Thursday, April 18, 2024

UC researchers elected Royal Society Fellows

Five Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury researchers and a graduate have been elected to the Academy of the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

World-leading researchers Professor Jennifer Adams, Professor Brendon Bradley, Professor Bronwyn Hayward, Professor Brett Robinson and Professor Te Maire Tau were this week announced as Ngā Ahurei a Te Apārangi Fellows, and internationally-renowned UC graduate, economist Professor David Teece was elected as Ngā Ahurei Honore a Te Apārangi Honorary Fellow.

Tumu Tuarua Rangahau | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research & Innovation Professor Ian Wright is proud to see the calibre of UC researchers elected as Fellows.

“Today we celebrate five of our researchers for their significant contributions to knowledge generation at the highest levels. It is gratifying to see UC researchers making up a large proportion of those elected as Royal Society Fellows and the breadth of research they are conducting which is having an impact in New Zealand and internationally.”

Fellows are elected for their distinction in research and advancement of science, technology or the humanities and are esteemed experts in their area of research and scholarship.

Professor Charlotte Macdonald FRSNZ, Chair of the Academy Executive Committee, said it was impressive to see the strength of Aotearoa New Zealand’s research communities in the cohort of new Fellows.

“Their election adds significantly to the breadth of knowledge held within the Academy and will support Te Apārangi to engage and inform New Zealanders on a diverse range of important topics,” she said.

The new Fellows will be formally inducted at an event in Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington on 27 April.

New UC Fellows are:

Professor Jennifer Adams

Physics and Astronomy Professor Jenni Adams is Aotearoa New Zealand’s lead scientist in the IceCube collaboration, whose observatory contains 5000 sensors distributed over a cubic kilometre under the Antarctic ice at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The sensors detect Cerenkov radiation from the decay products of very high energy neutrinos interacting with nuclei in the ice. In the past decade this research has led to notable firsts, including: the first discovery of neutrinos with energies 100 times greater than particles in the Large Hadron Collider; and the unambiguous association of neutrino events with gamma-ray flares in active galactic nuclei known as “blazars”. The significance of the first result is that the energies involved require processes beyond stellar nuclear physics, at vast cosmological distances. The significance of the second result is that it sheds a unique understanding on the physics of accretion disks and jets around the supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies.

Professor Brendon Bradley

Earthquake Engineer Professor Brendon Bradley has made significant contributions in several areas of earthquake science and engineering, including on first principles approaches to ground-motion prediction, seismic hazard analysis, and performance-based earthquake engineering. His most notable contributions have involved the development of improved methods for earthquake-induced ground motion selection, validation of empirical and simulation-based methods of ground motion prediction, and the interrogation and interpretation of ground motion observations in large earthquakes. His research has been acknowledged with the 2016 Prime Minister’s Emerging Scientist Prize, 2013 Rutherford Discovery Fellowship, and five Marsden Fund grants. He co-led the establishment of QuakeCoRE as a TEC-funded Centre of Research Excellence and is currently its director. As a science communicator, he has had a major role in the dissemination of lessons from the 2010-2011 Canterbury and 2016 Kaikōura earthquakes.

Professor Bronwyn Hayward

Political Science and International Relations Professor Hayward is an internationally recognised researcher at the intersection of climate change, sustainability and youth studies. She was the first political scientist appointed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Core Team, preparing a Synthesis Climate Report for UN governments’ approval. Professor Hayward leads a study funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, with Surrey University and five other partner institutions, tracking how cities can support young people to flourish in low carbon ways and she is a co-principal-investigator of Mana Rangatahi, a Deep South funded project to support young Māori and Pacific leadership in a changing climate. Recent books include Sea Change: Climate politics and New Zealand (2017) and Children, Citizenship and Environment #SchoolStrike Edition (2021). She has served as a trustee for the SPARK Foundation and Give a Little, was a Kiwibank Local Hero in 2019, and the “Supreme Winner” and winner of the Environment section of the 2021 Westpac/Stuff Woman of Influence awards.

Professor Brett Robinson

Professor Brett Robinson and his research group have made leading contributions to the understanding of fluxes of the chemical elements in the soil – water – plant continuum and have applied this understanding to real-world challenges in agriculture and other land uses. His research has had an impact, in Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas, on the health of food crops, the quality of agricultural soils and the management of contaminated sites. Examples include creating value from biological wastes, the rehabilitation of degraded soils, reducing the entry of contaminants such as cadmium into food products, and ensuring that the nutrients contained in biological wastes provide economic and ecological benefits instead of exacerbating the degradation of waterways. He has developed environmental tools and technologies in collaboration with universities and research institutes throughout Europe, China, and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Professor Te Maire Tau, Ngāi Tahu Centre

Professor Te Maire Tau (Ngāi Tahu) is a leading tribal historian who has dedicated himself to the re-discovery, protection and translation of Ngāi Tahu histories and knowledge. His authorship and co-authorship of books and articles about Ngāi Tahu iwi have provided critical insights into the history of Te Waipounamu. In developing methodologies for conversing with his ancestors’ understandings of their world, Professor Tau has forged new conceptual approaches to understanding Indigenous knowledge systems and their interrelationships with European intellectual traditions. His research has challenged understandings of history and knowledge systems, revealing Ngāi Tahu mātauranga as a dynamic system which actively engaged with European ideas and adapted them within te ao Māori. Professor Tau’s research is often intertwined with his duties in tribal and public life. As Upoko, he consistently champions Tiriti partnership and Indigenous knowledge in engineering solutions to contemporary issues. Governance and systems-change in education and local government has been a direct impact of Professor Tau’s advocacy, which has supported Ngāi Tahu in delivering its tribal aspirations, while significantly advancing the revitalisation of Ngāi Tahu mātauranga in thinking and practice.

Notable graduate elected as an Honorary Fellow:

Professor David Teece, University of California

Professor David Teece is a global science leader in his field of economics and business. His new paradigm for understanding market firms introduced the role of ‘dynamic capabilities’ in driving entrepreneurial innovation and commercial success, turning the neoclassical conceptualisation of the firm on its head. Professor David Teece earned a Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Commerce from the University of Canterbury. In 2007, he received an Honorary Doctor of Commerce from UC and in 2013 was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to NZ-USA Relations. The Teece Museum, named in recognition of Professor Teece and his wife Leigh’s generous donations, features the James Logie Memorial Collection. The Collection is at the heart of the Classics department’s teaching programme and is one of the most significant collections of Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Near Eastern artefacts in the Southern Hemisphere. He is also a generous benefactor in the restoration of the Townsend Teece Telescope following the Ōtautahi Christchurch earthquakes.

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