Clean sweep in Woolf Fisher Scholarships
Three outstanding University of Auckland students with the potential to become future leaders in their field have today
been awarded Woolf Fisher scholarships to study for their doctorates at the prestigious University of Cambridge in the
The scholarships awarded to James Gawith, Matthew Conder, and Reece Oosterbeek will cover their study and living costs
at Cambridge and are estimated to have a value of $300,000 per student, making the Woolf Fisher one of the most generous
available to New Zealand students.
Offering his congratulations, Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon says the students have excelled and the scholarships are
a tribute to their natural ability, hard work, and perseverance.
“Their success also reflects the excellence of our teaching and the quality of our graduates, many of whom will go on to
become leaders and make a difference in their chosen fields,” he said.
The successful scholars are:
James Gawith (24) graduated from the University of Auckland last year with a Bachelor of Engineering with First Class
Honours, specialising in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. At Cambridge he is planning to study for his Doctorate
in the Department of Engineering, focusing on inductive power transfer (IPT), a form of wireless power transfer for
recharging electric vehicles. The use of wireless charging could increase the range of electric vehicles and reduce the
need for heavy batteries. James, who is from Khandallah in Wellington, attended Scots College. Last year he was a
teaching assistant for a third year engineering design course at the University of Auckland and he has been involved
with the student committee of Engineers without Borders.
Matthew Conder (22) has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Chemistry from the University of Auckland and is
currently completing his Honours degree in mathematics at the University. The former Head Bay of Onehunga High School
will study towards his doctorate in the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics at Cambridge. He is a
keen footballer and currently plays for the Three Kings United Football Club where he captains a team. Matthew tutored
for the NCEA Campus programme, a not-for-profit, youth-for-youth organisation which supports students from diverse
backgrounds to success at secondary school external exams.
Reece Oosterbeek (25) has a Bachelor of Engineering degree with Honours and a Masters of Engineering degree, both from
the University of Auckland. A former pupil of Alfriston College, he is currently working as a Project Manager and
Research Engineer at the Photon Factory, a Research centre at the University of Auckland. At Cambridge he proposes to
study towards his Doctorate in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, researching medical implant material.
He plans to investigate the development of bio-resorbable composite materials for regenerating load-bearing tissue
following tissue injuries. This involves the development of bio-implant materials to develop artificial tendon and
ligament tissue or polymer matrix composites for bone grafts. Reece’s goal is to become a research professor in the
field of medical materials and surface science.
The Chairman of the Woolf Fisher Trust, Sir Noel Robinson, said James, Matthew and Reece all exemplify the qualities
admired by the late Sir Woolf Fisher which are “integrity, leadership, boldness of vision and exceptional zeal, keenness
and capacity for work.”
“The key objective of the Trust is that Woolf Fisher Scholars will make a significant commitment to New Zealand and
become leaders in their fields. We look forward to working with these outstanding scholars throughout their studies and
to observing their future progress.”
Sir Woolf Fisher (1912-1975), co-founder of Fisher and Paykel, set up the Trust in 1960 to recognise and reward
excellence in education. This scholarship was established in 2004 by the Trustees to honour Sir Woolf Fisher who founded
New Zealand Steel and, together with Maurice Paykel, the whiteware company Fisher & Paykel.
The Woolf Fisher Scholarship is funded by the Woolf Fisher Trust, supported by the Cambridge Trust.