New Acting Vice-Chancellor at Lincoln University will take up post in January

Professor Bruce McKenzie has been appointed Acting Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University, taking over from Professor James McWha in January.

The appointment of Professor McKenzie, now Lincoln’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, follows the Government’s initiative to investigate an alternative structural arrangement for the university, which has resulted in partnership discussions with the University of Canterbury.

Negotiations continue and both parties will provide a proposal to Education Minister Chris Hipkins in December.

Chancellor Steve Smith said Professor McKenzie will provide solid, stable leadership to Lincoln while its future is determined.

“Bruce is well known to Lincoln and has a proven track record of impeccable leadership after working at the university for more than 30 years,” he said.

“Staff have shown overwhelming support for his appointment, and we are thrilled that Bruce has agreed to take on the role.”

Professor McKenzie’s association with the university began in the early 1980s, when he attended Lincoln as a postgraduate student, completing a postgraduate diploma in agricultural science and then a PhD in agronomy and crop science.

For 22 years he was an Associate Professor of Agronomy, responsible for teaching a range of classes in plant science, statistics and annual crop production.

In 2008, he became Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which involved managing 150 staff members in four departments.

He worked in this role for more than seven years before becoming the university’s Chief Academic Officer, overseeing Lincoln’s academic faculties, as well as the Library, Teaching and Learning department, University Studies and English Language, and the Research Management Office.

He was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor earlier this year.

Outgoing Vice-Chancellor Professor McWha is expected to take on the role of Provost, which will involve offering advice, guidance and support to the university.

Professor McKenzie will take over as Acting Vice-Chancellor from 1 January 2019 and remain in the position until 30 June 2020.

Source:  Lincoln University

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Dairy research is showcased to Chinese consumers

A group from Asia’s largest dairy company toured Lincoln University recently to see some of the ongoing collaborative work between the two organisations.

Among the visitors were five consumers of the Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co., Ltd (Yili), who had won a competition to visit New Zealand and gain a first-hand understanding of how dairy products can be traced from paddock to plate.

Lincoln University works closely with Yili to carry out research across all facets of dairy, from production to final consumer products.

The group visited the Lincoln University Demonstration Dairy Farm and toured campus, as well as the university’s food labs.

Some of the consumers streamed the event live via a social media app so they could share the experience with hundreds of thousands of Yili consumers in China.

Yili Innovation Centre Oceania R&D Manager Dr Philip Wescombe said it was important to allow the consumers to learn more about the science and technology involved in manufacturing and developing new dairy products.

“Many consumers do not realise the significant work that goes on behind the scenes to develop healthy, safe and nutritious products.

“The visit to Lincoln was an opportunity to showcase the ongoing collaboration between Yili and the university and further emphasise the important nutritional role that dairy has for maintaining health in the general population.”

Dr Wescombe said Yili’s vision was “to be the most trustworthy global healthy food provider”.

“To help us achieve this, we have established international innovation centres in two of the most respected dairy exporting nations, New Zealand and the Netherlands. The centres work closely with research institutions that have expertise in dairy production, food safety and processing.

“After developing Oceania Dairy Limited, Yili’s first green fields production site at Glenavy in the South Island of New Zealand, it made a lot of sense to partner with Lincoln University.

“Lincoln is well placed to continue to apply research excellence alongside the industrial and market expertise within Yili.”

As the demand for dairy in China continues to grow, Dr Westcombe said developing new, innovative products is a constant challenge “and one that the food and dairy science experts at Lincoln will be instrumental in helping us to address”.

Source: Lincoln University

New Zealand Winegrowers Research Centre appoints Professor Brian Jordan

New Zealand Winegrowers Research Centre (NZWRC) and Lincoln University have announced that Professor Brian Jordan will be joining the NZWRC team, as Acting Head of Science to assist with the NZWRC’s establishment.

While retaining his role at Lincoln University, Professor Jordan will be working part-time with NZWRC management and representatives of other universities and research institutes to shape the NZWRC science programme.

Professor Jordan is Professor of Plant Biotechnology at Lincoln University and has more than 30 years of experience in plant biochemistry and molecular biology. He received his doctorate on plant amino acid metabolism from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne University, in Britain, and carried out post-doctoral research on lipid biosynthesis at Cardiff University. Throughout his research career he has studied light regulation of plant growth and development, particularly the molecular response of plants to ultraviolet radiation.

In 2003, Professor Jordan was appointed to the Board of the Marlborough Wine Research Centre and has been involved in New Zealand viticulture and oenology since then.

Professor Jordan is now focusing entirely on viticulture research, especially effects of canopy manipulation on grape biochemistry and molecular biology.

In February 2011 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Örebro University, Sweden, in recognition of his professional excellence in plant biology and went on to spend five months undertaking research at ISVV, Bordeaux, that year. In addition to his research activities Professor Jordan has been dean of faculty and on the Lincoln University Council between 2015 and 2018.

Professor Jordan said the establishment of the NZ Winegrowers Research Centre is an excellent opportunity to develop a coordinated research strategy that will provide scientific leadership and innovation to future-proof the New Zealand wine industry. He said he was “very pleased to be able to contribute to its establishment.” 

Source: Lincoln University

Sundar helps change Nepalese agriculture

PhD student Sundar Tiwari’s PhD research is helping to change the face of Nepalese agriculture.

