Explore as a

News

Published 26 October 2016

Diverse range of top researchers and scholars elected as Fellows

2016: Nineteen top New Zealand researchers and scholars with a range of research interests, backgrounds and places of work have been announced as Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand at a forum today.

It's an honour which recognises true international distinction in research and scholarship.

“The Society seeks to increase the diversity of its Fellowship, so we are very delighted to be able to announce this diverse group as new Fellows of the Society”, says Academy Chairperson Distinguished Professor Gaven Martin FRSNZ, who is so a Vice President of the Society.

“University academics, men and people of European descent have been over-represented in our Fellowship selections to date. We sought to address this by encouraging a more diverse pool of excellent candidates for nomination to Fellowship.  We updated selection criteria and ran workshops on bias to ensure no one was disadvantaged. We are especially pleased that this approach has resulted in a more diverse group of new Fellows – selected entirely on merit -which is more representative of our community of researchers and scholars.”

The new Fellows include a majority of females – ten out of nineteen – two Fellows from Crown Research Institutes, one Fellow from a private research organisation, two Fellows with Māori ethnicity and one with Asian ethnicity.

The group also includes the first female mathematician to be made a Fellow, Professor Hinke Osinga from the University of Auckland.

“The Society will build on this and continue to seek best practice to ensure diversity within all of its activities.  We certainly do not see this positive result as a case of ‘problem solved’ but rather it provides evidence that positive change can be achieved by diligence.”

The Society is also contributing to a national working group for diversity and equity issues for the New Zealand research community.

New Fellow Professor Jacinta Ruru at Papa o Te Aroha Marae, Tokoroa. Photo credit: Kirsten Ellis, Raukawa Charitable Trust

New Fellow Professor Jacinta Ruru at Papa o Te Aroha Marae, Tokoroa. Photo credit: Kirsten Ellis, Raukawa Charitable Trust

The new Fellows are:

Professor Jacinta Ruru, University of Otago and Co-Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Maori Centre of Research Excellence, whose work is at the forefront of defining the area of law on how the legal system of former colonies ought to recognise Indigenous peoples’ interests in land and water. Read IAQs Blog: Ancestral lands – let them own themselves.

Dr Judi Hewitt, Principal Scientist at NIWA whose interdisciplinary contributions have advanced fundamental knowledge of marine biology and advanced environmental science.

Professor Tony Merriman, University of Otago, who has made major contributions to the pre-clinical and clinical science of autoimmune diseases and gout in New Zealand, particularly amongst Māori and Pacific people.

Professor Donna Rose Addis, University of Auckland, who has pioneered the use of functional brain imaging to study how the brain stores and retrieves memories in healthy subjects and those suffering from disorders, such as amnesia, clinical depression, and dementia.

Professor Rod Dunbar, University of Auckland, whose studies of human cellular immunology, especially T cell responses to tumours arise and how these T cell responses can be stimulated in cancer therapy, have accelerated the advent of successful cancer immunotherapy.  

Professor Hinke Osinga, University of Auckland, who is a specialist in dynamical systems theory, the mathematical analysis and prediction of behaviour that changes with time. She is at the forefront of developing and employing numerical methods for computing global objects known as invariant manifolds that are indicators of critical change or `tipping points.’

Professor Hong Di, Lincoln University, who has led pioneering research into nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions from intensive dairying systems, leading to mitigation technologies.

Professor David Craw, University of Otago, a geologist who has advanced knowledge of the relationship between plate tectonics and mineral deposits and latterly New Zealand fauna such as fresh water fish.

Professor Rosalind Hursthouse, University of Auckland, who has had a profound impact on the field of ethics in philosophy.  She has been a leading figure in the development of the approach known as virtue ethics. 

Professor Lynnette Ferguson, University of Auckland, who is a world leader in nutritional genomics with an international reputation in mutagenesis and in the causes and control of chronic disease.

Professor Stephen May, University of Auckland, who is regarded as a world authority on language rights and an international expert in the related fields of indigenous language and bilingual/immersion education and multilingualism.

