Author Archives: Antony Steiner

Manufacturing and Bioproducts

Wednesday 11 October at 6.00pm

Napier Aquarium

Elspeth McRae

General Manager Manufacturing & Bloproducts, Scion

Forestry is a key sector of the New Zealand economy, and its third largest export earner.

Sustainable exploitation of this rich natural resource is a challenge.

In this lecture, Elspeth will explain the work being carried out by the Crown Research Institute Scion, and in particular her area of manufacturing and bioproducts.

Elspeth McRae has a PhD from Otago University in Botany and Plant Physiology. She has worked for 25 years in New Zealand’s biotechnology sector, at Hort Research, Plant & Food and now Scion.

Scion is a Crown Research Institute that specialises in research, science and technology development for the forestry, wood and wood-derived materials and other biomaterial sectors.

• Sustainable forest management and tree improvement .

• Forestry biosecurity, risk management and mitigation.

• Wood processing, wood-related bioenergy, waste streams and other biomaterials.

• Forestry and forestry-based ecosystem services to inform land-use decision making.

Tectonics and genetics in topographic evolution

14 September at 7.30pm

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, corner of Dalton and Vautier Streets, Napier


Dave Craw

Professor, Geology Department, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

2017 Hochstetter Lecture

The landscape of New Zealand is spectacular in its expression of the active tectonic processes that occur along the Pacific-Australian plate boundary. However, it is difficult to determine the geological history of development of the onshore topography because previous configurations in the evolution of that topography have been eroded.

Some of the native fauna carry a biological memory of the topographic environments in which they evolved, in their genetic makeup (DNA). Native freshwater fish are the most useful for this type of study. In particular, the genus Galaxias has numerous freshwater-limited species and populations that have been isolated by changes in the river drainage pattern.

The South Island vividly displays the resultant biological diversity and co-evolution of topography and fish. The genetic variations of the fish can be used to document the nature and timing of river capture events and mountain range growth, especially since the Plio-Pleistocene but with some extensions into the Miocene. Hence, these biological tools provide some new insights into the development of the onshore landscape since the submergence or near- submergence of the NZ landmass in the Oligocene. The biological memory approach to understanding topographic evolution could be extended to all endemic NZ fauna and flora for which suitable distribution and genetic data are available.

Dave Craw is Professor of Economic Geology at the University of Otago where he has been on staff for 35 years. His main research interests are gold: exploration, mining and associated environmental issues, both placer and hard-rock. His particular interests in tectonic evolution of mountains and the gold within them led him to work on the biological effects of the rise of mountain ranges, the topic of the Hochstetter lecture.

Nanoscientists visit Hawke’s Bay

In August 2017, the Branch hosted a lecture by three nanoscientists from the MacDiarmid Institute, two of whom were available to visit a school in the afternoon before their lecture. Dr Catherine Whitby, a Senior Lecturer in  Chemistry at  Massey University, spoke to Year 11 and 13 students at Karamu High. Dr Gemma Cotton, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Otago, spoke to Year 9 and 10 students at Napier Girls High. They outlined what inspired them to be a scientist, what influenced their journey through university, how they chose their area of expertise, the research they are currently doing and its potential benefits. One of the teachers commented: “I think one of the greatest benefits to students is it brings real science to life for them.” Several teachers and students also attended the evening lecture at the National Aquarium, where the audience exceeded 60.

 

Pest-free pipfruit

The past, present and future of integrated pest management in New Zealand fruit crops (July 2017)

Dr Jim Walker, Scientist in the Pipfruit & Winegrape Entomology team at Plant & Food Research delivered an excellent lecture at the Havelock North Function Centre to mark 150 years of the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

Pests and subsequently, the use of pesticide to deal with pests, has long been a problem for the New Zealand Pip Fruit industry, especially when it sought to gain access into new, high-value export markets. However, since the mid 1990s, the work carried out by Dr Jim Walker and his team has contributed to more than a 90 per cent reduction in insecticide use (kg/ha) by local apple growers. This includes the introduction of new natural enemies through to the development of selective pest management and use of semio-chemicals (pheromones) to support greater use of biological control in apple orchards. The development and implementation of these innovative pest control tactics are now central to today’s pest management systems.

