On this page:
- ROYAL SOCIETY ELECTIONS
- FROM RESEARCH TO BENEFIT
- STEM CELL BASICS – A REMINDER
- EVENTS CALENDAR
- GOLDEN JUBILEE CONFERENCE OF NZSSS
- POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP
- ANTARCTIC SCHOLARSHIPS
- PATENT RESEARCH PENDING
- PASTURE PLANT RESEARCH
- CLEAN AIR SOCIETY PRESIDENT
- 2003 KYOTO PRIZE NOMINATIONS NOW OPEN
- BATT MEMORIAL LECTURE
- EUREKA THIS WEEK
- 2002 HOCHSTETTER LECTURE TONIGHT
- CABBAGE TREES IN LIFE & DEATH
- HUMAN CAPITAL
The next election for Royal Society officers and councillors is to be held in mid 2002.The date will be announced shortly. Elected Councillors derive from the electoral college process required under Sec. 21 & 22 of the Royal Society of New Zealand 1997 Act. No person may hold office as an elected Councillor for more than 4 consecutive years. Therefore the terms of several councillors will end at the next elections. More information on what seats will be contested at the 2002 elections will be provided in the Alert in the near future. Please remember that all members, FRSNZ, CRSNZ, MRSNZ and Ordinary Members, Constituent Organisations and qualifying Affiliate Organisations, must be financial members as at 31 December 2001 if they wish to vote in the elections. Please ensure that your subscription is up to date if you wish to be eligible to participate in the elections; there can be no exceptions. Regional Constituent Organisations (Branches) have a different electoral process and elect their one representative on the Council through a preferential system. The Academy Council appoints three representatives drawn from the Fellowship of the Society. There are nine electoral colleges represented on the Council. Further information on the electoral process will be given in future issues of Alert and formal documentation will be distributed to financial members in March.
From Ernest Rutherford’s discovery of the atomic nucleus to today’s quests of exploration and understanding, New Zealand scientists have contributed new knowledge and modern technology to all aspects of life.Cutting-edge research in New Zealand has continued to push the boundaries of the current interpretation of our world, adding essential building blocks to the growing global structure of scientific knowledge and making new ideas and technologies accessible to those who benefit from their use. New Zealand scientists were instrumental in helping to develop better treatments and aids for those of us with medical problems. They have helped us to make better use of our resources while ensuring the protection of our precious environment, and they have made it possible for us to enjoy growing economic health as an international trading partner of state-of-the-art technology and products. However, most of the achievements were unexpected. They were sometimes hoped for, but impossible to guarantee at the start of the research endeavour. Scientific success is often the result of continued effort to answer fundamental questions, serendipitous discoveries, and ongoing communication with people from other sectors of society who are likely to be the beneficiaries of new findings. The Royal Society’s Academy Council has recently published a series of A4 pamphlets in full colour, which bring together the stories behind some of New Zealand’s most successful long-term research efforts. It is a showcase of what can be achieved with continuous funding and a realistic time-frame. All examples illustrate that good research takes time, and sometimes it has taken decades from start to triumph. While the human benefit in scientific undertakings such as medical research is obvious, possible applications in other disciplines often arise from unexpected corners. It is only from a steady stream of basic science in all areas that offshoots of directly applied research can branch off. Some examples in this series show that New Zealand could miss out on the commercial rewards of home-grown inventions if we do not think of ways of making more venture capital available to research on the verge of large-scale application. But most of all, these examples show that we have good reason to celebrate the success of New Zealand science. Copies of the pamphlets, in an attractive folder, are available from the Royal Society. Email: email@example.com.
