Science Digest: Issue 21


There has been yet another round in the on-going debate following release of the 29 January 98 article in ‘Nature’ on the state of science in New Zealand. Yesterday’s issue of ‘Nature’ contained a letter to the Editor from Hon Maurice Williamson, Minister of Research, Science and Technology. Other letters included are from a University of Waikato scientist (Professor R. J. Wilkins), a past Director of the British Geological Survey who is now at ANU Canberra (Dr Peter J. Cook), and the New Zealand Association of Scientists. The text of these letters will be mounted on the issues page of our website and available for viewing by 16 March:


Dr Paul Reynolds, the Science Manager of HortResearch, has accepted the position of Chief Policy Adviser in the Ministry of Research, Science & Technology to succeed Dr Kathy Garden. Dr Reynolds will join MoRST on 14 April. His scientific background is in plant biotechnology and he has served HortResearch as a Programme Leader and Manager.


With the assistance of NIWA, the Society is developing a New Zealand contribution to the Year of the Ocean programme. It will include essay and poster competitions for secondary school students and a programme for primary school students, developed by NZ Science and Technology Teacher Fellow Bu Windsor of Mt Cook School.

This programme, modelled on the acclaimed LEARNZ programme, will involve students in using information technology to communicate with scientists about their work. It is based on four modules focussing on the sea-bed, ocean waters, fish, and oceanic micro-organisms.

Further information on the programme from Julie Hall at NIWA ( or Peter Spratt at RSNZ (, and see our web page


The Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, on behalf of the Biosecurity Council, is seeking expressions of interest for the development of a Biosecurity Research Strategy for New Zealand.

This strategy will address the principal goal of identifying the research needed to mitigate the risks from economic, ecological, and human impacts on New Zealand from actual or potential biosecurity breaches.

The first stages of this strategy are to be completed by 30 June 1998 and will involve extensive consultation with Government departments, the science community, and end users to draw together available information and to scope and prepare a framework for the proposed research strategy. The closing date for expressions of interest is 23 March 1998.

Further information on the contract is available on the Ministry’s website at or by email from or


Applications are now being called for the 1998 Science & Technology Teacher Fellowships. The closing date is 31 July 1998 with results announced by 10 September 1998.

For application forms and guidelines email or access our website at


Queen’s High School (Dunedin), Paremata School (Porirua), and Makaraka School (Gisborne) are each $2,000 richer having received the 1997 BRANZ ALPHA Award in recognition of the linkages made between the school and their community in science and technology.

The awards were presented yesterday to representatives from these schools by the Minister of Education, the Hon Wyatt Creech, who commented on the beneficial nature of such linkages to students and schools. Further details of these awards are available on


Two senior secondary school students, Jackie Toynbee of Taradale High School and Stephen McCracken of Avondale College, have been selected to participate in this three-week event in Singapore later this year, sponsored by the Singapore Government. This is one of several such opportunities that the Society and the NZ Association of Science Educators are able to offer to recognise excellence in New Zealand’s secondary school students. Further information on these opportunities is available from or on the NZASE web page


The full council of the International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB) will be meeting in Auckland on 15-17 April 1998. This is one of the rare occasions when the international unions affiliated with ICSU have convened council meetings in New Zealand and, for that reason, this represents a very special occasion for New Zealand science.

Professor David Parry of Massey University, President of IUPAB, was elected to a 3-year term in 1996 in Amsterdam. During the past 18 months two reviews have been conducted to improve the internal and external governance of the union. The Council will discuss arrangements for the 1999 IUPAB congress in New Delhi. This provides a wonderful opportunity for New Zealand biophysicists to attend and contribute their work. For further information please contact


The next IUPAB Congress is to be held in New Delhi on 19-24 September 1999. Information can now be found on the website Funds are available to support a number of young biophysicists from the Union.


A one week non-credit introductory workshop will be run by the Institute of Molecular BioSciences at Massey University during the mid-semester break 29 June to 3 July 1998. The aim of the course will be to provide a working introduction to the powers and limitations of molecular genetic techniques, for people with a professional interest in the subject. Material to be covered in lectures and discussions will include DNA and genome structure, gene regulation, and basic strategies of recombinant DNA research, including PCR and sequencing. Practical work will include plasmid isolation, restriction enzyme mapping, and DNA cloning. A lectures-only option is also available. For more information and an enrolment form email:


The 1997 annual report of the National Science Strategy Committee for Climate Change has just been published.

The report notes the progress made over the last year in climate change research and sets out the Committee’s strategy for climate change research, its development and implementation, progress to date, gaps and opportunities and the effectiveness of expenditure. It also sets out international science contacts on climate change and has an updated bibliography of relevant science publications.

The report is intended to be used by science providers, funders and users of research in matching their research and research needs. The Committee has been active during the year in linking up these stakeholders to ensure that there is a complete portfolio of climate change research and an indication as to when such research in needed.

For further information or a copy of the report contact Sue Usher at the Royal Society – email


In November 1997 the Royal Society assumed responsibility for the provision of administrative services for the National Science Strategy Committee (NSSC) for Sustainable Land Management (SLM). The Society also currently services the NSS Committees for Climate Change and Possum and Bovine Tuberculosis Control.

The NSSC SLM is made up of a National Committee supported by three Regional Committees. The National Committee is convened by Mr Lindsay Gow, Deputy-Secretary for the Environment, with the conveners of the three Regional Committees also sitting on the National Committee.

The NSSC SLM has just completed the production of their 1996/97 Annual Report, which will be released to major stakeholders over the next two weeks. Also re-printed is the National Committee’s 1997 report ‘Priority Issues, Problems and Research Requirements’. The Committee is also in the process of developing a database of those with an interest in sustainable land management issues and research. If you would like to be added to this database to receive news and information about the activities of the NSSC, or you would like to receive a copy of the Committee’s Annual Report, please contact


Currently the major activity of the National Committee is the co- ordination of a one-day seminar titled ‘Research Requirements for Sustainable Land Management; Soil Biological and Biophysical Processes and Surface Water Issues’.

The seminar aims to engage those with a stake in sustainable land management research to participate in developing improved definition of priority issues and research requirements in the areas of ‘Soil Biological and Biophysical Processes’ and ‘Surface Water Issues’, identified in the National Science Strategy Committees 1997 Priorities Statement. A major objective of the day will be to define gaps in the current knowledge base and determine where future research needs to be focused.

Registration forms, including abstracts of lead authors will be available in the near future. To receive further information regarding this seminar please


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