2012 Marsden Grants fund ‘blue skies’ research

‘Will changes in the atmosphere and ozone layer affect New Zealand’s weather?’, ‘Can we design an invisibility device?’, ‘How do you build a human heart from scratch?’.

These intriguing questions are a just a few of the problems being tackled by the recipients of this year’s round of grants from the Marsden Fund – New Zealand’s largest ‘blue skies’ research funding body.

Announced today, a total of 86 research projects have been allocated $54.6 million of funding in this year’s Marsden Fund grants.

The Marsden fund, administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the government, is the hallmark of excellence in research.

As described on the Royal Society website: “Marsden Fund research benefits society as a whole by contributing to the development of researchers with knowledge, skills and ideas. The research is not subject to government’s socio-economic priorities, but is investigator initiated. The Fund supports research excellence in science, engineering and maths, social sciences and the humanities.”

Of the 1113 preliminary proposals received, 229 were asked to submit a full proposal with 86 ultimately funded, giving a success rate of 7.7%. All of the funded proposals are for three years. A full list of the grants and their recipients is available here.

Marsden Fund Council chairperson Professor Juliet Gerrard was impressed at the quality of the applicants and the proposals.

“Marsden lets our brightest investigators work on their best ideas, without worrying about short term priorities.  Many of these ideas are high risk, but potentially very high gain,” she said. ” In the long term, we expect some of these projects to make a big difference to New Zealand, in terms of economic growth, social issues, and a wider understanding of who we are as New Zealanders.”

“Most breakthroughs around the world come from this basic science end of the research spectrum, which is what makes the Marsden Fund both exciting to be part of and vital for New Zealand to invest in.”

The funded projects have already received wide media coverage. Examples include:

Yahoo! NZ News: Salmon sperm research gains funding  ||  3 News: Marsden Fund aims to keep Kiwi scientists in NZ

The Press: Scientists Win Grants To Study Godwits’ Migration  ||  3 News: Godwit migration study gets research grant

Otago Daily Times: $940,000 for Otago tidal power research ||  MSN NZ: Researchers share $55m in grants

Dominion Post: $55 Million In Government-Funded Marsden Grants || NZ Herald: Boffins work on invisibility cloak

Newstalk ZB: Marsden Fund supporting research projects

Institutional press releases:  Otago, Canterbury, Massey, Victoria & Waikato.