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Overseas Travel Prize for FiRST Awards Winner

Media Statement February 11 2003

Overseas Travel Prize for FiRST Awards Winner

The overall winner of this year's FiRST Scholarship Awards will be heading off to the United States later in the year to meet with that country's top science communicators and will be spending time with leading American radio and television networks such as the Voice of America and CNN.

Announcing this today, the Chief Executive of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, Gowan Pickering says this excellent travel prize has been made possible because of a sponsorship deal with Zespri International and with special assistance from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Zespri International is the exclusive export marketer of New Zealand kiwifruit and is the largest marketer of kiwifruit in the world. The AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society with 134,000 members and 272 affiliated organisations representing more than 10 million members worldwide. It also publishes the journal 'Science'.

The annual FiRST Scholarship Awards are organised by the Foundation to showcase the outstanding work being done by New Zealand's up-and-coming scientists and researchers, and to increase the awareness of how important science and technology are to New Zealand. The Awards are also designed to improve science communication. Fellows and scholars currently funded to do research by the Foundation can enter the FiRST Awards. Projects are presented on eye-catching and information-packed posters, which clearly explain the research to a lay audience.

The new travel prize is worth $5,000 and this, plus the fact that the winner will have the unique opportunity to meet with America's top science writers, make this an extremely attractive prize says Gowan Pickering.

"The Foundation is delighted that Zespri International have sponsored the travel grant and that the AAAS have generously come to the party to include our winner in their programme and to make special arrangements to host the winner in Washington DC. This prize takes the FiRST Awards up to a new level and gives it an international flavour which befits their status," says Gowan Pickering.

The head of the Directorate of Education and Human Resources at the AAAS which runs the Mass Media Fellows Program, Shirley Malcolm, says her organisation is really excited about the interest shown in this program from New Zealand. "It is clear that they (our New Zealand colleagues) share our commitment to increasing public engagement in science and technology," she says.

Entries for the awards are now being called for and the overall, nationwide winner will be announced at a function in Auckland in June.


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