Alert Newsletter: Issue 575

The Royal Society: looking to the future

The Royal Society of New Zealand farewelled its incumbent President, Neville Jordan CNZM DistFIPENZ, today by creating a time capsule and unveiling plans for its new premises.

Neville Jordan has held the role of President from 2006 and is the Society’s 46th President. Previous Presidents include some of New Zealand’s most famous scientists; Sir Charles Fleming, Sir Ernest Marsden, Sir James Hector.

Award winning architects Studio Pacific Architecture say that this project offers a unique opportunity to craft a building that helps lift the Society’s expectations and imagination. Its design is to five-star environmental rating standards and uses gardens to link with the existing buildings, including the historic villa Fleming House. The site for the new building is currently a vacant lot used for car parking. It is anticipated that construction will begin later this year.

The time capsule, which was symbolically sealed by Neville Jordan last night, was designed and manufactured by Industrial Research Limited (IRL). Its design is based on the well-known lead-rubber bearings which were originally invented in New Zealand and are now used throughout the world for seismically isolating buildings and bridges. The words inscribed around the capsule are by well known poet Bill Manhire and can be read, along with a list of the items placed inside the time capsule, on the Royal Society’s website, . The time capsule will be ‘buried’ under a glass panel in the foyer floor of the new building for unlocking in 50 years’ time and the key will be handed from President to President.

Leonard Cockayne Memorial Lecture Tour 2009

A DNA story of New Zealand plants, by Professor Peter Lockhart FRSNZ, Allan Wilson Centre, Massey University.

The Leonard Cockayne Memorial Lecturer for 2009 is Professor Peter Lockhart FRSNZ, from the Allan Wilson Centre, Massey University, Palmerston North, who will give talks at Branches around the country in June and July 2009 as follows: Dunedin, 10 June; Hamilton, 17 June; Hawkes Bay, 18 June; Wellington, 24 June; Rotorua, 25 June; Auckland, 8 July, Palmerston North, 21 July.

The fossil record of plants and their pollen has long been recognised as a kind of black box recorder or diary for evolutionary history in New Zealand.

Peter’s talk will outline some of the recent discoveries and describe how new sequencing technologies are being used to further understanding of the nature and future of New Zealand plant species.

Journal Watch: Science journal resource

A new resource to promote science research published in journals produced by the Royal Society, is now available on our website. Journal Watch contains briefly worded summaries of broad general interest centered on selected scientific articles published in the journals. There is a long tradition for research work to be published by Royal Societies (namely the Proceedings of the Royal Society London, and its counterpart in Scotland) and in the journals they produce. The tradition grew from a need for many scientists to publish their work as new discoveries were made. Our name, “Royal Society” is directly linked to the legacy of those early researchers, the writing and publication of their works and the “Society” or fellowship that was fostered through their membership. Our own “Society”, set up by James Hector, is placed firmly within that ethos. Our objectives to communicate science to our “Society” the public, our members, fellows, and companions are enhanced through the publication of research in our journals and our new resource Journal Watch.

Changes to reduce transaction costs

The Minister of Research, Science and Technology has identified two immediate priorities for the research sector. The first of these is aimed at simplifying processes and reducing transaction costs across the RS&T system.

The Royal Society, the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, the Health Research Council, and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology have been working to introduce changes to reduce the transaction costs faced by researchers.

The changes will reduce time, effort and duplication around proposals for funding, contract negotiations and reporting requirements.

More info:

New Alpha on line: Alpha 134 – The energy we use in New Zealand homes

Science is often thought of as something that is carried out in laboratories, in remote jungles, under the sea or high up in space. We often overlook the science under our noses – for example, we know more about the living conditions of astronauts than we do about the houses in which we live. This ALPHA uses science to explore the ways we use energy in our houses and ask questions about the energy issues that face New Zealand in the future. It provides some sample data from the Household Energy End-use Project (HEEP) to allow you to explore how the energy use in your house compares to other houses.

FUSIONZ Science Jobs

This week, Fusionz has 2 vacancies for jobs. The latest jobs are

Groundwater Scientist: Christchurch

Lecturer – Ecology: South Island

More at

Australasian Research Management Society Conference

Workshops 15 September; Conference 16 – 18 September. Christchurch Convention Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand

With the theme of “Evolution of Research Management” a list of high profile international speakers will talk on “Supporting the Researcher”, “Evaluating Innovation” and “Future Systems for Research”.

Earlybird registration rates apply until 15 July. Further information on the conference can be found at

Our Changing World for Thursday 11 June 2009

Alison Ballance and Veronika Meduna, email Tel (04) 474 1910.

Part two of a series about astronomy looks at white dwarfs and the death of stars, with Victoria university astronomer Dennis Sullivan.

University of Otago zoologist Phil Bishop discusses attempts to cure chytrid fungus infections in New Zealand native frogs, and the problem of metabolic bone disease in captive frogs.

University of Otago palaeontologists and geologists Daphne Lee, Jennifer Bannister and Jon Lindqvist extract exquisite fossils from an ancient volcanic lake crater near Dunedin.

Ron Thresher from CSIRO explains how extraordinarily long-lived deep-sea corals are giving insights into changes in ocean currents.

Shorter science, health and environment features also air during Afternoons with Jim Mora at 3.45 p.m., Monday to Thursday. The programme is repeated at 1.10 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

You can download a podcast or listen to streaming audio of programmes you’ve missed in the complete programme archive at: