Royal Society of New Zealand, Canterbury Branch
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Travel Grant Reports 2012


ICCS 2012 Omaha, Nebraska USA, 4 - 6 June, 2012

Mohammed Thaher, Computer Science and Software Engineering Department, University of Canterbury.

I am very grateful to the Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ) Canterbury branch for the travel grant contribution to participate at the International Conference on Computational Science (ICCS 2012) which was held in Omaha, USA. I also attended, as part of this conference, the 3rd Workshop on Computational Optimization, Modelling and Simulation (COMS2012). In receiving this travel grant, I had an opportunity that would otherwise not be possible.

ICCS is a well-known conference world-wide. ICCS is an ERA 2010 A-ranked (tier-one) conference series. The ICCS conference aims to annually bring together researchers and scientists from computer science and various application areas, who are pioneering advanced applications of computational methods to sciences (such as physics, chemistry, life sciences, engineering, and humanitarian fields) along with software developers and vendors. This professional scientific meeting allows discussing problems and solutions in the area of computational sciences, to identify new issues, shape future directions for research, and to help industrial users apply various advanced computational techniques.

There were about 400 participants at the conference from all over the world. The theme for ICCS this year was "Empowering Science through Computing", to mark the ever-increasing importance of and progress in computational science theory and practice.

During the conference, I presented efficient algorithms that improve the time complexity of the K-Overlapping Maximum Convex Sum Problem (K-OMCSP). Previous research solved this problem by using the K-tuples approach in a time complexity of O(Kn3). In the presented paper, efficient algorithms based on dynamic programming were derived to improve the time complexity for the overlapping case. The algorithms find the first, second and third maximum convex sum, and up to the Kth maximum convex sum in the time complexity of O(n3+Kn2). This was achieved through applying a new method which we call Active Trace Overlapping-Shape (ATOS). Additionally, I presented efficient techniques that were developed for designing and implementing the derived algorithms. Moreover, I showed results from experiments to compare the running time for the two methods. The experiments demonstrated that the running time of ATOS was faster than the K-tuples.

This conference has not been only a good learning experience, it has been a great opportunity to meet people with shared interests and expertise in computational sciences, while having different backgrounds. I highly benefited from attending this conference and from presenting outcomes from my Ph.D. research.

Finally, I would like to re-express my thanks to RSNZ for supporting my travel to participate at this conference.


2012 Annual Meeting of the Society for Freshwater Science. Louisville, Kentucky, USA, 20-24 May, 2012

Francis Burdon, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury Frank Burdon, University of Canterbury.

I presented original research from my PhD thesis at the University of Canterbury on the effects of fine inorganic sediment deposition (<2mm grain size) on invertebrate communities in agricultural streams. In giving this presentation, I participated in a special session on the effects of disturbance and stressors on cross-habitat interactions. Whilst most of the talks involved the transfer of pollutants from one habitat to another by animal movement (e.g., spawning salmon, emerging aquatic insects), I was able to provide a novel angle demonstrating how environmental context may not only affect the magnitude of inputs (in my case, detritus), but also their availability to recipient consumers and ecosystems (i.e. detrital breakdown and food-web linkages).

The conference had a wide array of talks from a range of North American and international delegates. I attended a notable talk given by Mark Gessner from IGB Berlin discussing the effects that multiple global change drivers have on detrital breakdown. Another interesting talk was given by David Lytle from Oregon State University demonstrating the potential for a predictive model describing stream invertebrate abundances using physical drivers only. In the poster session, some researchers from Auburn University including Jack Feminella outlined work describing the microbial communities of leaf litter affected by sediment burial using techniques including PCR, something particularly relevant to the research I presented.

This conference was useful because it enabled me to connect with a variety of researchers from around the world. Some of these contacts have proven useful in helping with technical issues regarding my thesis project, and by fostering friendships, paves the way for collaboration in the future. With the next SFS meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, it is likely that there will be only a few attendees from New Zealand at this conference. However, the Canterbury Branch of the Royal Society is to be lauded for the support they offer early-career Cantabrian researchers in overcoming the tyranny of location and enabling attendance of these important meetings. I can only but offer my profuse gratitude to the branch for the practical support they provided in enabling me to travel to this useful and informative conference.


