Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Ethicist and chemist retires after 42 years

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ethicist and chemist retires after 42 years

Internationally recognised scientist and ethics specialist Professor Sylvia Rumball is retiring after 42 years at the University. She is believed to be the longest-serving staff member in Massey's 82-year history.

Professor Rumball, a chemist, held multiple roles at the University, the most recent as the Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor responsible for Research Ethics.

She has a BSc in chemistry and botany and an MSc (First-Class Honours) in chemistry, both from the University of Canterbury, and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Auckland, where her supervisor was Sir Neil Waters, who became Massey vice-chancellor from 1983-95. She worked as a junior lecturer at Auckland from 1963-66 while completing her PhD then took up a postdoctoral fellowship at Oxford University working under the Nobel Laureate Professor Dorothy Hodgkin in the field of protein crystallography.

She joined Massey University in 1967 as a chemistry lecturer, did a second postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University in the field of theoretical protein conformation in 1970 and 1971 and returned to Massey the following year. She was promoted to senior lecturer in 1975, associate professor in 1989, and was executive dean of science from 1995-97.

She has won numerous awards, scholarships and grants for her work, has been a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's International Bioethics Committee and the Health Research Council's Ethics Committee, chaired the National Ethics Committee on Assisted Human Reproduction and was last year made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to science. Currently she is Chair of the Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology and is a member of the International Council for Science’s Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the conduct of Science

At a farewell function earlier this month Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey said Professor Rumball broke the glass ceiling and paved the way for many of the University's most high-achieving women. "People associate outstanding behaviour and outstanding achievement with you," he said.

Pro Chancellor Stephen Kos paid tribute to Professor Rumball for her four years on the University Council from 2005-08, saying she had a "talent for asking awkward questions" and her arguments were invariably compelling enough to convince other members of the council to change their minds.

Professor Vince Neall recalled Professor Rumball's contribution to the successful establishment of the Manawatu Science Centre, saying without her enthusiasm he doubted it would exist. . She chaired the Science Centre Working Party from 1987-89 and was on the trust board from 1993-98.

Professor Graeme Fraser said thorough analysis, careful articulation and accurate formulation have been the hallmarks of her career and her wide-ranging contribution to Massey.

Professor John O'Neill, who replaces Professor Rumball as the University's research ethics director, said she had made a unique, significant and enduring contribution to universal bioethics in the area of human genetic data.

"Sylvia will be remembered for her sense of humanity: as both colleague, and mentor. She is widely recognised and appreciated for her wisdom and for her warmth."

Although Professor Rumball's official retirement date was last month, she will be completing some additional duties over the coming weeks at the Manawatu campus.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


SEA: Another First For Solar Energy In New Zealand

The Sustainable Energy Association NZ (SEANZ) congratulates Sunergise on the commissioning of the Sunergise Kapuni Solar Power Plant, the largest in the country... More>>

Accenture: More Boomers Than Zoomers Want To Work From Home

While often associated with tech savvy Gen Z or Zoomers, new global research from Accenture shows that the push for more flexible working environments is being led by Gen Xers and Baby Boomers... More>>

Maritime Union: Deepening Supply Chain Crisis Requires Action

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says the global COVID-19 pandemic exposed pre-existing weaknesses in our logistics sector, and created enormous problems... More>>

Banking: Westpac New Zealand To Remain Part Of Westpac Group

Westpac New Zealand Limited (WNZL) remains part of Westpac Group following a decision for the two businesses not to demerge. Westpac Group Chief Executive Officer, Peter King, said: “After a detailed review, we believe a demerger of the WNZL business would not be in the best interests of shareholders... More>>

Mercury: Enters Into Binding Agreements To Acquire Trustpower’s Retail Business

Mercury NZ Limited (Mercury) has announced that it has entered into binding agreements with Trustpower Limited (Trustpower, NZX:TPW) to acquire Trustpower’s retail business for NZ$441 million... More>>


ASB: New Zealanders Missing Out On Hundreds Of Millions In KiwiSaver Government Contributions

New Zealanders have just over a week to ensure they’re eligible for the maximum annual government KiwiSaver contribution... More>>