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Membership news

April 2015

2015 elections for Royal Society of New Zealand Council

Nominations now closed; voting opens soon

Nominations have now closed for three positions on the Royal Society of New Zealand Council. The positions are those of the Vice-President (Biological and Life Sciences); and two Elected Councillor positions.

Online voting for the three positions will open soon. All eligible Members will be advised of the process as soon as voting is available.

Asbestos exposure: a review

Asbestos exposure in New Zealand

Report on health risks

This month the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor released a report for the Ministry of Health on risks to home occupants from asbestos exposure.

The report Asbestos Exposure in New Zealand: Review of the Scientific Evidence of Non-occupational Risks assesses the risks of asbestos exposure to residents of houses undergoing renovation and repair work, such as has been carried out and is ongoing in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes. It finds that the health risks are generally low. Nevertheless, the report stresses that care should always be taken to minimise inhalation of asbestos fibres during building renovations and is calling for New Zealand to ban the importation of asbestos-containing materials. 

For full details, and to download the review, visit our website.

Public meeting on asbestos exposure report, 1 May, Christchurch

A public meeting will be held on 1 May in Christchurch and presentations will outline the evidence in the report.

Details: 6pm Friday 1 May, Rolleston Lecture Theatre, University of Otago Christchurch, 2 Riccarton Avenue (next to Christchurch Hospital). All interested are welcome but please arrive early to ensure a seat.

Philip Ball :: Colour and Invisibility

Science writer Philip Ball: Colour & Invisibility

Join science writer Philip Ball for talks on the artist's colour palette and the history and science of making objects invisible.

Wellington, Thursday 21 May

Bright Earth: the Invention of Colour 

It is easy to forget that paint colours had to be invented, one by one, in what was sometimes a painstaking process. In order to make their materials and put them to the best use, painters once had to be chemically literate. This talk will trace the chemical history of the pigments on the artist’s palette, and show how the invention of new colour has constantly transformed art.

Christchurch, Friday 22 May

Invisibility: a Cultural History 

Stories that we have told about invisibility are not stories of a technical capability but of power, desire, concealment, morality and corruption. What are these old tales of invisibility really saying, and how has the scientific understanding of light influenced them? The history of invisibility -- from Plato to metamaterials -- shows that ideas of invisibility are ultimately parables about our own hopes and fears.

Wellington | Colour | 6pm Thu 21 May | Buy tickets
Christchurch | Invisibility | 6pm Fri 22 May | Buy tickets

These talks will be recorded by Radio New Zealand for broadcast.

To purchase tickets, visit our website.

Enquiries only: 04 472 7421 or

Dr Philip Ball is a freelance science writer, broadcaster and lecturer and worked previously for over 20 years as an editor for Nature. Philip trained as a chemist at the University of Oxford, and as a physicist at the University of Bristol. His latest book is Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen (2014). 

Auckland Writers FestivalThese talks are presented with the support of the Auckland Writers Festival. Philip Ball will also be a guest at the Festival this May. His session on 17 May concludes with the announcement of the 2015 Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book PrizeFind details on the Science Book Prize web page.

Find more information about Philip Ball's talks on our website

Medals and awards

Nominations close 30 June 2015

A new online portal system has been set up to receive nominations for the medals and awards that Royal Society of New Zealand is offering in 2015. We are now calling for nominations, with a closing date of 30 June

Please email to request access to the online portal. 

Find details of the 14 medals and awards being offered this year on our website

Call for papers for NZJ Botany special issue

Biology of plants, fungi and algae of the southern hemisphere
Expressions of interest by 30 April

New Zealand Journal of BotanyThe New Zealand Journal of Botany is calling for papers for a special issue on the functional biogeography of south-temperate forests, to be guest-edited by Matt McGlone (Landcare Research) and Juan Armesto (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), for publication in June 2016.

Multi-author, synthetic articles are sought that clarify functional similarities and differences between temperate forest assemblages in South America, New Zealand and south-eastern Australia, and/or the historical or contemporary determinants of these patterns. Informative comparisons of south-temperate forests with other biomes are also encouraged. Papers should address patterns on (and include authors from) at least two of the three landmasses mentioned above.

Expressions of interest are being called for, to get an idea of potential topics and numbers of papers.

For more information, read the full call for papers

Leonard Cockayne Memorial Lecture Tour

Flowers in the fridge

The triennial Leonard Cockayne Memorial Lecture commemorates the life and work of Leonard Cockayne by the encouragement of botanical research in New Zealand. The Leonard Cockayne Memorial Lecturer for 2015 is Dr Janice Lord, Department of Botany, University of Otago.

She'll tour her lecture, entitled Flowers in the fridge: Floral biology in New Zealand alpine and subantarctic zones, to five of the Society's ten Branches, starting with Rotorua (4 May), Hamilton (5 May) and Auckland (7 May).

Find more details, including an abstract of the lecture and itinerary details, on the Society's website.

Conference report: Scientists speaking out

The New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS) annual conference for 2015, Going Public: Scientists speaking out on difficult issues, was held on 10 April at the Royal Society of New Zealand in Wellington.

Speakers included Royal Society of New Zealand President Sir David Skegg, NZAS President Dr Nicola Gaston, and the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman. Discussion ranged from empowering scientists to speak out, to ensuring scientists are trusted communicators, to the responsibilities scientists hold when they engage with the public.

Podcasts of these presentations are available via the Science Media Centre.

