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Scholarship’s namesake to be studied by one of winners

20 December 2021 | news

 Pictured from left, 2021 Edward and Isabel Kidson Scholarship winners Ciaran Doolin, Elise Legarth and Sebastian McDonald

The three 2021 winners of an Edward and Isabel Kidson Scholarship include one whose PhD will be about the pioneering pre-World War II meteorologist Edward Kidson himself.

Ciaran Doolin (pictured left), aged 30 and from Wellington, has been awarded $18,000 towards studying for his PhD on Edward Kidson in the Centre for Science in Society at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington.  

Scholarships have also been awarded to Elise Legarth (pictured centre), aged 24 and from Havelock North, who receives $18,000 towards the PhD in Atmospheric Science she has started at the University of British Columbia in Canada, and Sebastian McDonald (pictured right), aged 22 and from Auckland, who receives $6,000 towards a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in the United States.

The Edward and Isabel Kidson Scholarship is supported by a 1959 bequest by Edward Kidson’s widow, Isabel, to enable Aotearoa New Zealand university graduates who have shown ability in physics or a combination of physics and mathematics to undertake postgraduate study in meteorology or some other branch of science, either in New Zealand or overseas.

Ciaran Doolin will explore the development of atmospheric science in New Zealand prior to World War II through a biographical study of Edward Kidson, best known for his role as Director of the Meteorological Service of New Zealand from 1927 until his death in 1939.

“Edward Kidson inherited a staff of four, just one of whom was a meteorologist, but by 1939 the Meteorological Service of New Zealand had grown to over 40, including 20 professional meteorologists. He also led a revolution in the scientific culture and weather forecasting practice of the organisation,” says Ciaran.

“Edward Kidson’s scientific research covered a wide field. He made original contributions to synoptic meteorology and weather forecasting, his work on the southern hemisphere circulation and Antarctic meteorology acquired him an international reputation, and his papers on New Zealand’s climate remained the standard works for many years.”

Ciaran is a meteorologist at MetService. He is currently an instructor on the Master of Meteorology programme that Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington runs in conjunction with MetService. His work has also involved weather forecasting and research. He has a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Mathematical Physics from Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha – University of Canterbury and a Postgraduate Certificate in Meteorology from Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington.

Elise Legarth is exploring innovative methods for estimating probable maximum precipitation and extreme storm events such as floods. “I aim for this project to provide better information to help engineers in both the design and review of proposed and existing dams and spillways, as well as protection of other critical infrastructure,” she says.

Elise has a Master of Environmental Management from Te Kunenga Ki Pūrehuroa – Massey University and a Bachelor of Science in Earth Sciences and Agribusiness from Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato – University of Waikato. Outside of her studies, she is a keen kayaker and canoeist and has represented New Zealand internationally.

Sebastian McDonald wants to apply his research to the renewable energy sector, among other industries, to promote sustainable practices.

“Topics I am interested in later pursuing for PhD and postdoctoral work include wind and ocean energy harvesting and optimisation studies in the aviation industry to reduce carbon emissions,” he says. “Mechanical engineering has always captivated me. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I was continuously motivated by the prospect of pursuing a career that offers the potential to both discover the unknown and improve society.”

Sebastian has recently completed a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Mechanical Engineering at Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland.

Applications for the 2022 Edward and Isabel Kidson Scholarship open on 1 June 2022 and close on 1 October 2022. Further details are on the scholarship’s page on the UNZ website.