Nominations open for the Otago Science Awards

A call is being made to recognise Otago’s science heroes with the opening of nominations for the biennial Otago Daily Times Otago Science Awards, a joint initiative between the New Zealand International Science Festival and the ODT.

The Awards – first launched at the 2016 Festival – aim to acknowledge the work of science in our everyday lives and the difference the people committed to the field make, from the region’s scientists to teachers, students, community groups, volunteers and business people.

New Zealand International Science Festival Director Dan Hendra is encouraging people to nominate someone they believe “is making a difference to the way we understand our world, whether it’s a national or international contribution – or at a community level.”

Awards categories include:

• The University of Otago – Lifetime Achievement
(In recognition to dedication and achievement in the field of sciences

• The Otago Polytechnic – Sustainability
(In recognition of sustainable practices integrated into their work and practice)

• Otago Museum – Science Communicator
(In recognition of excellence in communication in the sciences to a non-science crowd)

• Vodafone – Business
(In recognition of an individual in business that is leading science and innovation)

• Mitre10 MEGA – Future Scientist
(In recognition of a Year 12 or Year 13 student who has undertaken an outstanding science, technology, mathematics or engineering project)

• ADInstruments – Emerging Scientist (tertiary level student)
(In recognition of an emerging scientist in the tertiary sector who is becoming established in their field)

• Science in Action – Science Teacher Award
(In recognition of a registered primary, intermediate or secondary school teacher who is teaching science, mathematics, technology in the New Zealand curriculum).

Nominations can be made online via the New Zealand International Science Festival website (HERE) and will close on Thursday 28 June at 5pm.

Winners will be announced at the launch of the New Zealand International Science Festival on Friday 6 July.


Applications are opened for 2018 ANZCCART Awards

The Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching (ANZCCART) is calling for nominations to recognise the service and contributions of Animal Ethics Committees (AECs), animal care technicians and research assistants.

Submissions are invited, too, from tertiary education students to the ANZCCART Essay Competition, to encourage critical thinking around the role animal research plays in today’s society.

Further award information and eligibility criteria can be found here. 

NZ Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) Member of the Year Award

Recognising excellent and valuable service in 2017 to a New Zealand’s Animal Ethics Committee, the award will cover attendance at the 2018 ANZCCART conference in Australia.

Submissions due 29 June.

Animal Care Award

Acknowledging the significant contribution made by New Zealand-based technicians and research assistants to the welfare of animals, the award will include $500 and attendance at the 2018 ANZLAA New Zealand conference in Dunedin.

Submissions due 8 May.

ANZCCART Essay Competition

Organised in collaboration with University of Otago’s Bioethics Centre, this competition for New Zealand tertiary students seeks to inspire critical thought about the role of animal research, and has a prize of $500.

Submissions due 21 September.

2018 science medals and awards – Royal Society is calling for nominations

The call for nominations for medals and awards being offered in 2018 by the Royal Society Te Apārangi – which was opened in mid-December – will close on 30 April.

The Academy Executive Committee is focused on increasing the diversity of nominations from under-represented groups, particularly with respect to gender, ethnicity and employment context.

  • Callaghan Medal – for outstanding contribution to science communication, in particular raising public awareness of the value of science to human progress;
  • Cooper Award – for emerging researchers in technology, applied sciences, and engineering research in New Zealand, awarded annually;
  • Dame Joan Metge Medal – for excellence and building relationships in the social science research community,
  • Hamilton Award – for the encouragement of early-career researchers currently based in New Zealand for scientific  research in New Zealand
  • Hatherton Award – for the best scientific paper by a PhD student at any New Zealand University in chemical sciences, physical sciences, or mathematical and information sciences
  • Hector Medal – for outstanding work in chemical, physical sciences, or mathematical and information sciences
  • Hercus Medal – for excellence in molecular and cellular sciences, biomedical science or clinical science and public health
  • Hutton Medal – for significantly advancing understanding in animal sciences, earth sciences or plant sciences
  • Jones Medal – is awarded biennially, for lifetime achievement in pure or applied mathematics or statistics by a person with substantial connections to New Zealand.
  • MacDiarmid Medal – for outstanding scientific research that demonstrates the potential for application to human benefit. Nominations of teams welcome.
  • Pickering Medal – to recognise excellence and innovation in the practical applications of technology. Nominations of teams welcome.
  • Rutherford Medal – for exceptional contributions to New Zealand society and culture through activities in the broad fields of science, mathematics, social science, and technology
  • Te Puāwaitanga Award – in recognition of research that has made an eminent and distinctive contribution to Te Ao Māori and Indigenous knowledge (new medal for 2018)
  • Thomson Medal – for outstanding contributions to the organisation, support and application of science and/or technology in New Zealand.

You can email Academy ( to submit a new nomination. An URL will be provided to access the web portal.

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi

Plant & Food team rewarded for rescuing the kiwifruit industry


Dr Bruce Campbell – Plant and Food Research Psa Team Leader, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

A tribute has been paid (HERE) to the work of the research team that helped the New Zealand kiwifruit industry claw its way back from the brink of destruction after the discovery of Psa (Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae), a vine-killing disease.

This work has won the 2017 Prime Minister’s $500,000 Science Prize for the multidisciplinary team from Plant & Food Research, led by Chief Operating Officer Dr Bruce Campbell. The team’s success and other awards can be found HERE.

The award of New Zealand’s most valuable science prize recognises the team’s rapid and successful response to Psa, which was discovered in the Bay of Plenty in late 2010. Grower livelihoods and the economic viability of rural areas dependent on the kiwifruit industry were threatened.

Plant & Food Research promptly mobilised a team of more than 100 people, grouping the top scientific brains within the organisation together to multiply the team’s effectiveness as it moved ahead at speed.

