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14 Scientists Elected Fellows of the Royal Society

Thursday, 21 November 2002

14 Scientists Elected Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand

The Royal Society of New Zealand has elected 14 new Fellows and 3 Honorary Fellows to its prestigious science academy. Their work covers a wide spread of disciplines and research areas, from the heat stability of milk to infantile amnesia and the underground storage of greenhouse gases.

The selection process is rigorous, involving discipline specific selection panels and independent international review. Only a small number from those nominated are ultimately selected.

President of the Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand Professor Paul Callaghan FRS FRSNZ said, "It is very pleasing to see the relatively high number of women scientists coming through. We expect the trend to continue as more women attain senior positions." New Zealand currently has 307 Fellows, 25 of whom are women.

The new Fellows are:

John Abrahamson¸ Associate Professor in Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Canterbury. By seeking the fundamental reasons for the behaviour of particulate solids, Professor Abrahamson has found common themes in ball lightning and dust collectors, in snow avalanches and turbulence promoters. He was among the first to report on the 'carbon fibres' that have come to be known as nanotubes.

Patrick Richard Lee Browne, Associate Professor, Geothermal Institute, University of Auckland. Professor Browne is one of the leading authorities worldwide on the study of active and fossil geothermal systems. His meticulously detailed studies and seminal interpretations of New Zealand geothermal systems have made them international benchmarks.

Alan Muirhead Crawford, Platform leader, Animal Genomics, AgResearch. World renowned for his research into sheep genomics, Dr Crawford was one of the first people to realise the utility of simple sequence repeats or microsatellite markers in genetic linkage studies. His research group has also made outstanding contributions in the discovery of genes associated with reproduction, disease resistance and production traits.

Robert Olin Davis, Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Canterbury. An international leader in the development of geotechnical engineering, Professor Davis has made influential contributions with his work on constitutive models of soils, seismic liquefaction and his introduction of thermodynamic concepts into continuum mechanical descriptions for soil behaviour.

John Roger Flenley, Professor of Geography, Massey University. An innovative natural scientist, Professor Flenley has pioneered the study of Quaternary interactions between humans and the environment in the Pacific region. His research concerns the impact of colonisation and the prehistory of interactions between people and the environment.

Rosalind Susan Gibson, Professor in Human Nutrition, University of Otago. A leader in the field of human nutrition, Professor Gibson is a frequent consultant for international agencies. She has combined basic laboratory research with worldwide field studies to develop home-based methods for combating nutritional deficiencies.

Harlene Hayne, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Otago. Professor Hayne's work on the development of memory has influenced the direction of research in laboratories around the world. Her work examines infantile amnesia and deferred imitation in infancy, in age-related changes in memory and in the way children are able to provide accurate eyewitness reports.

David Kelly, Associate Professor in Plant and Microbial Sciences, University of Canterbury. Often challenging accepted theories, Professor Kelly is an innovative plant ecologist whose work is placing New Zealand's plant communities on the international stage. He is well known for his work on the erratic production of seeds called 'masting' and on climate change evidence from the native grass Chionochloa.

Kenneth John Dallas MacKenzie, Associate Professor in Chemistry, Victoria University of Wellington, and Senior Scientist, Industrial Research Limited. Professor MacKenzie is recognised for his excellence in the fundamental research of the chemistry of ceramics, minerals and inorganic materials. He is especially noted for his work using Mössbauer spectroscopy and solid state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance.

Robert Iain McLachlan, Professor in Mathematics, Massey University. An international leader in the mathematics of geometric integration, Professor McLachlan has pioneered work in the theories of composition and splitting methods, Lie-Poisson integrators, symplectic integration and in the numerical treatment of constrained Hamiltonian systems.

Alison Ruth Mercer, Associate Professor in Zoology, University of Otago. Professor Mercer has made far-reaching contributions to research on learning and memory. Using animals like insects that undergo metamorphosis, she has been able to study brain development and the role of biogenic amines in the functional development of the central nervous system.

Harjinder Singh, Professor of Dairy Science and Technology, Massey University. A world authority on the chemistry of milk proteins, Professor Singh has made major contributions to research on the heat stability of milk, the functionality of milk protein products and the coagulation of milk by acid and rennet. Robin Andrew James Smith, Professor in Chemistry, University of Otago. Professor Smith has achieved notable successes in multi-disciplinary work. One such collaboration, which led to clinical trials and commercialisation, involved synthesising biologically active molecules with the potential for treating diseases of mitochondrial malfunction, such as Freidrich's ataxia, Huntingdon's disease and Parkinson's disease.

Graham John Weir, Team Leader, Applied Mathematics, Industrial Research Limited. Dr Weir has applied mathematics to practical problems of considerable importance to New Zealand. He has made significant contributions to our understanding of mineral exploration, granular flows in industrial processes, underground storage of greenhouse gases, and lahar flows.


Three new Honorary Fellows were also elected. This honour is given to eminent New Zealand scientists living overseas, who maintain close New Zealand links.

Mark Warner, Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge. A leading physicist in the field of soft condensed matter, Professor Warner has developed definitive, prize-winning theories on liquid crystalline and other ordered, non-linear elastomers. His recent work on soft elasticity and mechanico-optical coupling in elastomers won him the Humboldt Research Prize.

Warwick F. Vincent, Professor of Limnology, Université Laval, Canada. An eminent aquatic scientist, Professor Vincent has made major contributions to New Zealand's lake and ocean ecosystems, and to research in the Ross Sea sector of Antarctica. His studies have ranged from nuisance algal blooms in lakes to the role of ultra-violet radiation and climate change on aquatic systems.

Jillian Frances Evans¸ Director, Merck/MRL, USA. Dr Evans, an authority on the biochemistry and pharmacology of prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and lipoxins, directs research on new drugs for asthma and colon cancer. Her major current focus is the identification of several new receptors as targets for drug development.


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