Two Victoria University biological science students have been awarded Tuapapa Putaiao Maori Fellowships by the
Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST).
The Fellowships have been awarded to Eli Mrkusich (22), who is studying molecular biology for his PhD, and Adele Whtye
(21) who is studying human genetics for her MSc (Hons).
For his PhD Mr Mrkusich (Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Kikopiri) is developing new technologies to analyse nucleic acid. The end
result will be a product which will be useful for scientists analysing DNA and RNA, especially those working in the
forensic, biomedical and agricultural sciences.
Ms Whyte (Ngati Kahungunu) will join a programme in human genetics at the VUW Institute for Molecular Systematics. The
programme, which is headed by Dr Geoff Chambers, uses a bank of DNA samples provided by Maori and Pacific Island
volunteers. The programme has numerous applications, including improved transplant surgery, forensics and the genetics
of alcohol metabolism. Ms Whyte plans to look at genetic markers that have been passed down the maternal line and test
ideas about the origins of Maori and Pacific Island people.
The Tuapapa Putaiao Maori Fellowships Scheme supports Maori students in post-graduate study and research programmes
undertaken at New Zealand tertiary institutes. Preference is given to institutions considered able to provide effective
academic and cultural support for Maori students.
Mr Mrkusich’s and Ms Whyte’s success means that there are now four Tuapapa Putaiao Maori Fellows at Victoria.
Nationally, nine Fellowships were awarded for 2000.