The industry’s recovery was facilitated by the development of a new kiwifruit cultivar ‘Zesy002’, referred to by growers as Gold3 and sold around the world as Zespri® SunGold Kiwifruit. SunGold was in the initial commercialisation phase and, after an intensive screening programme, was found to be tolerant to the disease.

Hundreds of genetically diverse varieties from the breeding programme were screened and evaluated to find plant variety cultivars that had increased tolerance to the disease and also met grower requirements and consumer demands for taste.

Forty-eight million trays of the new variety were sold last season, with an export value of $686 million, up 70 percent on the previous year and increasing by around 10 million trays a year as newly-grafted vines reach production. It is estimated that less than half the economic and social benefits would be achievable without SunGold.

The team was also able to develop molecular diagnostic tests, a world-first and a breakthrough in the fight against Psa. This enabled rapid testing of orchards to inform management plans and provided a mechanism to screen new cultivars.

A range of agrichemicals was also tested to aid orchard management, along with new orchard management practices to minimise the spread of the disease.

Dr Campbell says his team knew it needed to find a solution that could be rolled out quickly to growers so they could maintain their businesses.

“Rural areas like the Bay of Plenty, Northland and other growing areas faced the threat of having a whole lot of low-value land use that wouldn’t sustain them in the way they had previously enjoyed from high-value kiwifruit,” he says.

“It was also important to give banks, which had invested heavily in the industry, confidence to see a future and know that science would provide an answer.”

A recent report from the University of Waikato forecasts that by 2030, the industry will have created 29,000 new jobs in New Zealand and tripled GDP contribution to more than $6 billion. This includes 14,000 new jobs in Bay of Plenty and increased Māori investment and jobs in the industry.

Having to operate in a demanding situation really has put the team in a world-leading position in dealing with Psa and sets an example for responses to pest and disease incursions in the wider horticultural industry, Dr Campbell says.

The prize money will be invested in developing the next generation of science technologies to protect plants against biosecurity threats and to develop New Zealand as a hub for bioprotection technologies, seeking to attract world-leading international collaborators and expertise from the human medical, animal and plant disease fields.

“It will help to accelerate the strong positioning of New Zealand internationally as the pre-eminent area for ensuring food security,” says Bruce.

Readers can watch a video that includes more about the science involved.

Job Code X Client's Name
From left: Erik Rikkerink, Mark Andersen, Mike Manning, Kerry Everett, Mike Currie, Bruce Campbell, Ross Ferguson, Joy Tyson


Prime Minister’s Science Prizes announced

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods today announced the winners of the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes.

The awards, presented by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Parliament, are:

Prime Minister’s Science Prize: $500,000 – awarded to Plant & Food Research (team entry, led by Chief Operating Officer Dr Bruce Campbell)

• Prime Minister’s MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize: $200,000 – awarded to Dr Carla Meledandri, University of Otago

• Prime Minister’s Science Teacher Prize: $150,000 – awarded to Sarah Johns, Nelson College for Girls

• Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize: $100,000 – awarded to Damian Christie, SciFilms

• Prime Minister’s Future Scientist Prize: $50,000 – awarded to Jonathan Chan, Auckland Boys’ Grammar School.

Dr Woods congratulated the recipients and their families, supporters, colleagues and friends.

She said the awards are a chance to celebrate the achievements of some of New Zealand’s top scientists and draw attention to the impact that science has in our society and all our lives.

“All the recipients here today are role models who play a part in inspiring others to become involved with science. I want to congratulate all of the award winners on their commitment to promoting science.

“As with previous winners, those receiving awards today will go on to become excellent ambassadors for science here in New Zealand and overseas,” says Megan Woods.

You can learn more about the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes HERE.


Applications invited for 2017 Fieldays Innovation Awards

The 2017 Fieldays Innovation Awards celebrate and support New Zealand’s most innovative agricultural inventions and showcase emerging products and technology that will lead change in the rural sector.

Applicants for the awards will showcase their ideas, designs and products at the Fieldays Innovations Centre during next year’s NZ National Agricultural Fieldays, which will run from Wednesday June 14 to Saturday June 17 2017 at Mystery Creek Events Centre.

Awards are given across multiple categories and winners will receive thousands of dollars in business support and advice to help get their innovations to market. This support is of immense value, giving innovators access to New Zealand’s top intellectual property and commercial lawyers, business advisors, product development and innovation consultants and others.

For more information about the Fieldays Innovations awards, see:

Closing date: Sunday 30 April 2017

Nominations sought for mentoring award

Applications are open for the Miriam Dell Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring.

This is the second time the award has been offered. The inaugural award was presented to Dr Judith O’Brien of the University of Auckland in 2013.

The Miriam Dell Award is awarded on a biennial basis to someone who demonstrates outstanding mentoring efforts to retain females in science, mathematics or technology.

Nominees can be from any part of the science system – including teachers at primary or secondary schools, lecturers or supervisors in tertiary education, or from commercial science-based organisations. They may have mentored, formally or informally, females at any stage in their career – from school age to the science workforce.

The award is named for Dame Miriam Dell, Patron of the Association for Women in the Sciences, botanist, secondary school teacher and advocate for women’s advancement.

“Encouraging women in science is incredibly important,” says Emma Timewell, National Convenor of AWIS.

“Having females across the science system provides a much-needed mix of viewpoints, skills and cultures that will allow New Zealand to excel in its endeavours. One of the key actions that supports this is ensuring females are adequately mentored at every stage of their career, from school to retirement. This Award acknowledges those mentors, particularly those who go beyond the call of duty to ensure girls and women are supported in meeting their scientific potential.”

Nomination forms and more information on the award are available on the website.
Nominations for this year’s Award close on 30 June.