Winter Week on Campus 2019

Immerse yourself in a week of intellectual stimulation and social enjoyment designed to expand your mind.

Winter Week on Campus is an annual week-long event which opens a fascinating window into some of the world-class research carried out at New Zealand’s leading university.

Morning and afternoon sessions feature lectures by distinguished University of Auckland faculty members, chosen for both their subject expertise and their passion for teaching adult students. You’ll join a group of enthusiastic individuals who not only have a love of learning but also enjoy the opportunity to debate current issues and meet new people.

Enrolment options

Enrolment in a week pass ($95.00) entitles you to attend all three lectures each day Monday – Friday (15 lectures in total). Tea, coffee and biscuits are provided during the morning break each day.

Single-day pass enrolment ($35.00) entitles you to attend all three lectures on a single day.

Mix-and-match enrolment ($40.00) entitles you to attend any three lectures across the week.

Registration closes Friday 5 July


  • Monday 8 – Friday 12 July, 10am – 2:30pm
  • $95.00 incl. GST (week pass)
  • $40.00 incl. GST (mix-and-match x3)
  • $35.00 incl. GST (day pass)
  • The University of Auckland, City Campus

Initial steps towards Assistive Augmentations

10:00 – 11:00am
Associate Professor Suranga Nanayakkara
Auckland Bioengineering Institute

The overarching topic of this seminar is centered on the design and development of mobile assistive technology, user interfaces and interactions that seamlessly integrate with a user’s mind, body and behaviour, providing an enhanced perception. We call this ‘Assistive Augmentation’. Creating such Assistive Augmentations poses a twofold challenge as they require: (1) novel hardware technologies and interfaces that capture relevant sensory information, understand the physical environment they are used to while being unobtrusive. (2) Holistic design approach to increase efficiency, support independence, and social acceptance to account for real-world applicability. Using modern biological understanding of sensation, emerging electronic devices, computational methods and design thinking approach, we now have an opportunity to design a new generation of Assistive Augmentations. This talk will present several proof of concept Assistive Augmentations for enhancing human I/O in the focus areas of assistive technologies, novel input strategies, smart health, and well-being, and interactive learning technologies.

Food, Consumption Choices and Obesity: In Search of a New Solution

11:30am – 12:30pm
Dr Milind Mandlik
Faculty of Business and Economics – Graduate School of Management

One of the biggest concerns for human-health in the 21st century is ever-increasing obesity. Aptly termed an epidemic of 21st-century. To put it in perspective, in New Zealand, nearly 30 percent of our population is classified as obese, which ranks us third in the world out of the OECD countries. Despite years of research and investment in health-promoting programmes, we have failed to slow down the ever-growing epidemic. The truth is – we are leading busy lives and living with personal struggles which are inherently connected to how we choose, buy, prepare and consume foods, often in an unhealthful way, leading to weight-gain and enduring levels of obesity. Our research suggests we need a collective endeavour; where individuals, communities, institutions of all kinds and policymakers must genuinely work together to make meaningful improvements to our stance on obesity.

The Record Goes Round: Materialising Music

1:30 – 2:30pm
Associate Professor Karen Fernandez
Faculty of Business and Economics – Marketing

This seminar discusses how the material nature of vinyl makes its users passionately prefer it over its digital alternatives. The seminar is based on an ethnographic study which uses data from in-depth interviews with vinyl collectors, augmented with longitudinal participant–observation of vinyl collecting and music store events. Participants will learn how the physicality of vinyl facilitates the passionate relationships (with music, the vinyl as performative object and other people) that make vinyl so significant in vinyl users’ lives. Contrary to current trends towards miniaturisation and automation, this research suggests that material attributes should be added to digitised products and that legacy technology products are tools of authentic self-expression, furthering our understanding of consumers’ reactions to the proliferation of digital technology in their lives.

Ancient Egyptian and its Translation, or How the West Translated Ancient Egypt

10:00 – 11:00am
Dr Jennifer Hellum
Faculty of Arts- Classics and Ancient History

The language of ancient Egypt functionally died after the last hieroglyphic inscription was left on a wall of Philae temple in 394 CE. It wasn’t revived until 1822, with its decipherment by Jean-François Champollion. In between, scholars continually attempted decipherment, beginning as early as the 4th century CE. For many years, the best known of these were Western European men. No matter which European language the studies were written in, however, the inherent Orientalism, classism, and sexism of the 19th-century European male played a distinct part in the interpretation of the Egyptian vocabulary. All three of these factors reveal themselves most obviously in the translations for the female lexicon. Each brings a separate agenda to the table, but each is dependent on the other to no small degree. How this worked is the subject of this talk.

