The Science Communicators award is made to a practising scientist for excellence in communicating science to the general public in any area of science or technology.
NZAS Science Communicators Award 2011
The New Zealand Association of Scientists Science Communicators Award is made to Dr Mark Quigley, Senior Lecturer in Active Tectonics and Geomorphology in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Canterbury.
From the morning of September 4th, 2010 when Cantabrians were awoken before dawn by the violent shaking of the ground beneath them, Dr Mark Quigley has been at the forefront of science communication about the forces at work beneath the Canterbury plains.
From the beginning of the event Dr Quigley was handling media interviews across print and broadcast media in such an engaging way that he became the go-to scientist for independent commentary on the science-related aspects of the earthquakes. Notably, he was instrumental in allaying fears generated by pseudoscientific earthquake predictions.
Throughout, Dr Quigley has maintained a blog, where he writes about his research, contributes extensively when called on by the media and participates in public lectures and presentations that have been greatly appreciated by the people of Canterbury. He has a holistic understanding of current best thinking about the earthquakes which he was able to communicate to a general audience. He is a great asset to natural hazards research in New Zealand and to science communication in general.
NZAS Science Communicators Award 2010
The science communicators award for 2010 is awarded to Dr Marc Wilson, Victoria University Dr Marc Wilson describes himself as ‘intellectually indigenous’ to Victoria University, having started studying psychology there in 1991 and never leaving. After completing his PhD in 1999, trying to secure a permanent job involved doing some of the, ahem, less popular academic jobs at the time. These included teaching research methods to 100-level psychology students in one of the largest courses offer at VUW, and so it all began. Marc is a teacher, first and foremost, whether this involves teaching formal classes, or through print, radio, and television media. He regularly presents to schools, organisations, and anyone else who will listen and, taking seriously the obligation of tertiary education in New Zealand to contribute to “the development of cultural and intellectual life”, he has gone out of his way to help out various media organisations in New Zealand. Marc routinely crops us to provide commentary on topical social issues – after all, what better way to champion one’s discipline than through media willing to do the work for you? In the words of one journalist “I swear to God, you seem to be the only psychologist in Wellington who speaks to the media”. Marc has won both local and national recognition for his teaching, and this has lead to the opportunity of an academic lifetime – the chance to design material for, and present, two series of TVNZ’s consumer psychology ‘The School of…’ series in 2007 and 2008 (watched by more than 800,000 people). He has collaborated with several outlets (including TV3 and the Sunday Star Times) on large scale studies on topics such as supernatural and superstitious beliefs, and personality and criminality, which have also served as vehicles for data collection for his research – these partnerships are a win-win for both academics and media. Most recently he has been engaged in a study of public beliefs about evolution that has involved surveying Fellows and Members of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Secondary School science teachers, members of the general public, and (because it’s traditional) first-year Psychology students. On the downside he has also been described by Paul Henry as a “Kiwi cultural commentator”.
NZAS Science Communicator Award 2009
The Science Communicator Award for 2009 is to Professor Ian Shaw, University of Canterbury There are few things that Ian Shaw likes better than talking about science, cooking and eating so when he can combine the three then he is in his element. His research field is the effects of chemicals in food on health and so he often finds himself in front of an audience combining at least two of his three enthusiasms. Ian is particularly keen to talk science to non-scientists. In this context he likes to use everyday examples as a vector for science facts. What better vector than food? A reviewer of his book 'Is it safe to eat?' (Springer 2005) commented 'It is written in a style that is both readable and readily understood, so it should also appeal to a much wider audience' and 'This is a most readable book'. The book was made into a TVNZ series of the same name which involved an episode on risk being shot with Ian in the lion's cage at Orana Park in Christchurch. Ian commented that risk had never been so meaningful before. The series reached a wide audience when it was shown on SkyTV. He also writes for newspapers and is often asked to comment on science issues on the radio. He loves teaching his students at the University of Canterbury and won the Student Association's Top Science Lecturer Award this year. The award citation commented 'He makes science fun' which sums up exactly what Ian aspires to. But along with the fun there are important facts and ideas.
