Archive for the ‘Science organisations’ Category

New research institutes announced for Bay of Plenty and Westland

Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith today announced a new Regional Research Institute based in Tauranga to leverage the Bay of Plenty’s strengths in horticulture, accelerating and commercialising research and innovation for the benefit of the region.

It is the second such announcement this week.

Plantech: the New Zealand Institute for Technology and Innovation in Premium Plant-based Value Chains, led by the economic development agency, Priority One, is the fourth successful proposal under the Government’s initiative to establish new regional Research Institutes.

The Government will provide funding of $8.42 million over five years for the new institute alongside additional funding from industry. It will operate as a private, independently governed organisation.

Plantech will initially focus on research to enable digital automation of devices for growers, including robotics and digital sensing, with the aim of becoming a leader in supporting customised, precise and automated production systems that are accessible for businesses at a range of scales.

“This research will increase effective development, adoption and adaptation of new technology which will improve the productivity and sustainability of the Horticulture sector. This has the potential to drive significant economic benefits for the region,” Mr Goldsmith says.

The announcement of the new institute through the Regional Research Institute initiative comes as the Bay of Plenty launches its refreshed Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Action Plan.

The Action Plan is a regionally led collaboration between local and central government, business and iwi that aims to increase jobs, income and investment in the Bay of Plenty. Regional economic development is a key part of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda and is supported through the Regional Growth Programme.

More information can be found on the MBIE website, HERE.

Yesterday Goldsmith announced a new Regional Research Institute based in Greymouth that will use innovative research and manufacturing techniques to unlock the potential of New Zealand’s minerals resources.

The New Zealand Institute for Minerals to Materials Research is led by an industry organisation, Minerals West Coast Trust.

The Government will provide funding of $11 million over four years for it. With additional funding from industry, it too will operate as a private, independently governed organisation.

The institute will explore three research areas initially, including purifying rare earth elements for use in magnets and lasers, extracting tungsten from gold mining waste and developing a carbon foam pilot plant.

The announcement of the new institute through the Regional Research Institute initiative comes as the West Coast launches its Tai Poutini West Coast Economic Development Action Plan. The West Coast was included in the Government’s Regional Growth Programme in November 2015. The programme aims to increase jobs, income and investment in regional New Zealand.

More information can be found on the MBIE website, HERE.

Broad range of research topics covered in Royal Society lecture series

The Royal Society Te Aparangi has announced a nationwide lecture series hosted by its branches to demonstrate the range of research being carried out throughout New Zealand.

The lectures are part of the society’s 150th anniversary activities.

Each talk will include a presentation and video celebrating the society’s past and looking to the future, led by Professor Richard Bedford, the society’s president.

Topics range from human heat stress due to rising temperatures and humidity in response to climate change to future food and developments in pest management for pipfruit crops.

Gene editing to improve the national dairy herd is another of the topics.

Professor Bedfored describes it as “a broad and intriguing collection of research we can be proud of.”

The events are free but a donation to support branch activities would be appreciated.

More details can be found HERE.

Scientists are cautioned against including personal attacks in debates

Scientists have been advised to conduct their debates according to the science , not the personalities, in a letter sent by the Association of Scientists.

The letter to members reminded them of the Royal Society’s Code of Professional Standards and Ethics that say members must try to obtain and present facts and interpretations in an objective and open manner.

Your editor could  find no mention of the letter on the association’s website this morning (although the search was a quick one).

According to a Radio New Zealand report (HERE) the reminder of the rules followed Jacqueline Rowarth from the Environmental Protection Agency and soil scientist Doug Edmeades taking part in a radio discussion about whether prominent freshwater ecologist Mike Joy should be labelled an extremist.

RNZ said Dr Rowarth and Dr Edmeades appeared on Jamie Mackay’s radio show The Country last month as part of a panel discussion entitled: ‘Is Dr Mike Joy an extremist or does he have a point?

It also mentioned Dr Edmeades’ opinion piece titled ‘Is Mike Joy a biased scientist?

According to RNZ, the president of the Association of Scientists, Craig Stevens said there had been a lot of concern from members about scientists being attacked and not the science.

“In this particular area we’re talking about freshwater and land use.

“It’s an issue that’s incredibly important for New Zealand from a number of perspectives.

“We were concerned that some of this was proceeding in the media in a way that was not helpful for getting the facts across.”

The RNZ report includes comments on the association’s letter from Dr Joy and Dr Edmeades.

Jacqueline Rowarth declined to comment.


New appointments to the Science Board

Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith has announced three new appointments and two reappointments to the Science Board.

The new members, Dr David Wratt, Dr Jill Vintiner and Professor Aidan Byrne, have been appointed to the board for terms of three years. Dr Charlotte Severne and Professor Adam Jaffe were reappointed for further terms of three years and 18 months respectively.

The Science Board is responsible for the allocation of funding used predominantly by research organisations for science, technology, research, and related activities.

Goldsmith said the new appointments offered expertise in a range of science disciplines and the unique skills and experience each member brought would equip the board with valuable insight.

He expressed his thanks to outgoing board member Professor Janis Swan, who finished her term on 31 December 2016, for her contribution to the board.

More information on the Science Board can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website.

New KiwiNet CEO appointed to lead the transformation of science

Dr James Hutchinson has been appointed chief executive of the Kiwi Innovation Network Ltd (KiwiNet), New Zealand’s national network of universities and Crown Research Institutes working together to take great science discoveries to market. He succeeds KiwiNet’s founding General Manager, Dr Bram Smith, who is moving to a private sector job.

KiwiNet’s 16 partnering organisations collaborate to increase the scale and impact of science-based innovation. Collectively, the consortium represents over 70% of New Zealand’s publicly funded scientists.

Dr Hutchinson, previously Commericalisation Manager at KiwiNet, is described as passionate about the important role that science and the scientific community have to play in growing our economy into new high-tech and knowledge-based sectors.

Dr Hutchinson says it is an exciting time to be leading KiwiNet.

“New Zealand’s high-tech capability is growing and we must be bold if we are to power this up into a globally-competitive technology sector that is driving economic growth and creating benefit for all New Zealanders. Commercialisation of our cutting-edge science and entrepreneurship holds the key, and I’m looking forward to working with all stakeholders across the system to achieve this ambition.”

Dr Hutchinson has experience in supporting research and innovation in the UK and internationally with a particular focus on the life sciences and global societal challenges.

He led a team of programme specialists to develop and implement a platform of science policy, advocacy, networking, conferences, workshops and other initiatives, working in close partnership with the international chemical science community. He is an experienced project leader who has a strong track record of working with government, industry and academia at senior levels.

Dr Hutchinson is a Junior Policy Fellow of the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP) at the University of Cambridge, UK, having authored over 20 pieces of science policy covering strategic reports, government consultation responses and position statements. He led a successful campaign to the UK Government in 2013, on behalf of the broader chemical science community, to protect public investment in science, and has participated in several advisory groups and expert panels to government bodies and NGOs.

KiwiNet’s PreSeed investment partners have invested over $26.7 million into more than 500 projects since 2003. To date PreSeed investment (provided by the Ministry of Innnovation Business and Employment) has led to over 153 commercial deals attracting over $114 million of business investment and 27 new start-up companies. Collectively, KiwiNet’s investments into research commericalisation are generating a greater than five-fold return on investment to New Zealand and this is growing.

Dr Hutchinson is eager to build on this momentum, identifying several critical interventions that will underpin future success.

KiwiNet partner organisations include WaikatoLink, Plant & Food Research, Otago Innovation Ltd, Lincoln University, AUT Enterprises, AgResearch, University of Canterbury, Callaghan Innovation, Viclink, Landcare Research, Cawthron Institute, ESR, NIWA, Scion, GNS Science and Malaghan Institute. Principal support is also provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.

Royal Society emphasises diversity in the naming of 19 new Fellows

Three agricultural-sector scientists and scholars are among the 19 new Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand announced today. The honour recognises true international distinction in research and scholarship.

The society is emphasising the efforts it has taken to to increase the diversity of its Fellows. Professor Gaven Martin FRSNZ, a Vice President of the Society and chair of the Academy, said  university academics, men and people of European descent had been over-represented in previous Fellowship selections.

“We sought to address this by encouraging a more diverse pool of excellent candidates for nomination to Fellowship. We updated selection criteria and ran workshops on bias to ensure no one was disadvantaged. We are especially pleased that this approach has resulted in a more diverse group of new Fellows – selected entirely on merit -which is more representative of our community of researchers and scholars.”

The new Fellows include a majority of females (10 out of the 19), two Fellows from Crown Research Institutes, one Fellow from a private research organisation, two Fellows with Māori ethnicity and one with Asian ethnicity.

The group also includes the first female mathematician to be made a Fellow, Professor Hinke Osinga from the University of Auckland.

Professor Martin said the society would  build on this and continue to seek “best practice” to ensure diversity within all of its activities.

“We certainly do not see this positive result as a case of ‘problem solved’ but rather it provides evidence that positive change can be achieved by diligence.”

The society is also contributing to a national working group for diversity and equity issues for the New Zealand research community.

The new Fellows include:

Professor Hong Di, Lincoln University, who has led pioneering research into nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions from intensive dairying systems, leading to mitigation technologies.

