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Region shines a light on our world class scientists

Region shines a light on our world class scientists


Hamilton and Waikato’s science and innovation sector celebrated the region’s top scientists and their achievements at the 12th annual Kudos Awards last night in Hamilton.


The prestigious awards bring together the region’s science powerhouses in a showcase of science and innovation which has become a ‘not to be missed’ event on the calendar of our lucrative science industry. Scientists, engineers, innovators and educators were united under one roof to applaud winners in eight science categories for their research, achievement and no. 8 wired ingenuity.


The highly coveted University of Waikato Lifetime Achievement Award went to Dr Philip Elmer, a highly respected and passionate Waikato-based scientist who leads a plant research team with more patents and biological product success than any other in NZ. “I am deeply honoured to receive the University of Waikato Lifetime Achievement Award”, says Dr Elmer.


Earlier in the evening his team, Ruakura Plant Pathology team, won the Agricultural Science Award for their bio-control work on the kiwifruit disease, Psa. The team also came to the rescue when botrytis rot threatened our wine exports. They are the only team in the world to successfully commercialise three new bio-fungicides to naturally control grape bunch rot year-round.


Global expert and analytical chemist, Dr Brendon Gill was awarded the Hamilton City Council Emerging Scientist Award for his work supporting the quality of infant nutritional formulas. His work has been critical to success in a number of highly regulated markets and two of Dr Gill’s methods are now international benchmarks for this type of chemical analysis.



University of Waikato’s Dr James Carson’s findings on the behaviour of heat are the biggest research breakthroughs in this field since 1866, winning him the Simcro Engineering Science Award. Dr Carson is also the named inventor on two US patents related to spray freeze drying for dehydrating heat-sensitive foods.

Dr Michael Kaplan was winner of the Waikato DHB Medical Science Award. His trailblazing research in the 1970s challenged prevailing belief by suggesting that adults can grow new nerve cells. His theory took time to gain acceptance but is now one of the fundamental principles underlying rehabilitation programmes for those who have experienced a stroke or similar neurological trauma.

Invertebrate investigator Dr Corinne Watts from Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, won the Waikato Regional Council Environmental Science Award. Her research into the impact of predators, biocontrol agents and habitat change on our native invertebrates has informed successful relocation of wētā to sanctuaries (such as Zealandia and Maungatautari Ecological Island) and restoration strategies for major infrastructure projects.

Hill Laboratories Laboratory Technician Award winner, Kathleen Dabell’s precise work as Technical Coordinator of the University of Waikato’s Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, helped develop the internationally recognised Southern Hemisphere calibration curve, which converts radiocarbon measurements into real time. She also helped develop a cutting edge laser device, which has been vital to research into 3,000 years of change in Pacific sea levels.

Andrea Soanes of the University of Waikato won the Wintec Secondary Science Teacher/Educator award. As Project Manager for the Science Learning Hub, she has positioned the Hub as the ‘go to’ place for quality science education resources. She has been instrumental in reinstatement of the Trees for Survival Programme, introduction of the Aqua Republica Eco Challenge, development of the digital natural world exploration platform Wild Eyes and facilitation of Enviroschools events in the region.

“These evenings are unique as the only regional science awards in New Zealand. The Kudos awards demonstrate the contribution made by our Waikato scientists. They have pioneered many tools, made ground breaking discoveries, led major research projects leading to commercialisation and support our region's economic contribution - not only to New Zealand but internationally. Says Prof. Ross Lawrenson, Chair of the Kudos Science Trust.

With the support from partners and sponsors, prize money is awarded to help our local scientists further research, attend international conferences and buy new equipment. The Trust also supports further recognition through national and international awards.

The Kudos Awards are run by the Kudos Science Trust, an independant advocate for science and innovation in the region. The Trust recognises the importance of supporting this sector, not only through shining a light on their work, but also the value of investing in our schools and education system through collaborative projects to support the science industry into the future.


The 2018 Kudos Award winners:

Dr Philip Elmer, University of Waikato Lifetime Achievement Award

Andrea Soanes, Wintec Secondary Science Teacher/Educator Award

Kathleen Dabell, Hill Laboratories Laboratory Technician Award

Dr Brendon Gill, Hamilton City Council Emerging Scientist Award

Dr James Carson, Simcro Engineering Science Award

Ruakura Plant Pathology Team, Kudos Science Trust Agricultural Science Award

Dr Corinne Watts, Waikato Regional Council Environmental Science Award

Michael Kaplan MD, PhD, Waikato DHB Medical Science Award

For more information on the Kudos Awards go to www.thekudos.org.nz

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