NZAS Science Communicator Award 2008
The Association's Science Communicator Award is presented to practising scientists for excellence in communicating to the general public in any area of science or technology. The 2008 award is made to Professor Ian Spellerberg, Department of Nature Conservation, Lincoln University. Professor Spellerberg's science communication efforts span decades of research undertaken here and in Britain. His numerous academic publications and books, newspaper columns and articles, public lectures, and community and education initiatives cement his place as one of the country's most respected scientists and science communicators.
NZAS Science Communicator Award 2007
The 2007 winner was Dr Simon Pollard of the Canterbury Museum. Dr. Pollard is curator of invertebrate zoology at the Museum, and an adjunct associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury. Simon has contributed widely to the public understanding of science through talks to community groups, including Probus Clubs, U3A, WEA, schools, Christchurch Polytechnic, Continuing Education programmes at the University of Canterbury and outreach programmes at schools, and as a regular contributor to the 'Ask a Scientist' column syndicated to New Zealand newspapers. His research on blood-drinking spiders in Kenya has featured widely in these addresses. He has written for a number of natural history magazines around the world, including a regular column in Nature Australia (now unfortunately folded), where he wrote about recent research on animals from naked mole rats to coelacanths and ant-eaters. Simon has provided advice for natural history documentaries. His research on a crab spider from Borneo featured in the BBC series Planet Earth. This work lead to his unravelling of extraordinary details about the spider's life, which featured in his recent talks to various organisations and outreach programmes for schools, and featured in an article in the science section of The Press. He has been invited to speak in the US and Singapore; in 2006, following a phone interview for the Los Angeles Weekly Magazine, he gave a public talk titled, 'What is it like to be a spider?' in the United States. Simon is also a natural history photographer whose images have appeared in National Geographic, Time, Natural History and at exhibitions at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He has organized photographic exhibitions in New Zealand on natural history at Canterbury Museum and the Centre for Contemporary Art in Christchurch. Simon has also written children's books on spiders and insects. His book, 'I am a spider' won the LIANZ Elsie Locke Award for non-fiction book of the year and his co-authored, 'Biggest, littlest spiders' won the Mocking Bird Book of the year Award in the US. He has been invited to the Storylines Book Festival in Auckland a number of times and with other writers and illustrators, travelled around schools to talk about natural history. Simon is often interviewed on television and radio as a spider expert and natural historian. He has been interviewed twice by Kim Hill in the space of a few months, the first of which was repeated on New Years Day as one of her favourite interviews of the year.
NZAS Science Communicator Award 2006
The 2006 winner was Dr Liz Carpenter of AgResearch Ruakura. Dr Carpenter is an Immunologist within the Dairy Science & Technology Section, at AgResearch Ruakura where she leads a group working on hyper-immune milk. Her recent presentations on this work over the past 12 months have generated significant media interest, including interviews by print journalists and on local and national radio. She has also appeared on TV One's Rural Delivery. Dr Carpenter trained as a high school teacher prior to embarking on a scientific research career. Her passion for teaching and sharing her love of science is evident from her various activities while working at AgResearch. Over the last five years, Liz has made presentations, pitched at the appropriate level, to community and academic groups, primary and secondary school classes and to several farmers groups, who are the end-users of hyper-immune milk technology. She has frequently organized science lab visits and seminars for high school students and teachers to stimulate their interest in science as a career. In her school and lab visits Dr Carpenter involves the audience by giving them the chance to perform an activity to reinforce the theme of the presentation. This `hands-on' approach is well appreciated by the teachers. Within the AgResearch community, Liz is highly regarded as a skilled communicator and widely supportive of others. She organizes the monthly seminar series, "Ruakura Research Revealed" with speakers from throughout the Ruakura campus. In addition, she contributes regularly to the annual AgResearch `Knowledge Week', with presentations for the general AgResearch staff on a range of science topics, including a `Beginners Guide to Immunology' and 'GE on the doorstep'. These were so popular that she has been asked to present the talks for a third year. Dr Carpenter also plays an active role in the Association for Women in the Sciences, having been convener of the national executive and the Waikato Branch, and has recently run the Association's annual conference. She frequently acts as a judge at school science fairs, and has given several presentations to school groups on 'How to do a good Science Fair project'.
NZAS Science Communicator Award 2005
The 2005 winners are Alison Campbell and Penny Cooke of the School of Science and Engineering at Waikato University. Drs. Campbell and Cooke are, through the adaptation of the elegantly simple idea of Cafe Scientifique, providing opportunities for the public to listen and contribute to discussions and debates on scientific issues, and to learn about the methods and significance of science. Using informal venues and a loosely structured format, Alison and Penny have attracted crowds to their events and have encouraged their colleagues to contribute through leading the discussions. The audience is invited to set the topics, which fosters a sense of ownership and has resulted in a wide range of ideas being explored, from stem cell research to relativity. The pair have also driven the development of Waikato University's website devoted to Evolution for Teaching, which helps the public gain an understanding of the sometimes difficult issues of evolution, and to appreciate the misunderstandings and failure of imagination that is driving the current resurgence of anti-evolution thought.
NZAS Science Communicator Award 2004
The 2004 winner was Dr Peter Buchanan of Landcare Research in Auckland. Dr Buchanan leads a team of 24 researchers in fungal, bacterial and arthropod biosystematics. In his work with the public, Peter has managed to get people almost as excited as he is about fungi and the creatures we tread underfoot. Many scientists are expected to communicate with the public as part of their job, but he goes much further in his efforts. Further, he seems to be able to motivate other scientists to get involved with the public. He understands the sort of quirky, off-the-wall ideas that appeal to kids and the media. One of his activities was promoting "Year of the Fungus". This is a challenge few would have felt confident to take on, but Peter made it a great success, especially the "Fungal Forays", that he organised and which welcomed allcomers. Peter's "Bioblitz" in Auckland was equally successful, despite drenching rain. His personal warmth and creative approach make him an ideal person to lead these promotions. The judge of this year's entries said that it is always striking to see the amount of work scientists are prepared to do outside hours, for no remuneration. As shown by the entries received for this year's competition, much time, thought and care goes into public presentations and articles for the general media, and many scientists deserve recognition for the efforts they make. It was from amongst this set of impressive entries that Peter's was chosen for the award.
NZAS Science Communicator Award 2003
The Association's Science Communicator Award is presented to practising scientists for excellence in communicating to the general public in any area of science or technology. The 2003 winner was Dr Cornel de Ronde of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences. Dr de Ronde has consistently demonstrated an exceptional capacity to communicate the results of his leading edge research on submarine hydrothermal venting systems and associated mineral deposits to professional and public audiences alike. He has a valuable and engaging ability to translate the complexity of his science into clear descriptions that are understandable by the public at large, and he has used this gift to stimulate young people's scientific interests and to promote their consideration of a career in science. He has engaged the public in his research team's exciting discoveries through many lectures and presentations, newspaper and magazine articles, internet pages, and more than a dozen radio and television appearances. In his presentations to local organisations, schools, universities and Te Papa, Dr de Ronde has fascinated audiences with his revelations of undersea volcanic and hydrothermal processes, imparting to his listeners the enthusiasm and passion he has for his science.
