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Published 11 February 2011

2011 New Fellows

Twelve top New Zealand basic and applied science and humanities researchers have been elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand at the annual general meeting of the Society’s Academy in Auckland today.

The Society also elected as an Honorary Fellow, Dr Donna Eberhart-Phillips who is working at the University of California, Davis, USA.

Academy chairperson Dr Stephen Goldson said: “Being elected as a Fellow is an honour given to our top researchers for showing distinction in research or in the advancement of science, technology or the humanities.

“These newly elected Fellows, from Universities and Crown Research Institutes, are leaders in fields as diverse as earthquakes, drug addiction, GM plants, and the study of reasoning. They reflect the wide range of work being undertaken by researchers in sciences and humanities in New Zealand. I am very pleased to announce their election today.”

The new Fellows are:

  • Professor Richard Blaikie, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Canterbury – is a leading international contributor to the rapidly developing field of nano-scale optics. He has pioneered important developments, including a controversial superlensing phenomenon.
  • Professor Tony Conner, Plant and Food Research, Lincoln – is recognised internationally for his work integrating effective genetic manipulation strategies into applied plant breeding programmes, and assessing the environmental and food safety risks of genetically improved crops. He has made major contributions to public debate on GM technology.
  • Professor Jack Copeland, Department of Philosophy, University of Canterbury – is known for his pioneering work in hyper-computation (extremely powerful models of computation), the field he named in 1999. His work on the early history of electronic computing is well known.
  • Emeritus Professor Max Cresswell, Department of Philosophy, Victoria University of Wellington – is a world-leading philosopher, with his principal work in logic, the study of reasoning.
  • Professor Pablo Etchegoin, School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington – is one of the most successful condensed matter physicists worldwide, and a research leader in both experimental measurement and theory.
  • Professor Rod Gover, Department of Mathematics, University of Auckland – is recognised internationally as a leading expert in geometry and its applications to analysis, differential equations, and theoretical physics.
  • John McEwan, AgResearch Invermay, Mosgiel – has been the intellectual and technical driving force behind the introduction of modern molecular genetics to the New Zealand sheep industry.
  • Professor Martha Savage, Institute of Geophysics, Victoria University of Wellington – is an international leader in understanding the seismology of the mantle. She excels at making intelligent use of seismic observations to form models of mantle structure and tectonic evolution.
  • Professor Susan Schenk, School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington – is a behavioural neuroscientist specialising in drug addiction. She is currently studying the effects of drugs of abuse, including MDMA (“ecstasy”) and methamphetamine (“P”).
  • Professor Paul Spoonley, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University, Albany – has developed new approaches in understanding inter-group relations, and is acknowledged for his work on anti-Semitism and political extremism, immigrant settlement, and labour markets.
  • Professor Gerald Tannock, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago – is a world-leading authority on gastrointestinal microbes and their role in health and disease, who has pioneered the amalgamation of traditional methods with DNA-based technologies.
  • Dr Simon Thrush, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Hamilton – is an international expert on the ecology of the coastal sea floor. He has highlighted the environmental impacts of rapid sedimentation in New Zealand coastal waters.

The new Honorary Fellow elected is Dr Donna Eberhart-Phillips, who is working at the Geology Department, University of California, Davis, in the USA. She is a world leader in the development and application of three-dimensional seismic tomography codes (the earthquake wave equivalent of a medical CAT scan).

Honorary Fellowships are aimed at encouraging liaison between scientists of different nations and promoting communication and links with them.

The Royal Society of New Zealand now has 376 Fellows and 57 Honorary Fellows. Fellows are involved in providing expert advice, promoting best research practice and disseminating science and humanities information.

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi