with frequent administration though, eye drops are unable to deliver sufficient drug amounts to the back of the eye which is why ophthalmologists have to frequently inject medications into the eye ball itself in order to treat conditions such as age-related macular degeneration.

    This lecture will give an overview of the barriers present in the eye and how currently available eye medications may overcome some of these. It will then highlight novel ocular implant technologies which are able to deliver small amounts of drug over months to years avoiding the need for frequent specialist visits.

    Dr Ilva Rupenthal is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Ophthalmology and the inaugural Director of the Buchanan Ocular Therapeutics Unit (BOTU) which aims to translate ocular therapeutic related scientific research into the clinical setting, whether pharmaceutical, cell or technology based. Ilva’s current research, co-funded by a Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowship from the New Zealand Health Research Council, focuses predominantly on the development of stimuli-response ocular drug delivery systems with projects investigating implants responsive to light or a small electrical current. The BOTU team, including six PhD candidates, is also investigating other ocular therapeutics in the area of dry eye, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration management. Ilva has received several awards including the Health Research Council 25th Anniversary Emerging Researcher Excellence Award in 2016 and the University of Auckland Early Career Research Excellence Award in 2014, while also winning Spark Entrepreneurship Ideas Challenges in 2012 and 2014 for her innovative ocular drug delivery ideas.

    A visual feast: the Last Supper in the Italian Renaissance

    11:30am – 12:30pm Linda Yang, BA/BFA, BA (Hons), MA

    This talk will examine a number of Last Supper paintings from the Italian Renaissance, with a focus on Leonardo’s famous fresco in Milan. We will consider why Leonardo’s interpretation of this key Biblical story is so iconic, from his innovative use of materials to his psychological characterisations of Jesus and the apostles. We will also consider different versions of the Last Supper, from the quiet piety of Fra Angelico’s monastery fresco to the blazing drama of Tintoretto in Venice. Our exploration of these paintings will be couched within the social context of the Renaissance, with consideration to how the paintings’ intended viewers, physical locations and patrons impacted on their appearances.

    Linda Yang has recently completed a Professional Teaching Fellowship in Art History at the University of Auckland, where she previously attained her Masters in Art History. Linda has also completed an internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, and was part of the Education team at the Auckland Art Gallery.

    How binary stars make merging black holes

    1:30 – 2:30pm Dr JJ Eldridge, MA, MSci, PhD (Cambridge), FRAS, MInstP

    On the 14th September 2015 the first ever gravitational wave source was detected. While amazing, what surprised all the scientists was that the signal came from two black holes 30 times the mass of the Sun merging. This was unexpected and scientists are still working out the life history of the stars that gave rise to this event. I’ll outline what we now think the source of the two black holes were and what future detections will allow us to understand about the lives and deaths of stars.

    JJ was appointed as a Lecturer of Astrophysics at The University of Auckland in 2011. JJ’s research is mainly focussed upon the evolution of stars, especially binary stars. They create numerical models of stars and then compare them to a broad range of observations. These include supernovae and their progenitors, long & short GRBs, gravitational waves and stellar populations.

    In addition to their research activities JJ is also keen to participate in public understanding of science activities and gives public talks not just on their research but also how accurate science-fiction can be with titles such as: “The Science of Sci-Fi: does every planet look just like home?”

University of Auckland City Campus

All lectures will be held on City Campus at the University of Auckland’s General Library lecture theatres.

Comments from past participants

“Winter Week is an experience not to be missed. New ways of thinking, new ideas being kept up to date with new research is enlightening and rejuvenating. Totally recommended.”

“The week provides an excellent way to ‘shake the cobwebs’, to meet and interesting collection of people and see just what the academics of Auckland University have achieved.”

“Worthwhile taking a week off work to attend.”

“Winter Week is a good breath of fresh air – excellent lectures, good company, lively discussions. Winter Week gives one the opportunity to learn about subjects one has never previously explored.”

“The Winter Week on Campus is a great way to spend a week for young or older participants. There are interesting people you meet in and out of the lectures. High quality of lectures, the majority of whom had excellent presentation skills.”

“Winter Week is something to look forward too each year where we not only learn, but also appreciate the courses and enjoy each others company and the unique University atmosphere and grounds.”