Alert Newsletter 710

Professor Sir Paul Callaghan GNZM FRS FRSNZ (1947–2012)

Professor Sir Paul Callaghan died on Saturday 24 March, after a long battle with cancer. Sir Paul was undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s most inspirational scientists and his passion for science shone through in everything he did. He will be remembered for the excellence of his own personal research, for his inspirational leadership of other scientists, and his ability to communicate about science to one and all. New Zealand has lost one of its finest scientists.

Read about Sir Paul Callaghan’s exceptional life.

View Paul Callaghan’s inspirational lectures “New Zealand: the place where talent wants to live” and “Beyond the farm and the themepark” on our Vimeo channel.

Sir Paul’s last public lecture, delivered in February at Zealandia in Wellington, presents a vision for a mammalian predator-free New Zealand. It can be viewed here.

Radio New Zealand has collected audio from their archive, featuring Sir Paul in conversation with Kim Hill, on Our Changing World, and in public lectures and addresses. Listen here.

The funeral service for Sir Paul, held in Wellington on Wednesday 28 March, was streamed via webcast. A recording will be available at the webcast site.

1. Revealing the Settlement of Madagascar

Rutherford Discovery Fellow, Dr Murray Cox has received international media attention for his ground-breaking research into the settlement of Madagascar.  His paper titled “A small cohort of Island Southeast Asian women founded Madagascar” published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (London) argues that Madagascar was settled jointly by Africans, and more surprisingly, Indonesians.  Computer modelling favours a scenario in which Madagascar was settled approximately 1200 years ago by a very small group of women (approx. 30), most of Indonesian descent (approx. 93%). This highly restricted founding population raises the possibility that Madagascar was settled not as a large-scale planned colonization event from Indonesia, but rather through a small, perhaps even unintended, transoceanic crossing. Read more.

2. Scott’s Last Journey – film at The Film Archive, Wellington, 29 March

Scott’s Last Journey is an unmissable film for anyone interested in exploration, Antarctica, or the human spirit. An unforgettable look at the hardships and dangers of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole, this poignant tale is narrated by Richard Dimbleby and told through compiled using footage from the 1912 expedition’s official photographer Herbert Ponting.

Venue: The Film Archive, 84 Taranaki Street, Wellington
Time: 7pm
Date: Thursday 29th March
Cost: $6 with Antarctic Society membership or concession / $8 general admission

This is a public event for the NZ Antarctic Society, kindly in association with NZ Film Archives.

3. FUSIONZ website for science, technology, humanities jobs

This week, Fusionz has 6 vacancies for jobs. The latest jobs are:

  • Postdoctoral Fellow: University of Otago, Christchurch, Christchurch
  • Scientist – Fisheries Acoustics, NIWA, Wellington
  • Fermentation Engineer: Industrial Research Limited, Christchurch
  • Chemical Process Engineer: Industrial Research Limited, Christchurch
  • Protein Scientist x 2: Industrial Research Limited, Christchurch
  • PhD Opportunities for 2012: University of Otago, International

For more information and to list your vacancy –

4. Earth Hour 2012 – Saturday 31 March at 8.30pm

Earth Hour is happening on Saturday 31 March at 8.30pm. This is the annual ‘lights out for the planet’ event where people around the world switch off lights and unnecessary appliances for one hour, to show they support action to protect our world.

Your organisation can take part in the event by switching your office building’s lights and any unnecessary appliances off for Earth Hour. You can also encourage staff to take part; the media advisory is copied below, so if you want to cut and paste content from that to send round to your team, or to put out a message on social media, please feel free.

You can download the Earth Hour posters and brand, etc for free at

This year, the Earth Hour team are running an ‘I Will If You Will’ campaign globally, where organisations, people and businesses dare each other to save the planet. For example, challenge your workmates to go car-free for a week, and in return provide a locally-sourced, no-carbon-footprint morning tea for them. Get a feel for the campaign here: or at

5. “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.

Please visit the dedicated conference website for further information and to register for the conference:

Hurry! Early-bird registration closes 5 April 2012.

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

6. Mind Reading? The science of imaging the brain – Watch the video

From an event held in Auckland in March as part of Brain Week 2012, scientists Associate Professor Brett Cowan and Dr Donna Rose Addis from The University of Auckland showcase the incredible technology of MRI and provide a behind the scenes glimpse of cutting-edge brain research.

Follow the link from the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Viewing Room webpage, or view on the website of the Centre for Brain Research.

7. The 14th Annual L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science

From 26 to 29 March, Paris welcomes and honours tomorrow’s scientific talents. The L’ Oréal -UNESCO For Women in Science program is welcoming the 15 International Fellows in Paris for a week of scientific meetings and debates. You can learn about the 15 International Fellows and read their profiles at . We note and congratulate New Zealand Fellow Zoë Hilton, PhD in Biological Sciences (Marine biology).

8. Address by the Deputy Prime Minister on the new Ministerial Groupings, 5.00pm, 11 April, Wellington

The Annual Address to the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand (IPANZ) will be given by Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Bill English, with a focus on Expectations from new Ministerial groupings. We are looking to get some insight into the concept of the “super-Ministry” and how this will effect public management.

Find details on the IPANZ website

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

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

As a tribute to Sir Paul Callaghan, who died on Saturday 24 March, Our Changing World plays a previously un-broadcast interview, in which Sir Paul remembers his childhood and early influences that inspired him to become a physicist.

Nutrigenomics New Zealand is a joint project between Plant and Food Research, Agresearch and the University of Auckland that aims to develop targeted foods or groups of foods to prevent, ameliorate or cure inflammatory diseases. Alison Ballance finds out whether the old saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ has any validity.

In the third part of a series focusing on water quality issues around Waituna Lagoon, Alison Ballance joins a water quality monitoring team from Environment Southland on one of their regular stream monitoring trips in the south of the catchment.

Veronika Meduna catches up with some of the scientists who returned from Antarctica and the Southern Ocean earlier this month as part of the Our Far South expedition, which aims to raise awareness of issues such as climate change, over-fishing and biodiversity protection.

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:

10. 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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