Archive for the ‘Honours’ Category

Scientist honoured for outstanding contribution to NZ’s pipfruit industry

Plant & Food Research scientist Dr Jim Walker has been awarded the New Zealand Apple and Pear industry’s Outstanding Contribution Award.

New Zealand Apple and Pear board member Peter Beaven presented Dr Walker with the award at the industry’s annual conference in Napier and noted his long service and significant impact.

Mr Beaven said Dr Walker was the brains behind the Integrated Fruit Production programme introduced in the 1990s.

The programme was a world first and a huge departure from the then current practice around the world.

“With IFP, growers started monitoring the numbers of harmful insects on orchards through pheromone trapping and introduced the use of targeted selective sprays when required,” Mr Beaven said.

“The IFP system was introduced across the entire industry in a remarkably short time due in no small measure to this man’s efforts. Today we take such systems for granted.”

Dr Walker was also instrumental in the next generation of orchard management – the Apple Futures programme, which further reduced residue levels on fruit and enabled the industry to tailor production systems of blocks within orchards to meet the phytosanitary and residue requirements for specific markets.

“However, I rate Jim’s most significant contribution to our industry as making science easy to understand for non-scientists. The best science is useless if growers cannot understand it or know how to apply it in a commercial setting. Jim has always had the knack of explaining things in ways we laypeople can readily grasp”.

Dr Walker said he was honoured to be the award recipient – and he is not yet ready to retire.

“I have been really proud to serve this industry which I have been involved in one way or another since 1972.

“I’ve worked in the industry for almost 45 years and I’m not ready for the ‘R’ word so I’m not retiring but will be reducing my hours. It’s been great to work within an outstanding industry, with outstanding growers and it has been an amazing opportunity.

“I have been part of a team of people and although the success of the IFP programme is often tracked back to one individual, it has been a bigger team that have helped along the way such as my colleagues at Plant & Food and at DSIR before that.”

Dr Walker said highlights have been seeing growers achieve a 90 per cent reduction in pesticide loading (per hectare); the elimination across the apple industry of the use of former ‘highly toxic’ insecticides; about 35 per cent of the industry now using non-insecticidal ‘mating disruption’ techniques (i.e. sex pheromones) and the lowest possible pesticide residues on IFP (NZ) apples in international markets, a similar risk profile to organic apples.

“A lot of the work has been fun, working in the discovery and developing of the concept of multiple species as a distribution system. I can see grown men chuckle when we talked about tethering virgin female moths and putting them out in orchard to see if they will get discovered by males in the presence of all of the pheromone out there,” he said.

Dr Walker said another highlight was gaining access for apples into Australia, although there is still work to do in getting meaningful access.

Nominations for Royal Society honours called

Nominations are being called for Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Companions of the Royal Society of New Zealand are elected occasionally for outstanding leadership or eminent contributions to the promotion and advancement of science, technology or the humanities in New Zealand.

Nominations may be made by any member of the society or organisational members (constituent organisations, regional constituent organisations, affiliate organisations).

Nominations close on 31 March 2017

Nomination details and a nomination form can be found here.

Maybe we missed their names – but it looks like scientists have been overlooked

Checking on what Paul Goldsmith has been doing since his appointment as Minister of Science and Innovation just before Christmas, we find he has issued four press statements.

But only one of them (see here) was issued in respect of his science portfolio. He issued the others in his job as Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister.

The most recent statement was issued jointly with Education Minister Hekia Parata under the headline “Educators congratulated on NY Honours”.

Seventeen New Zealanders received New Year Honours for services to education.

No similar statement was issued to congratulate New Zealanders for services to science.

The disappointing reason for this is that – according to our examination of the Honours List – scientists were overlooked for New Year honours this time.

But Ms Jacqueline Lindsay Bay, of Auckland, was honoured for services to science and education. She became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit)

Ms Bay is founding Director of LENScience, an innovative science education programme established in 2006 that creates opportunities for schools and scientists to work together to promote the development of scientific literacy and enable the translation of scientific knowledge into community understanding.

Plant & Food’s Bruce Campbell is honoured by the Royal Society of NZ

Dr Bruce Campbell, Chief Operating Officer of Plant & Food Research, has been awarded the prestigious Thomson Medal for 2016.

The Thomson Medal, which recognises outstanding contributions to science and technology,  was presented to Dr Campbell for his outstanding leadership in both the agricultural and horticultural sciences over 35 years.

The medal selection committee noted:

“His leadership has had a positive impact on the New Zealand economy, including innovations in forages, wine, kiwifruit and avocado sectors, and he has fostered new science talent and linked science closely with business and the wider community.” They particularly noted his scientific leadership during the response to the kiwifruit bacterial disease Psa when it was discovered in New Zealand in 2010, which saw more than 100 Plant & Food Research scientists mobilised to support Zespri and the kiwifruit industry in understanding and managing the devastating disease.”

As Chief Operating Officer of Plant & Food Research, Dr Campbell leads a team of more than 600 scientists across New Zealand, delivering research and innovation to support the sustainable growth of the plant and marine-based food sectors. H

He acts as Director for several industry organisations and science partnerships, including Forage Innovations Limited, the Bio-Protection Research Centre of Excellence and the Horticulture New Zealand Vegetable Research & Innovation Board. He was made a Fellow of the NZ Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science in 2014.

Dr Campbell is a strong advocate for encouraging young people to build careers in the horticultural and wider food industries. He championed the development of the Plant & Food Research Summer Studentship Programme – which to date has seen more than 250 young scientists spend three months undertaking a research project at the Institute to gain insights into real life science and business activities – and the creation of scholarships that support young Māori and Pacific Island students in furthering their science education and careers.

He was  instrumental in establishing the Joint Graduate School in Plant and Food Science with the University of Auckland, the first collaboration of its kind in New Zealand, and the Joint Graduate School of Horticulture and Food Enterprise with Massey University.

Gongs for scientists? Let’s extend talk of drought this summer to the honours list

Agricultural and horticultural scientists who feel their sectors have been short-changed by Government funding decisions over the past year or so shouldn’t be too surprised to find they have been starved in the 2016 New Year honours.

Perhaps they should have taken up rugby, which accounted for eight gongs according to our search for the word “rugby” on the honours list..

No, we stand corrected. The count rises to nine when we include Mr Richard Hugh McCaw, of Christchurch, who has been appointed to The Order of New Zealand “for services to New Zealand”.

The only nod to science we found on our initial run through the list (albeit a cursory search for awards for “science”) was among the Companions of the Order of New Zealand. The recipients include Professor Max Wenden Abbott, of Auckland, for services to health, science and education.

Looking beyond awards for “science”, and thinking more broadly about agriculture, horticulture and forestry, we note these worthy Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM):

David Civil – pioneered a solution for using dairy by-products as a fertiliser replacement to tackle the environmental issues surrounding the disposal of whey waste. His company, Civil Whey Distributors, is now the industry’s largest disposal business,

Neil Craig – founder of sharebroker Craig Investment Partners, chairman of Comvita and backer of Priority One, Tauranga’s economic development agnency and investment group Enterprise Angels. A board member of Cricket New Zealand. trustee of Waipuna Hospice and an adviser to the philanthropic Acorn Foundation.

Rob Davison – a contributor to the sheep and beef industry for 40 years, including chief economist and executive director of the New Zealand Meat and Wool Board’s Economic Service, which he joined in 1973.

Roger France – a director and chairman of blue chip companies such as Air New Zealand, Fonterra, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Orion Health and Southern Cross Medical Care Society. From 1993-2000, a director of Team New Zealand during the America’s Cup challenge and defence under Sir Peter Blake. Chancellor of the University of Auckland from 2009-12 and a current trustee of the University of Auckland Foundation and the Dilworth Trust Board.

Andrew McEwen – involved with the forestry since the 1960s, including the Forest Research Institute and the Forestry Corporation during its corporatisation and sale. President of the NZ Institute of Forestry from 2008-14 and current chairman the NZ Institute of Forestry Foundation.

Yes, AgScience admits these names have been collected in a quick run through the list. If someone has been overlooked, please let us know.