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Our Changing World

November 2021 stories

Kia ora,

I hope you are keeping well. A month of exciting news at Our Changing World HQ!

First the great news that Our Changing World was awarded the Gold Medal for Best Science & Environment Podcast in the inaugural New Zealand Podcast Awards 2021. Also receiving the Bronze Medal in the same category was the excellent Fight for the Wild podcast, written & presented by Dave Hansford with support from RNZ.  

The accolades for Fight for the Wild didn't stop there though, the documentary video series produced for RNZ by Fisheye Films then went on to pick up the top prize at the AIB media awards in the Natural World category! If you haven't had a chance yet, make some time to watch this excellent series.

This month also saw the 100 year anniversary of radio in New Zealand, with 17th November marking the day that Professor Robert Jack made the first broadcast from Dunedin in 1921. Our Changing World got in on the celebrations with an episode that looks back at the history of that first transmission, explores how radio works, and learns about recent research advances in communicating using light.

Our other November episodes will bring you far and wide - from field work in Central Otago to look for remnant tōtara, to a unique landscape on the West Coast to learn about its restoration. We also speak to researchers working on new predator lure technology, and a group training medical detection dogs to sniff out cancer.

Hope you enjoy,
Ngā mihi nui,
Restoration - battling predators and planting trees

With 4000 native species currently under threat, Predator Free 2050 has funded six young scientists to come up with fresh solutions to the problem of introduced pests. 
Katy Gosset meets the University of Canterbury student who has designed an intelligent lure to find and trap predators, in the hopes of restoring bird song to the forest.
And announced in Budget 2020 as part of the Covid-19 recovery package, the aim of the Jobs for Nature programme is to help both te taiao and tāngata. A year in, Claire Concannon catches up with one of the projects funded on the West Coast, aimed at restoring a unique landscape there.
100 years of radio and the spectrum of light

Our Changing World joins the celebrations of 100 years of radio in Aotearoa.
Pete Read of Tōitu Otago Settlers Museum shares the story of University of Otago physics professor Robert Jack and the first radio broadcast he sent on 17th November 1921.
Claire Concannon then explores how radio works with Associate Professor Harald Schwefel and learns about his research into how to make communication via light more efficient.

Sniffing out cancer

A dog’s nose is incredibly sensitive, perfectly designed, and backed up by an amazing system in their brain.

Dogs trained to detect bombs and drugs already help keep us safe, but this week Claire Concannon meets the team training dogs to apply this skill to a new area – the medical detection of bowel and prostate cancer.
Pauline Blomfield gives Claire a tour of the K9 Medical Detection Charitable Trust in Invermay and explains what their goals are.

Tōtara treasure hunt

University of Otago Botany PhD student Ben Teele brings Claire Concannon on one of his field trips up the Waikerikeri Valley in the Central Otago Dunstan Ranges to look for remnant populations of thin barked tōtara.
Pre human arrival these trees covered all the hills of Central Otago, but now they are restricted to fire-sheltered steep rocky hillsides. Ben explains his research mapping these remaining populations and figuring out how they could be helped to return to the landscape.
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Voices from Antarctica. Alison Ballance finds out what it takes to live in and do science in Antarctica.
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Fight for the Wild. Podcast series exploring the notion of Predator Free 2050 in Aotearoa.
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