Tue 3 Dec 219: Wine and Tributes: early knowledge-bearers and sharers in the sciences and humanities in Hawke’s Bay

Professor Kay Morris Matthews, Research Professor, EIT

Tuesday 3 December, 6pm

Room R101, School of Viticulture and Wine Science, EIT,
501 Gloucester Street, Taradale

Cost: $10 a head for drinks and nibbles; pay at the door (cash please). To secure your place, please email: secretary@hawkesbay.rsnzbranch.org.nz

From 1874, large numbers of Pākehā settlers travelled to the Athenaeum in Napier to attend monthly lectures of the Hawke’s Bay Philosophical Institute (HBPI). They came to listen, learn, take part in discussions and meet up with others interested in a range of subjects. In the main, those presenting their ideas and research were local.

Through and alongside the HBPI meetings emerged an inter-generational network of researchers, friends and supporters, both women and men. Drawing upon a range of primary and secondary sources collected during thirty years of research, the focus here is the behind-the scenes mentoring and the relationships between an inter-connected group who sought out and then shared new forms of knowledge. This celebratory tribute for the end of year features William Colenso, Henry Hill, William Spencer, Bessie Spencer, James Large, Amy Large, Frank Hutchinson, Herbert Guthrie-Smith, Georgina Guthrie-Smith and Barbara Guthrie-Smith.

Professor Kay Morris Matthews was raised in Hawke’s Bay, and has held academic positions at the University of Waikato, the University of Auckland and at Victoria University of Wellington. Kay is now Research Professor, Education, Humanities and Health Science, at EIT.Kay’s published research on William Colenso and Henry Hill has provided insights into their educational and research realms. Her current research, the biography of Anna Elizabeth Jerome Spencer, has led to a greater appreciation of the contributions of others involved in the HBPI, which from 1947, became the Royal Society of New Zealand Hawke’s Bay Branch.

Tuesday 19 November 2019: What is Cold Fusion?

Holt Planetarium, Napier Boys High School,
Chambers Street, Napier

Tuesday 19 November 2019 at 6.00pm

Dr Michael McKubre, Former Director of Energy Research Centre SRI International

Admission by gold coin donation

In 1989 two respected scientists, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, stunned the world with the announcement of possible evidence for nuclear level energetic effects in a distinctly non-nuclear experiment; electrochemistry. The importance of this claim and its potential for science and mankind was as obvious as its improbability.  

Dr Michael McKubre and many others around the world began to test the idea experimentally.  Some succeeded in generating evidence in support of the claim of “cold fusion”; many others attempted but did not encounter the nuclear realm, and the effect was labelled “irreproducible”. With the benefit of 30 years hindsight, scores of person-years effort and tens of millions of dollars spent (in Michael’s lab alone), it is clear that nuclear effects can and do take place in solids and liquids.

Cold Fusion, now more properly termed Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (CMNS), remains exquisitely difficult to control and demonstrate, but holds out the tantalising prospect of a flexible and cheap source of nuclear energy.

In his talk, Michael will explain the principles of, evidence for, the objections to and the potential of CMNS.

After under- and post-graduate studies in Washington DC and Wellington, Michael McKubre completed a PhD in Electrochemistry before heading first to the UK for post doctoral research and then to California to work at SRI, an energy research institute. Michael now lives in Napier, is still active in this field, and is one of our branch members.

Tue 29 October 2019: Distance-Sourced Tsunamis (2019 Geoscience NZ Hochstetter lecture)

Tuesday 29 October 2019 at 7.30pm

Holt Planetarium, Napier Boys High School, Chambers Street, Napier

Dr Bill Fry, Research Seimologist, GNS Science

Any country that borders the ocean is prone to tsunami. New Zealand is no exception and is exposed to tsunami from distant (e.g. South America), regional (e.g. Kermadec) and local (e.g. Hikurangi and Puysegur) earthquake sources. It has recently been recognized that during great subduction earthquakes (magnitude > 8) to the north of New Zealand along the Kermadec trench, the densely populated coastal areas on the north coast of New Zealand may not experience shaking that is significant enough to trigger effective and widespread self-evacuation. Since 2001, the Kermadec trench has generated over a dozen subduction earthquakes with magnitude > 6.5 that have not been strongly felt in north-western New Zealand, the largest with magnitude 7.7. A tsunami-generating earthquake in this region could potentially leave 10s of thousands of people exposed. The lack of obvious natural warning signs coupled with short tsunami travel times (~ 45 to 90+ minutes) from these earthquakes poses a significant risk to these communities; a risk which must be addressed by supplementing natural warning with a cautious interpretation of available instrumental data. Lack of strong shaking from these earthquakes is a function of both the most basic characteristic of earthquake ground shaking (the asymmetric way seismic energy from the earthquake source spreads out and travels to New Zealand) and the loss of seismic energy as waves travel through the volcanic region between Taupo and Tonga. These effects combine to reduce the ability of natural warning based on ground shaking to keep communities safe, and are likely applicable to major earthquake scenarios in other regions of the world. This finding suggests that for optimal reduction of loss of life during large regional earthquakes, self-evacuation messaging must be carefully explained and supplemented with scientific monitoring and alerting mechanisms to protect vulnerable populations. 

