World-first engineering research at University of Auckland receives funding

05 November 2015

World-first research on how the billions of neurons found in the brain allow us to think is one of two major engineering research projects to receive new funding in this year’s Marsden grants.

University of Auckland Faculty of Engineering researchers receive a total of $1.3 million in this year’s Marsden grants which are administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand and allocated over three years.

Senior lecturer Charles Unsworth and Professor Andy Philpott, both of the Department of Engineering Science, receive $805,000 and $500,000 respectively.

Dr Unsworth is Director of the Neuroengineering Research Group at the University of Auckland and his work will develop innovative technology that has the potential to personalise healthcare to the cellular level and gain new understanding of diseases such as epilepsy, stroke and Alzheimer’s.

The technology will allow the study of single neurons which in turn could lead to the development of a silicon chip platform technology to facilitate broader neuroscientific discovery.

Professor Andy Philpott’s work focuses on optimal decision-making under uncertainty in relation to hydroelectric reservoirs. When making decisions about releasing water, planners must try to estimate future water inflow but have no way currently of allowing for the risk of a very dry year.

The international research team includes Professor Karen Willcox of MIT and Professor Edward Anderson of the University of Sydney.

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Professor Nic Smith said the funding was evidence of the quality of engineering research being undertaken within the Faculty.

“I congratulate our staff on a wonderful result,” he said. “These Engineering projects are indicative of the wide and inovative ways in which engineering technology developed at the University of Auckland is changing our lives or the better.

“From healthcare to energy generation,  I am proud that research within the Faculty continues to push the boundaries of new knowledge in a diverse range of areas.”



For more information contact: Anne Beston, Media Relations Adviser, Communications, University of Auckland

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