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Waikato Uni ocean scientist wins L’Oreal fellowship

University of Waikato PhD student Kiri Rehana has won the L’Oréal-UNESCO Mentoring Fellowship for Women in Science. photo / supply

University of Waikato PhD student and oceanographer Kiri Rehana (Nagapuhi, Te Rarawa, Nagai Toho, Wakatehiya) mentored the L’Oréal-UNESCO Fellowship for Women in Science as the first Māori PhD student.

In New Zealand, only one such fellowship is awarded every year.

Kiri, now a PhD, is the mother of four children who live in Te Puke and the Tauranga campus of the university. Her environmental science PhD research focuses on the well-being of Tuangi (cockles) and the Bay of Plenty’s Ohiwa Harbor.

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The French cosmetics company L’Oréal partnered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1998 to highlight the importance of ensuring greater participation of women in science and to recognize the achievements of exceptional women scientists. established the program. ,

The Mentoring Award for Young Australian and New Zealand Women Scientists was launched in 2017 and connects past L’Oreal Fellows from around the world with young and aspiring PhD students from Down Under.

Kiri says that as a student she is always on the lookout for learning opportunities, so when she saw L’Oréal mentorship she decided to apply.

“The other cool thing about mentoring is that I’m building relationships with scientists around the world.

“Every month for six months I connect with a one-on-one advisor and then all the advisors have monthly online private workshops. That’s really cool. I have one coming over the next few weeks on science communication.”

Kiri says his research is “a small part of a larger project” that feeds into the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge that focuses on the Bay of Plenty’s Ohiwa Harbor.

The Ahiva project is close to Kiri’s roots as her mother Wakatane and Nagai Toho from Wakatane near the port.

Kiri's environmental science PhD research focuses on tuangi (cockles).  photo / supply
Kiri’s environmental science PhD research focuses on tuangi (cockles). photo / supply

Kiri’s research focuses on tuangi (cockles), mapping their habitats and populations, and studying how and why they have changed over time, which will help plan for the continued well-being of the port.

She spent about a month mapping the cockle’s population in the summer and identified seasonal sampling sites to capture the position of the cockles throughout the year, while observing the turia (oystercatcher bird), whose association with cockles in the Myoridom. There is a synonymous relation.

A laboratory analysis of her results will contribute to a Habitat Suitability Index, developed by Richard Bullmer of Niva and other supervisors from Kiri.

Says Kiri: “This work will advance the robustness of software to predict and historically identify where these populations are and were in the past.”

For her research, she takes two approaches: a Te Ao Māori and a Western science perspective.

After completing his Master of Science degree at the University of Waikato, he worked as a Taio Ora (Environmental Health) specialist for four and a half years at Manaki Weinua (Landcare Research), where he was part of a broad group working on projects. was a part. Matauranga Māori worked equally with Western science in their research.

Working with Manaki Whanua, Kiri felt like a change and Dr. Kura Paul-Burke, associate professor at the University of Waikato, suggested she study for a PhD.

Paul-Burke is now one of Kiri’s supervisors and is also part of the Ahiva project which includes local councils, the Department of Conservation, and Koumatua from Wakatihia, Upkorehe, Ngati Awa and Toho.

Paul-Burke says Kiri’s study is the first of its kind and that its findings will inform the creation of a technical tool to support IVI monitoring activities in port for longer periods as part of a shellfish management action plan.

Paul-Burke says, “Kiri … has spent many years helping others with their work. It is amazing that they have been recognized for their immense effort and for continuing their great work in marine science.” Further advice has been given.”

In November, Kiri along with other L’Oréal fellows will travel to Melbourne as a special guest at the L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science conference.

Prior to this, she has left for Spain on a Claude McCarthy Fellowship for the Estuarine, Coastal Shelf Association (ECSA59) conference.

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