Bill Fry is a research seismologist with GNS Science, a NZ Crown Research Institute, tasked with public good earth science, including monitoring and researching geohazards. He obtained his PhD in 2008 from ETH-Zurich in geophysics and has worked at GNS ever since, responding to earthquake and tsunami crises in NZ and liaising with government (central and regional) on numerous occasions through these responses. He has widely published on theoretical and applied topics in seismology and advises the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre on technical issues. His current passions lie in using physics to understand changes in the Earth on human time-scales — processes that dynamically affect humanity. 

Mon 14 Oct 2019: Beatrice Hill Tinsley 2019 Lecture tour

Monday 14 October 2019 at 6pm

EIT Taradale
Babak Tafreshi

The World at Night
Bridging science, art and culture by connecting the Earth & sky in photography. Babak Tafreshi spent the past two decades photographing surreal scenes of night sky in all continents, an adventurous journey to the world at night where the wonders of Earth & sky merge in photography.

This talks also presents The World at Night (TWAN) international program that involves many of the world’s best nightscape photographers documenting the last remaining starry skies on the planet to increase public awareness on values of natural night environment for all species. TWAN is also a bridge between art, humanity, and science, with a unique message. The eternally peaceful sky looks the same above symbols of all nations and regions, attesting to the unified nature of Earth and mankind. One People, One Sky!

TWAN produce and present photographs and time-lapse videos of the world’s landmarks against the celestial attractions. The familiar context of the images, which represent naked eye views, add a new tool to efforts to popularize astronomy alongside images and science results from large telescopes. The photos have been used by astronomy educators world-wide as they educate viewers on many fundamental aspects of practical astronomy such as the natural look of sky, constellations, celestial motions, and sky events. With the images taken at important cultural sites around the world, the connection between our many cultures and the night sky through history is emphasized, particularly in images that include ancient sites of astronomical importance. www.twanight.org

Babak A. Tafreshi is a photojournalist and science communicator. The National Geographic night sky photographer, merging art and science, he is also the founder and director of The World At Night program, a board member of Astronomers Without Borders organization, a contributing photographer to Sky&Telescope magazine and the European Southern Observatory. Born in 1978 in Tehran, Babak lives in Boston, but he is often on the move and could be anywhere, from the heart of Sahara to the Himalayas or Antarctica. He received the 2009 Lennart Nilsson Award, the world’s most recognized award at the time for scientific imaging, for his global contribution to night sky photography.

Mon 21 Oct 2019: Two topics from Plant and Food Research Measuring Sustainability and CRISPR Crops

Monday 21 October 2019 at 6pm

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 1

Dr Craig Anderson and Dr Revel Drummond


Admission by Gold coin donation

Craig Anderson will attempt to illustrate the ‘sustainability’ of current and future food production through the lens of ‘energy-returnon-investment’ (EROI).

He believes that EROI can more rationally frame the impact technological transformations could have and make some assumptions about the trajectory of our future with respect to our environment.

Revel Drummond will explain what CRISPR is, and is not, and how it could help protect NZ crops. As CRISPR modifies a plant’s DNA, it is currently caught by the blanket ban on genetic modification in this country. Revel discusses whether this is appropriate, and whether NZ risks missing out on this technological revolution.

Tue 10 Sept 2019: Havelock North Drinking Water Inquiry: the science

Tuesday 10 September 2019 at 6pm

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 1

Dr Brent Gilpin

Institute of Environmental Science and Research

In August 2016, the Havelock North water supply became contaminated with the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni. As a result, thousands became ill, and the deaths of four people were directly linked to the outbreak.

This is not only the largest campylobacteriosis outbreak in the world, but arguably it is also the most comprehensively studied. Unravelling the causes of the outbreak required the combined application of multiple scientific disciplines. This public lecture will describe the outbreak investigation, the causes of the outbreak, and how this outbreak is transforming the management of drinking water, not only in New Zealand, but worldwide.

Dr Brent Gilpin is Science Leader at the Institute of Environmental Science & Research. He is a molecular microbiologist whose primary research interests include the application of genetic analysis techniques to understanding foodborne and waterborne outbreaks and disease, microbial water quality, faecal source tracking, and zoonoses (diseases or infections that can be transmitted from animals to humans). Campylobacter from the Havelock North water supply were isolated in his laboratory from water samples taken on 12 August 2016. Since then the outbreak and its consequences has been a regular feature in his life.

Mon 12 Aug 2019: MacDiarmid Lecture on Innovations for Sustainability

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 1 at 6 pm

By Professor Shane Telfer and Dr Carla Meledandri
The theme of the lecture is along the lines of innovation for sustainability and New Zealand science’s role in offering a greener future for our planet, in areas such as:
* Zero carbon technologies, renewables, carbon capture and more – including solar cells, new types of batteries, negative emission technologies.
* Materials efficiency (replacing rare materials with earth-abundant elements e.g. in your smartphone)

Tue 23 July 2019: Cancer immunotherapy; where does New Zealand fit in?

