Royal Society of New Zealand announces new President

The Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand today announced the appointment of Professor Sir David Skegg as its new President effective from 1 July 2012.

The Royal Society of New Zealand today is an independent national academy of science, technology and the humanities, and a federation of scientific and technological societies and individual members.  It is an educational and research charity which operates under a Parliamentary Act for the advancement and promotion of Science, Technology and the Humanities in New Zealand.  Membership currently comprises:

  • Over 1200 individual members
  • 371 elected Fellows
  • 56 Honorary Fellows
  • 10 regional branches
  • 60 constituent scientific and technological societies

This represents nearly 20,000 scientists, scholars, technologists and technicians.  This enables the Society to encompass a broad range of disciplines across the sciences, social sciences, humanities and technology.

Professor Sir David Skegg is a distinguished cancer researcher who led the University of Otago as Vice-Chancellor from 2004 – 2011.

A graduate of Otago University, he gained a BMedSc, MB, and ChB degrees with Distinction, and was awarded both the Travelling Scholarship in Medicine and a Rhodes Scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford.  After graduating with a DPhil, he continued at the University of Oxford as a Lecturer in Epidemiology from 1976 to 1979. In 1980, he returned to Otago to take up the Chair of Preventive and Social Medicine and role of Head of that Department.

Sir David’s research interests include breast and cervical cancer, contraceptive and drug safety, and reproductive health. He has over 150 publications in academic journals.

A strong advocate of improved public health, he served as Chair of the former Public Health Commission and is also a former Chair of the Health Research Council of New Zealand. He has also long been a consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva and is currently chairing a WHO advisory committee on improving reproductive health in developing countries.

 Sir David is a former Chair of the Research Committee of Universities New Zealand and is Chair of the BSE Expert Science Panel as well as the Government’s recently-established Science Board. He is also the Secretary for the Rhodes Trust in New Zealand.  He was awarded an OBE (1990) for services to medicine, a Fellowship of the Royal Society of New Zealand (1992), and the Sir Charles Hercus Medal (Royal Society of New Zealand, 1999).  In 2003, Professor Skegg also received the University of Otago’s top honour, the Distinguished Research Medal.  In 2009, he was knighted for his services to medicine.

Chair of the Academy of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Dr Stephen Goldson said he was most pleased that Professor Sir David Skegg has accepted the challenge of being the new President of the RSNZ.  “It is noteworthy that Sir David is a Fellow of the RSNZ based on his own distinguished research career but coupled with this, he has had extensive experience in leadership and governance that will hold him in good stead”.

Current President, Dr Garth Carnaby, was very pleased to see someone appointed with the breadth of vision of Sir David.  “This will undoubtedly be most effective in dealing with the future challenges associated with the contribution of research to the economic development of New Zealand, the incorporation of the humanities into the RSNZ, and the numerous other contributions that the Royal Society of New Zealand stands to make to NZ.”