Alert Newsletter 713

Subscribe to Alert

1. New publication: Investment Impact Report 2011

The Royal Society of New Zealand has released its Investment Impact Report 2011.

In this report we highlight our delivery of support for the Marsden Fund Council and our administration of the nascent Rutherford Discovery Fellowship over 2009 and 2010.

Marsden Fund highlights:

  • the largest ever allocation for the Marsden Fund in 2009, together with examples of excellent research supported through the fund, showing the diversity, depth and quality of the research conducted by its recipients
  • increases in high-impact journal publications and attributions by recipients of the fund
  • increase in investigators (number and full time equivalents) supported by the fund. However, post-graduate researchers appear to be being supported in place of post-doctoral researchers.

Rutherford Discovery Fellowship highlights:

  • initial rounds have supported 20 fellows
  • early signs of positive impact on the fellows and their research programmes include retention of exceptional researchers in New Zealand and the fellows have already leveraged an additional $2.3 million in external research support.

This report is prepared every two years as part of the Society’s obligations to Government. The next report is anticipated at the end of 2013.

The report can be found at:

2. Call for James Cook Research Fellowships nominations – close 30 June 2012

The James Cook Research Fellowships are administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the Government. They are awarded to researchers who are recognised leaders in their respective fields, have the requisite qualifications and experience, and are able to demonstrate that they have achieved national and international recognition in their area of scientific or technological research.

Applications are now being sought in each of the following research categories:

  • Biological Sciences (including biotechnology)
  • Physical Sciences (including chemical sciences; geosciences, mathematical and information sciences)
  • Social Sciences (including research of relevance to peoples of New Zealand and/or the South-west Pacific)

The primary intention for the award of Fellowships is the recognition of sustained excellence in research. The normal term of a Fellowship is two years and the stipend offered for those awarded in this round will be $100,000 plus GST per year. Reimbursement of relevant expenses to a maximum of $10,000 plus GST annually will also be offered. Those appointed will be required to take up their Fellowships by 1 April 2013. The nomination form is available on the Royal Society of New Zealand website:

3. New social sciences medal – nominations  close 30 June 2012

The Royal Society has introduced a new medal into its suite of medals: the Mason Durie Medal for Advances in the Frontiers of Social Sciences. The medal is named after Sir Mason Durie FRSNZ, Professor of Māori Research and Development & Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Māori & Pasifika) at Massey University, and Massey University has underwritten the medal.

The Mason Durie Medal will be awarded annually, for the first time in November this year, to the nation’s pre-eminent social scientist. It is intended to recognise an outstanding contribution to the social sciences that while originating in a New Zealand environment, has had an international impact.

Nominations for the inaugural award close on 30 June 2012. For information about nomination/application procedures go to:

4. Results of Rutherford Discovery Fellowships review

On 12 April 2012, the Minister of Science and Innovation, Steven Joyce, announced the results of the review of the Rutherford Discovery Fellowships.

The changes include:

  • Focussing the award process on selecting excellent researchers who have leadership potential
  • A priority on the repatriation of talented New Zealanders
  • Reducing the application period to 3-8 years after receiving the PhD (previously 3-10 years)
  • Allowing a broad range of leadership qualities to be supported by removing the distinction between Tier 1 (leadership potential) and Tier 2 (demonstrated leadership) researchers
  • Changing the expectation that Fellows receive permanent employment from their associated institution, to an expectation that they be contracted for employment over the full term of the fellowship

The full release details of the review along with the revised Terms of Reference can be read at the Ministry’s website:

The Rutherford Discovery Fellowships Secretariat will implement the aforementioned changes and continue to update the Royal Society of New Zealand website with the latest information as it comes to hand.

At this stage, it is hoped a timetable for the 2012 funding round will be available in early May 2012.

5. News release: Vandals sabotage opportunity for evidence-based debate about GM technologies

The Royal Society of New Zealand was disappointed by the destruction of the pine trees being studied by Scion in Rotorua. This was a well regulated and authorised research project abiding by the rules established through the democratic process to ensure public safety and acceptance.

