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Prestigious Distinguished Professor Title Awarded To Caroline Saunders

Lincoln University Professor of International Trade and the Environment, and Director of the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU), Professor Caroline Saunders, has been awarded the University’s most prestigious title of Distinguished Professor.

The honour has been conferred on Professor Saunders in recognition of her international influence, reputation and achievement in her field of trade and environmental economics.

Reserved for only four academics at any given time at Lincoln University, the Distinguished Professorship was formally awarded to Professor Saunders at a meeting of the University’s Professorial Forum on Tuesday 19 November.

In conferring the prestigious title on Professor Saunders, Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Bruce McKenzie said she had brought great mana to her own work and that of the University during her long and illustrious career.

“Professor Saunders’ impact on Lincoln University and the academic aspirations of generations of students is immense, as is the genuinely groundbreaking research intelligence she has contributed to our understanding of commercial market forces, international trade, consumer behaviour, wellbeing economics and much, much more.

“She is also renowned for cultivating a vibrant and collegial workplace culture in the AERU, where her team of super-achieving senior and emerging researchers work collaboratively to continually discover new, actionable knowledge in this dynamic and interconnected world,” said Professor McKenzie.

The many awards and honours bestowed on Professor Saunders during her career include Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (New Year’s Honours List 2009), NZIER Economist of the Year (2007), and she was named one of the 150 women scientists over the last 150 years by the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2017. In 2019, the Agricultural Economics Society in the UK appointed Professor Saunders as its President.

She has produced over 300 academic publications, research reports and conference presentations during more than 30 years as a practising researcher.

Her work has included research for a wide range of private and public bodies in New Zealand and globally, including the EU Commission, DEFRA, FAO, OECD, MPI, MFAT, Treasury, MFE, MBIE and Fonterra. She is an appointed member of the Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee.

Professor Caroline Saunders began her academic career at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1985, joining Lincoln University as Senior Lecturer in Economics in 1996, and appointed to the Directorship of Lincoln’s AERU in 2002.

In her role as Director of the AERU, Professor Saunders heads a team of researchers and postgraduate students dedicated to delivering new knowledge that promotes sustainable wellbeing.

Current research being undertaken by the team features an assessment of international markets and their policies, and their impact on development. This work includes modelling research using the Lincoln Trade and Environment Model (LTEM) which was developed by AERU. This research has been widely used by government departments and international agencies, as well as private companies and other organisations.

Professor Saunders achieved prominence for her work on the Food Miles Debate, which has been used extensively by public and private enterprises selling New Zealand products into overseas markets to advocate for the global New Zealand brand proposition. Her current research focuses on capturing greater value for New Zealand’s food and beverage exports, as part of a wider research programme on wellbeing economics.

Visit for more information on the industry-leading research work of Distinguished Professor and the AERU team.

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