We invest in infrastructure to support the delivery of worldclass science. Such investments support the delivery of our Impacts and National Outcomes and so are aligned to our Core Purpose with benefit for New Zealand. Research undertaken in purpose-built specialist laboratories contributes to our reputation for science excellence. Where relevant, we also provide fee-based services (to cover costs) from these laboratories to clients, mostly in central and local government. Such services are not readily available from the private sector.
We upgraded our building management systems in both Lincoln and Palmerston North, ensuring improved working conditions in offices and labs while optimising our energy efficiency. In Auckland, we installed mechanical HVAC systems in our level 3 laboratories, which improved temperatures across our labs on all floors.
This year at Lincoln, we made the decision to concentrate labs and associated equipment in our largest building (also the newest and strongest), which is connected to an emergency power generator. This move is aligned with our business continuity and risk management strategies.
New Palaeoecology Suite
We moved our Palaeoecology Laboratory from the Godley Building to the Fleming Building. In conjunction with this, we constructed a new Ancient DNA Laboratory, and an associated preparation room and cool store. ‘Ancient’ samples can include anything from 100-year-old herbarium specimens through to sediments and soils that are thousands of years old. To avoid cross-contamination, work with ancient DNA requires ultra clean facilities that are located well away from other areas where DNA is or has been handled. Previously we had to undertake this work overseas adding significantly to the cost of such research. The applications of ancient DNA research are wide-ranging but a high-profile example is using DNA extracted from coprolites (preserved dung) to understand the diet and ecology of extinct moa. As well as supporting palaeoecological work, the suite can be used as a ‘clean room’ for other sensitive DNA extractions (e.g. for forensic analyses, or to identify material for MPI). The facility at the University of Auckland previously used by EcoGene will close soon so the new laboratory will ensure continuity of EcoGene services.
IT and research data management
We finalised a data management plan template to ensure staff consider key elements of good data management when planning their research. The template, assessed by the Open Government Information and Data Programme and MBIE, meets the requirements of NZGOAL and the Declaration on Open and Transparent Government. We generate a lot of publicly-funded research data, much of which has been difficult to discover or access and risks being lost. To address this we established a data repository (the ‘DataStore’) as a central location for storage and sharing data.
Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are internationally recognised, persistent identifiers for digital ‘objects’, including data. We are now able to issue DOIs for our datasets and publications and issued our first DOI for issue 71 of the Fauna of New Zealand series. DOIs facilitate discovery, access, citation and reliable attribution of digital information.