NZAS Science Communicator Award 2002
This year the nominees for the award demonstrated impressive records of communication in print, radio and to a wide variety of audiences. They had all contributed greatly to the public understanding of science and the collective reputation of scientists and the institutions they work for. Some were especially active in getting information across to stakeholders through industry presentations and publications. In all cases, the nominations provided comprehensive evidence of the nominee's work and energy and reflected the enthusiasm and pride of their colleagues and their institutions. In judging the entries, weight was given to communications that were deemed to be outside the immediate responsibilities of the job-activities that were above and beyond the call of duty-and for activity initiated by the nominee, rather than by the media or communications professionals. The 2002 Science Communicator Award was won by Dr Jonathan Hickford, of Lincoln University. Dr Hickford is a senior lecturer in Biochemistry at Lincoln with professional interests in gene sequencing, genetic typing and modification, gene transfer technology, and recombination. Dr Hickford has made an outstanding and sustained contribution to the communication of science for the past seven years. He is an excellent speaker who can pitch his information to the level and interests of different audiences - from school children to industry groups. In 1999, he was invited to be guest speaker at no less than eleven industry-related meetings. His involvement with schoolchildren is particularly noteworthy. He has generated an impressive number of articles in the daily press and various periodicals. He has a real gift for putting things in clear, direct and helpful ways. For example, in reference to the use of genetic engineering by New Zealand, he said, "These technologies can deliver good things and bad things; our job is to discover the good" or "In my own instance, these technologies have underpinned the development of genetic tests for foot-rot resistance in sheep". Jonathan is an advocate for the use of those gene technologies he believes to be beneficial, but he shows respect for public intelligence by providing them with sound and complete information to back his opinions. Dr Hickford's communications efforts, which have gone so far beyond the responsibilities of his position, were recently recognised by the Royal Society of New Zealand Council, which has made him a Companion, an honour shared by only 11 other scientists.
Foundation for Research Science and Technology Science Communicator Awards 2001
The award to a practising scientist for communications concerning scientific issues of public interest was won by Chris De Freitas of the Department of Geography at the University of Auckland, Tamaki Campus. His contribution covered a variety of topical issues relating to global warming, and showed outstanding skill in expressing large concepts in an easily understood format, which he presented in a range of media - print, radio, TV, and presentations. Dr. de Freitas takes large and complex issues of concern to the public and provides a scientifically sound and an understandable discussion. The award for communications concerning principles, achievements and methods of science was won by Graham Shepherd of Landcare Research, Palmerston North for his work in communicating the methods of soil management, and in particular, visual soil assessment. Mr. Shepherd has put together a comprehensive portfolio, and presented to a wide range of audiences with an interest in soil management. His work offers a new approach to the subject, and he has converted a technically complex subject into a workable tool for 'hands-on' practitioners. The Freelance Writers and Professional Science Communicators Award was won again this year by Caroline Cook of Dunedin, for her work as Director of the International Festival of Environmental Science and Technology and The Auckland Regional Science Festival. Her commitment, in communicating and promoting science and technology to the general public in both of these events, made a wide variety of science accessible and inspiring to thousands of New Zealanders. Both festivals used a wide variety of tools and methods to deliver their message, and the programme of events is a testimony to the energy and time committed to their organisation and promotion.
Foundation for Research Science and Technology Science Communicator Awards 2000
Award for Communications about Scientific Issues and the Benefits of Science
The first Foundation for Research Science and Technology Science Communicator prize of $1200, for excellence in communications relating to scientific issues or the benefits of science to society, went to Dr Phil L'Huillier of AgResearch, Hamilton. The judges said Dr L'Huillier had demonstrated that passion and effective communications were key factors in giving New Zealanders the understanding they need to make decisions about issues of public concern. Biotechnology and the issues surrounding it has been of considerable interest and concern to New Zealanders. Phil has won this award for his efforts in addressing this concern by creating an understanding of bio-technology with audiences including public groups, newspaper readers, Maori, and political parties including the Green Party. "Underlying Phil's success in creating this understanding has been his belief that it is important for people to understand the science behind biotechnology so that they can make an informed and educated choice." Award for Communications about the Principles and Achievements of Science The second Science Communicator prize of $1200, for communications that helped foster an appreciation of the principles and achievements of science, especially among young people, was won by Dr John Campbell of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Canterbury. The judges described Dr Campbell as a passionate, enthusiastic and prodigious communicator of science, especially physics "An enduring image was of him walking across hot coals, wearing his kilt, and barefoot carrying his sign 'It's only Physics folks'. His en masse fire walks were an excellent example of his work in clarifying the principles of science." "He has also been instrumental in setting up the annual Bickerton lectures in Christchurch where up to 900 people attended a public lecture on a science topic. His most recent achievement was his biography of Rutherford published in November 1999."
Award for Freelance and Professional Science Writers
The third Science Communicator prize of $1200, for freelance writers and professional science communicators, went to Caroline Cook of Dunedin for her contribution to Dunedin City's International Science Festival. With over 150 activities, the 2000 Festival, held in July of this year, is major science event in New Zealand. The judges said that Mrs Cook has built the Festival into a stunning showcase for science through the broad scope of the programme and the extensive publicity it attracts. "Caroline's successes demonstrate what we meant when we concluded that the task of science communication is in passionate and capable hands."
Foundation for Research Science and Technology Science Communicator Awards 1999
Award for Communications about Scientific Issues and the Benefits of Science
The prize for communications concerned with scientific issues of public interest, and the economic and social benefits of science was won by Dr. Hamish Campbell of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences in Lower Hutt. Dr Campbell headed a team of scientists who have used the popularity of Te Papa to communicate to a wide audience the nature and importance of the natural hazards that impact on New Zealand society. The team took the major messages from the exhibition and reached beyond Te Papa to print and broadcast media coverage, to the "Downtown" lecture series in Auckland and several provincial centres, and through publishing a popular book "Awesome Forces". Success in reaching the target audience is shown by "Awesome Forces" being the most popular exhibition with the 2.8 million visitors to Te Papa, and by sales of nearly 5,000 for their book. Hamish did undergraduate degrees and Otago and Auckland Universities and his PhD at Cambridge University. He is an active working scientist who is presently studying the origin and biogeography of the Permian and Triassic sedimentary sequence that makes up a large part of the basement rock of New Zealand, and aspects of the related period of time. Award for Communications about the Principles and Achievements of Science The prize for communications concerning principles, achievements and methods of s cience, was won by Dr. Tim Bell of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Canterbury. Dr Bell shows a commitment to teaching and working with a range of audiences to demystify the principles and workings of computers. He has shown a particular focus on a youth audience and on technology principles and understanding through his written material, demonstrations and "live, interactive" performances. As well as presenting shows to school children, Dr Bell has contributed to Computer Science education at other levels. He has led workshops for school teachers, aimed at equipping teachers with the knowledge and motivation to disseminate Computer Science to their pupils. At the tertiary level, Dr Bell is a highly respected teacher and research, who always receives excellent student evaluations. He is a regular participant in international conferences on University level Computer Science education, and his text book on Data Compression (with Professor Witten and Dr Moffat) is the standard text for this topic. Award for Freelance and Professional Science Writers The prize for freelance writers and professional science communicators was won by Louise Thomas of Wellington. In July 1998, after three and a half years as the editor and Webmaster for the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, Louise Thomas took the plunge into freelance writing. In the past year she has completed commissions for The New Zealand Geographic magazine, Learning Media Ltd, Network Communications, Environmental Science and Research Ltd, Victoria University of Wellington and Otago University, as well as contributing feature articles to The Dominion and The New Zealand Herald, proof-reading and writing for community newspapers, and writing a monthly Techfile column for North and South magazine. Louise has a B.Sc in Earth Sciences from Massey University and has worked in mineral observing, soil mapping, and seismic surveying fields. She also has a post-graduate certificate in Environmental Management from Victoria University of Wellington. She has written on a variety of subjects ranging from Antarctic fossils, to dioxins in the human blood stream, to genetically modified organisms. She has a clear writing style that clearly conveys information on the subjects she writes about, bringing science and technological subjects to life for the reader. Foundation for Research Science and Technology Science Communicator Awards 1999 Award for Communications about Scientific Issues and the Benefits of Science The prize was awarded to Dr Chris de Freitas of the University of Auckland for his work in publicising the issues surrounding climate change. This is a topical and often controversial matter that Chris has tackled through eight major newspaper articles, several public addresses and radio broadcasts and other avenues such as letters and book reviews. Of particular note are articles published in the business press, since they bring the critical scientific issues to a new audience. The first Merit Award, for communications concerning scientific issues and the benefits of science, is won by Dr Heather Worth of the Institute for Research on Gender at Auckland University. The award is given for her work in communicating both with the general public and with the homosexual community in undertaking her research programme Male Call/Waea Mai, Tane Mai. In particular Heather's creative use of public relations reached a group that can be difficult to communicate with, and extended the results of her work to modify behaviour and recommend healthy practices among homosexual men in New Zealand. The second Merit Award in this class is won by Dr Tony Conner of Crop and Food Research. Tony has illuminated the scientific issues surrounding the emotive issue of genetically modified food both to technically interested audiences and the general public. His many activities in clarifying these issues include presentations to technical and public groups, participation in public debates and television interviews and publishing feature articles in the major New Zealand dailies.
