Frog specialist humbled by lifetime achievement award

University of Otago zoologist Prof Phil Bishop with his award, and a poster showing an endangered...
University of Otago zoologist Prof Phil Bishop with his award, and a poster showing an endangered New Zealand Archey’s frog. Photo: Linda Robertson
Respected frog specialist Prof Phil Bishop has won the top lifetime achievement award at the Otago Daily Times Regional Science Awards.

Prof Bishop, of the University of Otago zoology department, who has dedicated more than 30 years at the forefront of amphibian conservation, won the top University of Otago Lifetime Achievement Award last night.

The award recognised "dedication and achievement" in sciences and was among seven regional awards announced at the launch of the New Zealand International Science Festival, at the university’s St David Lecture Theatre Complex.

The awards are a joint initiative by the ODT and festival.

A childhood fascination with frogs inspired Prof Bishop to a career in which he has led international efforts to save the world’s amphibian population, as co-chairman of the global International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, and chief scientist for the IUCN Amphibian Survival Alliance.

Prof Bishop, who is the Otago ecology degree programme director, and a passionate teacher, said he was "humbled and honoured" by the award.

"It’s great recognition of a long-term passion for amphibians," he said.

Henrik Moller, of the Flip the Fleet project, gained the Otago Polytechnic Sustainability award, recognising sustainable practices.

Dr Damian Scarf, of the psychology department, gained the Otago Museum Science Communicator award for excellence in communicating  science to a "non-science crowd".

Kelvin Lloyd, of Wildlands Consultants, received the Vodafone Business award for an  individual in business who is leading science and innovation.

Liam Hewson, of King’s High School, gained the Mitre10 Mega Future Scientist award, for a senior pupil who has undertaken an outstanding science, technology, or mathematics-related project.

Kaitlyn Martin, of the Otago Centre for Science Communication, gained the ADInstruments Emerging Scientist, tertiary student award, for an emerging tertiary sector scientist.

Otago Girls’ High School teacher Ian Phillips gained the Science into Action Science Teacher Award for a school teacher of science, mathematics and technology.

The awards were presented by Grant McKenzie, chief executive of Allied Press, which publishes the ODT.

ODT commercial manager Matthew Holdridge said the ODT had long been "an avid sponsor and supporter" of the festival, was "delighted" to be a major sponsor of the regional awards and was "amazed at the capability"of the latest winners.

Festival director Dan Hendra said the awards recognised Otago’s unsung science heroes and the festival celebrated "science from the everyday to the extraordinary".

The 11th and largest of the biennial science festivals held in Dunedin offers more than 230 events and runs until July 15.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz 

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