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Professor honoured for science communication

Professor Steve Wratten, a Principal Investigator at the Bio-Protection Research Centre and Professor of Ecology at Lincoln University, has won the John Taylor Award for leadership in horticulture.

The award from the Canterbury Horticultural Society was given for his ability to communicate complex ideas to the non-scientific community. “In doing so, people have become empowered to make a difference at a local level, which in time becomes regional, national and international,” his citation reads.

“His research and dissemination of knowledge to horticulturists and gardeners has and will continue to enable people to follow his lead and improve our production systems.”

Professor Wratten, a Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, specialises in biological control of pests. He advocates using companion planting to provide SNAP (Shelter, Nectar, Alternative food, and Pollen) for the natural enemies of insect pests.

He used this method to develop the Greening Waipara programme, which uses native plants to control pests and increase biodiversity in North Canterbury vineyards.

Accepting the award, Professor Wratten said university researchers had to produce both outputs, such as scientific publications, and outcomes, which were about making a difference – in this case to gardeners and professional horticulturalists.

“I am honoured to have received this award and am excited to see that my attempts to ‘research the future’ have led to real changes, in New Zealand and elsewhere in the world.”

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