Volcanoes and law take students offshore

June 2010


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Benefactor expects postgrad students to bring it all back homeWilliam Georgetti wanted the “best brains available” to benefit from the trust established after his death in 1943.

Georgetti farmed an extensive property – ‘Crissoge’ at Fernhill, near Hastings and his stipulation was that scholarships would go to postgraduates working to “benefit the social, cultural and economic development” of the country. A haybale of money has been handed out since then, including $318,000 this year.

This year’s four recipients include Tehnuka Ilanko, an honour graduate in earth sciences, who will receive $108,000 over three years for doctoral studies in volcanology at Cambridge University. She’ll be working with Dr Clive Oppenheimer, coordinator of the Cambridge Volcanology Group, on a study of the active lava lake on Mt Erebus in Antarctica.

“Dr Oppenheimer has done a lot to increase public awareness and education about volcanoes, and that matters to us here in New Zealand,” says Ilanko, whose interest in the subject was sparked while she was a student at Burnside High School in Christchurch.

“An active lava lake is like a window into what’s going on deep inside a volcano. Mt Erebus is home to one of the world’s few long-lived active lava lakes.”

The researchers will use remote sensing techniques to gather data from the lava lake and use experimental and numerical modelling to gain insights into the processes taking place beneath active volcanoes.

Rebecca Rose, with conjoint bachelor of management studies (economics) and LLB (Hons) degrees, received $45,000 to do a one-year masters degree in law. She’s deciding between Cambridge and Oxford in the UK and Harvard, NYU and Chicago in the US.

She plans to study how economic analysis can be applied to law to make legal rules, policies and institutions more efficient without significantly compromising recognised justice and equality aims.

“In court you see how legislation and its underlying policy structures relationships and influences the way people behave,” she says. “But whether people behave in a way that’s economically efficient is another matter. If you can change the incentives for people to act in particular ways, then you can potentially change social outcomes – and perhaps that way we can move New Zealand up the OECD rankings.”

Rose says economic analysis often plays a big role in litigation in the United States and the United Kingdom, but is much less frequently relied on by New Zealand courts.

The former Fairfield College student has spent the last two-and-a-half years in Wellington working at the Supreme Court as clerk to the Rt Hon Justice Blanchard and most recently at the Crown Law Office as intern to the Solicitor-General, Dr David Collins QC.

Georgetti awards

THE WILLIAM GEORGETTI Scholarships are run by the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee. Four awards were made this year.

- Emma Dixon – University of Otago to Oxford University; $75,000 over three years.

- Tehnuka Ilanko – University of Waikato to Cambridge University; $108,000 over three years.

- Rebecca Rose – University of Waikato to either Harvard University, New York University, the University of Chicago, Cambridge University or Oxford University; $45,000 for one year.

- Richard Zhang – University of Canterbury to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); $90,000 over three years.

Applications should be made by 1 October, details at www.nzvcc.ac.nz

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