Zealandia: Earth’s 8th continent

The Geoscience Society of New Zealand’s 2015 Hochstetter Lecture

Dr Nick Mortimer, GNS Science, Dunedin

Thursday 15 October 2015 at 7.30 pm
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, corner Vautier and Dalton Streets, Napier

Entry: gold coin donation

WorldContinents are the largest solid objects on the Earth’s surface. In this illustrated talk Nick will summarise the scientific case that there are not seven but eight continents: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America and Zealandia. Although Zealandia is 4.9 million square kilometres in area, it has literally lain hidden because 94% of it is under the sea. In the talk Nick will also speak about how Zealandia became the world’s most submerged continent and why its continental identity is important to science and to society.

Nick MortiNick Mortimermer is a geologist at the Dunedin office of the Crown Research Institute GNS Science. He first graduated in geology in 1980 and was awarded a Ph.D in geology in 1984. In his 26 year career he has carried out land- and ship-based field work throughout the length and breadth of New Zealand and Zealandia and has gained expertise in many aspects of geology, including structural geology, tectonic evolution, geochemistry, geochronology, mineralogy, petrology.   He recently co-authored a Penguin book on Zealandia with his colleague Hamish Campbell. He is a senior editor for the NZ Journal of Geology and Geophysics.

Geoscience Society Each year the Geoscience Society of New Zealand chooses as its Hochstetter Lecturer a New Zealand earth scientist who has recently completed a major study, and who has a reputation as a good, informative speaker. Emphasis shall be on the dissemination of new concepts and/or of important information which modifies existing interpretations. The lecture is given at major centres around the country and should be of interest to both professional and amateur audiences.

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Illuminating new medicines

Dr Siouxsie Wiles

Thursday 12 November 2015 at 6.00pm
Century Theatre, MTG Hawke’s Bay, 9 Herschell Street, Napier

Eventbrite - Illuminating new medicines - NAPIER Ten by Ten

Bioluminescence or ‘living light’, allows glow worms to lure food, fireflies to find a mate and nocturnal squid to camouflage themselves from predators. In this Ten by Ten talk, Dr Siouxsie Wiles will explain how bioluminescence is helping scientists discover new medicines to kill the antibiotic-resistant superbugs that experts predict will bring about the end of modern medicine within the next decade.

These talks are free and open to the general public.  However, to ensure a seat, please register to obtain a ticket. Enquiries: 04 470 5781 or lectures@royalsociety.org.nz.

About Dr Siouxsie Wiles

Siouxsie WilesSiouxsie is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland where she combines her twin passions for glowing creatures and nasty microbes to better understand superbugs and find new medicines to kill them.

Siouxsie is passionate about demystifying science for the general public, and raising awareness of the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. She is a blogger (Infectious Thoughts) and podcaster, as well as being a regular science commentator for Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon programme. Siouxsie has also teamed up with Australian graphic artist Luke Harris, to make short animations describing nature’s amazing glowing creatures and the many uses of bioluminescence in science:
The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid
Meet the Lampyridae | Firefly
Meet the Lampyridae II – from Fireflies to Space Invaders
Dr Wiles was awarded the Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize and the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Callaghan Medal for science communication in 2013 and the 2012 science communication prize from the New Zealand Association of Scientists. She is on the Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and seeks to be a role model for increasing the participation of women and girls in science.

With grateful thanks to Te Pūnanha Matatini and the Photon Factory and Dan Walls Centre for Pure and Applied Optics at the University of Auckland for their support of this talk.


Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Sensing Technologies

Application of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology and remote sensing in conservation and ecological research, and commercial operations

Professor John Brooks

25 November 2015 at 6pm
Lecture Theatre 1, EIT, Gloucester Street, Taradale

John Brooks

Professor John Brooks, one of New Zealand’s top food microbiologists, lectured in food microbiology at Massey University and Auckland University of Technology for 36 years. In January 2014 he travelled to Antarctica with the Centre for UAV Research, part of the Institute for Applied Ecology at AUT. On this trip, John was Chief UAV Pilot, using two of AUT’s UAVs to provide proof of concept and to collect data on cyanobacterial mats in the Taylor Dry Valley.

In his talk, John will talk about UAV technology in general and then specifically about the Skycam UAV SwampFox, which he took to Antarctica.  He will bring the Fox and Ground Control Station (GCS) with him, show the operation of the aircraft and its systems, and run a simulation on the GCS to show the mission control functions.  There will be brief coverage of the photogrammetry software used to analyse the data.   He’ll explain the importance of cyanobacterial mats in the Dry Valleys, and show us pictures of the Taylor Dry Valley in Antarctica, and a video clip of a demonstration flight over the Spaulding Pond.

John will also outline the commercial application of UAVs, for example, to monitor the condition of forests throughout their life cycle, to assist the owners to plan harvesting.

John’s visit is jointly hosted by the Hawke’s Bay branches of the Royal Society of New Zealand and the New Zealand Institute of Food Science & Technology, of which he is a Fellow.


New food production paradigms: why farm systems are changing

Dr Charles Merfield

Director, Future Farming Centre, Biological Husbandry Unit Lincoln

7:00pm – 8:30 pm, Wednesday 26th August 2015 (Note earlier time)
Hawke’s Bay Holt Planetarium in Napier

13032009338 smModern farming systems are 70 years old. They have been very successful at meeting their key aim; maximising food production. However, society is asking farmers to take on new aims including providing ecosystem services to protect and enhance the environment.

Four key technologies created modern farming: fossil fuels, synthetic nitrogen fertilisers, soluble lithospheric fertilisers and agrichemical pesticides. There are increasing issues with each of these both from the input (e.g. cost, resistance) and outcome (e.g. pollution) sides.

Sustainable agriculture is smart agriculture that uses all available tools to find long lasting alternatives. A key to developing and analysing farm systems is overlapping the sciences of physics, chemistry, biology and ecology. Sustainable farming can be viewed as a martial art, probing and testing the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses then using smarts, not brute force, to win the contest.

Viewing farming through the eye of Darwin’s Law of Evolution will allow more sustainable and durable solutions to be developed.

Charles MerfieldDr Charles Merfield is the founding head of the BHU Future Farming Centre which focuses on ‘old school’ agri/horticultural science and extension.

Charles studied commercial horticulture in the UK and then spent seven years managing organic vegetable farms in the UK and NZ.

In the mid 1990s he moved into research, focusing on sustainable agriculture including soil management, pest, disease and weed management general crop and pasture production.

He has been fortunate to work and experience agriculture in diverse range of countries including NZ, UK, Ireland, USA and Uruguay. He therefore has a broad knowledge of real-world farming as well as science as well a deep understanding of the history of agriculture and science, which enables him to paint the big-picture of where modern farming has come from and where it is going.