Sundar, who comes from a rural Nepalese village, did his BSc and MSc in agricultural entomology at Tribhubhan University, Nepal. He works as an assistant professor at the Nepal Agriculture and Forestry University, focusing on integrated pest management

With the help of a PhD scholarship from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Sundar joined the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University in 2016 and began research into sustainable intensification of Nepalese agriculture.

In his New Zealand-based research Sundar is seeking an alternative approach to pest management, looking to identify “trap plants” that can draw the wheat bug (Nysius huttoni) away from kale seedlings.

His experiments show that the popular garden plant alyssum (Lobularia maritima) has the highest potential as a trap plant for the bug, and it also provides many other ecosystem services (such as providing nectar for beneficial insects).

Working in Nepal on radish crops, he showed how to reduce aphid populations without pesticides, using alyssum flower strips around the fields.

“This technique is very simple and poor farmers can easily adopt it, especially because it costs less than using pesticides,” Sundar says.

Sundar has introduced many Nepalese farmers, students, and others in the agriculture sector to the concept of habitat management and multiple ecosystem services, and his work is influencing Nepalese agricultural policy.

“This work in my home country has made a real difference and is one of the many factors which have made my PhD training at Lincoln University so enjoyable,” he says.

Sundar’s supervisor is Professor Steve Wratten; his co-supervisor is Professor Nick Dickinson.

Source:  Lincoln University

European students explore alternative agriculture

Students from Lincoln University’s partner universities in the Euroleague for Life Sciences (ELLS), an exclusive network of leading European universities, were getting a different perspective of New Zealand farming recently.

The master’s-level interdisciplinary student group travelled to Lincoln’s Mount Grand station and the Lake Hawea area of Central Otago.

From Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague University of Copenhagen, University of Hohenheim, and University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, as well as other partner institutions, they were taking part in a summer course to investigate alternative agri-environmental farming systems.

ELLS was established to promote educational collaborations in fields such as animal, agricultural, food and environmental science; ecological engineering; natural resources management; and landscape architecture and spatial planning.

Alternative high country sheep farming futures for Mount Grand, a 1600 ha sheep station located in the High Country in Central Otago, were  investigated.

Professor Alison Bailey and Dr Wendy McWilliam accompanied the group and reported that the students gained an understanding of the station and were tasked with finding and evaluating alternative ways to improve its economic, socio-cultural and environmental sustainability and resiliency.

They scaled Mount Grand to explore key areas of existing indigenous biodiversity  and explored alternative options such as the addition of cherry farming, a vineyard and winery, tramping hut, mountain biking, horse trekking, restaurant, wedding venue, canyon swing, trophy hunting, Manuka honey production and lavender farming.

Source:  Lincoln University

Minister says potential partnership between two universities shows promise

The prospect of a partnership or merger between Lincoln University and Canterbury University has been welcomed by Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

He said he was looking for it to demonstrate how it would significantly enhance Lincoln’s unique contribution to the land-based sectors of the New Zealand economy.

“We need to encourage more people to study and work in the land-based sectors to meet industry demand, increase productivity and tackle technological and environmental challenges,” Mr Hipkins said.

“Canterbury and Lincoln’s proposal to explore a merger or partnership might help to achieve that by enhancing Lincoln’s capacity to deliver world-leading teaching and research.

“It is critical that New Zealand has strong and stable, multi-disciplinary, university-based teaching and research that best supports the land based sector, and this process will help determine whether a partnership or a merger with Canterbury would achieve this at Lincoln.”

Both parties are expected to submit their formal proposal by the end of the year.

Government commitment of up to $85 million of Crown capital funding to help Lincoln fund its share of a joint education and research facility with AgResearch is not affected by this process, Mr Hipkins said.

The Government has declared it is committed to Lincoln remaining at its present site and retaining its brand and identity.

Source: Minister of Education

Loss of noted Lincoln University scientist and teacher

Lincoln University has recorded the death of Emeritus Professor Reinhart Langer, doyen of modern plant science teaching and research and a scientist who made an immense contribution to plant and crop physiology, agronomy, ecology, genetics, and agricultural botany in a career at Lincoln University spanning more than quarter of a century.

Professor Langer came to Lincoln from Britain’s Grassland Research Institute, Hurley, in 1959 and built up a strong, busy Plant Science Department and team of staff members. Active and productive research programmes were developed in the  areas of white clover, subterranean clover, lucerne and pasture plants that thrive in Canterbury’s dry summer conditions.

Wheat was a particular interest and Professor Langer was a long-serving member and former Chair of the national Wheat Research Committee.

He was an important figure at Lincoln over more than quarter of a century in both his discipline area, and in Lincoln’s overall administration, through his roles as Vice-Principal and Acting Principal (equivalent today of Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Acting Vice-Chancellor).

As Acting Principal of the then Lincoln College, he spanned the year between the retirement of Professor Sir James Stewart and the installation of Professor Bruce Ross.

He authored several books and scientific articles and his publication Agricultural Plants, co-authored with Associate Professor George Hill, became a standard text for plant science teaching in New Zealand and overseas.

In 1978, for Lincoln’s centenary celebrations, Professor Langer had the distinction of being appointed the College’s Public Orator, a significant role in the conferring of honorary degrees on important figures in Christchurch Town Hall.

Professor Langer’s services to science, education, Lincoln College and the wider community (he was on the Board of Governors of Christ’s College for 27 years) were recognised with many awards and accolades including Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Fellow of the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science, Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Lincoln University.

Source: Lincoln University