Professor Peter Shepherd, University of Auckland, who has made important contributions to understanding how defects in a cell signalling pathway contribute to cancer and diabetes.

Professor Cris Shore, University of Auckland, who has developed new theoretical approaches and methodologies for analysing policy, power and organisations. He is internationally recognised for his work on the anthropology of policy, the EU and university reform.

Dr Skelte Anema, Fonterra Research and Development Centre, who is an expert in the interactions between milk proteins under different physical and chemical conditions. His work has led to solutions to difficult processing problems, new dairy products and six patents describing innovative dairy technologies. Read IAQs blog: The future of milk.

Dr Jenny Juengel is an AgResearch scientist whose research effort has focussed primarily on understanding how genetic mutations in sheep have influenced their reproductive outcomes. A major outcome of her research is the identification of a major cell responsible for advancing or inhibiting fertility.

Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith, University of Waikato, who is an outstanding Māori scholar in the social sciences whose research on ‘decolonising’ research methodologies has reshaped inquiry across many domains in the sciences and humanities. 

Professor Parry Guilford, University of Otago, who has made international contributions to the fields of cancer biology and cancer genetics, identifying the first known gene for inherited gastric cancer and developing a biomedical device to test for bladder cancer in urine.

Professor Annie Goldson, University of Auckland, who is an acclaimed documentary film maker who has made a sustained contribution to humanities scholarship and film culture, forging a dialogue between these two domains.

Professor Kathleen Campbell, University of Auckland, who is at the forefront of unearthing evidence for past life in ‘extreme’ environments, thereby contributing to the search for life’s origins and bio-signatures on other planets.

The Society also announced the election of two Honorary Fellows, aimed at encouraging strong ties with leading international scientists and scholars and New Zealand’s research community.

Professor Grant Montgomery, University of Queensland, has pioneered genomic methods for production trait identification in farm animals and contributed to worldwide genome mapping for complex diseases, leading to breakthroughs in important diseases like endometriosis. He completed a PhD from Massey University, held appointments at AgResearch and University of Otago and continues to collaborate with research groups in New Zealand.

Professor Chris Simon, University of Connecticut, uses the tools of molecular biology to answer questions related to the origin, spread and conservation of biological diversity, using cicadas as a model organism.  Her research has allowed better understanding of the family tree of cicadas and relationships with past climates and landforms and even the role of song.

Read more on the new Fellows

Professor Jacinta Ruru at the University of Otago and Co-Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s  Maori Centre of Research Excellence, is working on understanding how colonial legal systems ought to recognise Indigenous peoples’ interests in land and water.  She has authored more than 90 publications, including her co-authored book Discovering Indigenous Lands. This presents new insights about how England’s colonisation relied on the Doctrine of Discovery (a key premise for non-Indigenous sovereignty over Indigenous lands and territories). She is in demand internationally and locally and provides advice to many groups from government to communities. Read IAQs Blog: Ancestral lands – let them own themselves.

Dr Judi Hewitt is a Principal Scientist at NIWA conducting research on marine ecology and environmental problems. Her work has bridged ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ science, connecting numerical ecology, marine ecology and environmental science. She has developed new ways to scale-up field studies and to map seafloor habitats. Her research has revealed the often hidden role of species in large ecosystems. These new approaches have been used in intertidal to deep-sea habitats in New Zealand, USA and Europe.

Professor Tony Merriman of the University of Otago has contributed to the pre-clinical and clinical science of autoimmune diseases and gout in New Zealand, particularly in Māori and Pacific people. He has shown the genetic and environmental elements of gout, which has informed public health advice and drug availability in New Zealand. Tony has made important academic advances extracting key conclusions from large health data sets.

Professor Donna Rose Addis, from the University of Auckland, pioneered the use of functional brain imaging to study brain mechanisms in ‘future thinking’ and episodic memory. Her work highlights the role of the hippocampus, which is a critical part of the brain involved in human memory and imagination.  Her work also has implications for disorders such as amnesia, clinical depression, and the dementias. Her work is widely cited, and she is internationally regarded as a leader in her field, which is at the forefront of contemporary psychology and neuroscience.

Professor Rod Dunbar, from the University of Auckland, is an innovative immunologist and cell biologist who has made seminal contributions to our understanding of T-cell biology. He pioneered methods to identify, characterise and clone T-cells which recognise single antigens present at very low levels. He was first to directly measure T-cell responses to cancer in patients, and his expertise in cell culture has enabled innovative approaches to therapy, including peptide-based vaccines, T-cell receptors for cancer immunotherapy, and a novel approach to skin engineering. He is Director of the Maurice Wilkins Centre, New Zealand’s largest Centre of Research Excellence.

Professor Hinke Osinga, of the University of Auckland, is a specialist in dynamical systems theory, the mathematical analysis and prediction of behaviour that changes with time. She is developing numerical methods for computing invariant manifolds or ‘tipping points’. Her work has made a significant contribution to manifold theory, and her publications, illustrations, animations and outreach activities have made her famous worldwide in the mathematics and arts communities.

Professor Hong Di, of Lincoln University, has led pioneering research, scholarship and technology development on ammonia oxidisers in the soil, nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions. His research has significantly improved understanding of the role of bacteria and archaea in nitrogen cycling. He is recognised internationally for his work on nitrification inhibitors which contributes to the development of innovative environmental technologies to mitigate nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions.

Professor David Craw, from the University of Otago, has advanced understanding of New Zealand geology including work on the relationship between tectonics and the movement of mineral deposits. His research underpins an internationally developed surface and thermomechanical model which links plate-edge dynamics, surface erosion cycles, and changes in the Earth’s crust. More recently he has been involved in demonstrating links between tectonic movement with biological speciation, including the evolution rate and distribution of our fresh water fishes.

Professor Rosalind Hursthouse, of the University of Auckland, is a leading figure in the development of an ethical theory known as virtue ethics. Rosalind has also contributed to several other areas in philosophy.  For example, she has used the work of the 18th century philosopher, David Hume, to challenge contemporary theories of justice. She is also a leading expert on Aristotle’s ethics, applied ethics and feminist philosophy.

Professor Lynnette Ferguson, of the University of Auckland, is an expert in nutritional genomics, gene mutation or mutagenesis and in the causes and control of chronic disease.  An early innovator in mutagenesis studies, she was among the first to recognise the mutagenic potential of DNA binding drugs. Her studies on the detection of dietary and environmental mutagens in New Zealand led to her establishing the Centre for Mutagen Testing within the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre.  She established the discipline of nutrition at the University of Auckland in 2000, and has served on several Government committees and national Science bodies.

Professor Stephen May, of Te Puna Wānanga at the University of Auckland, is an expert on language rights and the related fields of indigenous language education, bilingual and immersion education, critical multiculturalism, multilingualism and language learning. He is an interdisciplinary scholar in the social sciences and humanities with work traversing sociology, political theory, applied- and socio-linguistics, law and education. He is Founding Editor of the interdisciplinary journal, Ethnicities, and convenes the international conference series, Language, Education and Diversity.

Professor Peter Shepherd, of the University of Auckland, has made important contributions to understanding how defects in the PI 3-kinase signalling pathway contribute to cancer and diabetes. PI 3-kinases are a family of enzymes involved in cellular functions such as cell growth, proliferation, differentiation, motility, survival and intracellular trafficking, which in turn are involved in cancer. After working overseas, he returned to New Zealand in 2004 to collaborate on developing new drugs to treat cancer, resulting in the development of a novel PI 3-kinase inhibitor through to clinical trial. In his spare time he has made major contributions to high school biology teaching and to New Zealand’s research environment by developing Queenstown Research Week into New Zealand’s largest biosciences meeting.

Professor Cris Shore, of the University of Auckland, has contributed significantly to developing theoretical approaches and methodologies for analysing policy, power and organisations. His seminal work is on the anthropology of policy, the EU, and university reform; his contributions include pioneering contributions to studies of governance, state-formation, ‘audit culture’, higher education, and corruption. He has been founding editor of a number of journals and currently leads a project on the ‘Crown’ in post-colonial settler societies.

