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Doctoral breakfast connects student researchers with business community

Charline Lormand (left), Ellie Bradley, Akisi Ravono.

Kauri dieback, diabetes and dangerous volcanoes were three research topics served up by Massey University doctoral students at a breakfast in Palmerston North this week.

The breakfast, a collaboration between the University and Manawatū business-education promotion organisation Talent Central, is an annual event to connect students with the Manawatū business community.

Talent Central chief executive Margaret Kouvelis describes it as “an opportunity for business people to discover the talent that can be harnessed to add value to the Manawatū’s economic, environmental and social wellbeing”.

The students outlined their research findings and the potential impact of their work.

Some of the attendees of the Massey University and Talent Central doctoral breakfast.

Doctorate topics

Charline Lormand  – Predicting volcanic eruptions

How much time do we have before the volcano erupts? That’s the question PhD student Charline Lormand is trying to answer through her research. She has investigated the make-up of 60,000 micrometre-sized crystals within volcanic rocks called microlites to try to unlock the answer. 

The time it takes microlites to form, when they form and the depth at which they form within the volcano is what holds the clue to better understanding when a volcano is likely to erupt, Ms Lormand says.

Her aim is to provide communities and emergency response organisations with information on when people need to be evacuated.

Ms Lormand’s research has taken her around the world, from her home in France to Iceland and Japan. Studying with the School of Agriculture and Environment and Volcanic Risk Solutions Group, her PhD is focused on the Tongariro Volcanic Centre near the active volcanoes Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu.  

Ellie Bradley – Saving ancient kauri

Kauri dieback disease is threatening one of New Zealand's most ancient and treasured tree species. While there is no known cure for the disease, Ellie Bradley hopes her PhD, through the School of Agriculture and Environment, may help.

Ms Bradley uses molecular biology techniques to better understand the relationship between the pathogen and the tree. Her aim is to identify important molecules from the pathogen that activate the plant immune system, with the goal of using this information to inform durable disease resistance programmes in kauri.

Akisi Ravono – Developing ideal diabetes care

Akisi Ravono is a registered nurse who is two years into her PhD with Massey’s College of Health investigating what patients and nurses describe as the ideal nursing care for patients living with diabetes and associated conditions. 

Her research is based on focus group discussions, interviews and field observations with patients and nurses in Fiji, with a focus on iTaukei, the indigenous people of Fiji, where a third of the adult population has diabetes.Learning from their experiences and taking into account cultural traditions such as not questioning the decisions of medical professionals, Ms Ravono aims to improve nursing care for diabetic patients and shift towards a more preventive approach to reducing life-threatening situations and associated conditions.

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