2 Mar 2020

University of Otago grows Pacific science connections

8:33 am on 2 March 2020

New Zealand's University of Otago is trying to grow scientific capabilities in the Pacific to enhance development and public health.

To that end, the Tongan born academic, Losa Moata'ane, has been appointed Associate Dean Pacific in the University's Division of Sciences.

Losa Moata'ane

Losa Moata'ane Photo: University of Otago

Previously, Dr Moata'ane established a Pacific Research Team in the University's Department of Human Nutrition, before completing her doctorate in public health.

She said the university had been working in Tonga to get more secondary school students to study science.

"We're looking at year nine, 10, 11 - supporting science teachers and providing professional development, resource development with them to be able to teach science in a way that is applicable to students back home," she said

Science should be taught at Pacific schools using examples from every day life that students could relate to, Dr Moata'ane said.

"Then if we build that positive thinking in their minds then they understand what science means in terms of health outcomes, or whatever it is, later in life.

"That would help them and support them in terms of careers in the future but also in terms of how they look at themsleves and look after themselves."

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Division of Sciences Professor Richard Barker said Dr Moata'ane would add huge value to this important role with her knowledge and experience.

"As a science intensive university based in the Pacific we are addressing many similar challenges, so Otago is keen to partner with our Pacific neighbours and add value and support these opportunities," Prof Barker said.