Dr Skelte Anema, from Fonterra Research and Development Centre, has expertise in the interactions between milk proteins under different physicochemical conditions. He has been the lead chemist in a number of multidisciplinary teams that have solved difficult product problems and developed new products. Skelte is also the author of six patents describing innovative dairy technologies, covering milk protein concentrates, process cheese and yoghurt. Read IAQs blog: The future of milk.

Dr Jenny Juengel is an AgResearch scientist. Her research has focussed primarily on elucidating how genetic mutations in sheep have influenced their reproductive outcomes. A major outcome of her research is the identification of the oocyte as the major cell responsible for advancing or inhibiting fertility. Her contributions have helped to explain why some species have large litters and others are restricted to only 1-3 offspring. This has led to the development of 5 patents.

Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith, from the University of Waikato, is a Māori scholar in the social sciences whose research has re-shaped inquiry across many domains in the sciences and humanities.  Her innovative research on indigenous knowledge facilitated the development and promotion of research methodologies that enable indigenous people to re-assert the integrity of their own knowledge bases and their own ways of knowing and engaging with the world.  Her research spans language revitalisation, gender and youth issues, indigenous schooling, health and resilience, and indigenous knowledge and its interface with science, marginalisation and institutional change. 

Professor Parry Guilford, from the University of Otago, is an expert on cancer biology and cancer genetics and is committed to translational research for the benefit of the cancer patient. Research in collaboration with a large Māori family identified the first known gene for inherited gastric cancer. This defined a new cancer syndrome, saved many lives worldwide, and provided a completely new insight into the mechanisms of cancer development. He has been involved in the development of Cxbladder, a urine test for bladder cancer. This test will reduce the need for painful bladder cystoscopies and reduce healthcare costs.

Professor Annie Goldson, of the University of Auckland, is a documentary filmmaker both in New Zealand and abroad, contributing to humanities scholarship and film culture, forging a dialogue between these two domains. Annie’s frequent focus on human rights and social justice issues, make tangible the academic premise that underpins her work: to act as critic and conscience of society.  Her scholarly writing reflects upon, and critically analyses, the intellectual position of the documentary film maker in her own and others’ work. 

Professor Kathleen Campbell, of the University of Auckland, is working to unearth evidence for past life in ‘extreme’ environments, thereby contributing to the search for life’s origins and bio-signatures on other planets. Kathleen pioneered recognition of hydrocarbon seeps in the geological record, relevant for resource exploration and for tracing effects of methane release into the oceans and atmosphere through time. Her terrestrial hot-spring studies emphasise how extremophile microbes ‘turn to stone’. Recently, she and Australian collaborators have proven a hot-spring setting for Earth’s earliest fossils in a 3.5-billion-year-old volcanic caldera, overturning old ideas about life’s beginnings in warm shallow seas. Utilising paleo-environmental models she helped develop, American associates have postulated a hot-spring origin for Martian silica deposits. These are now a top target for upcoming NASA rover missions.

Honorary Fellows

Professor Grant Montgomery, from the University of Queensland, works in genetics and reproductive biology. He pioneered genomic methods for production trait identification in farm animals and identified mutations in two twinning genes in sheep, which is the basis for genetic tests by GenomNZ™. He has made substantial contributions to the worldwide mapping effort for complex diseases, leading to breakthroughs in important diseases like endometriosis.

Professor Chris Simon, of the University of Connecticut, uses the tools of molecular biology to answer questions related to the origin, spread, and conservation of biological diversity. She has a special interest in New Zealand cicadas and has spent the last 25 years using this group to explore the effect of landscape and climate change on biodiversity. Her early work was notable for elucidating the importance of accommodating patterns of molecular evolution during the construction of evolutionary trees.  Her review papers have acted as a bridge between theoreticians and practitioners of phylogenetic tree building. She has promoted New Zealand science extensively, especially through her role as Editor, and President, of the Society for Systematic Biologists.