Award for Communications about the Principles and Achievements of Science
The prize for communications concerning principles, achievements and methods of science, is won by Dr Allen Heath, Dallas Bishop and David Cole. This team of people from the Agresearch Wallaceville Animal Research Centre have communicated complex scientific issues through every medium to a wide range of audiences including farmers, vets, school kids and the general public. Of particular significance is their Flytrack programme that both educated school students about the behaviour (and the effects) of flies, and engaged them in scientific work by using their observations in a database to track fly populations as they moved through the country. The students participated in a significant science programme, enhanced their scientific skills, and saw themselves as part of a national scientific effort. The first Merit Award, for communications concerned with principles and achievements of science, is won by Dr Bob Brockie of School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington. Bob has undertaken a large body of work across a broad range of biological subjects. He has used print media, popular publications, radio programmes and exhibitions at Te Papa to engage general audiences in plant, animal and ecological issues. He has also presented the ecology of "the back yard" as a way to develop an understanding of ecological issues relevant to New Zealanders. The second Merit Award in this class goes to Dr Simon Pollard of Canterbury Museum for his work on extending his interest in spiders to the general public. He has given a number of lively presentations on his pet subject, and he has used a wide range of media, including television interviews, and articles in New Zealand Science monthly and the Christchurch Press to reach a general audience. Simon's enthusiasm for these creatures is portrayed in a photograph that appeared in the Sunday Star earlier in the year in which one of his friends was attempting to remove his spectacles. Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Science Communicator Award The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Science Communicator prize of $1200, for communications concerning principles, achievements and methods of science, was won by Victor Anderlini of the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington. The award is given for his work in transforming the Victoria University's Island Bay Marine Laboratory from a derelict facility into both a working laboratory and a showpiece for marine sciences. Dr. Anderlini has initiated a marine education programme at the laboratory that is used by schools, social groups and the general public. The laboratory is open on weekend a month, and up to July of this year, over 16,000 people had passed through the marine education programme that he started. Dr. Anderlini's enthusiasm for marine biology, and his ability to convey to others an understanding and excitement for science has made the laboratory a fascinating place for both young and not-so young. The first Merit Award was won by Lloyd Davis of the Department of Zoology, at the University of Otago, for Meet the Real Penguins, a television programme in the world-class series Wild South. Together with Marcus Turner from the Dunedin studios of TVNZ Natural History, Lloyd was instrumental in producing a programme that appealed to people of all ages. The Wild South series is, of course, well known for is technical excellence, and the quality of the scientific content complements the skills of the film-makers. The second Merit Award went to Allan Hull, now of the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, for non-technical presentations to a variety of organisations on the nature, occurrence and impact of earthquakes. Dr Hull has also been extensively involved with a team of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in developing two major exhibitions on the origin and geological transformation of New Zealand. The work for which he has gained this award was undertaken while Dr. Hull was on the staff of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences.