Author Archives: Antony Steiner

Biotechnology and genetic modification 40 years on and the rise of gene editing

Wednesday 11 October at 6.00pm

National Aquarium, Marine Parade, Napier

(Entry by gold coin donation)

Dr Elspeth MacRae, General Manager Manufacturing & Bloproducts, Scion

 

People have been improving plants and animals for many centuries. Most of the foods we eat and drink have been changed (domesticated) by humans. For many centuries this was done by selecting naturally occurring changes (or mutations) and using them to breed improved plants or animals – a very slow process. More recently we have been able to use biotechnology to make the same sort of changes in a much faster and more predictable way.

This talk will describe these Genetic Modification technologies, including the recent developments in gene editing (CRISPR-cas9). Examples of improved products will be highlighted, and the potential of gene editing to revolutionise food production will be discussed.

Dr Elspeth MacRae is the General Manager Manufacturing & Bioproducts at Scion in Rotorua. She is a member of the management group for the 2014 New Zealand National Science Challenge in Science and Technology for Industry, and leads the design, materials and manufacturing portfolio.

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

Limestone landscapes: How quickly does that mountain dissolve?

6.00pm on Thursday 26 October 2017

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, cnr. Vautier & Dalton Streets, Napier

Dr Stephen Swabey, Manager, Environmental Science, HBRC

Speleology is one of Stephen Swabey’s many passions, and in this talk he will share with us his enthusiasm with an illustrated talk about limestone cave systems in Australia, where Stephen lived and worked for five years before coming to New Zealand.

Stephen graduated from Oxford University with an MA in Geography, and the Open University with a PhD in Paleoclimate change, geochemistry and caves.

At HBRC he manages a team of 32 scientists, with 5 team leaders coordinating work across surface water and groundwater hydrology, coastal science, freshwater ecology, air quality, climate and climate change, land science and environmental monitoring.

Visit to ABB Limited, Napier

Thursday 16 November 2017, 6pm

ABB, 111 Main North Rd, Hawke’s Bay Airport

30 people maximum, members only please

To secure your place, please send an email to:
hawkesbay.rsnz@gmail.com

ABB is a pioneering technology leader that is writing the future of industrial digitalization. For more than four decades, they have been at the forefront, innovating digitally connected and enabled industrial equipment and systems. Every day, they drive efficiency, safety and productivity in utilities, industry, transport and infrastructure globally. With a heritage spanning more than 130 years, ABB operates in more than 100 countries and employs around 132,000 people.

The ABB site in Napier designs and manufactures power conditioning products, which are used by customers worldwide, who need a reliable power supply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their customers include:

  • semiconductor / automotive / textile industries
  • data centres / supercomputers
  • shore-to-ship / marine / oil & gas industries
  • plastics / cable extrusion / pharmaceutical manufacturers.

We will be hosted by Nick Elliott, R&D Manager and Scott Styles, Principal Engineer, for a presentation on the business, including latest developments, and a factory tour.

Please note dress code:

  • flat (i.e. no heels), close fitting (i.e. not loose fitting ballet-type), fully closed-in shoes
  • trousers (shorts are not acceptable).

ABB will provide safety glasses and hearing protection.

 

http://new.abb.com/about

Tectonics and genetics in topographic evolution

14 September 2017 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