The New Zealand of Institute Agricultural and Horticultural Science congratulates members and a Fellow who have won Science New Zealand 2019 National Awards, and a Fellow who has been awarded the 2019 Marsden Medal.
The Science New Zealand award winners
Dr Barbara Barratt – AgResearch
Dr Barratt has pioneered internationally relevant research and risk assessment into the biosafety of introduced insect biocontrol agents for over 40 years. Her research is an outstanding example of with a significant and ongoing impact on New Zealand and global biocontrol science and practice.
Dr Brent Clothier – Plant & Food Research
Dr Clothier is a world-leading soil and water scientist. His work has enhanced our understanding of the natural capital that the environment provides to grow our crops so that we can better make informed land use decisions. His work on water footprinting, soil science and climate change has prepared New Zealand’s primary production systems for tomorrow’s challenges.
Dr Jeanne Jacobs – AgResearch
Dr Jacobs is a member of the genotyping-by-sequencing team at AgResearch This team has collaborated with other CRIs, universities, independent research organisations an industry stakeholder to embed genotyping-by-sequencing and new genomic tools in a wide range of industry animal and plant breeding programs to improve their effectiveness and cost efficiency.
Team members are Drs Jacobs, Shannon Clarke, Ken Dodds, Marty Faville, John McEwan, Rudiger Brauning, Andrew Griffiths, Alan McCulloch, Tracey van Stijn, Hannah Henry, Hayley Baird, Rayna Anderson, Craig Anderson, Anna Larking, Mingshu Cao, Won Hong, Timothy Bilton, Rachael Ashby, Sofie Pearson.
2019 Marsden Medal
(awarded for a lifetime of outstanding service to the cause or profession of science)
Professor Emerita Paula Jameson – University of Canterbury Professor Jameson, a leading plant scientist, was awarded the 2medal by the New Zealand Association of Scientists at its recent awards ceremony in recognition from her of her work on plant cytokinins, among other work. She has long been noted for her research expertise in physiological and molecular plant biology, her extensive list of publications, her support supervising postgraduate students, and her services to the scientific community.
The NZIAHS executive is delighted to applaud these successes.
But we wonder to what extent the agricultural/horticultural science sector is being recognised by the people who decide who should be honoured, receive precious research funding, and so on. Or have our scientists become discouraged from – or weary of – applying for the funding available from an array of public sources.
Take the Marsden Fund’s 2019 grants, for example. The fund, managed by Royal Society Te Apārangi on behalf of the government, early this month allocated $83.671 million (excluding GST) to 125 research projects across New Zealand.
Two large interdisciplinary projects this year received inaugural Marsden Fund Council Awards worth $3 million (excluding GST) each, established researchers were awarded 74 Marsden Fund grants and there were 49 recipients of Fast-Start grants.
While the research projects address a range of problems and questions of both local and international interest, we failed to find agricultural or horticultural scientists among the recipients.
A few weeks earlier, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Wood announced four programmes had been awarded several million dollars each from the Strategic Science Investment Fund. None involved agricultural and/or horticultural science.
The Strategic Science Investment Fund’s purpose is to establish and support longer-term research programmes of mission-led science critical to the future of New Zealand’s economy, environment and wellbeing.
The names of 19 new fellows and honorary fellows elected to the Academy of the Royal Society Te Apārangi for their distinction in research and advancement of science, technology or the humanities were announced as recently as November 21. They were saluted as world leaders in an array of topics: improving human–machine interactions, moral philosophy, autobiographical memory, Pasifika poetry, cross-cultural psychology, Indigenous studies and the politics of polar regions. Also, paleobiology, seabed geology, tectonic and seismic hazards, pollen records, reintroduction biology, mathematical functional analysis, optical physics, stroke, maternal health, bone biology, end of life care and gout.
None (at least, none we could find in our initial check) were ag/hort scientists.
Things are looking up
Meanwhile the Government has been looking skywards as it enthuses about the future of New Zealand research, science and innovation.
The Government will contribute $26 million towards MethaneSAT, a state-of-the-art satellite designed to detect global methane emissions with unprecedented accuracy.
The mission is being led by a United States-based non-government organisation, Environmental Defense Fund, and its subsidiary, MethaneSAT LLC, which have signed a partnership agreement with New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Announcing that Mission Control for the international space mission will be based in New Zealand and the Government’s $26 million investment towards the state-of-the-art satellite, Dr Woods said MethaneSAT is designed to locate and measure methane from human sources worldwide. This will provide the data to track and reduce those emissions.
A report prepared by Deloitte, a global consultancy firm estimated this country’s "space economy" is now contributing $1.69 billion to the New Zealand economy.
Hmm. Let’s note that agricultural and horticultural products generated export receipts of $59.3 billion in the 12 months to September 30.
by Bob Edlin