The President of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Dr Garth Carnaby, commented:

“What happened to this authorised experiment was just an illegal act. Such vandalism is an expensive squandering of New Zealand’s limited research funding, and essentially a police matter.

“By attacking this research project, the perpetrators have destroyed evidence that would inform public debate about GM technologies.”

The Society believes that New Zealand’s use and regulation of GM technologies should be based on evidence and rule of law.

We have produced an information paper presenting current evidence about the benefits and risks of genetically modified plants which can be found at:

6. News release: NZIF president condemns destruction of forestry trial

The NZ Institute of Forestry also issued a news release on the destruction of the trees at Scion.


The President of the NZ Institute of Forestry, Dr Andrew McEwen, condemned the destruction over Easter of a trial of genetically modified trees at Scion (the Forest Research Institute), in Rotorua as unjustified and an attack on innovation, established processes of governance and democracy itself.

New Zealand’s economy is dependent on our good growing conditions and the agriculture and forest products we produce. We have maintained an enviable standard of living by economic and scientific innovation but current success is not a matter of divine right nor is it guaranteed.

Genetic engineering holds both promise and risks for New Zealand. We know well the costs of poor decisions related to the release of plants and animals that haven’t evolved in balance with the flora and fauna of this country. It is equally true that as a nation we have benefited hugely from the meat, milk, wool and timber derived from the introduction of ‘exotic genetics’. We can expect to continue to benefit from ruminants bred to produce more with less methane emissions and from trees that grow quickly, produce less pollen or require less tending.

Read full release at:

7. FUSIONZ website for science, technology, humanities jobs

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

  • Postdoctoral Fellow: University of Otago, Christchurch
  • Scientist – Fisheries Acoustics : NIWA, Wellington

For more information and to list your vacancy:

8. Discussion from NZAS conference: Do Emerging Scientists have a future in New Zealand?

The 2012 New Zealand Association of Scientists conference was held in Wellington on 16 April.

The following link provides a summary of the discussion points arising from the conference:

9. Nominations called for Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize for medical research and medical services

The Government of Japan established the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize in July 2006 in memory of Dr. Hideyo Noguchi (1876-1928). The prize aims to honour individuals with outstanding achievements in the fields of medical research and medical services to combat infectious and other diseases in Africa, thus contributing to the health and welfare of the African people and of all humankind.

The Prize consists of two categories: Medical Research honouring individual(s) and Medical Services honouring individual(s) or organization(s)

The Prize is awarded every five years and the second award will be presented in June 2013. (The first award was presented in 2008.)

For information on purpose and description of award:

For nomination process:

10. Solar viewers suitable for observing the Transit of Venus now available

The Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand has sourced a supply of viewers that will be ideal for viewing the Transit of Venus that will take place, and be visible from New Zealand weather permitting, on 6 June 2012.

These viewers have been safety tested by one of the world’s leading authorities on solar viewing devices and provide full eye protection when observing the Sun directly. Note that the viewer should not be used in conjunction with any optical device such as telescope, binoculars, camera etc.

During the transit, Venus is of sufficient apparent diameter to be able to be seen by eye through the filter. Later in the year an eclipse of the Sun will occur and the viewer will also provide a safe and easy way to observe this event. Each viewer is supplied with an information sheet about these two events.

Orders for solar viewers can be placed at:

11. Call for applications: OECD Co-operative Research Programme 2013

The OECD Co-operative Research Programme on Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems (CRP) is aimed at strengthening policy for natural resource use in the areas of food, agriculture, forests and fisheries. The CRP provides funding for:

  • individual agriculture (/fisheries/forestry) research scientists to visit a lab in another CRP member country to conduct their own research project, in collaboration with the host lab. The aim of this is to set up a more long-term collaboration, with a view to strengthening the international exchange of ideas and increasing international mobility and co-operation
  • international conferences, workshops, symposia, (organised by, for example, research institutions or international associations), on an aspect of agricultural (/fisheries/forestry) research with a view to informing policy makers, industry and the academic world of current and future research, scientific developments and opportunities.

