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Newly elected Academy Executive Committee member: Professor David Schiel

David has been elected Convenor for Biological and Environmental Sciences on the AEC. David has headed research teams over the years in aquaculture, marine ecology, fisheries, habitat restoration, nearshore oceanography, and ecological impacts from the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes, and the Rena Oil Spill.


1. What inspired you to pursue a career in research/teaching?

From an early age, I was interested in public speaking and I find it satisfying to be able to communicate science to audiences of any kind. I had an opportunity to teach undergraduates while I was a PhD student in Auckland, and I had a renowned ecologist as my PhD supervisor. I suppose I was also lucky. Once I received post-doctoral offers for work in California, things just progressed from there.

2. What are some highlights in your career thus far?

Highlights can have many dimensions. I love scuba diving and have been fortunate to be able to do it in many areas of the world as an integral part of my career. It has brought me good friends, good colleagues, and my contribution to understanding algal-dominated marine systems. Working with post-docs and post-graduate students has given me many ‘lives’ as a researcher, and it gave career opportunities to many. There are other things, but that’s enough for one person, and maybe especially so for one who never actually saw an ocean until he was 19 years old.

3. What do you hope to contribute to the Academy Executive Committee?

I hope to be fair, reasonable, and supportive of the goals of Royal Society Te Apārangi. I believe in merit-based accolades and will make my contribution to the continuing aspirations of equitable access and representation within the Society.

4. What does life outside of your profession look like for you?

Life is generally busy. I suspect I might relax at a faster pace than most people. We live on a farm on the outskirts of Christchurch, so I engage in cattle rearing, therapeutic fencing (of the rural variety), and related non-urban activities. I occasionally surf, scuba dive, and play basketball – mostly to see if I can still do them!