The conference reached a far wider audience than the hundred-odd people at the venue, thanks to the #goingpublic twitter handle.

Throughout the day attendees tweeted choice bits of the conference to the outside world using #goingpublic, which proved so popular,  it was at one stage the second most tweeted subject in New Zealand.

An archive of the day's tweets can be found on Storify.

New Zealand Association of Scientists is one of 48 Constituent Association members of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Read about Constituent Organisation members on the Society's website.

Constituent Organisation conferences

Upcoming conferences, calls for papers, registration 

If you'd like your Constituent Organisation's conference to be listed in upcoming THE LINK membership newsletters, please email the membership desk.

Population Association of New Zealand: 29–30 June, Hamilton
Registrations are now open for the Population Association of New Zealand’s Conference Our People, Our Places to be held at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, 29–30 June 2015.

  • Earlybird registrations close 30 April.
  • Find information and register on the conference website.

New Zealand Institute of Physics: 6–8 July, Hamilton
You are invited to participate in the 17th New Zealand Institute of Physics (NZIP) and The New Zealand Physics Teachers (Physikos) Conference to be held at the The University of Waikato, Hamilton, 6–8 July 2015. The International Year of Light will be a scintillating back-drop to the Conference in 2015.

  • Earlybird registrations available until 5 June.
  • Find information and register on the conference website.

NZES2015New Zealand Ecological Society: 16–19 November, Christchurch
This year’s annual New Zealand Ecological Conference kicks off with a half-day symposium on non-government conservation initiatives. Held at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, the conference activities include a Student Day (15 November) and workshops and fieldtrips (16 November), and a writer’s retreat will follow the event.

  • Call for symposia and workshop proposals now open. Deadline 30 April 2015.
  • Full details at
Royal Society of New Zealand: Events

Upcoming talks

Here's an overview of our upcoming talks and events. Our weekly Alert newsletter will keep you up to date with a range of talks around the country, and we regularly email our members directly with details of Royal Society of New Zealand talks and lectures. You can also browse our events on our website.

Dinosaurs & space-shuttles, 5–13 May

Phil ManningPalaeontologist and writer Dr Phil Manning will take you on a whistle stop tour of the people, places and science associated with a very special fossil dinosaur called Dakota. This tour is a partnership between the Royal Society of New Zealand and Museums Aotearoa.

More details on our website.

Dunedin | 5.30pm Tue 5 May | Register now
Christchurch | 6pm Mon 11 May | Buy tickets
Wellington | 6pm Tue 12 May | Buy tickets
Napier | 7pm Wed 13 May | Register now

Science Book Prize announced, 15 May

Science Book PrizeAt the 2015 Auckland Writers Festival this May, science writer Philip Ball joins Bernard Beckett for a riveting session on things scientific. The session concludes with the announcement of the 2015 Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize.

More details on the Science Book Prize web page.

Auckland | 5.30pm Fri 15 May | Aotea Centre | Buy tickets

See March 2015 THE LINK newsletter for details on redeeming Member pricing for this event.

Colour & Invisibility, 21–22 May

Philip BallScience writer Dr Philip Ball will give two talks for the Society in May 2015: Bright Earth: the Invention of Colour in Wellington and Invisibility: a Cultural History in Christchurch. These talks are presented with the support of the Auckland Writers Festival.

More details above in this newsletter, or on our website.

Wellington | Colour | 6pm Thu 21 May | Buy tickets
Christchurch | Invisibility | 6pm Fri 22 May | Buy tickets

The Viewing Room

Video and audio

The latest uploads, and some from the vault

We regularly upload audio and video recordings of our talks and lectures. You can browse all of our videos via The Viewing Room or our Vimeo channel. Here are some links for recent talks and/or speakers.

From the vault
VIDEO, AUDIO: Reintegrating Art, Design and Science

At SixWhat new future might be created if artists, scientists, designers and engineers worked collaboratively to create innovation solutions to urgent issues? In one of our favourite presentations from last year, three leading international speakers came together for a panel discussion to present their ideas and future visions.

This At Six event in October 2014 explored innovative art/science collaborations and showcased new models of interdisciplinary practice.  The public discussion was chaired by Distinguished Professor Anne Noble (Massey University) and Dr Rhian Salmon (Victoria University of Wellington).

Audio, video and more details are on the Society's website. 

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THE LINK brings you Royal Society of New Zealand membership news, events in your region and around New Zealand, and information about science, technology and humanities that catches our eye.

Each month, we send THE LINK to Fellows, Companions and Members of the Society, and to our Branches and Constituent and Affiliate Organisations via their nominated representatives.

Upcoming meetings

Next Royal Society of New Zealand Council meeting

4 June 2015

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Nanette Lowe runs the Society's membership desk. Contact Nanette with all enquiries and issues regarding individual or organisational membership.
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Our award-winning building in Thorndon, Wellington, is available as a venue for meetings, lectures, and conferences.

Discounted rates are available for individual and organisational Members. Please quote your membership number or the name of your Constituent Organisation, Branch or Affiliate Organisation when you make an enquiry about booking.

To discuss pricing and availability, email or phone reception 04 4727421.
Alert weekly newsletter

Alert e-newsletter: your weekly news

Alert, the Society's weekly e-newsletter, goes out to more than 5,500 subscribers, including (but not limited to) our Fellows, Companions and Members, and our Branch, Constituent and Affiliate Organisation representatives.

If you're not receiving Alert, please let us know.

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