Information sourced and edited by Dr Steve Thompson Stem cells come from human embryos created in the laboratory, usually by in-vitro injection of sperm into an egg.A day after fertilisation, the egg divides into two cells, the next day into four, then eight. Four or five days later, the embryo is about as big as the dot on an ‘i’. Individual cells (‘stem cells’) at this stage can be frozen and subsequently coaxed into growing different types of tissue. If they could grow cardiac cells, for instance, doctors might one day be able to replace damaged heart tissue. By growing nerve cells they might be able to repair brain cells, or replace injured spinal cord cells in a paraplegic. But there is a lot more work to do yet. Because harvesting stem cells destroys the embryo, this medical research has become entangled in debate. Some say it is wrong because it destroys human life. Others say that research from their cells holds the potential to cure debilitating diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Creating embryos intended only for research raises new questions about the ethics of stem cell science. Some researchers are also looking into the possibility of using adult stem cells, such as those derived from bone marrow, as an alternative to embryonic cells. However, adult cells are not as flexible as embryonic cells and are less capable of growing into different kinds of tissue. For further information, readers can see the Royal Society web page at http://www.rsnz.govt.nz/news/stem/discuss.php
What’s happening over the next few months…Each week, new entries or changes to existing ones are prefaced with a triple asterisk.
5 September 2002 SIR DOUGLAS ROBB LECTURE Professor David Barker on NZ vs India: The score on heart attacks and diabetes. http://www2.auckland.ac.nz/ipa//Publect.html Venue: 7-9 p.m. B28, Library basement, 5 Alfred Street, Auckland
11 September 2002 NZ Futures Trust Seminar: ‘Envisioning Portlandia: The Evolution of Civic Vision and Urban Redevelopment in Portland, Oregon.’ 12.15 to 1.30 p.m. Auditorium, National Library, Aitken Street, Wellington. Bookings essential.
11 September Forest & Bird: “Protecting our High Country Heritage”. 5.30p.m. Hutt Valley Tramping Club Hall, Birch St, Waterloo LOWER HUTT
11 September Forest & Bird: “Protecting our High Country Heritage” by Dr Alan Mark. 8 p.m. Tararua Tramping Club Hall, Moncrieff St, Mt Victoria WELLINGTON
13-15 September 2002 NZ Skeptics Annual Conference, St Andrews College, Christchurch. Includes Friday 13th superstition party, parental and society rights, legal concerns, environmental faith. See http://skeptics.org.nz
15-20 Sept 2002 12th Australasian Plant Breeding Conference, Perth, Australia. http://www.congresswest.com.au/PB/
16 September Forest & Bird: “Protecting our High Country Heritage” by Dr Alan Mark. 7.30 p.m. Auckland War Memorial Museum (west-door) AUCKLAND
17 September Forest & Bird: “Protecting our High Country Heritage” by Dr Alan Mark. 7.30 p.m. Bongard Centre Auditorium TAURANGA
18 September Forest & Bird: “Protecting our High Country Heritage” by Dr Alan Mark. 7.30 p.m. Chartwell Room, Hamilton Gardens HAMILTON
2-4 October 2002 NZ Society for Risk Management Inaugural Conference, Te Papa, Wellington. Themes: business risk, environmental risk, legal risk, safety and reliability, risk issues in the public sector, and the theory of risk management. Full programme and registration: http://www.risksociety.org.nz/conferences.html
3 October 2002 Royal Society Council meeting, Christchurch.
7-8 October 2002 New Zealand Energy Conference ‘The Way Forward’, Duxton Hotel, Wellington. firstname.lastname@example.org
13-19 October 2002 Earth Science Week www.gsnz.org.nz
17-20 November The 8th International Pacific Rim Biotechnology Conference, Auckland. http://www.pacrimbiotechnology.com
10-14 November 2002 NZ Limnological Society Conference ‘Go West 2002′. http://www.rsnz.govt.nz/clan/limsoc/
20-22 November 2002 Meteorological Society of NZ Conference, ‘Vulnerability’, Sky City, Auckland. http://metsoc.rsnz.org/2002.html
22 November 2002 Royal Society Academy Council Conference: ‘Being Human: Science Culture and Fear’, Te Papa, Wellington.
***22-23 November 2002 New Zealand Science Education Research Symposium, Museum Building, Massey University, Buckle Street, Wellington.
***25-29 November NZ Soil Science Society Golden Jubilee Conference, Victoria University of Wellington. Janet Simes, tel. (04) 562-8792 email@example.com or www.rsnz.govt.nz/clan/nzsss/index.htm
25-29 November 2002 ‘DNA Technology Workshop’. An annual workshop with an introduction to the theory and practice of DNA technology. Inst. Of Molecular BioSciences, Massey University (Palmerston Nth). http://imbs.massey.ac.nz/workshop.htm
26-29 November 2002 ‘Microbes and Molecules 2002′, the annual combined meeting of the New Zealand Microbiology Society, The NZ Society for Plant Physiology, and the NZ Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch. www.conference.canterbury.ac.nz/microbes2002/ 28 November 2002 Royal Society Council meeting, Auckland.
29-30 November 2002 The 37th Annual Conference of the Operational Research Society of New Zealand,University of Auckland. http://www.orsnz.org.nz or contact Matthias Ehrgott (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2-6 December 2002 Geological Society of New Zealand’s Annual Conference, ‘Northland 2002′, Forum North, Whangarei. http://www.gsnz.org.nz/gsco.htm
3-6 December 2002 NZ Hydrological Society Symposium ‘The easy water is gone: making the most of a scarce resource’, Blenheim. Contact: email@example.com http://www.hydrologynz.org.nz/society-conferences.html
5-8 December 2002 The NZ Association for Research in Education annual conference, Massey University. Contact: http://nzare-conf02.massey.ac.nz
5-7 December 2002 Social Science for the 21st Century: Challenges to Theory, Policy and Practice. www.soci.canterbury.ac.nz/SAANZ2002
8-11 December, 2002 19th International ASCILITE (Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education) ‘Winds of change in the sea of Learning: Charting the course of digital education’. http://www.unitec.ac.nz/ascilite
6-10 January 2003 10th International Symposium on deep seismic profiling of the continents and their margins, Taupo. http://www.gns.cri.nz/news/conferences/seismix2003
11-14 January 2003 International Embryo Transfer Society Conference, Aotea Centre, Auckland http://www.iets.org
15 January 2003 International Embryo Transfer Society Satellite Symposium, Aotea Centre, Auckland http://www.iets.org
2-7 Feb 2003 ICPP 8th International Congress of Plant Pathology Christchurch. www.lincoln.ac.nz/icpp2003/
4-7 Feb 2003 Australasian Quaternary Association (AQUA) Biennial Conference in association with the New Zealand Friends of the Pleistocene. More information: www.geo.vuw.ac.nz/conferences/aqua03/index.html
24-26 March 2003 Fifth International Conference on Electromagnetic Wave Interaction with Water and Moist Substances. Organised by the International Society for ElectroMagnetic Aquametry (ISEMA), Novotel Hotel, Rotorua. firstname.lastname@example.org
24-28 March 2003 7th International Conference on Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and Oceanography, Te Papa, Wellington. http://metsoc.rsnz.org/7icshmo/7icshmo.html
22-24 May 2003 New Zealand Planning Institute Conference Hamilton.
19th20th June 2003 4th Oamaru Penguin Symposium email@example.com
6-11 July 2003 ‘Windows on a Changing World’ 22nd conference of the New Zealand Geographical Society, Auckland University. Contact J. Logie: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to: www.geog.auckland.ac.nz/nzgs2003/
7-11 July 2003 Fifth International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Sydney, Australia. http://www.iciam.org
***9-11 July 2003 The New Zealand Institute of Physics Conference and Physikos 2003, Massey University, Palmerston North.
1-5 December 2003 3rd International Wildlife Management Congress,Christchurch. www.conference.canterbury.nz/wildlife2003
This year, members of the New Zealand Soil Science Society are celebrating the Society’s first 50 years.To mark the occasion, they are holding its Golden Jubilee Conference in Wellington, the ‘birthplace’ of the Society, from 25-29 November 2002. The venue will be the Maclaurin Lecture Theatres at Victoria University of Wellington.
The conference theme, ‘Back to the Future ‘ gives the opportunity to value the past and welcome the future. The Society will look at its history and the pioneers of soil science in New Zealand and what they achieve. At the same time the role of the new generation of soil scientists will be explored, as the economy is transformed and sustainable development implemented.