Making the most our coasts: How restoration can support more active, positive and integrated environmental management

11:30am – 12:30pm
Professor Simon Thrush
Faculty of Science – Marine Science

Our estuaries and coastal ecosystems are highly connected to both land and the sea. Often these ecosystems change because of multiple stressors that change how ecosystems work and deliver benefits to us. New knowledge is enhancing our understanding of the nature of change in marine ecosystems and the consequences of our actions and inactions. But many coastal areas have been degraded, we have lost functionally important species and trends in ecological health go in the wrong direction. In response to these changes, different groups have sought to restore seafloor communities – particularly shellfish beds. This is a very positive step in restoring coastal habitats and bringing people together to help our coasts and overcome the often-disengaged relationship we have with our seas. We need new knowledge to help enhance the chances of restoration success. This involves addressing the how, when, where and why of coastal restoration and methods to help us learn from our inevitable mistakes

A Virtual Lung to Help Smarter Clinical Decision Making

1:30 – 2:30pm
Dr Alys Clark
Auckland Bioengineering Institute

To deliver the oxygen we need from air to our bodies, the lungs are extraordinarily structurally complex. They need to be, to provide a surface area equivalent to a tennis court which is needed to be efficient at delivering oxygen to our blood. But this complexity means that it is often difficult to detect problems, which normally arise first at very small spatial scales until they have become so severe that our health has deteriorated significantly. Assessment of lung health needs to account for changes as we develop and age: Can we really conduct the same tests of health, in the same way, in a 5-year-old as 50-year old (normally we do!)? I will tell you about a unique Virtual Lung, that looks like a real lung, breathes like a real lung, but is housed on a computer, that allows us to look smarter at measures of lung health.

Health Implications of Travel Choices

10:00 – 11:00am
Associate Professor Kim Dirks
Faculty of Medical and Health Science – Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Commuting behaviours have a significant impact on the health and well-being of individuals in urban environments. This is due to the a number of factors, both good and bad, including exposure to air pollution, road-traffic noise, opportunities to engage in regular physical activity, risk of traffic accidents, opportunities to socialise, etc. Commuting choices depend on the transport infrastructure that is provided, the perception of personal safety that is associated with different modes and routes, the cost, individual needs, the physical limitations of the commuter, as well as access. This talk will explore the health consequences of behaviours and the ways in which the adverse impacts of commuting can be minimised and benefits maximised in the context of urban living.

Moving from data to knowledge: Harnessing the power of data to mitigate environmental challenges

11:30am – 12:30pm
Dr Jennifer Salmond
Faculty of Science – Environment

Technological advances have led to the development of faster, cheaper, low power, high resolution environmental monitors. These instruments, when combined with new data quality control and analysis techniques to manage uncertainty in instrument performance and calibration, have the potential to result in an explosion in reliable data acquisition. Using a case study of population exposure to urban air pollution, this presentation examines the added value of combining social and environmental data sets using fusion measurement and modelling approaches to provide tools to aid decision making. I will examine the challenges associated with discerning when we have enough data to start making difficult management decisions and promote behavioural change. I shall also suggest we need to think in new ways and ask new questions if we are going to harness the power of big data to solve wicked environmental problems, increase urban resilience and mitigate the impacts of environmental change.

Our quest to solve brain diseases: In the lab, in our community

1:30 – 2:30pm
Dr Malvindar Singh-Bains
Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences – Medical Science

Human brain diseases continue to result in significant loss of life and disability in New Zealand. With a rapidly aging population, the number of New Zealanders living with dementia is estimated to increase by close to 300 per cent to 170,000 by 2050. In this session, Dr Malvindar Singh-Bains will discuss some of her research which utilises human brain tissue to unlock new secrets behind brain diseases such as Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s disease. She will also discuss her journey to drop the stigma and raise the profile of those impacted by neurodegenerative disorders through some unique community outreach endeavours.

