Science and Technology Alert: Issue 70

On this page:

1. PRIDE IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

In the ANTIPODES section of New Scientist, 13 February 1999, Ian Lowe writes ‘New Zealand and Australia, I’m pleased to report, have more in common than cricket pitches and rabbit plagues. In both countries the populace is extremely proud of what has been achieved by science and technology. Australia was second and New Zealand third in an international survey of the level of pride in science.

More than 30,000 people from 24 countries were surveyed by Jonathan Kelley and M D R Evans from the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University (Australian Social Monitor no. 2, p.23) There are two [other] groups of people who could learn a lot from the survey — politicians and those who determine content in the media. Pride in science was right up there with sport and significantly ahead of pride in arts and literature. You wouldn’t know it from the pages of the newspapers’, reports Ian Lowe.

2. RSNZ SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AWARDS IN 1998

Did you know that the Royal Society funded and awarded 54 awards and medals in science and technology in 1998 from its own resources? In addition, the Society awarded 56 research fellowships, teacher fellowships, and Science and Technology Medals which were funded by the Government through the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology.

For further information about these awards please contact awards@rsnz.govt.nz.

3. TRAVEL FOR SCIENTISTS ATTENDING INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE UNION MEETINGS

Each year the Society provides financial assistance to enable scientists to attend the business meetings of International Scientific Unions. In 1999 the following will represent New Zealand:

  • Professor David Parry FRSNZ, Institute of Fundamental Science, Massey, President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Biophysics, who will attend the International Council for Science (ICSU) meeting in Cairo in September.
  • Professor John Harvey FRSNZ, Department of Physics, University of Auckland who attended the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) meeting in Atlanta, Georgia in March.
  • Dr Bryan Anderson, Institute of Molecular Sciences, Massey University, who will attend the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) meeting in Glasgow in September. Professor Ted Baker FRSNZ, of the University of Auckland, is currently the President of the Union.
  • Professor Warren Moran FRSNZ, Department of Geography, University of Auckland who, as Vice President of the International Geographical Union (IGU) will attend its Executive Meeting in Washington DC in September.
  • Dr Neil Thomson, Department of Physics, University of Otago, will attend the International Union of Radio and Space Science (URSI) in Toronto in August.
  • Dr David Rhoades, Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, will attend the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) in Birmingham in July. He will also attend the IASPEI (Seismology) Association meeting at the same time. Others attending IUGG Association meetings are Dr Don Grant, Land Information New Zealand: IAG (Geodesy); Dr Don McKnight, Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences: IAGA (Geomagnetism and Aeronomy); Dr David Wratt, NIWA: IAMAS ( Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences)
  • Dr Gail Greening, ESR: Health will attend the International Union of Microbiological Societies in Sydney in July.

4. 1998 NSS COMMITTEE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE ANNUAL REPORT

The NSS Committee for Climate Change has recently published its 6th annual report. Copies are available from the Royal Society of New Zealand, PO Box 598, Wellington; email: usher.s@rsnz.govt.nz.

This annual report documents the advances that have been made in climate change research, both nationally and internationally. It identifies gaps and opportunities and makes recommendations for funding, co-ordinating and publicising national and international research efforts.

The Committee has set out its Vision for the year 2010. It describes how climate change research contributes to societal outcomes and describes the four critical drivers of the Committee’s climate change research strategy. They are: reducing uncertainties; protecting New Zealand’s interests; identifying opportunities for New Zealand; and maintaining international science contact.

Science and technology on climate change have a critical role in reducing uncertainties, protecting New Zealand’s interests, and identifying opportunities and risks.

The Committee has identified key competencies and resources that need to be maintained and fostered to enable a credible climate change research portfolio to be achieved. In particular interdisciplinary skills, ability to communicate between disciplines and users, collaborative skills and skills in making the relevant results accessible to policy analysts, decision- makers, other users and the general public are highlighted as essential and in need of enhancement. In addition, there is a growing demand for scientists with quantitative modelling skills to develop integrative models which bring together knowledge of processes, effects and responses.

Infrastructure, in the form of equipment and resources, is also highlighted as essential in five key areas.

5. DAILY HISTORY OF THIS CENTURY

The Press in Christchurch and one or two other newspapers are running a weekly column throughout this year whereby two years are covered each week. In the main they search their back issues for notable events. The Royal Society would like to ensure that milestones in science and technology (both here and overseas) are not overlooked.