Dr Jim Walker, entomologist and Principal Scientist with Plant and Food Research, talks about this research as well as the future sustainability and biosecurity threats facing the apple industry.

About the speaker:

Plant & Food Research scientist Dr Jim Walker leads a team of researchers focused on developing innovative tools and techniques for managing pests affecting the New Zealand horticultural industry.

During his 30 year career, he has been involved in the development and introduction of the Integrated Fruit Production (IFP) programme in the New Zealand pipfruit sector. The IFP programme has resulted in the sector adopting pest monitoring, pest prediction models and alternative control methods, enabling apple growers to substantially reduce their use of pesticides.

More recently Dr Walker has been involved with development of the sector’s ‘Apple Futures’ programme, focused on meeting the demand from consumers for high quality, residue-free fruit. He has also provided crucial guidance for the application of IFP to other sectors including wine grapes, summerfruit, citrus and onions.

Hear a Radio Kidnappers interview with Jim Walker here.

Mental Travels in Space and Time

6.00pm Thursday 15 June 2017
Ballroom, Napier Conference Centre, Marine Parade

2017 Rutherford Lecture presented by Professor Michael Corballis
Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Auckland

We have a remarkable capacity to mentally relive past events, imagine future ones, and even invent fictitious ones. This mental escape from the present allows us to plan our futures, deliberate on the past, and find inspiration in imagined scenarios. We can also transport ourselves into the minds of others, enhancing empathy and social understanding. Sometimes, our minds elude conscious control and wander in unpredictable ways, providing a potential source of creativity. Professor Michael Corballis will discuss the neuroscience and evolution of our mental excursions, and their implications for innovation, storytelling, and even language itself.

Professor Corballis was awarded the Rutherford Medal in 2016 for foundational research on the nature and evolution of the human mind, including cerebral asymmetries, handedness, mental imagery, language, and mental time travel.

Michael’s latest book is “The Truth about Language: What it is and Where it came from”.

FREE PUBLIC EVENT – Guarantee your seat by registering here

 

Branch AGM 2017

Held Thursday 1 June at Holt Planetarium, Napier

The 142nd Annual General Meeting of the Branch was well attended and members afterwards  enjoyed a wonderful presentation of the night sky by Gary Sparks in the Planetarium itself.

Lynne Trafford’s President’s Report was delivered and unanimously approved. Lynne thanked the year’s speakers, financial supporters, venue providers and council members and highlighted the Branch’s contribution to science promotion through the EIT Hawke’s Bay Regional Science and Technology Fair, Curious Minds Science Camp, school visits by speakers and HB Scientists on Air. She also noted the growth in membership over the past year and encouraged the recruitment of new members as well as continued support by current members.

Jenny Dee reported on the 2017 Curious Minds Science Camp. 161 students attended the three workshops run by GNS Science/East Coast Labs, Plant and Food Research and Murray Gosling (supported by Opus). Feedback has been very positive.  Jenny acknowledged the speakers who gave talks at local schools.  Professor Chris Battershill visited Napier Boys High School, Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger went to three schools and Professor Peter Dearden spoke at Taradale Intermediate School.

The Financial Report which had been circulated prior to the meeting was presented and unanimously approved. The meeting resolved to keep Annual Subscriptions at their current level. This is a very affordable amount and potential members are reminded to consider joining to receive direct newsletters and to show their support of Branch and Society activities.

