2021 Hope Selwyn Scholarships

Posted by on 18 March 2021

We are fortunate this year, due to the generosity of our sponsors and the Friends’ of HOPE, to once again be able to offer 12 University scholarships for research into ageing related study.

Enjoy reading about their interesting and inspiring projects.

Auckland University of Technology

Aamer Khan - International Student PhD study

Fall detection.

aamerkhan2021Each year, about a third of people over 65y fall and about one out of five of these people suffer significant injury such as head trauma or fractures. Even those who are not injured, are often unable to get up on their own after a fall. This can result in them developing a fear of falling, loss of confidence to live independently, low physical activity, poor social interaction, and even depression. Monitoring the movements of older people has become increasingly important but without compromising privacy and causing any sort of hindrance in day-to-day activities.

Device-free sensing is a method that has been recently introduced to monitor the presence, location, motion, activity, and gestures of a person without the help of any attached device. This approach functions with wireless signals such as Wi-Fi and 3G/4G. Any movement done by the person present within the premises of the deployment area of the wireless network can be instantly gauged by the wireless signal patterns and characteristics. Moreover, Device free sensing works exceptionally well in smoky or dark conditions unlike other state-of-the-art sensing techniques, such as cameras and wearable sensors. This technique also prevents privacy intrusion. All these features make it a desirable option for pervasive sensing applications and warrants further study wrt fall detection.

Auckland University of Technology

Rubina Bogati - PhD study

Later life work decisions of older Asian workers in New Zealand

rubinabogati2021This study aims to understand the later life work decisions of older Asian workers in New Zealand (NZ). The research questions of this study are:

  1. What are the demographic, health and wellbeing, social, occupational, financial, and other life-course factors that influence later life work decisions of older Asian workers in NZ?
  2. How do older Asian workers describe their experience of working in later life?
  3. What are the socio-cultural values and beliefs of work in later life for older Asian workers?

The preliminary quantitative phase of this study will use data from a nationally representative health, work, and retirement survey (2018). The second phase will use in-depth interviews to understand the working experience of older Asian workers. A growing number of older Asians are working in later life but there has been little research done to understand why.  It is only by understanding the later life work decisions of older Asian workers that their workforce involvement can be supported and promoted.


University of Auckland

Tina Kwok - PhD study

Lived experience of older Chinese immigrants living in aged care facilities in Auckland

tinakwok2021The aim of this study is to give voice to older Chinese immigrants to explore and express their lived experience in a positive and supportive manner, and thereafter empower them to mobilise the changes needed to further enhance their ageing experience on personal, small group and community levels.

Aotearoa has an established Chinese immigrant community, consisting of a significant number of older people. While several studies have sought to identify the needs of this particular population, many of these studies adopt a deficit-based approach, with the assumption that their ageing experience is problematic, characterised by experiences of loneliness and alienation. The views of the older Chinese immigrants are sometimes (mis)interpreted by researchers through the processes of translation and coding. The study will employ photovoice - a qualitative, visual research method, allowing participants to document and reflect on their life conditions as they see them. It is also an educational tool to empower participants to recognise their own needs, promote dialogue, encourage action, and inform policy. At the end of the project, there will be a photography exhibition to showcase the wonderful stories of the participants. Throughout the project, the researcher will keep a photographic journal, using the photo-text technique, to record and reflect on research progress and personal growth.

University of Auckland

Benjamin Krinkel - Masters study

Inhibiting malic enzymes in the fight against cancer

benjaminkrikel2021Cancer is one of the leading causes of death both worldwide and in New Zealand. During 2020, New Zealand recorded 35,934 new cancer cases, with 10,508 cancer-related deaths, accounting for over 30% of all deaths during the calendar year, with over 50% of these being aged 60 or older.  Consequently, the rapid development of highly selective and effective anticancer treatments is of utmost importance to improve cancer patients' duration and quality of life.

One of the emerging hallmarks of cancer is that it alters its metabolism to facilitate rapid cell growth, where cancer switches from aerobic to anaerobic respiration, altering the way it breaks down glucose. Malic enzymes are thought to play a crucial role in allowing this altered metabolic profile to function by converting malate into pyruvate in the mitochondria to maintain TCA cycle flux.

My research involves looking into two known small molecule inhibitors of malic enzyme 2, NPD-389 and embonic acid. The aim is to use biophysical methods to characterize the malic enzyme inhibitors and undertake crystallization studies to determine the exact binding interactions between the inhibitors and the enzymes. This will tell us whether there is a potential for structural based drug design to improve the binding affinity of these inhibitors. Therefore, findings from this research will be extremely significant in deciding whether more extensive drug development should go ahead for malic enzyme 2 inhibitors.


University of Canterbury

Richard Ellingham - PhD study

Biocompatible artificial muscles and sensor assistive devices in rehabilitation

richardellingham2021Accurately re-creating human muscles artificially has the potential to make a huge difference in the world of biomedical engineering. Many researchers are now looking towards a bio-mimetic approach to solving engineering problems. Using biomimetics allows us to optimise and recreate biological structures naturally or artificially, for applications extending further from where the biological structures exist today. Artificial muscles have the potential to aid a multitude of medical conditions from skeletal muscle replacement/assistance to smooth muscle replacement/assistance and even cardiac muscle. However, the closed loop control of artificial muscles is still largely unexplored.

My research is looking into characterising a carbon silicone rubber- based material for use with an artificial muscle technology called dielectric elastomer actuators. The first step is understanding the dynamic electro-mechanical properties of a specially developed conductive elastomer composite so any stretch and strain of the material can be understood and used for sensing purposes. Many current implementations of dielectric elastomer actuators require a large, unsafe voltage to create a meaningful actuation movement. Hence the next step is to develop this material into various artificial muscle configurations exploring advanced manufacturing techniques such as sputtering and electro-spraying to achieve an actuation voltage that can be used in close proximity with humans.

University of Canterbury

Jessica Fitzjohn - PhD Study

Automated Breast Cancer Diagnostics using digital Image Elasto Tomography for population screening.

jessicafitzjohn2021My research is predominantly focused on developing breast cancer diagnostic methods that can be used with an emerging non-invasive breast screening technology – Digital Image Elasto Tomography (DIET). A DIET prototype has been used in a clinical trial wth Canterbury Breastcare to test for breast cancer by applying a sinusoidal vibration to the breast tissue and capturing the surface motion for a number of subjects. This surface motion can be converted into displacement data and used to infer elastic properties of the tissue to aid with diagnostics (due to tumors being 4-10 times stiffer than healthy tissue).

The DIET technology has the potential to revolutionise breast cancer screening resulting in a non-invasive, low cost screening modality that is safe to use for all ages and comfortable for the patient. The viscous damping method has the potential to be fully automated, removing the need for skilled personnel and enabling an increase in testing frequency due to the low cost and computational simplicity. The expected increase in compliance due to increased comfort using DIET, as well as the higher frequency of testing, will result in earlier detection of breast cancer at a more curable stage. This will lower mortality and reduce the burden that breast cancer has on women and ageing women in particular.


Massey University

Cassie Slade - PhD candidate

Investigating the effect of nutrition on osteoarthritis of the knee

cassieslade2021Osteoarthritis (OA) is a pernicious malady, a slow and subtle disease characterised by progressive deterioration of all joint structures setting off a cascade of inflammation compounding the damage. An estimated 9.6% of men and 18% of women over 60 years have symptomatic OA worldwide, making it the leading cause of disability in older adults and the most common form of joint disease. One potential way to mitigate OA is to influence modifiable risk factors like diet. Diet could be used to reduce the destructive inflammatory state associated with OA.  Eating an anti-inflammatory diet or a dietary intervention with anti-inflammatory properties, like Greenshell Mussel™(GSM), may be viable treatment options.

The aim of this PhD is to look at the effects of nutrition on osteoarthritis through the following objectives:

  • Investigate associations between femoral condyle ultrasound data, cartilage degradation biomarker data (Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein, COMP and C-terminal telopeptide of collagen type II, CTX-II) and Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) data.
  • Investigate the effects of Greenshell™ mussel (GSM) as a dietary intervention to ameliorate the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis.
  • Investigate associations between the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) score and signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Massey University

Philip Mecredy – Marketing PhD candidate

Information processing and purchase behaviour of older consumers

philipmcredey2021Despite the many unique challenges of 2020, I have made considerable steps in my PhD research which investigates the purchase behaviour and brand preferences of older consumers. Many thanks must go to the Hope Foundation and generous donors for the financial support that has greatly assisted this research. This is especially so in a year where university budgets have taken a hit and the ability to access research funds has become more difficult.

In 2019 I conducted an on-line survey exploring the brand choices of New Zealand consumers in a variety of product and service categories. I have spent most of 2020 analysing this data and writing multiple journal and conference articles based on these findings.  These articles provide useful contributions to understanding how ageing factors such as cognitive decline and accumulated purchase experience impact brand awareness and consideration. I have also worked on a journal article that examines the prescription behaviour of General Practitioners (GPs) to establish whether the prescription patterns of older GPs differ from younger GPs, and whether these differences are a result of experience, cognitive decline, or usage decline. The analysis incorporates panel data inclusive of over 2.7 million new or switch prescriptions written by 1,500 UK doctors over a 23-year period. This article will be submitted to a special issue for the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing.

 Overall, throughout 2020 I have nearly completed four ‘PhD ready’ journal articles that will be joined together in my PhD by publication. I am extremely pleased with this progress and the strides I have made in uncovering how ageing processes impact consumer behaviour.  I feel privileged to be able to acknowledge the support of the Hope Foundation in these submissions and to contribute to knowledge on ageing and its effects on New Zealand communities. The Hope Foundation Scholarship has allowed me the opportunity to not only conduct ageing-based research but also the chance to develop immensely as an academic, evidence-based researcher. I am truly grateful for the support!

Massey University

Lisa Vonk - PhD candidate in Media Studies

Networked, digital care and its impact on inequality related to the care of older people in NZ.

lisavonk2021Various consumer software and devices, from Facebook to Fitbits, are becoming commonplace in the everyday lives of older people. These technologies promise social connection, convenience, security, increased health, and more autonomy. My doctoral research aims to explore the impact that internet enabled technologies have on how older people living within their own homes care for themselves and others.

My research involves qualitative interviewing as well as analysis of marketing and instructional materials. I am interested in how older people adapt technologies to suit their needs and how technologies encourage older people to adapt themselves. I have a particular interest in how this impacts social inequalities. Many contemporary internet- enabled technologies are ultimately concerned with predicting and eliciting particular behaviours. They are designed, funded, and produced by large, powerful companies like Google. There are serious questions being raised about how these companies use, collect, and store data. As these technologies become a standard requirement for carrying out everyday tasks like managing health, managing finances, and staying in touch, not having access becomes an increasing disadvantage. The social effects of internet enabled technology use among older people in Aotearoa/New Zealand have as yet, been understudied in the critical humanities tradition. Given the potential to compound, and even disrupt, social inequalities, this is a vital line of enquiry.

Massey University

Annabel Grant – PhD study

Maintaining social inclusion for people with dementia.

anabelgrant2021People with dementia value and wish to maintain connections with their family and friends but they are at risk of shrinking social networks due to stigma and other barriers to inclusion (including changes in communication skills). Social connection is a core psychological need and communication is a human right, but currently people with dementia are not provided with post diagnostic support to maintain these skills.

My research aims to find out from people living with dementia and other stakeholders, their perspectives on optimal ways to maintain social engagement and live as well as possible. This exploratory study will draw on an exploratory qualitative methodology, Interpretive Description, to find out what strategies and resources people with dementia and other stakeholders identify as being most valuable to maintain social inclusion. Their perspectives and experiences will inform our understanding of desired supports. The knowledge generated can be used for enhanced service planning for the future needs of people with dementia.

Massey University

Brieonie Jenkins - PhD study

The Relationship between loneliness and Quality of Life in Informal Dementia Caregivers.

brioniejenkins2021My research aims to find out from people living with dementia and other stakeholders, their perspectives on optimal ways to maintain social engagement and live as well as possible. This study will draw on an exploratory qualitative methodology, Interpretive Description, to find out what strategies and resources people with dementia and other stakeholders identify as being most valuable to maintain social inclusion. Their perspectives and experiences will inform our understanding of desired supports. The knowledge generated can be used for enhanced service planning for the future needs of people with dementia.

Family or informal caregivers are the cornerstone of support for people with dementia in New Zealand, providing an estimated $7.3 - $17.6 billion dollars of care per year (Alzheimer’s New Zealand, 2012). Demographic shifts towards an aging population and shifts in the epidemiology of illness from acute to chronic suggests that New Zealanders are likely to spend their retirement needing or providing care.

Loneliness is believed to be associated with a cluster of life events commonly experienced in old age such as, change in living conditions and lifestyle, loss of close relationships and other life events (Dykstra, 2009). Caregiving is an activity that can precipitate the onset of these changes. This research will investigate the relationships between informal caregiving stress, loneliness, and health, conceptualised as quality of life (QoL).

This research will increase our understanding of the development of loneliness and its influence on quality of life for informal carers.

Massey University

Courtney Jones - Masters Health Science

The Role of Alcohol in Sleep, Health and Well-being of Older Adults.

courtneyjones2021By 2050, it is estimated that almost a quarter of New Zealanders will be aged 65 years or older. By this age, most people will have spent 22 years asleep. Despite this, the importance of sleep is still largely overlooked in healthy ageing.  Sleep is a crucial determinant of health and wellbeing that changes continuously over the life course. Sleep disorders and problem sleep, which are more prevalent in older adulthood, are associated with comorbidities and poorer waking function. This is, therefore, capable of resulting in greater health care usage, falls and mortality among this cohort.  Alcohol is well-recognised for its sedative properties. This fact encourages a long-standing misbelief that alcohol encourages good sleep despite research demonstrating its adverse impacts on sleep quantity and quality. Publicly available health data has shown that both the prevalence of alcohol consumption and the prevalence of hazardous drinkers among New Zealand older adults has increased recently. Differences in health outcomes vary with patterns of drinking and research in New Zealand has shown considerable diversity in both the ways older adults may engage with alcohol and in the associated health statuses. However, the changing relationship between drinking status and sleep associate with ageing has yet to be explored. 

This research will provide a novel and comprehensive overview of the risk factors for sleep problems among older New Zealanders and their associations with physical and mental health as well as alcohol use. This work will seek to determine the prevalence of problem sleep among New Zealand older adults and explore the relationships that exist between poor sleep and health status within this cohort. Additionally, this work will identify and characterise patterns of drinking among older adults and investigate the sleep and health of older adults’ sleep according to low, moderate, and high-risk behaviours. The findings of this research will serve to ascertain a better understanding of the role of alcohol on the sleep and health of older adults, specifically within a New Zealand context.


You can also help by

  • Spreading the word about what we do / share this newsletter
  • Donating your time to the Friends Supporters to help with fundraising and committee work
  • Encouraging your children and grandchildren to invest in their futures by donating time and money (a baby girl born today has a 1 in 3 chance of living to 100 , a boy 1 in 4 and is likely to be fitter and healthier–think about the implications of that)
  • Consider a bequest