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Science Festival awards Life Membership to Prof Jean Fleming

Science Festival awards Life Membership to Professor Jean Fleming

Prof Jean Fleming was awarded a life membership of the New Zealand International Science Festival at the festival’s annual general meeting held in Dunedin on Thursday 26 January 2012.

Prof Fleming was nominated for the award in recognition of her outstanding services to the New Zealand International Science Festival since its inception as an incorporated society in 1997.

She follows in the footsteps of Dame Elizabeth Hanan who was awarded the festival’s first life membership in 2010. Jean Fleming is a professor of science communication at the University of Otago’s new Centre for Science Communication, where she currently supervises twelve Popularising Science MSciComm students.

Science Festival president Mike Harte said that Prof Fleming’s drive and determination to see the festival succeed were key factors in the society’s award to her of its second life membership:

“Jean was the first programme committee chair when the biennial festival concept was launched by a committed team in 1998. Jean has remained on the festival’s executive committee ever since and we are now well under way in planning our eighth festival. Jean’s energy, her constant stream of fresh ideas for speakers, outstanding international contacts and her own reputation as a scientist and science communicator has made a huge contribution to the success of the New Zealand International Science Festival.”

Prof Fleming says she is thrilled to receive this award - the festival has always been her first love and she attributes the festival to helping her learn to be a science communicator.

“I realised that with a bit of passion and enthusiasm, it is possible to get the average person involved in science from a hands on perspective, to get them out there and doing it for themselves,” she said.

In addition to this recognition by the festival, Prof Fleming holds a number of prestigious awards and honours. Her commitment to taking science to the community led to the award of a Suffrage Medal in 1993, a silver Science and Technology Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1998 and an ONZM for services to science in 2002.

Prof Fleming convened the first New Zealand conference for women in science in 1993 and helped to develop a mentoring programme for non-academic staff at Otago University which has now been extended to academic staff. In 2000 she was appointed as a commissioner to the New Zealand Royal Commission on Genetic Modification. In 2011, Jean was elected as a Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

This year the New Zealand International Science Festival will take place from 30 June to 8 July. The festival will be held over nine days and will take a different approach from previous years, with numerous hands-on events based around the theme ‘what makes us tick?’

Keynote speakers and events yet to be announced.


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