In 1995 the Annual General Meeting of Fellows approved an addition to the Rules governing election to the fellowship which enables the Annual General Meeting from time to time to elect to the fellowship an eminent person who has made an outstanding contribution to the nurture and support of science or the Society, been a benefactor to the Academy or to science, and whose election to the fellowship the Academy Council believes would benefit the Academy and the advancement of science. The election of such a fellow requires a majority vote of fellows at their Annual General Meeting but can be considered only following unanimous resolution of Council. In 1998 the first such fellow was appointed:
Simon David Upton, Minister for the Environment, Minister for Crown Research Institutes, Minister for State Services, held the post of Minister of Research, Science and Technology from 1990—1996 and presided over the complete reorganisation of publicly funded science in New Zealand. Although he is no longer Minister of Research, Science and Technology, he has maintained an active interest in research as Minister for Crown Research Institutes. A major innovation resulting directly from Simon Upton’s personal vision and understanding of the long-term needs of New Zealand science was the establishment of the Marsden Fund. This fund has been a major factor in stimulating basic research in New Zealand specifically directed towards basic "blue-skies" research and distributed independently of the research priorities of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.
Honorary Fellows elected in 1998
Mary T Kalin Arroyo, Professor of Biology at the University of Chile, is a professional plant taxonomist who has revised the important indigenous genus ourisia and described several new species in New Zealand. Her main research interests are in plant reproductive ecology in which her approach has been to take advantage of environmental variation along latitudinal and elevational gradients in South America, in order to test ecological and evolutionary hypotheses through community-level studies. Professor Arroyo received her BSc (Hons) at the University of Canterbury and maintains on-going contacts with New Zealand botanists.
Willis James Harper, who holds the J T Parker Endowed Chair of Dairy Foods at Ohio State University, spent from 1981—86 in New Zealand at the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute investigating various applications of whey proteins obtained from cheese and casein whey by ultrafiltration technology. He was instrumental in New Zealand being able to develop a range of commercial whey protein concentrates which are still regarded as world leaders in many areas. This has been a major factor in developing the New Zealand whey business into a profitable venture with export income now exceeding $100m. Professor Harper returns to the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute regularly to undertake advisory work.
James Julian Bennett Jack FRS, Professor of Cellular Neuroscience, Oxford University, received his PhD in Physiology from the University of Otago in 1960. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford where he undertook the clinical years, leading to a BM BCh there in 1963. One of his major strengths is his ability to apply concepts of mathematics and physics to understand events in the neuron. He has collaborated with many significant neurophysiologists. Despite his long absence from New Zealand, Julian Jack has remained a strong advocate and supporter of New Zealand science. He is the co-author of one of the major books in his field Electric Current Flow in Excitable Cells which was published by Oxford University Press in 1975. It has become a classic and remains essential reading for people in this area of research.
Yoko Ota, Professor of Geography, Senshu University, Japan is eminent in the field of quaternary geomorphology and tectonics. She has been in the forefront of world-wide evaluations of sudden major land displacements in relation to regional and local earthquake hazard and has been prominent in Japan, through scientific and popular publications, in pressing for hazard mitigation. From initial studies in Japan, Professor Ota extended her investigations to other circum-Pacific countries, first to New Zealand in 1977. A feature of her work has been the close collaboration with relevant research workers in the countries she has visited. This has led to New Zealand geologists working on quaternary tectonics in Japan. She has made five extended visits to New Zealand.
Bruce Spencer Weir, William Neal Reynolds Professor of Statistics and Genetics at the North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, is a world leader in the field of theoretical and statistical genetics. Alongside his population genetic theory he has developed tools for making inferences from genetic data for distinguishing between the effects of current sampling and those genetic differences that reflect various evolutionary processes. Bruce Weir received his BSc (Hons) in Mathematics in 1965 at the University of Canterbury. He has maintained on-going connections with New Zealand and has a strong and multi-faceted relationship with ESR to support the forensic use of DNA profiling in New Zealand. The application of highly advanced theoretical work is of great significance in solving serious crimes.