Uni staff made Royal Society fellows

Stephen Robertson
Stephen Robertson
Two University of Otago academics have been recognised for their achievements in the fields of mathematics and genetics, becoming centenary fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Cure Kids professor of paediatric genetics Stephen Robertson and mathematics professor David Bryant, also the director of computational modelling, appear on the list of 20 new fellows, announced on November 1. Prof Robertson has gained international recognition for his expertise in genetic mutations, specifically those affecting the skeleton and the brain.

While he was honoured to be elected into the academy, his recognition was the culmination of "a lot of hard work by staff and students in my group" in addition to support provided by the university and child health research funder Cure Kids, he said.

Prof Bryant, who has been based at Otago since 2010 and has also taught in Montreal and at the University of Auckland, said on Friday he was "a little bit" surprised to hear of his fellowship but it was "really cool". 

David Bryant
David Bryant
Mathematics and statistics was his field, but he worked closely with evolutionary biologists.

"A lot of the things I do [are] designing tools that biologists use."

He had collaborated with fellows of the Royal Society and said it was about making connections and forming a network, as well as recognition. Two Otago graduates, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health social epidemiologist Prof Ichiro Kawachi, and University of Oxford archaeological scientist Prof Thomas Higham, have also been made honorary fellows. Prof Kawachi said via email he was "incredibly thrilled and honoured" to be recognised. Before attending the Otago Medical School he went to Otago Boys’ High School, spending nine years in Dunedin in total.

"Even now I look back fondly to the hours I spent at the Governor’s Cafe opposite Knox Church where I spent hours talking with my friends about life and literature and movies," he said.

Prof Higham, who could not be reached for comment on Friday, is the deputy director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit and the son of Otago archaeologist Prof Charles Higham. His interests are in archaeological dating, including the radiocarbon dating of bone, and the chronology of palaeolithic Europe.


Add a Comment