The placenta: mastermind of pregnancy

10:00 – 11:00am
Dr Jo James
Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department in the School of Medicine

During your 9 months in utero your placenta acted as your life support system by modifying your mum’s body to support and nourish you. Yet, most of us have never given our placenta a second thought! This amazing multifunctional fetal organ acts like a gut that absorbs nutrients, a lung that takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide, and an endocrine organ that changes mum’s hormonal profile to allow her whole physiology to adapt to make new life possible. However, in 1 in 10 pregnancies, the placenta doesn’t do its job as well as it should do, meaning that the mother does not adapt well and the baby does not grow adequately. This talk will explain how the placenta works, why we think that it fails so often, and what we are doing to help find ways to diagnose and treat at-risk babies in utero.

Urban Biodiversity – Does it have value and are we losing it?

11:30am – 12:30pm
Associate Professor Margaret Stanley
Faculty of Science- Biological Sciences

There is a global trend toward urbanisation, and New Zealand is no different, with >85% of people living in urban areas. While urban areas are often considered of low biological value, this is far from true. Recent research shows a huge amount of biodiversity living within our cities. Furthermore, studies show that people’s physical and mental health is linked to nature, meaning maintaining urban biodiversity is important for both us, and the ecosystems in which we live. However, urban biodiversity is under threat. So what are the drivers of biodiversity decline and loss of function in urban areas? Margaret will discuss current research around threats to urban biota, including invasive species, humans feeding wildlife, changes in artificial lighting and intensification. Then she’ll end on some positive messages about improving urban biodiversity!

Structures in Popular Music

1:30 – 2:30pm
Professional Teaching Fellow Godfrey De Grut
Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries – Music

An overview of how common musical devices have been refined within modern popular music

Representing archaeological excavations and objects in 3D

10:00 – 11:00am
Dr Joshua Emmittt
Faculty of Arts- Anthropology

Digital archaeology is a relatively recent advancement in archaeological practice. Modern digital recording methods allow for the accurate measurement of many artefacts over a short amount of time, however, much archaeological data remains in analogue form. While both present challenges, they can each be used to create 3D representations of archaeological excavations. In addition, 3D representations are now used of objects to understand how they were constructed as well as provide a new medium for people to interact with. Examples will be presented from the Fayum, Egypt; Ahuahu Great Mercury Island; and Etruscan Italy amongst others.

Inclusive Streetscapes: a litmus test for an inclusive society

11:30 – 12:30pm
Professor Shanthi Ameratunga
Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences – Epidemiology and Biostatistics

We hear a lot about the virtues of active travel. Physical activity benefits our health; getting out of cars reduces greenhouse emissions, and interacting with people and places we care about is pivotal to our wellbeing and sense of belonging. But are these opportunities and benefits available to all? Transport systems and designs do not always take account of differences in age, ability, language, culture, or the socio-economic status of diverse communities, with wide-ranging personal and social consequences. Using illustrative case studies, this seminar reflects on the narratives and aspirations of disabled people and kaumātua/older residents to gain a deeper understanding of how communities construct the meaning, value, and challenges of getting about in Auckland. Addressing ‘blind spots’ in who is seen and not seen (or heard and not heard) when promoting active travel can be as instructive as identifying ‘black spots’ in crash analyses when promoting road safety.

3D Printing the Future

1:30 – 2:30pm
Professor Olaf Diegel
Faculty of Engineering – Mechanical Engineering

Imagine! You come home after a hard day at work and your kitchen 3D printer makes you a steak dinner just the way you like it.
In the not too distant future, you will select a pair of shoes from an online catalogue and, after customizing it to your exact size and style preferences, a 3D printer will manufacture them at a store in your town, instead of having to ship the shoes around the world.
In this talk, we review the state of the art of 3D printing and examine some of their current and future applications in the fields of art, engineering, business, and health. We also discuss some of the social implications these technologies will have on design and on how we live and examine some of the issues around how we need to start adapting today in order to be ready for the technology tomorrow.

The University of Auckland City Campus

All lectures will be held at the City Campus in the University of Auckland’s General Library lecture theatres.

Comments from past participants

Winter Week is an experience not to be missed. New ways of thinking, new ideas being kept up to date with new research is enlightening and rejuvenating. Totally recommended.

Winter Week is a good breath of fresh air – excellent lectures, good company, lively discussions. Winter Week gives one the opportunity to learn about subjects one has never previously explored.

The Winter Week on Campus is a great way to spend a week for young or older participants. There are interesting people you meet in and out of the lectures. High quality of lectures, the majority of whom had excellent presentation skills.

Winter Week is something to look forward to each year where we not only learn but also appreciate the courses and enjoy each others company and the unique University atmosphere and grounds.