His research has significantly improved understanding of the role of bacteria and archaea in nitrogen cycling. He is recognised internationally for his work on nitrification inhibitors which contributes to the development of innovative environmental technologies to mitigate nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions.

Dr Skelte Anema, Fonterra Research and Development Centre, who is an expert in the interactions between milk proteins under different physical and chemical conditions.

Dr Anema has been the lead chemist in a number of multidisciplinary teams that have solved difficult product problems and developed new products. He is  the author of six patents describing innovative dairy technologies, covering milk protein concentrates, process cheese and yoghurt.

Dr Jenny Juengel, an AgResearch scientist, whose research effort has focussed primarily on understanding how genetic mutations in sheep have influenced their reproductive outcomes. A major outcome of her research is the identification of a major cell responsible for advancing or inhibiting fertility.

Her work has  helped to explain why some species have large litters and others are restricted to only one to three offspring. This has led to the development of five patents.

The Society also announced the election of two Honorary Fellows, aimed at encouraging strong ties with leading international scientists and scholars and New Zealand’s research community. One of these was…

Professor Grant Montgomery, University of Queensland, who has pioneered genomic methods for production trait identification in farm animals and contributed to worldwide genome mapping for complex diseases, leading to breakthroughs in important diseases like endometriosis.

He completed a PhD from Massey University, held appointments at AgResearch and University of Otago and continues to collaborate with research groups in New Zealand.

Professor Montgomery entified mutations in two twinning genes in sheep, which is the basis for genetic tests byGenomNZ™.

A full list of new Fellows can be found here.

ORCID ID is officially launched as a digital identifier for NZ researchers

New Zealand has become the latest country to adopt a national approach to the Open Researcher and Contributor ID (or ORCID) platform.

The New Zealand ORCID Consortium was officially launched last week.

It is expected to help close the loop on New Zealand’s research system, allowing for up-to-date records of researcher contributions and evaluation of the research system.

ORCID is a global not-for-profit organisation created in 2012 to solve the problem of name ambiguity in research by creating a registry with a unique identifier for each researcher, like a national health number but for researchers.

Thousands of researchers in New Zealand have already registered for an ORCID ID so their research contributions can always be correctly linked back to them.  They will soon be able to have their funding, and their organisations, authoritatively added as well, thanks to the newly launched New Zealand ORCID Consortium.

The president of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Emeritus Professor Richard Bedford, said researchers, research institutions, publishers and funding bodies routinely face the problem of accurately linking research publications, data and other research activities to the right researcher.

The use of unique persistent identifiers would allow research work to be correctly attributed to its creator and funding sources and better connect to data systems, supporting best research practice.

“At present, it’s prohibitively expensive to be able answer a question such as ‘15-years on, what have the recipients of a particular scholarship or fund achieved?’. This is because it is very difficult to track down recipients and to see what research contributions they have made in the intervening time. A system like ORCID, once widely adopted, makes answering these sorts of questions routine. This data will support decisions on how to best support the research community in New Zealand.”

Researchers, who maintain control of what research contributions are recorded against their ID, benefit by being able to access an up-to-date record of all their research contributions. They could then provide this to journals or grant organisations, avoiding the need to re-enter information.

Ideally, all students embarking on research will be issued with an ORCID ID when they are first at a tertiary institution.

The New Zealand Government has charged the Royal Society of New Zealand with leading implementation of ORCID in this country.

Ten New Zealand organisations signed a joint statement of principle to use the ORCID platform and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has agreed to pay the consortium fee and meet within-country costs to allow eligible New Zealand organisations to join. This support covers the society’s ORCID work programme, including consortium membership subscriptions for up to 99 New Zealand organisations, and a software development work programme to create a New Zealand ORCID hub that will allow organisations of all scales and technical resource to productively engage with ORCID.

The Consortium has 34 founding members –  the Royal Society of New Zealand, Motu Economic & Public Policy Research Trust, Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, Titanium Industry Development Association, Auckland University of Technology, Leather and Shoe Research Association, Lincoln Agritech Ltd, Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Victoria University of Wellington, Waikato Institute of Technology, Aqualinc Research Ltd, Ministry of Education, University of Waikato, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Universal College of Learning , GNS Science, Auckland District Health Board, Cawthron Institute, Opus Research, University of Canterbury, CRL Energy Ltd, NIWA, University of Otago, Hutt Valley District Health Board, Ministry for Primary Industries, AgResearch, Landcare Research, the Tertiary Education Commission, Health Research Council of New Zealand. Lincoln University, The University of Auckland, Capital and Coast District Health Board, Waitemata District Health Board, and Ara Institute of Canterbury.

Commitments to join have been made by Massey University, Plant & Food Research, and the Eastern Institute of Technology.