Richie Poulton. Photo by Jane Dawber.
A Dunedin professor has been named as one of an 11-person
panel tasked with identifying the biggest science challenges
facing New Zealand.
Prof Richie Poulton, director of the Dunedin
Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit, at
the University of Otago was yesterday named as part of the
government-appointed panel, which includes top researchers
and some budding young scientists, and is chaired by the
Prime Minister's chief science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman.
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said science was
essential to addressing some of the key issues facing the
nation, ''... whether it be challenges like improving water
quality while at the same time lifting our farm productivity,
or the state of our health''.
''This panel will identify the top science challenges New
Zealand needs to solve over the next five to 10 years.''
The Government has set aside $60 million funding from the
2012 budget for new investment into the national science
''Over the last few months, we have had excellent input from
both the public and the science sector, with hundreds of
submissions, ideas and proposals on what these key challenges
should be. The panel will take this information and recommend
between six and 10 final challenges to Cabinet for
The final challenges would help the Government focus its
overall science funding investment, and help foster links
across the research community in New Zealand to maximise the
impact of work already under way in the challenge areas.
The panel contained a mix of experienced and up-and-coming
young scientists from a wide range of fields. The other
members appointed to the panel are: Prof William Denny,
leader of the Medicinal Chemistry Group at the Auckland
Cancer Society Research Centre; Dr Ian Ferguson, departmental
science adviser for the Ministry for Primary Industries/chief
scientist at Plant and Food Research;
Prof Peter Hunter, professor of engineering science and
director of the Bioengineering Institute at the University of
Auckland and director of computational physiology at Oxford
University; Prof Mary O'Kane, New South Wales chief scientist
and engineer; Prof Jacqueline Rowarth, professor of
agribusiness at the University of Waikato; Charles Royal,
member of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
(MBIE) science board and former director of graduate studies
and research at Te Wananga o-Raukawa; Prof David Penmanm
consultant, previously assistant pro vice-chancellor research
at Lincoln University; Elf Eldridge, PhD student at the
MacDiarmid Institute; and Rachael Wiltshire, last year's dux
of Samuel Marsden Collegiate, Wellington, and a 2012 Royal
Society of New Zealand science prizewinner.
The panel would meet later this month to consider the
challenge proposals and make recommendations. The Cabinet is
expected to decide on the final challenges in April.
MBIE would then work with the science sector from May to
August to develop detailed themes and projects and decide how
selected challenges would be led.
Part of this would involve building a map of current research
to cluster around the chosen challenges and identify gaps and
opportunities in existing research.
A statement of science investment priorities would also be
developed this year to determine the total balance of
resources to be allocated to the challenges and other science