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Source: Massey University

Senior Lecturer at the School of Veterinary Sciences Dr Stuart Gordon after his graduation on Tuesday 4 May.

Several Massey staff members were among the thousand that graduated at Massey’s five graduation ceremonies in Manawatū this week.

Key attributes for career success in the veterinary profession

Senior Lecturer at the School of Veterinary Sciences Dr Stuart Gordon graduated with a PhD investigating which attributes are important in veterinary professionalism for clinical practitioners’ career success.

Dr Gordon found that career success hinges on adherence to four overarching attribute themes: “effective communication”, “accountability, honesty, trustworthiness and integrity”, “quality of service”, and “personal wellbeing”.

Based on these findings, Dr Gordon developed a framework of veterinary professionalism around the principles of veterinary care to provide a guide to success in the practice of veterinary medicine.

Assessing the body condition score of sheep

Body condition score is a management technique used on farms to determine the fat level of sheep and is an important indicator of sheep performance. However the current industry average body condition score is below the optimum of 3.0.

Senior Tutor at the School of Agriculture and Environment Dr Isabel Vialoux examined the effect of body condition score and body condition score change on sheep performance and the genetic parameters of body condition score.

Dr Vialoux found that body condition score increased sheep performance to an upper limit and body condition score at mating was relevant for inclusion in sheep breeding programmes as an optimum trait. Body condition score change was associated with sheep performance but showed limited use in sheep breeding.

Dr Effah Evans after his graduation on Tuesday 3 May.

Investigating the compounds emitted by plant species

Junior research officer at the School of Agriculture and Environment Dr Effah Evans conducted his PhD on the volatile organic compounds that are emitted by invasive and native plant species and their potential ecological roles.

“Several introduced weeds, including heather, have invaded the North Island Central Plateau of New Zealand and these invaders are known to outcompete native plants and displace native fauna. It is, therefore, crucial to understand the chemical mechanisms contributing to their superiority in the ecosystem.”

Dr Effah found that invasive plants modified the environment they invaded, which accounted for variations in the volatile compounds emitted by both invasive and native plants. The results showed that changes in plant volatile emissions affected the distribution of insects, spiders and mites. Also, the volatile compounds produced by invasive plants negatively affected the growth and development of native mānuka plants.

Factors influencing bank deposits

Research and teaching assistant at the School of Economics and Finance Dr Nikhil Srivastava completed his doctorate on factors influencing bank deposits. After the global financial crisis regulators encouraged banks to attract bank deposits. But according to Dr Srivastava’s research, the formation of policies will not be worthwhile without adequate knowledge of factors that influence bank deposits.

He identified the three key factors that influence bank deposits: human capital, financial development, and deposit competition within the banking system. His analysis showed that human capital development increases bank deposits, whereas the impact of financial market development depends on a country’s economic development level. The study also showed the negative effect of deposit competition on bank deposit funding. These findings will guide banks and regulators in designing policies that make the banking system stable.

Dr Emmanuel Kyere at the graduation ceremony on Tuesday.

The colonisation of lettuce by Listeria monocytogenes

Microbiology technician at the School of Food and Advanced Technology Dr Emmanuel Kyere conducted his PhD research on the colonisation of lettuce by the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes and its biofilm formation.

Listeria monocytogenes is a foodborne pathogen capable of causing listeriosis, an infection with symptoms such as fever, headache, and diarrhoea, and foodborne outbreaks associated with fresh produce due to Listeria monocytogenes are increasing, leading to recalls of ready-to-eat vegetables.

Dr Kyere demonstrated for the first time the minimum exposure time for Listeria monocytogenes attachment to both hydroponic-grown and soil-grown lettuce. He also investigated the ability of lettuce leaf extracts to support the biofilm formation of Listeria monocytogenes. Dr Kyere identified a new food control method using UV-C stress to reduce Listeria monocytogenes survival and growth on lettuce leaves.

What if harmful chemicals could be selectively sponged from the environment?

Post-doctoral research fellow at the school of Fundamental Sciences Dr Heather Jameson addressed the above question in her PhD thesis, and says “Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) are nanoporous materials and capable of doing exactly that. This is due to their enormous internal surface area, stability, and chemically tuneable construction.

In Dr Jameson’s research, the interior of MOFs were decorated with thermolabile protecting groups (TPGs), which provided new insight into the interaction of functionalised materials with gases, also showing how MOF properties can be further controlled for tailored applications via the use of thermolabile-protecting groups.

Development of a rapid liquid freezer for sheep milk

Junior research officer Dr Jolin Morel’s PhD investigated the issue of freezing sheep milk in bulk. “New Zealand’s fledgling sheep dairy industry needs a reliable method for aggregating multiple milkings from multiples farms into lots large enough to process. Freezing is common, but current methods leave a lot to be desired, requiring labour and impacting quality in the frozen product.”

Dr Morel carried out a systematic investigation into the changes occurring during frozen storage of ovine milk, the phase transitions that occur during the freezing process, and the effect of freezing conditions on the ice structure in the frozen product. From this scientific basis, a novel continuous freezing system was developed, prototyped, and tested. The system is currently being commercialised and is expected to be beneficial to a range of food sector.