Young NZ researchers making an impact on the world stage

Yi (Ethan) Zhang from LASRA (Leather and Shoe Research Association) in Palmerston North is to receive a Euro 1500 IUR Research Grant. Photo: LASRA.

Two young New Zealand researchers have recently made an impact on the world stage. The Selection Committee of the IULTCS Research Commission (IUR) has announced that Yi (Ethan) Zhang from LASRA (Leather and Shoe Research Association) in Palmerston North is to receive a Euro 1500 IUR Research Grant, while Jacqueline Paul, a member of the BRANZ-led Building Better Homes, Towns & Cities Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods Māori Research team, was selected as a delegate for New Zealand at the UN 2018 Winter Youth Assembly in New York in February.

Ethan’s award-winning research topic is an area of great practical interest for the leather industry: “What makes leather stronger? A mechanistic study on the effect of natural/artificial cross-links on tensile strength using small-angle neutron scattering (SANS)”.  From this research project, mechanisms which directly contribute to the production of strong leather will be established. The mechanisms can be further applied on the exploration of novel syntans or other tannages with similar cross-linking chemistry to the cross-links known to work by this study. Also, as important as the strength of leather, the project will help the leather industry understand the role of mineral tannages on physical properties and so help to find environment-friendly alternatives with equivalent effects.

Dr. Luis Zugno, the IUR Chair, said they had “received a large number of innovative research topics and the quality of the applications has also improved”, indicating the growing importance and interest in the grant.

Also from New Zealand, Jacqueline (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāpuhi, Kahungunu) was part of a delegation to the UN 2018 Winter Youth Assembly from 14 to 16 February in New York. The Youth Assembly was a platform to elevate the voices of young people in international dialogues, empower youth to advocate for future generations, and mobilize youth as agents of impactful change. Jacqueline's participation in this assembly was supported by the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge.

Jacqueline has just published a report of her visit, providing insights into the workshops held throughout the conference. The report identifies and focuses on the importance of Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities.

“This is a global focus in relation to the UN Agenda for 2030. There is a great correspondence between both this SDG 11 and the current research stream National Science Challenge 11: Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities.

“The Youth Assembly is an international platform to elevate the voices of young people from all over the world to create dialogue, empower young people to engage in advocacy and activism and ensure intergenerational mobility to instigate systemic change within their own communities. It is an amazing opportunity where international relations are strengthened through political and civic engagement at the United Nations. Young people are the leaders of today and tomorrow, the youth assembly encourages personal and professional development through an educational approach to further understand the importance of the sustainable development goals as we progressively work towards achieving UN Agenda 2030.”

For a copy of Jacqueline’s report, please see:

For more information about LASRA's Yi Zhang and award, please see:

Date posted: 8 March 2018

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