Explore as a

Share our content


Published 22 April 2024

Dr Rebecca Gladstone-Gallagher announced as New Zealand’s Champion for Frontiers Planet Prize

Dr Rebecca Gladstone-Gallagher has been selected as the National Champion for New Zealand by the international jury for the Frontiers Planet Prize, in an announcement planned to coincide with Earth Day.

She was nominated for research which calls for joined-up thinking for environmental management, which was published in article: ‘Social–ecological connections across land, water, and sea demand a reprioritization of environmental management" in Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene in 2023.

Dr Gladstone-Gallagher is an ecologist investigating degradation, recovery, and restoration in coastal marine ecosystems, based at Waipapa Taumata Rau | The University of Auckland. Rebecca was put forward for the prize by the Biological Heritage NZ National Science Challenge.

In 2018, the Society awarded Rebecca a postdoctoral fellowship from the Rutherford Foundation to look at the role of biodiversity in maintaining the health of coastal ecosystem.

In the article, the authors explain that despite many sectors of society striving for sustainability in environmental management, people often fail to identify and act on the connections and processes responsible for environmental degradation.

“Our paper presents a perspective on the social–ecological linkages across land, freshwater, and sea that emphasises the need to reprioritise what we are doing,” Rebecca says.

“Globally the fracturing of environmental management and research into land, freshwater, and ocean domains, each with different scales and resolution of data acquisition as well as distinct management approaches is a key constraint to progress.”

The article shows paths for new connected research agendas and the development of the next generation of research leadership searching for solutions to multiple planetary crises (climate change, biosphere integrity, biogeochemical flows, land-system change, and freshwater use).

Rebecca says that governance and management moving forward with new research agendas will underpin this transition needed to allow us to stay within planetary boundaries.

As National Champion for New Zealand, Rebecca will attend the awards ceremony for the Frontiers Planet Prize in person, in Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland, from 25 to 28 June 2024, where she will have the opportunity, along with 23 other National Champions, to present and discuss her research.

The jury of 100 experts from around the world, includes one academic from New Zealand: Professor Bronwyn Hayward FRSNZ from the University of Canterbury. The jury will select three International Champions, who will each receive $1 million Swiss francs (about $1.8 million NZD) to facilitate and accelerate the research and development of the winning research.

This is the second time the Frontiers Plant Prize has been offered. The Frontiers Research Foundation, based in Switzerland, launched the prize in 2022 as part of an international effort to accelerate scientific solutions to planetary challenges.

In 2022, one of the winners was Dr Paul Behrens, a physicist and writer who completed his PhD at the University of Auckland and worked for a time at Royal Society Te Apārangi. The research which won his team the prize money was on how shifting consumption from animal products towards plant-based foods would improve land-use and make a significant contribution to planetary ecosystems.

Royal Society Te Apārangi is the Representative Body for the Frontiers Planet Prize in Aotearoa New Zealand. Rebecca’s research was selected along with two other nominees by Fellows of the Society. The other researchers chosen to represent New Zealand were:


Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi