Two Te Herenga Waka researchers awarded Rutherford Discovery Fellowships

2023 awards support research on enhancing public participation in politics and understanding systems that drive volcanic eruptions.

Dr Simon Barker
Dr Simon Barker

Researchers from political science and earth sciences are recipients of Rutherford Discovery Fellowships this year.

Associate Professor Lara Greaves has been awarded a fellowship for her research project titled “More than the 3Ps: Enhancing participation in politics, policy, the public sphere, and political science”.

Research shows systemic and structural barriers in Aotearoa New Zealand’s political system marginalise different groups, including Māori. Dr Greaves’ project aims to find ways to improve and increase political engagement for Māori, Indigenous peoples, and others who have lower rates of participation and inclusion.

The project will be co-designed with other Māori researchers, an expert advisory group, tauira Māori, and others from relevant communities.

Dr Simon Barker has been awarded a fellowship for his project “Magma forensics at New Zealand volcanoes: Understanding the magmatic systems and processes that drive eruptions”.

Recent volcanic eruptions, such as the 2019 Whakaari White Island event, are stark reminders eruption forecasting is inherently difficult. While Aotearoa has a wide range of volcano types, there is still a lot to learn about the processes that trigger magma movement and lead to sudden eruptions.

Dr Barker’s research aims to improve understanding of the signals of volcanic unrest and better prepare the country for future volcanic activity.

The Rutherford Discovery Fellowships, managed by the Royal Society Te Apārangi, are aimed at supporting early-to-mid career researchers and provide funding of $800,000 to each recipient to support their work, over five years.

Full details of this year’s recipients are available on the Royal Society's website.