Alert Newsletter 693

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1. Thirteen top researchers elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand

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. 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.” Read more …

2. Gold CREST awarded to college student

Congratulations to Charlotte Robertson of Palmerston North Girls’ High School who has been awarded a Gold CREST award for her “Watercress – The Nitrogen Junkie?” project.

The aim of this project was to determine the effectiveness of watercress (Nasturtium officinale) to reduce nitrogen pollution in waterways by quantifying the mass balance and determining how much nitrogen the plants can take up from hydroponic solution over a 10-week period. Read more…

3. Lectures in Christchurch and Auckland next week – Marie Curie Lecture Series

There are two more lectures in the year-long Marie Curie lecture series being run by the Royal Society of New Zealand to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry.

  • Christchurch – “The Light Fantastic” by Dr Cather Simpson, 7.30pm, Tues 8 November, Room 108, Law Building, University of Canterbury, Christchurch. This lecture, given one year after the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser, will explore the use of light to better our lives. In particular, it will focus upon the ‘holy grail’ of harnessing the sun to generate electricity.
  • Auckland – “The Wonderful World of Enzymes – insights into drug design, catalysis and molecular evolution”, by Associate Professor Emily Parker, Wed 9 Nov, 6.30pm, The Auditorium, Auckland Museum, The Domain, Parnell, Auckland. This lecture will examine how these remarkable biological molecules work.  This knowledge can be used to design new enzymes and to find new strategies to selectively target pathogenic micro-organisms.

Read more…

4. FUSIONZ website for science, technology, humanities jobs

This week, Fusionz has 4 vacancies for jobs. The latest jobs are:

  • Research Manager – Centre for Brain Research: The University of Auckland
  • PhD studentship in Plant-Fungal Symbiotic Interactions: Massey University, Palmerston North
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow: The University of Auckland
  • Rock Mechanics Scientist/Soil Mechanics Scientist: GNS Science, Wellington

For more information and to list your vacancy –

5. Science Express, Espresso Cafe, Level 4, Te Papa, 6.30 to 8.00pm, Thursday 3 November, Wellington

Dr Mike Johnston and Dr Sascha Nolden will address the topic ‘Hochstetter’s legacy: science and conservation’.

This event will also serve as a Wellington book launch of their recently published book:  ‘Travels of Hochstetter and Haast in New Zealand 1858-1860’ published by Nikau Press. This will be of great interest to all scientists interested in the early history of scientific endeavour in New Zealand.

6. Royal Society of London journal archive made permanently free to access

The Royal Society of London has announced that its world-famous historical journal archive – which includes the first ever peer-reviewed scientific journal – has been made permanently free to access online.

Around 60,000 historical scientific papers are accessible via a fully searchable online archive, with papers published more than 70 years ago now becoming freely available.

7. 2012 Zonta Science Award Call for Applications

The Zonta Club of Wellington is calling for applications for the 2012 Zonta Science Award. The award has been established to further the status of women in scientific fields. The award is for an emerging woman scientist (i.e., a recent PhD graduate, not a woman well established in the science arena), not the top woman scientist in her field. Priority will be given to areas of science where funding is not readily available.

The aims of the award are to: encourage women to pursue a career in science; actively promote science as a career for women; encourage others already in the scientific field; and acknowledge the valuable contribution of women scientists.

The award recipient receives – $10,000 cash to fund travel expenses and/or research material and equipment; return air travel to Europe or the USA (to be used to attend professionally related conferences or places of further study); and a medal.

Applications must be received by 10 February 2012. For more information and the application form contact Wendy Saunders, Convenor, 2012 Zonta Science Award

Zonta Club of Wellington, PO Box 10274, Wellington.

8. “The Chemistry of Paint”, visit to Dulux factory with NZ Institute of Chemistry, Wellington Branch meeting, 9 November, Lower Hutt

Time: 6:00 for 6:15 pm presentation and site tour

Venue: Dulux New Zealand Ltd Head Office and Factory 150 Hutt Park Road (corner Hutt Park Rd and Gracefield Road, Gracefield, Lower Hutt

Speaker: Serena Smalley, Product Development Chemist, Dulux New Zealand – Technical Services Laboratory

Site Tour: David Mortimer, Operations Manager, Dulux New Zealand

Please note that the site tour will be going through working factory areas, PPE will be provided on site but the following must be followed: clothing needs to cover the legs and the arms; foot wear must cover the entire foot and be non-slip (i.e. no open-toed shoes or high heels); any ignition sources including cameras and cell phones are not allowed in the factory areas. Smoking is not permitted except in designated areas.

9. “Phase Transitions, Waves and Chaos in the Brain” Tuesday 15 November, 6.30pm, at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato

University of Waikato professor Moira Steyn-Ross says identifying what it means to be awake, unconscious and asleep is vital to understanding the nature of anaesthesia. Professor Steyn-Ross has been modelling the brain for nearly a decade and has developed a model for the brain that recognises different brain states. In her inaugural professorial lecture being held on 15 November, she will discuss her research into understanding the functions and dysfunctions of the brain, and the potential for enhancing the measurement of the depth of anaesthesia.

Inaugural Professorial Lectures are the university’s way of formally introducing new and recently appointed professors to the wider community. All lectures are free and open to the public.

10. “The Commercial Exploitation of Scientific Research” by Professor Sir Michael Brady, Emeritus Professor, Department of Oncology, University of Oxford, 6pm, 21 November, Wellington

Most academic research culminates in a report or a study.  However, engineering can only be complete when it finds physical application as a real product or structure.  This is the guiding principle that has driven Sir Michael Brady throughout his career.  This lecture draws a number of lessons and challenges that he has faced in commercially exploiting the engineering science research, illustrated by experiences from Guidance (mobile robotics), Mirada Solutions and Mirada Medical (medical image analysis), Matakina (mammographic image analysis), as well as Acuitas Medical (MRI proton spectroscopy), Colwiz (information support for a researcher), and Dexela (x-ray detectors and digital breast tomosynthesis).

Professor Sir Michael Brady, Deputy Chairman of Oxford Instruments PLC and Senior Independent Director at AEA Technology is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for science and its use in the real world. He has been a Director of ISIS Innovation, the University of Oxford’s commercialization arm since 1993.

Date: Monday 21 November, 6 pm

Venue: Rutherford House, Lecture Theatre 2, Bunny Street, Wellington

If you would like to attend, please email with ‘Mike Brady’ in the subject line or phone 04-472 1000 by Friday 18 November.

11. “The Continuing Advance of Image Analysis”, by Professor Sir Michael Brady, Emeritus Professor, Department of Oncology, University of Oxford, 2pm, 22 November, Wellington

Over the past 30 years, the science and applications of image analysis have developed rapidly and hand-in-hand.  This advance shows no sign of letting up any time soon.  This talk interweaves three themes: (i) basic ingredients of image analysis; (ii) a broadening set of applications that has been deployed; and (iii) the technological landscape which underpins (i) and (ii).

Professor Sir Michael Brady was one of the pioneers of computer vision during his time at MIT, and then as Head of the Robotics Research Group at University of Oxford.  In this talk, he will provide an overview of his academic work which originated in the mathematical foundations of computer vision, before becoming far more applied with applications in robotics, the film industry, medical imaging and ancient history.

Date: Tuesday 22 November, 2 pm

Venue: Cotton Building, Lecture Theatre CO122, Kelburn Campus, Wellington

If you would like to attend, please email with ‘Image Analysis’ in the subject line, or phone 04-472 1000 by Friday 18 November.

12. Language, Education and Diversity Conference (LED 2011), 22 -25 November 2011, Owen G. Glenn Building, The University of Auckland

Are you interested in the latest academic developments in literacy education, TESL or bilingual education? If so, join in the 3rd International Conference on Language, Education and Diversity (LED 2011) which is less than a month away. The conference is a chance to hear the latest academic and policy discussions and debate the often-complex interconnections between diversity and language education. For full conference or one day registration –

Pre-Conference Workshops will be presented by keynote speakers and other recognised specialists on Tuesday 22 November, at the University of Auckland. Spaces are limite. For full details on the workshops, visit

13. NZCCRI Seminar Series, “Glaciers and Ice Sheets in a Warming World”, 24 November, Wellington

The speaker is Andrew Mackintosh from the Antarctic Research Centre and the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences.

Mountain glaciers and polar ice sheets are increasingly perceived as being vulnerable to anthropogenic climate change. In this talk he will discuss how the response of New Zealand glaciers and Antarctic ice sheets to climate both during recent historic and distant geologic time can help us understand their future response. He will also explain how we might improve our predictions of consequential future sea level rise.

Date: Thursday 24 November

Time: 12.30 – 1.30pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, Government Buildings, Bunny Street, Wellington

14. Our Changing World, Thursday 9.00 pm, Radio New Zealand National

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

Wood is the new plastic – or rather, wood is becoming a significant part of some plastics. Jeremy Warnes tells Alison Ballance how Scion has developed technology to allow manufacturers to incorporate wood into plastic using their existing equipment.

Life as we know it would be impossible without enzymes. In this preview of her Marie Curie lecture, University of Canterbury chemist Emily Parker tells Veronika Meduna how these complex proteins work and how they can be used to fight pathogenic microbes.

Gill Jolly is head of volcanology at GNS Science, where she leads a team studying volcanoes with a view to attempting to predict volcanic activity. She talks with Alison Ballance about the Geonet website, Mt Ruapehu and Vanuatu.

Ruth Beran goes to the Malaghan Institute to meet PhD candidate Peter Ferguson and co-supervisor Richard Tilley from Victoria University to discover how magnetic nanoparticles could improve the resolution of MRI images, lead to better cancer vaccines, and even kill tumour cells.

Shorter science, health and environment features also air during Afternoons with Jim Mora at 3.35 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:

15. Follow the Royal Society of New Zealand on Facebook and Twitter

We have now more than 500 friends on Facebook, and another 800+ followers on Twitter. Sign up and get timely updates from the Royal Society of New Zealand team via our Facebook and Twitter channels.