Alert Newsletter 708

1. Royal Society of New Zealand announces new President

The Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand this week announced the appointment of Professor Sir David Skegg as its new President effective from 1 July 2012. Professor Sir David Skegg is a distinguished cancer researcher who led the University of Otago as Vice-Chancellor from 2004 to 2011.

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. Read more…

2. Cockayne Lecture hosted by the Royal Society of New Zealand Manawatu Branch

The Royal Society of New Zealand’s Leonard Cockayne Memorial Lecturer for 2012, Professor Kevin Gould, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, will be delivering his lecture “Ever green but seeing red? Deciphering the palette of New Zealand’s flora” at 7.30pm on Tuesday 20 March at Te Manawa Art Gallery, 326 Main Street, Palmerston North. Visitors warmly welcome. The lecture abstract can be accessed online.

3. Lectures hosted by the Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch

(a) Wednesday, 21 March – Leonard Cockayne Memorial Lecture Tour – Wellington Lecture

Professor Kevin Gould, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington

“Ever green but seeing red? Deciphering the palette of New Zealand’s flora”

This lecture will be hosted by the Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch on Wednesday 21 March at 6.00pm at the VUW Pipitea campus, in Lecture Theatre 2 (GBLT2), Old Government Buildings rear lecture block, Lambton Quay (north end). Professor Gould will be presented with the Cockayne Lectureship certificate at this event. The lecture abstract can be accessed online.

(b) Thursday 5 April – “NZ Lifeboat Tour”, Nicole M. Foss (a.k.a. “Stoneleigh”) – Energy and Industry Consultant, Financial Analyst, international speaker on current issues in finance, energy, environment and resilience

Presentation 12 noon to 1pm, workshop 2–3.30pm – entry with koha

Large Gallery 2nd floor, Turnbull House, Bowen Street, Wellington

“Building Lifeboats: How Communities and Families can navigate the choppy seas ahead”

Peak oil and the implosion of high-leverage finance schemes around the world are converging into a “perfect storm” that may threaten prosperity and social cohesion. Families and communities should prepare for the challenging times ahead. Nicole M. Foss is co-editor of The Automatic Earth (, where she writes under the name Stoneleigh. She and her writing partner have been chronicling and interpreting the on-going credit crunch as the most pressing aspect of our current multi-faceted predicament. The site integrates finance, energy, environment, psychology, population and real politik in order to explain why we find ourselves in a state of crisis and what we can do about it.

Further information: Paul Bruce, Tel 021 02719370,

4. Cockayne Lecture hosted by the Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand

The Royal Society of New Zealand’s Leonard Cockayne Memorial Lecturer for 2012, Professor Kevin Gould, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, will be delivering his lecture “Ever green but seeing red? Deciphering the palette of New Zealand’s flora” at 7.30 pm on Thursday, 22 March, at The Faraday Centre, Faraday Street, Napier. The lecture abstract can be accessed online.

5. Mind Reading? The science of imaging the brain

Will MRI technology make mind reading possible? This brain imaging event, held in Auckland on 12 March, can be accessed online as part of Brain Awareness Week (12 – 18 March). Chaired by journalist Russell Brown, the event features live analysis of brain scans by Dr Donna Rose Addis and Associate Professor Brett Cowan.

Will the scientists be able to tell the difference between lies and truth? Watch the event video to find out!

This event has been organised by The University of Auckland and sponsored by the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Auckland branch, the Auckland Museum Institute.

6. FUSIONZ website for science, technology, humanities jobs

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

  • PhD Opportunities for 2012: University of Otago, International
  • Molecular Scientist – Section Head at Labtests: Labtests, Auckland

For more information and to list your vacancy –

7. Paid science journalism internship on offer

The Science Media Centre, in conjunction with sponsor Industrial Research Ltd., is offering a 2012 Innovation journalism internship programme.

The internship is aimed at giving a journalism student or recent graduate with a background or interest in science and technology the opportunity to work on science and innovation related stories and have their work published in mainstream media outlets.

The focus of the internship is on innovation, that mix of scientific research, development and commercialisation that experts suggest is crucial to New Zealand’s efforts to transform its economy.

The internship is open to those working in print, broadcast and/or the online medium. It is intended that current journalism students could complete the internship as part of their course requirements. Applications close Friday, March 30. See Science Media Centre for details.

8. Brain Day 2012 – Auckland Business School, Saturday 17 March 9am–4pm

Auckland Brain Day will be held on Saturday 17 March, and will feature neuroscientists and clinicians from the Centre for Brain Research at The University of Auckland talking about the latest research updates, as well as community groups and science demonstrations. It is the biggest event of its kind in New Zealand.

Brain fitness is the theme for the day, and we will have exciting demonstrations, workshops and interactive sessions available. Information on the free event, venue and facilities, along with the full schedule for the day can be found here.

Free recordings of informative lectures given by expert scientists and clinicians in 2011 are available to view on the web.

9. Lecture on Nanotechnology, 28 March, Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT)

Victoria University of Wellington invites you to a free public lecture by Dr John Watt from the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and Dr Marc Wilson, from the School of Psychology. John will introduce the concepts behind nanotechnology and some of the more exciting research projects within the field and Marc will talk about the research into creativity and how it intersects with innovation and success.

The two-part lecture will be held on Wednesday 28 March, from 5.30 to 8.00pm, at Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT). Refreshments will be served at 6.30pm between the two parts of the lecture. If you would like to attend, please email with ‘Nanotechnology’ in the subject line or phone 04.472.1000 by Monday 26 March.

10. NZAS Conference 16 April 2012: Do Emerging Scientists have a Future in New Zealand?

Registrations are now open for this one-day conference that will be held by the New Zealand Association of Scientists at Rutherford House in Wellington on 16 April.

The conference is targeted at emerging scientists, their existing and potential employers, their mentors, future emerging scientists, policy makers and politicians.

Speakers include the Hon Steven Joyce (Minister for Economic Development, Minister of Science and Innovation, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment and Associate Minister of Finance) and David Shearer (Leader of the Labour Party, Spokesperson for Science and Innovation).

Further information about the programme and speakers can also be found on the NZAS website and will be regularly updated.

11. “Sea-Level Rise: Meeting the Challenge” – New Zealand Climate Change Centre Conference 10–11 May 2012, Wellington (Register Now!)

Demand for science-based advice to assist coastal planning for sea-level rise due to climate change is growing. In light of this the New Zealand Climate Change Centre (NZCCC) invites you to attend a conference focussing on sea-level rise and addressing associated coastal planning challenges.

The conference will include keynote speakers from overseas and New Zealand as well as case study examples illustrating how sea-level rise projections have been incorporated into coastal planning. The conference will provide ample opportunity for interaction between attendees through panel and breakout group discussions.

Visit the dedicated conference website for further information and to register for the conference:

Contact: Richard Nottage (NZCCC) (04 386 0327)

12. McGuiness Institute report: Government-funded Science under the Microscope

The McGuinness Institute’s latest report, Report 9: Science Embraced: Government-funded Science Under the Microscope, is available for download from their website. The report explores the system of government-funded science in New Zealand, and finds that there needs to be greater compatibility between government-funded science and the public interest. Download the report here.

13. Our Changing World, Thursday 9.00 pm, Radio New Zealand National 101FM

Alison Ballance, Ruth Beran and Veronika Meduna email Tel (04) 474 1910 Twitter @RNZ_Science

In last year’s report on People’s Perceptions of the State of the New Zealand Environment, a quarter of respondents identified water and water pollution as the most important environmental issue, while half thought that farming was the main cause of damage to freshwater. Concern about the health of Waituna Lagoon has been in the headlines in Southland, and in the first of a three-part series Alison Ballance heads out with the Department of Conservation’s Emily Funnell to find out about the lagoon’s ecology. Part 2 next week will look at ‘flipping’ in shallow lakes, and part 3 will find out about the science of water quality monitoring.

To mark Brain Awareness Week, we have a story about multiple sclerosis, which affects one in every 1400 New Zealanders. There is no cure, but Victoria University immunologist Anne La Flamme tells Veronika Meduna she is focusing her research on identifying new drug targets and treatments.

A significant fossil site at St Bathans, in inland Otago, has helped rewrite our ideas about life in prehistoric Zealandia 16-19 million years ago. Alison Ballance joins a team of palaeontologists as they begin their 11th year of excavation at the site, hoping as always for rare fossils such as bones or teeth belonging to the elusive terrestrial mammal as well as an intriguing small crocodile.

You can download our podcasts or listen to streaming audio of programmes in our complete programme archive at:

You can also follow us on Twitter @RNZ_Science

Two of our science and environment stories air during the week on Afternoons with Jim Mora at 3:35pm, Monday and Thursday. The complete programme is repeated at 1:10am on Sunday mornings.

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

Get timely updates from the Royal Society of New Zealand team via our Facebook and Twitter (@royalsocietynz) channels.


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