Sociologist to receive highest honour at graduation 

Among this November's graduation in Palmerston North will be 47 doctoral graduands.

Methane-munching bacteria to reduce greenhouse gases; long-term health conditions; autism; fatherhood; pastoral counselling in Samoa; and how tikanga (Māori cultural practices) can influence businesses are among the topics of 47 doctoral graduands being capped this Friday in Palmerston North.

Sociologist and Professor Emeritus Graeme Fraser will receive the University’s highest honour – the Massey Medal – to recognise his 50-year contribution, from social sciences pioneer to champion of distance education. He will be conferred the honour in the second of three ceremonies at which at total of 459 students will cross the stage of the Regent Theatre to be capped, including 47 doctoral and139 master’s students.

Professor Fraser was appointed as the University’s first Professor and Founding Chair of Sociology in 1970 and has helped to foster research excellence across health, social sciences, and business, as well as serving in numerous governance and consultation roles within and outside the University. The award is in recognition of his outstanding service as an academic leader for the University and the broader education sector.

Also graduating are TVNZ journalist Billie Jo Ropiha, with a Master of Business Administration, and Sarah Austen-Smith, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s press secretary, with a Master of Journalism.

Doctoral researchers tackle environmental and social challenges

Rashad Syed’s PhD topic investigated methanotrophs – methane-eating bacteria present in soils and which have the capability to remove greenhouse gas methane emissions. He hopes his work may contribute to the development of methane biofiltration technology for New Zealand dairy effluent ponds.

Also tackling greenhouse gas emission reduction, Maxence Plouviez’s doctoral research focused on whether significant amounts of nitrous oxide (N2O) is produced during microalgae cultivation, a process used in the manufacturing of products like biofuels. His research has provided valuable insights in the field of microalgal biology and biotechnology with regard to climate change.

In her nursing doctoral study, Helen Francis explored the complex and often chaotic lives of people living with several long-term conditions (LTCs) who are also socio-economically disadvantaged, to determine the alternative models for care.

For their doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, Katie Weastell examined how positive psychology can offset the difficulties for parents raising children with autism spectrum disorder, while Kayla Mackie focussed on positive influences for New Zealand fathers.

Pasifika doctoral graduand the Reverend Alesana Pala’amo looked at how a rise of individualism has contributed to a concept identified as the "changing Samoan self" that has disrupted traditional approaches of counselling employed by church ministers in the past.

Māori PhD researcher Rawiri Tinirau investigated how understandings of tikanga Māori in a business context are still emerging. He found that knowledge of tikanga varies and is applied in numerous ways, but is complementary to good business practice.

He is one of two students selected for the first time to deliver graduation speeches. His will be in Ceremony Three, and doctoral graduand Orianne Thionnet will give a speech in Ceremony One. Her research was on innovative processing techniques in the production of Mozzarella cheese.

All ceremonies will be streamed live so that family and friends unable to attend can share the occasion.

For more information on how to view graduation click here.

Ceremonies are as follows:

Ceremony One - 9.30am

College of Sciences

Ceremony Two - 12.30pm

Professional and Continuing Education, College of Creative Arts, College of Health, College of Humanities and Social Science

Ceremony Three - 3.30pm

Massey Business School


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