SMC Science Deadline: AgResearch angst, short science and SAVVY in Auckland

By Sciencemediacentre.co.nz received 3 years ago

Categories: Science
Age: 19 until 30 year 31 until 64 years 65 and older
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Issue 346,  25 Sep 2015

In this issue:

AgResearch cuts
3 Min Theses
SAVVY Auckland Policy updates
New from the SMC

Quick Links

SMC Alerts
Media Registration
About us
Contact the SMC

Top news from scimex.org  the Science Media Centre's news sharing platform.
Microbes meddle in wine flavours

Blocking suicide 'hotspots' saves lives

Public keen on sugary drinks tax

Food selfies uncover erratic eating

New from the SMC

In the News: AgResearch restructure   In the News: El Niño and La Niña to bring coastal flooding, erosion

  Applications open for Auckland and Wellington two-day workshops
Apply Here

New from the SMC global network

  Briefing: What is a biosimilar?   Expert Reaction: Industrially-produced and naturally-occurring trans fats and heart health   Briefing: Six steps to tackle mental health   Expert Reaction: VW emissions scandal   Briefing: Impacts of neonicotinoids on bees
Australian SMC
Briefing: Australian wins Ig Nobel Prize for the ‘unboil an egg machine’   Expert Reaction: Global links between air pollution and early deaths

AgResearch cuts cause consternation

AgResearch has been the focus of intense media reporting this week in anticipation of impending cuts to research staff.

The Crown Research Institute yesterday confirmed plans to lay off 83 staff due to decreasing investment in some research areas, but will be hiring 27 for new roles – amounting to a net staff reduction of 56 research positions.

“AgResearch must balance shifts in our sector’s research needs – and therefore revenue – with the need to respond to emerging science opportunities to maximise impact for New Zealand’s pastoral sector,” AgResearch Chair Sam Robinson announced yesterday.

“Declining R&D investment in some areas means that we are currently facing a significant and ongoing funding challenge in those areas. While both private sector and Government revenue is increasing in other areas, our net science revenue is forecast to be $5.3 million less for FY16 compared to FY15.”
Federated Farmers President William Rolleston expressed disappointment in response to the announcement.
“We need science to continue to provide the solutions for tomorrow through increased productivity, reduced environmental impact, new products and added value for our current products," he said in a media release.
"We also rely on science to address the risks we face with a changing climate, biosecurity, the market and our social licence to operate.”
Speaking to Radio New Zealand, University of Waikato Agribusiness Professor Jacqueline Rowarth was highly critical of the downsizing, noting that the current lay-offs were just the latest in a string of staff cuts over the last five years. She pinpointed shifts in funding as a key trigger for the current restructure.
“The problem with Crown Research Institutes is that they have been told to get funding from industry," she said, "...but industry likes short term projects. If you aren’t in areas that bring a quick buck, they’re not interested.”
AgResearch expects to make a final decision on the plans at the end of October following consultation.
You can read a comprehensive wrap-up of the week's coverage and reaction on the Science Media Centre website.

Policy news & developments

Water costs: Waikato Regional Council has released computer models of the land use and management changes potentially required to achieve water quality targets for the region.
Conservation funding: DOC has announced the recipients of $2.13 million in Community Conservation Partnerships Fund money.
HPV vaccine: The Ministry of Health has launched a new action plan aiming to improve the National HPV Immunisation Programme.
Environmental reporting: The Environmental Reporting Act was passed by parliament this week. The Act provides the framework for national environmental reporting, which is jointly led by Statistics NZ and the Ministry for the Environment.

Theses dissected in 3 min

Explaining three year's work in just three minutes is no simple task, but for a handful of Kiwi students the effort could be worth a pretty penny.

Postgraduate students from across New Zealand and Australia will meet in Brisbane next week to battle it out in the Trans-Tasman Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT).

In the competition, students explain their PhD research in as a clear and engaging way as possible, strictly limited to three minutes. Judges score the students not only on their content but also style and enthusiasm.
The ultimate champion of the event takes home $5000 in funding and a trip to the international competition in Berlin.
Although a worldwide phenomenon, the official 3MT competition started down under at the University of Queensland in 2008 with New Zealand universities coming on board in 2009.
In Brisbane, representatives from all eight New Zealand universities will be competing against each other and dozens of Australian students, each having won 3MT competition heats at their respective institutions.
A student from New Zealand has yet to win the Trans-Tasman title, but Kiwi students Jack Rivers and Lilly Chang placed as runners up in previous competitions.
We will have to wait until next week to find out if New Zealand competitors can break through on to the international 3MT stage. In the meantime, check out the University of Auckland 2015 competitor, Ian Randall and his scathing critique on 'Dino-mania' in science journalism.


Quoted: Stuff.co.nz

"Climate is what we expect and weather is what we get. The weather trumps climate and it will every time."
  MetService forecaster Georgina Griffiths discusses current weather in the light of expected El Nino climate patterns.

Science Media SAVVY Auckland

Applications are now open for our next Science Media SAVVY workshop in Nov.

Our next two-day Science Media SAVVY course will be held in Auckland on on the 26-27 November 2015.
Science Media SAVVY workshops are designed to increase researchers’ confidence and skills and help them engage more effectively with the wider public through the media.
Participants gain firsthand insight into the media landscape and learn practical techniques to improve communication, deal with nerves, adapt their message to their audience and respond effectively when an interview becomes challenging. Highlights include a behind-the-scenes newsroom tour and Q&A panel with journalists.
Established, active researchers with previous media experience, and those likely to attract media interest in future, are especially encouraged to apply.


Help us spread the word: download a flyer for your department or notice board.


New from Sciblogs

Some of the highlights from this week's Sciblogs posts:
Calculating cardiovascular risk with online calculators – scope for improvement? Can online heart risk calculators be better? The answer is a clear 'yes' according to Nick Wilson and colleagues.
Public Health Expert
Clothes racks are not the reason for mouldy homes - Marcus Wilson explains the physics of moisture, home heating and New Zealand's housing delusions.
Physics Stop
The Best of Science’s Strangest Prizes - Kimberley Collins wraps up the notorious Ig Nobel awards, celebrating the strangest and most entertaining scientific breakthroughs.
Up and Atom

Upcoming events

Please see the SMC Events Calendar for more events and details. 3D printed futures - 30 September, Wellington. Ross Stevens discusses 3D printing and related "maker-movement" technologies.
  National Multiple Birth Conference - 2-4 October, Wellington. A line-up of renowned keynote speakers and a series of challenging, thought provoking workshops.
  Climate Change in New Zealand; Is it doom or can we hope? - 5 October, Dunedin. Public Lecture presented by Sir Geoffrey Palmer.

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