Please forward to the Royal Society for wider dissemination any milestones of note in your field of endeavour. At present we are seeking milestones relating to the period 1930 to 1940.

6. NEW PUBLICATION – ‘LEADERSHIP PRIORITIES FOR NEW ZEALAND SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY’

(Royal Society miscellaneous series 54)

Copies of the report ‘Leadership Priorities for New Zealand Science and Technology’, Proceedings of the conference held by the Academy Council of the Royal Society in November last year (see last week’s Science Alert 69 for fuller detail), are available from the Royal Society of New Zealand, PO Box 598, Wellington; email sales@rsnz.govt.nz. Price: $40 including GST and postage and packing. 210 pages.

7. ROYAL SOCIETY GRANT BOOSTS LINCOLN-LINKED WATER QUALITY ASSESSMENT PROGRAMME FOR SCHOOL SCIENCE

A $20,000 grant from the Royal Society of New Zealand has brought a big splash of support for the secondary schools’ ‘Waterwatch’ programme organised by Lincoln University.

‘The grant is a tremendous boost for environmental education in New Zealand and will open the way for us to expand a promising programme across a broad range of schools,’ says Kelvin Nicolle of Lincoln University’s Environmental Management and Design Division.

‘Through supporting ‘Waterwatch’ it will help us give more students practical, hands-on experience in water quality monitoring as part of their science programmes.’

Together with aquatic ecologist Dr Jonet Ward, Mr Nicolle and the University’s ‘Waterwatch’ team have received the Royal Society grant to establish a stream-monitoring programme in Canterbury schools and support the employment of a part-time co- ordinator to assist teachers using the programme.

The scheme is believed to be the biggest in the South Island and already 27 schools have shown an interest in adopting it. Well- attended introductory workshops have been held over recent weeks with teachers in Christchurch and South Canterbury.

Modelled on ‘Waterwatch Australia’ which operates nationwide, ‘Waterwatch’ in Canterbury has evolved from a pilot programme developed during a Royal Society Teaching Fellowship year at Lincoln University undertaken by Geoff Groves, Head of Biology at nearby Ellesmere College, Leeston, in conjunction with the Selwyn Sustainable Agriculture Society.

Elsewhere in the country there are manuals and sets of notes for teachers and kits based on the secondary schools curriculum, also programmes such as AgResearch’s Waterway Self-Assessment scheme and NIWA’s Stream Health Monitoring scheme (which uses SHMAK, the Stream Health Monitoring Assessment Kit).

Prospects ahead include combining the North Island and ‘Waterwatch’ school monitoring programmes into a national project.

8. SCIENCE-TECHNOLOGY LINKS

The NZ Association of Science Educators is currently developing a set of posters which aim to demonstrate the technological applications of some of the core scientific principles such as the principle of levers or reflection of waves. A working group of Wellington science teachers met yesterday to begin the initial planning of this project which has been funded through the government Science and Technology Promotion Fund.

9. NZ SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY TEACHER FELLOWSHIPS

A presentation on the NZ Science and Technology Teacher Fellowship scheme was given to Wellington mathematics teachers last night. This is the first in a series of presentations planned to make teachers of mathematics aware that they are indeed eligible to apply for NZ Science and Technology Teacher Fellowships and to outline the opportunities available through the scheme.

Presentations are being offered through regional mathematics teachers associations, and further information can be obtained from: spratt.p@rsnz.govt.nz

10. SCHOOL RESOURCES

Investigating Flight resource – produced by Tony Mander.

Students are guided through the principles of aero-dynamics and flight using free materials. This is a free resource and is available from Debbie Chan at the Royal Society, email: chan.d@rsnz.govt.nz

The BP Technology Challenge File is also available from Debbie.

11. FIRST REGIONAL BP TECHNOLOGY CHALLENGE FOR 1999

The first regional BP Technology Challenge for 1999 is being held in Timaru on 30 March. It will involve 150 intermediate school students from various schools in the Timaru area. Kate Vaughan, co-ordinator has decided on a medieval theme and everyone is expected to wear an appropriate costume. Debbie Chan and Allison Taranchokov will be there representing the Royal Society and BP Oil.

12. NEW PUBLICATION: URBAN SUSTAINABILITY IN NEW ZEALAND

(Royal Society miscellaneous series 53)

Proceedings of a workshop held in October 1998 sponsored by The Royal Society of New Zealand, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and the New Zealand Commission for UNESCO have just been published. . The objectives of the workshop were:

  • to explore the social science contribution to the debate about urban sustainability in new Zealand
  • to discuss the relevance of the concept of sustainable development of New Zealand’s urban environments; and
  • to identify information and knowledge gaps for the sustainable development of New Zealand’s urban environments.

Pervasive themes for the day were: the need for high levels of community input to urban development directions; recognition that environmental/sustainability matters have long time frames; the great need for communities to invest in sustainability understanding; the need for good leadership and planning; and recognition that the Resource Management Act is a relatively ineffective instrument for urban development.

The publication includes papers by Gareth Morgan, Phil Hughes, Harvey Perkins, David Thorns, Roland Sapsford, Kay Saville- Smith, Craig Millar, Richard Le Heron and John Graig. Also included are the summaries from the workshops which were attended by academics, planners, private consultants, representatives of science and technology, and of central and local Government.

The Proceedings contribute to improving the focus on the social dimensions of urban sustainability. It is available for $30.00 (including GST &amp Postage) from The Royal Society of New Zealand, PO Box 598, Wellington. Email: sales@rsnz.govt.nz

13. NEW LINCOLN PROFESSOR

Dr Ali Memon from the University of Otago, well-known in New Zealand and internationally for his teaching and research in environmental planning and management has been appointed to a personal professorship at Lincoln University.

Dr Memon who taught at the University of Otago for over 20 years, has accepted a personal chair in Environmental Management and Planning with Lincoln University’s Division of Environmental Management and Design.

14. ZONTA SCIENCE AWARD

Plans are now under way for the Sixth Zonta Science Award for Women. The Zonta Science Award has been established to further the status of women in scientific fields. Applications for the 2000 Award will be available in November this year. If you wish to read more about the Award see http://www.rsnz.govt.nz/clan/zonta98.html

15. EUREKA! THIS WEEK

Eureka! this week:

Genetically Modified Crops, Pt 2 of 2 Environmental concerns and the assessment of risks versus benefits

Eureka! is heard on Saturdays at 3 pm and again on Mondays at 7 pm, after the news on National Radio. Contact Eureka! at science@ihug.co.nz

16. LATE NEWS

The news broke today that the Manager of Technology New Zealand, based at FRST, Mr John Manning, had been suspended from duty after publicly questioning whether Government money spent on primary industry research was money well spent. Mr Manning was acting for the Chief Executive of FRST, Dr Steve Thompson, at the time the statement was made. Dr Thompson returns from overseas this evening.

17. FUTURE EVENTS

The following events are some of those listed in our conference database as taking place in New Zealand mid year. For a full listing see http://www.rsnz.govt.nz/forms/conferences.html

1999 Annual Conference of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Mosgiel, 28 June – 1 July 1999. Contact email: nzsap.animal@xtra.co.nz

1999 New Zealand Veterinary Association Conference, Nelson, 28 June – 3 July 1999. Contact email: nzva@xtra.co.nz

‘Living Science’: the Association of Women in the Sciences Conference, Dunedin, 30 June – 2 July 1999. Contact pjl@physics.otago.ac.nz

NZ Agricultural &amp Horticultural Science Convention 1999 – ‘Food for thought!’, Auckland, 30 June – 2 July 1999. Contact email: SHS_IAS99@bigfoot.com

Population Association of New Zealand Biennial Conference, Hamilton, 1-2 July 1999. Contact Dr Jacqueline Lidgard University of Waikato phone (07) 838 4466 ext 8437

Capitalising on Food Safety , Wellington, 1-2 July 1999. Contact email: rachel@fib.co.nz

50th Anniversary Conference of the NZ Statistical Association, Wellington, 5-7 July 1999. Contact email: nzsa99@mcs.vuw.ac.nz

VIII SCAR International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences Wellington, 5-9 July 1999. Contact 8th ISAES Symposium manager, c/o Institute of geological &amp Nuclear Sciences, PO Box 30-368, Lower Hutt, ph 562-8792, Fax 562-7252.

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