Election of Council and Officers

The following were elected or re-elected:

  • President – Lynne Trafford
  • Immediate past-President –  Dan Bloomer
  • Vice President – Antony Steiner
  • Treasurer – Jennifer Hartley
  • Secretary  – Kathleen Kozyniak
  • Re-election to Council having completed a two year term – Jenny Dee, Michael Broadbent, Antony Steiner
  • Council members continuing having completed only one year of a two year term – Jeff Reid, Stephen Swabey, John Warren, Jeff Cooke and Kathleen Kozyniak.

Special Item – Honorary Life Member

Michael Broadbent was elected an Honorary Life Member of the Branch as recommended by the Council.  Lynne described Michael’s service to the Branch over the years.  The motion was seconded by Jeff Reid and approved with widespread applause.

Why are Bees so Awesome?

Tuesday 23 May 2017 at 6.00pm
Lecture Theatre 2, EIT, Gloucester Street, Taradale
Admission by gold coin donationProfessor Peter Dearden
Director of Genetics, Biochemistry Department, University of Otago

Honeybees are a vital part of our agricultural production, but also a remarkable example of the product of evolution. Bees have their own social system, symbolic language, produce different castes and build extravagant structures. Bees are also under threat from insecticides, pests and diseases.

In this talk Peter will discuss both his fundamental research into how the honeybee social system evolved, but also what we need to do to save the honeybees of the world.  He might even tell how honeybees might save us!

In 2014, Peter was the recipient of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Callaghan medal for science communication.

Our thanks to the University of Otago for their support.

Science Technology Camp 15-18 May 2017

Year 7 & 8 Science and Technology Camp, 15 to 18 May 2017, Hawke’s Bay

The Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand has, once again, received funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund, to run a Science and Technology Camp for Year 7 and 8 students and their teachers, during Primary Science Week in May 2017.

Over the four days, approximately 170 Year 7 and 8 students, accompanied by teachers and parents, from 11 schools in Napier, Hastings and Central Hawke’s Bay, will attend one or two-day hands-on workshops on a variety of science and technology subjects, related to the world around them. They will return to school with a better understanding of maths, science and technology, and its relevance to their everyday lives.

The following three workshops will be on offer:

Geology workshop (2 days)

Venue: National Aquarium of New Zealand

Run by: Julian Thomson from GNS Science, assisted by Carol Larson from the Aquarium, and Kate Boersen from East Coast LAB.

Topic: The students will spend the first day at the Aquarium, investigating the geology of New Zealand and Hawke’s Bay, and its consequences. The students will use resources from all three organisations, to study sedimentary rocks and fossils, and volcanic rocks and faults / earthquakes. On the second day they will take a field trip to a local site with varied geology, and use their new knowledge in inquiry-style investigations.

Bridge Science workshop (1 day)

Run by: Murray Gosling, a teacher at Hastings Intermediate School, who was on the 2015 Science Teaching Leadership Programme, assisted by land surveyors and bridge engineers from local companies.

Topic: The students will learn about land surveying and how it is involved in bridge design, use a theodolite to survey a location for a hypothetical bridge, visit a bridge, investigate why bridges are not all the same design, and how their design and construction is based on maths and science. They will design, build and test their own bridges. Land surveyors and bridge engineers from local companies will be involved in the workshop.

Horticultural science workshop (1 day)

Venue: Plant & Food Research, Crosses Road, Havelock North

Run by: Scientists from Plant & Food Research, including Dr Jeff Reid, for many years Chief Judge of the Hawke’s Bay Science & Technology Fair, assisted by Sarah Hope, a teacher from Hastings Intermediate School, who worked at Plant & Food Research last year whilst on the 2016 Science Teaching Leadership Programme.

Topics: The workshop will comprise 3 activities, which will introduce students to some of the maths and science that underpins horticulture in Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand. The 3 groups will rotate around the 3 activities during the day. They will:

  • compare soil health in different locations in the orchard;
  • conduct physical, chemical and sensory analysis of a variety of apples which are involved in the pipfruit breeding programme;
  • identify pests and diseases which affect commercial crops in New Zealand.

We thank the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for their support

http://www.curiousminds.nz/