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The best of 2015 at the University of Waikato
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Waikato Alumni: the best of 2015 

Off Campus is taking a break this year, so we're bringing you a summary of all the cool things that happened at the University of Waikato this year in an e-version. Read on for the 'year that was' in 2015. 
Tell us what you think
The University of Waikato has more than 90,000 alumni around the world - and we want to know you all better. We've put together a survey to find out more about you: how you'd like to hear from us, what you'd like to see more of, and what we could be doing better. Make sure your voice is heard - take the survey now 
Rankings success 
This year we jumped 60 places in the QS world rankings - the biggest move of any New Zealand university. 

New VC
We also welcomed new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley, formerly Provost at Victoria University, who joined us as our fifth Vice-Chancellor. 
Finance guru, singer and Olympian honoured in 2015
Peter Churchouse, Hinewehi Mohi and Rob Waddell were recognised for their outstanding successes this year with Distinguished Alumni Awards
World's fastest Kiwi in India? 
He's cycled the length of New Zealand and the width of Australia, and in February 2016, Tim Chittock will attempt to set a Guinness World Record for cycling the Indian Golden Quadrilateral. To set the record, he'll have to cycle 300km a day to make the distance within 20 days. 
Finding a cure for cancer
Alice Chibnall is putting her Masters in biological sciences to good use at the award-winning Gillies McIndoe Research Centre, researching stem cells in the hopes of finding a cure for cancer.
Poet takes his gift of the gab overseas
Te Kahu Rolleston loves words and their ability to inspire. This year he travelled to Canada to join The Banff Centre's Indigenous Writing Program to further hone his craft. Te Kahu is a national spoken word champion and won 2014's Aotearoa National Poetry Slam competition and he is also a Kairanga Pao, an up lifter of poetry, and works with children and adults using poetry to help them learn. 
No. 1 author honed her skills at Waikato
Best selling author Deborah Challinor has just finished a nationwide tour, publicising her latest historical fiction novel - A Tattooed Heart, the fourth in the Convict Girls series and her 16th published novel so far. 
The Hawaiian Hobbit
Have you ever wondered what Gollum or Gandalf would sound like speaking Hawaiian? Thanks to Keao NeSmith, you won't have to. The Waikato alumnus has translated J.R.R Tolkien's The Hobbit into Hawaiian. Ka Hopita was a labour of love for Keao, who worked on the translation in his down time from teaching Hawaiian at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa in Honolulu. 
Safer driving with engineering know-how
Leon Henderson spent this year working in an automotive engineering capacity on a project funded by Volvo Trucks. He's a research associate at Cambridge University in the UK and worked with Volvo developing a new braking system that takes a fifth of the stopping distance off an HGV, enabling better driving control. 
PR maven in the making
Regular trips to Melbourne. Money-can't-buy experiences. Holding the Melbourne Cup trophy. Eating celebrity chef food. Who wouldn't want Courtney Stayte's job? 
Working with traditional healers in Vietnam
Joanna Bishop's PhD explored medical history and the use of medicinal plants in colonial medical culture. Next year, she's hoping to work with highly skilled traditional healers in Vietnam to learn and record their use of medicinal plants and create a Vietnamese pharmacopeia that she says will enhance the people's rights to their forest, land and plants. 
Risks and challenges pay off for Belinda
Belinda Allan tested her limits by moving from the bright lights of Melbourne to the small town of Echuca, on the Victoria/NSW border, population 13,000. She was the HR Consultant for the Northern Victorian operations of Fonterra Australia, looking after 150 employees across manufacturing and operational functions - one of very few females on a nearly all-male manufacturing site. 
Where does she find the time?
Komal Mistry is a superwoman, balancing a demanding leadership career in finance with New Zealand's largest FMCG company and volunteering at Starship Children's Hospital in her spare time. 
In brief: 2015 highlights 
 
Alumni caught up at events in London (pictured) and Beijing; rowing coach Dick Tonks and Tauranga Kaumatua Morehu Ngatoko Rahipere received Honorary Doctorates; the Glenice and John Gallagher Foundation made a significant gift to fund the Dr John Gallagher Chair in Engineering; new Deans were appointed in Te Piringa - Faculty of Law and the School of Māori and Pacific Developmentseveral alumni were named in the New Year and Queen's Birthday honours lists; Distinguished Alumnus Craig Nevill-Manning was named one of America's Great Immigrants by the United States' Carnegie Institute; former Hillary Scholar Jeremy Mayall won the 2015 Philip Neill Memorial Prize in Music at Otago University, where he is currently the Mozart Fellow; top masters student Sjoerd de Feijter won the inaugural Sir William Gallagher Cyber Security Scholarship worth $25,000; the Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship celebrated its 10th anniversaryMāori military historian Dr Monty Soutar spoke at Kīngitanga Day on Māori participation in WWI; alumna Eloise Gibson won a Fulbright Award to study journalism at New York's Columbia University and young Waikato researchers are awarded Marsden grants
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