AbacusBio managing director Neville Jopson has been
recognised for his ''outstanding contribution'' to animal
production in New Zealand.
Dr Jopson was awarded the McMeekan Memorial Award at the New
Zealand Society of Animal Production's conference in Hamilton
The award, presented annually, recognises an outstanding
contribution to New Zealand animal production or the society
in the past five years.
In nominating Dr Jopson, Dr Geoff Nicoll, from Focus
Genetics, and Dr Peter Amer, from AbacusBio, said Dr Jopson's
leadership lay behind many of the developments and
technological applications contributing to enhanced livestock
performance and productivity, and incremental improvements in
agricultural product value.
Brought up in East Otago, Dr Jopson gained an honours degree
in agricultural science from Lincoln College (now Lincoln
University) in 1987.
After gaining his PhD from the University of New England in
Armidale, New South Wales, he moved to Norway to take up a
postdoctoral fellowship at the Norwegian Agricultural
University, where he was involved in using CT scanning to
measure changes in body tissue in dairy goats.
He returned to Invermay Research Centre in 1994 on a New
Zealand science and technology postdoctoral fellowship and,
in 1996, was formally appointed a scientist at AgResearch.
He was closely involved in the implementation of CT scanning
in sheep and was involved with the investigation of the
inheritance and effects of the Carwell gene, which was
publicly released as LoinMAX.
Other projects included investigating the implementation of
DXA scanning for yield measurement in meat plants, as well as
developing a case for a sheep progeny testing programme to
improve genetic linkages among industry sheep breeders.
That programme was now the Beef and Lamb New Zealand central
In 2001, Dr Jopson became consulting scientist in a newly
established research and applied science company known then
as Abacus Biotech Ltd.
His role increased with his additional appointment as a
director and shareholder of AbacusBio Ltd in 2006 and
subsequent promotion to managing director in 2010.
Dr Nicoll and Dr Amer said it was a key leadership role in a
company that developed from a small niche consultancy
business to one that employed more than 30 consultants and
A central focus of the company was on using science to create
value through practical business solutions.
A second major contribution to New Zealand animal production
was the leadership he provided in the management of the
central progeny test, they said.
His influence in that role was illustrated by the evidence
that the rate of genetic progress in the profitability index
in recorded sheep-breeding flocks had increased by 50% since
the introduction of the industry progeny test structure.
When contacted, Dr Jopson said highlights in his career
included CT scanning implemented in sheep, his involvement in
the central progeny test and being part of building AbacusBio
Ltd from four people to more than 30.
He enjoyed being able to use science and technology to
improve people's businesses.
Dr Jopson believed the future of New Zealand's agricultural
industry was bright.
That was reinforced when he travelled to Latin America, as
part of a trade delegation with Prime Minister John Key and
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, earlier this year.
New Zealand was ''looked up to'' when it came to agricultural
pastoral production, he said.