Tuesday 23 July 2019 at 6pm

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 1

Joshua Lange, PhD Candidate, Malaghan Institute

“Gold coin plus” donations for the benefit of the Malaghan Institute

The human immune system is a complex network of cells and processes that is able to protect us against a wide array of diseases. When our immune system fails, our body can succumb to infections, auto-immune diseases and cancerous malignancies. Our work at the Malaghan Institute combines the use of world-class biotechnology and a community of scientists from all around the world to investigate the mechanisms that drive our immune system and how we can re-engineer it to overcome life-threatening diseases.

This lecture will be given by one of the Malaghan Institute’s PhD students, Hawke’s Bay born and bred Joshua Lange.

Joshua will give an overview on the fundamentals of immunotherapy and how
researchers are using it to re-empower a patient’s own immune system to fight off cancer.
He will also discuss the work surrounding a new major clinical trial at the Malaghan Institute
in close collaboration with the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine. This study is trialling
Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell therapy (CAR T cells) in New Zealanders with B cell
lymphoma, which will be the first time this technology is able to be used in New Zealand.

Joshua received his Bachelor of Science with Honours in 2015 from the University of Otago, working on infectious disease. Since 2016, he has been a PhD candidate at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research in Wellington as part of the Cancer Immunotherapy Programme. His research focuses on the development of novel vaccine constructs to drive immune responses to cancer. In close collaboration with the Ferrier Research Institute, these cancer vaccines have been shown to be able to modulate immune cells so that they better recognize and target cancer cells.

In 1966 a group of far-sighted New Zealanders set a course for world-class independent medical research to be carried out right here. In 2016, the Malaghan Institute celebrated 50 years of achievements in cancer, asthma, allergy, gut health and other research.

Tue 18 June 2019: Youth Sexual Health in 2019

Tuesday 18 June 2019 at 6pm

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 2

Assoc. Professor Sonja Ellis

Te Kura Toi Tangata, Division of Education, University of Waikato

Members of the public are welcome – gold coin donation please

The prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is an important public health measure for maintaining sexual health at a population level. In Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) sexual health surveillance data suggest that young people are at substantially higher risk of contracting STIs than in other western countries including the UK and Australia.  While the issues around engaging young people in good sexual health practices are not new; the contextual landscape (e.g. the acceptance of casual sexual engagement, increasing visibility of same-sex sexual relationships, and changing understandings of gender) is markedly different than in previous generations. Drawing on my expertise in LGBTIQ psychology, my recent study of sexual health practices in 16-19 year olds in NZ, and current international research, this talk explores some of the contemporary challenges of sexual health promotion and STI prevention among today’s youth. Implications for sexual health education/promotion will be discussed.

 Sonja J. Ellis is an Associate Professor in Human Development at The University of Waikato, and is known internationally for her work in the field of LGBTIQ psychology. She is co-author of the textbook Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer Psychology: An Introduction(Cambridge University Press, 2010) – the substantially revised and updated version of which is due out later this year. In 2013 she was awarded the Gender Identity Research & Education Society Research Award for her involvement in the UK Trans Mental Health Study 2012.

Having recently completed a Master of Public Health degree for which she undertook research around youth sexual health, Sonja is now working on a small-scale collaborative project with colleagues on suicide risk in trans and gender diverse persons in Australasia.

Tue 21 May 2019: The Urgent Transition to Minimise Climate Disruption – An Engineer’s take on the Science, Politics and Economic Solution

Tuesday 21 May 2019 at 6pm

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 1

Geoff Henderson
Founder and Managing Director, Windflow Technology

Admission by Gold coin donation

It is a truism to state that the sun powers the Earth’s biosphere, has done for billions of years, and will do for billions to come.  And that our civilisation has developed in the last 5,000 years, but now has an existential dilemma due to the way we harness the sun’s energy and have inadvertently been trapping too much of it.

Four paradigm shifts about energy have been slowly unfolding since the 1970s:

  • Fossil solar energy needs to transition to sustainable solar energy
  • Excess solar energy is being trapped by the products of burning fossil solar energy causing “global warming”
  • That warming is causing temperature rise (and in turn more energetic weather events), but also sea-level rise which may be more of a threat to civilisation
  • The abundance of solar energy means that the problem of (and hence solution to) global warming is more economic than technical.

This paper presents some simple numbers which underpin these shifts. However the process remains slow because of societal inertia.  A sustainable solar energy future will arrive, but the transition could be tempestuous and diluvian for human civilisation unless collective decisions manage to effect a rapid, peaceful transition.  The are some signs of hope that Generation X and the Millennials will act with more urgency than the Baby-Boomers have to date.

Geoff Henderson is the founding director and currently the Managing Director of Windflow Technology Ltd which, since 2001, has raised $150 million to build 106 mid-size (500 kW) New Zealand-made wind turbines in NZ and Scotland. He has been involved in wind power engineering since 1984, including seven years in California and England working at the forefront of wind power technology.