Contact Janet Simes, the conference organiser (ph 04 562-8792, email email@example.com or www.rsnz.govt.nz/clan/nzsss/index.htm
The Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food and Environment in the School of Social Science at the University of Otago is seeking to fill a postdoctoral fellowship in the area of social aspects of biotechnology.The research position is part of a new programme of research at Lincoln University and Otago University, addressing issues associated with public perceptions of biotechnology. The main tasks include conducting in-depth interviews, analysis of literature and historical sources, assisting with a national survey, analysing and interpreting data, and preparing reports.
While a range of research skills would be desirable, this position does not require expertise in quantitative analysis. The position is fixed-term for one year, commencing January 2003.
Applicants should hold at least a PhD degree in the social sciences, ideally with specialist knowledge in some/all of the areas of agriculture, food, environment or medicine.
For application information and a full job description go to: www.otago.ac.nz/jobs Specific enquiries may be directed to Dr Hugh Campbell, School of Social Science, tel (03) 479 8749, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Closing date: Friday 6 September 2002*
Sanford, Sealord and Amaltal Scholarship and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ross Dependency Scholarship1. Sanford, Sealord and Amaltal Scholarship
This scholarship is valued at $10,000 per annum and is intended for a Masters or PhD student to undertake work on stock assessment and biology of Patagonian Toothfish or associated species, or related projects in the fishing environment in the Ross Sea. The successful applicant will potentially be able to conduct research and sampling during one of the Southern Ocean fishing expeditions.
2. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ross Dependency Scholarship
This is a one-year scholarship for Masters or PhD degrees valued at $5000 to undertake research at Gateway Antarctica concerning a matter of importance to the understanding of Antarctica or the Southern Ocean.
The deadline for applications is 1st October 2002. For further details contact Susannah Hawtin, Gateway Antarctica, Telephone (03) 364 2136 or email her at email@example.com
The Royal Society of London has launched an investigation into whether the use of laws that encourage the commercial exploitation of scientific research is helping or hindering progress in fields such as genetics and computing.The study has been set up in response to concerns about how best to protect the ownership of inventions, through patents for instance, while preserving a free exchange of ideas and knowledge between researchers. Some scientists believe that a better balance is required between creating incentives for industry and commerce to exploit research, and realising the maximum benefit to society of the work of scientists.
Research into the structures of proteins from pasture plants will benefit from the appointment of Dr Vic Arcus to head the University of Auckland’s and AgResearch’s collaborative structural biology laboratory.Dr Arcus’s appointment is the first under a partnership agreement that the University and the Crown Research Institute signed earlier this year, aimed at strengthening national capability in life sciences research and education.
The collaboration brings together AgResearch’s active gene discovery programme with the University’s structural biology programme, New Zealand’s leading research facility for protein structure determination.
Dr Arcus says that X-ray crystallography will be used to study protein structures, initially in ryegrass and white clover, to see how they function and interact.
Dr Gavin Fisher, a senior air quality scientist with NIWA and director of the National Centre for Climate-Energy Solutions, was elected overall President of the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand on 22 August 2002.This is the first time a New Zealander has been made president. Dr Fisher previously held the position of New Zealand Branch President.
The Kyoto Prizes are awarded to individuals or groups worldwide who have contributed significantly to scientific progress, cultural advances and human betterment in three categories of Advanced Technology, Basics Sciences, and Arts and Philosophy.The Royal Society is now seeking suitable candidates who it can nominate for the 2003 Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences in the field of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Astronomy and Astrophysics.
For copies of the guidelines and application forms please contact Eddie Davis at the Royal Society firstname.lastname@example.org Applications close 31 October 2002.
Next week, the Minister of Research, Science and Technology, Hon. Pete Hodgson is to present the 5th Richard Dean Batt Memorial Lecture at Massey University, Palmerston North.The Minister will speak on ‘Exploring Innovation’- a look at the opportunities the knowledge being generated in New Zealand present for the country. On the same day, the Minister will also officially open Massey University’s Centre of Research Excellence, the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution.