25th Vertebrate Pest Conference in Monterey, California. March 2012

Matt Kavermann, Centre for Wildlife Management and Conservation, Lincoln University

"Nau mai, haere mai, kia ora tatou katoa, my name is Matt Kavermann and I am a PhD student in the Centre for Wildlife Management and Conservation at Lincoln University in New Zealand"

That was my opening for the paper I presented on the use of audio lures for pest control in New Zealand at the 25th Vertebrate Pest Conference in Monterey, California in March 2012. I would estimate three people in the audience could decipher what I had just said, but I guarantee you it got everyone else's attention.

My presentation summarised the past two years of my PhD research which has focused on developing and rigorously field testing a number of audio lure devices for attracting introduced pests to control devices. Results to date have shown that pest animals find audio lured devices faster and in greater numbers and this can increase the sensitivity of monitoring tools to pest presence where population densities are low. Despite these findings, audio lure technology is not generally used in New Zealand for pest control or monitoring. It was valuable to travel to the United States where audio stimuli are commonly used in integrated pest management programs. The conference provided a forum to meet with fellow researchers and contractors where we could share our research finding, successes and mistakes and begin to gain a broader understanding of the use of audio lures for pest control. These discussions have exposed me to some exciting new methodologies and developments in audio lure technology being examined in the United States which could prove useful for pest control in New Zealand.

Following the conference I was invited to spend two weeks at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Centre (a research facility of the University of California, Davis) testing a novel carbon monoxide fumigation unit for controlling ground squirrels. My hope was that the device might be useful tool for rabbit control in New Zealand. While the results from field trials were not promising the experience jointly running field trials with UC Davis, local ranchers and USDA staff was well worth it and gave me a better understanding of how to manage and successfully complete small agricultural based collaborative research projects. We are looking to publish the results from the field trials shortly.

I am very grateful for the support of the Christchurch Branch of the Royal Society which enabled me to travel to the USA and present my research and gain firsthand experience conducting pest control research in the USA.


Vertebrate Pest Conference, Monterey, California, United States of America 5-8th March 2012

Belinda Whyte Lincoln University

I am in my third and final year of a PhD at the Centre for Wildlife Management and Conservation, Lincoln University. My work involves researching how the movement patterns of possums change in response to control operations. This work will allow the design of more efficient management techniques for this species, which incorporate changes in movement behaviour.

Description of Work Presented and Relevance to the Conference

At this conference, I presented the results from my fieldwork thus far, during a 25 minute talk in the Introduced/Invasive Pests Session. The purpose of the Vertebrate Pest Conference is to exchange information on vertebrate pest management and advance current techniques, as well as fostering cooperation between public and private sectors. My talk was very relevant to this conference, as the possum is a significant pest species in New Zealand, and I discussed a blend of both rigorous scientific testing and the management implications of my findings.

Benefits from Attending the Conference

My talk was one of the few student talks at the conference and was very well received. I received good feedback from international colleagues following my presentation, which will increase the quality of my thesis and related publications. Each speaker also had to write a publication for the proceedings, so attending this conference has resulted in me publishing my first paper from my PhD. I also networked and discussed potential future research with international agencies, as our possum issues have parallels with other pest species. As such, the quality of my work will definitely be enhanced due to attending the conference, as well as my career prospects.

As my research is important to conservation and bovine tuberculosis management in New Zealand, increases in the quality of my work due to attending this conference will also benefit the community and the agricultural industry. Presenting this novel work also helped put New Zealand on the world stage, highlighting our innovative science that is also relevant to pest management issues in other countries.

I am also on the committee of the Lincoln University Postgraduate Conference, which occurs every year and allows postgraduate students to gain experience in conferences. Attending this large international conference has allowed me to observe how conferences are run - I can now use this knowledge to increase the success of our annual conference.

I consider it important that researchers develop their skills in communication, so that the community and stakeholders can understand the benefits of our research, and so that science can be promoted as a career. As such, I am a career ambassador for Futureintech1. Presenting at this conference has allowed allow me to further practice my communication skills, giving me the confidence to communicate effectively in my volunteering roles and to those within the community that will benefit from my research.

This conference was the first time I've presented my work in an international setting and the benefits from attending have been numerous. This would not have happened without this grant and I would like to once again thank you for your financial contribution - it is much appreciated.

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