In 2013, the CRP is funding research fellowships, and providing conference sponsorship over three research themes:

  1. The natural resources challenge
  2. Sustainability in practice
  3. the food chain.

Applications for research fellowships and conference sponsorship can be made directly to the CRP Secretariat. Applications must be submitted before 10 September 2012.

Further information is provided on the CRP website: The website includes links to documents that are needed to help candidates with their applications, and links to lists of conferences and fellowships that have been funded in the past few years.

The most important things that researchers should be aware of are:

  • The applications must fit in with at least one of the three research themes of the CRP; explanations of these are on the website
  • Candidates must get in touch with one of the theme co-ordinators of the relevant research theme, as the theme co-ordinators can advise if their project is indeed of relevance to the CRP
  • Applications must address all the selection criteria and failure to do so will seriously reduce candidate’s chances of success
  • Candidates applying for conference sponsorship need to ensure that the list of speakers proposed for CRP funding fully reflects the geographical spread of CRP membership and that the issues of the conference are of international interest, and not limited to national or a small regional interest.

12. Understanding NZ Earthquakes, Cafe Scientifique, Lower Hutt, Thursday 26 April

The recent destructive earthquakes in Canterbury have brought the hazard of earthquakes in New Zealand into sharp focus. What can seismologists tell us about why and how this earthquake sequence happened?

Dr Martin Reyners, a seismologist at GNS Science, will describe how the history of plate tectonics in New Zealand has dictated the type of earthquake sequence that occurred in Canterbury. He will also answer questions on how earthquake type will differ in other parts of the country, including Wellington.

Thursday 6–7.15pm, Wholly Bagels, Myrtle Street, Lower Hutt. Details.

13. Remembering occupied Japan, Alison Parr talks about her new book, 2 May, Wellington

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage welcomes visitors to their new premises, Level 4, ASB House, 101 the Terrace, Wellington at 12.15pm on Wednesday 2 May to hear Alison Parr, Senior Oral Historian at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, talk about her new book, The Occupiers – New Zealand veterans remember post-war Japan. The book is based on in-depth interviews with 17 of the 12,000 Kiwi men and women who served in J Force during the occupation of Japan between 1946 and 1948.

Hear the recorded voices of contributors as they recollect their varied experiences – from their reactions to visiting Hiroshima and adjusting to a country broken by war, to their relationships with local people and the changed attitudes that grew from personal contact with Japanese civilians.

Please note: Access to ASB House is from The Terrace only. Follow the signage down the corridor to the Level 3 lift which will take you to our reception area and seminar rooms on Level 4. ASB House is just up from Woodward Street on The Terrace. It is next to the Atlanta Café and Bar.

For further information contact lyn.belt@mch.govt.nza

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

Register now – only three weeks to go!

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:

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

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

Presented and produced by Alison Ballance, Ruth Beran and Veronika Meduna.

Whio, or blue duck, live in fast-flowing streams and rivers, usually in areas of remote native forest – to find out more about this threatened white-water specialist, and the Whio Forever conservation programme, Alison Ballance gets wet feet on a trip down the Mangatepopo River, in the central North Island, with the Department of Conservation’s Bubs Smith and Genesis Energy’s Cam Speedy.

In part 3 of the BBC Discovery series on the Global Body, Lynne Malcolm discovers if the Hollywood dream is really true for the health of millions of Los Angeles immigrants.

A detector that was originally developed for high-energy physics is now being tailored for medical use. Veronika Meduna meets Anthony Butler, a clinical radiologist and physicist at the University of Canterbury, to find out how this full-colour X–ray scanner could improve medical imaging.

Two 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.

Website for podcasts and live streams:
Contact: (04 474 1910)
Twitter: @RNZ_Science

16. 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 channels.


Please forward the Royal Society of New Zealand Alert newsletter to any non-subscriber to whom the material may be relevant and who may wish to receive the publication regularly. To subscribe (or unsubscribe):