When: 3.00 p.m. 12 September 2002 All welcome Where: Marsden lecture Theatre, Massey University, Palmerston North
This week Eureka looks at what goes on in the womb by talking to Professor David Barker from the University of Southampton.He examines how the later onset of adult disease may be triggered even before birth. Also, a group of researchers from the Liggins Institute will discuss how under-nourishment of the foetus sows the seeds for diseases of the heart or diabetes. Eureka asks what is the crucial window in time when the foetus is most vulnerable?
Eureka, produced and presented by Veronika Meduna, broadcasts on Saturdays, at 2.00 p.m., and again on Mondays, at 7.00 p.m, on National Radio.
“The evolution of New Zealand and Antarctica during the last 100 million years, and their significance in plate tectonics.”The Royal Society Wellington Branch Geological Section & Geological Society Of NZ present this year’s Hochstetter Lecture by Dr Rupert Sutherland, Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Lower Hutt.
During the last decade, satellite and shipboard technologies have been developed that reveal remarkable details of the deep-ocean floor. This has resulted in a far better understanding of how the world’s oceans formed, and hence how continents have moved over geological time.
Dr Sutherland will speak on research that gives clues to the solution of two important problems: the closing of the South Pacific Plate circuit, and the match between observed global plate motions and conclusions derived from computer models of convection in the Earth.
For more information: James Crampton, (04) 570 4887 email@example.com.
When: 7:30 p.m. (refreshments 7:15 p.m.) Thursday 5th September, Where: Science House, 11 Turnbull St, Thorndon, Wellington
This lecture will be repeated 7.30 p.m. Friday 13 September at Te Manawa Mind, 396 Main Street, Palmerston North.
Tonight at Auckland Museum: Dr Ross Beever on Cabbage Trees in Life and DeathRoss is a senior scientist in Landcare Research based at the Mt Albert Research Centre, where he specialises in the study of fungi, plants and plant diseases. He has been intrigued by one of New Zealand’s icons, the cabbage tree (ti kouka) for over 20 years.
During the last decade he has researched the cause of the widespread sudden death of large numbers of this national icon, and led the team that identified the cause as a specialised bacterium or phytoplasma. Ross will outline the cultural significance and biology of cabbage tree before describing the disease and its cause. He will conclude with a discussion of the threat that this phytoplasma poses to both cabbage tree and other plants.
This is a joint meeting of Horticultural Society and Auckland Museum Institute. For further details contact Margaret Spencer, tel. (09) 306 7070 ext. 883, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
When: 7.30 p.m. Thursday 5 September Where: APEC Room Auckland War Memorial Museum. Entry via East door
Comment by Royal Society CEO, Dr Steve Thompson Steve.Thompson@rsnz.orgMaybe it’s our own fault. After all, we accept the phrase ‘Human Capital’ when talking of scientists. And in a world that is changing fast, it is commonplace to see physical capital treated as expendable. Buildings ten or twenty years old may be knocked down to make way for something new. Production lines are routinely scrapped for a faster, or totally different approach. So, should ‘Human Capital’ be scrapped too? The world has an endless supply of new humans. What’s the difference? Well, scientists get better, buildings do not. Scientists are creative, buildings are not. When the world changes, we know that scientists in New Zealand have the creativity to change with it, and to cause part of that change.
Scientists work in the most uncertain of all human endeavours. We do experiments precisely because the outcome is unknown. This transcends risk into the dimensions of the pure discovery. Now, business knows all about risk. Boards develop risk management plans to preserve their investments. Countries develop insurance against catastrophes. But when a university department is closed, or FRST sunsets an investment, or when a scientist contemplates the supreme risk of starting a spin-off company to develop an idea, do we do enough to ensure continuing effective contributions from our scientists, who take the greatest risks of all? The answer is a resounding NO.
Much more can be done in early career support with more stable job contracts, and pay scales that do not rely upon New Zealand being a ‘cheap source of labour’. We need a ‘New Directions’ fund and adjustment process when strategic funding changes direction. CRI and university spin-off companies need prodigal-son clauses. But above all, we need policies to develop a society and industry culture with an insatiable thirst for innovation, a culture that values creativity more than cheap labour.