This year’s Science New Zealand Awards recognised outstanding research by three Plant & Food Research scientists and teams – an accomplished fruit crop scientist, a consortium working on myrtle rust disease and an emerging researcher looking at foods that support human health.
Dr Jill Stanley received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to plant physiology and crop science over four decades. During her career, Dr Stanley has worked on a range of crops in varied locations, including the UK and Spain, collaborated with numerous researchers and growers and now leads a team of 40 people. Her summerfruit research has focussed on improving practical outcomes for growers by enhancing productivity and fruit quality. Stanley’s work has helped growers use resources more efficiently to lift returns and has delivered quality fruit for consumers. Her research has been instrumental in the development and release of three exciting new apricot cultivars, and she led the summerfruit aspects of the Future Orchard Planting Systems (FOPS) programme, developing new planar (two-dimensional) growing systems. Stanley is dedicated to supporting career development in Aotearoa’s next generation of scientists.
The Plant & Food Research Team Award recognises the Myrtle Rust Consortium, a multi-party, multi-disciplinary team drawn from across Aotearoa who mobilised to mount an exceptional biosecurity response. The Consortium includes over 100 individuals from across the science sector – from CRIs, universities, iwi, government, industry and international collaborators and a national community of stakeholders. The consortium have worked tirelessly towards the common goal of protecting our myrtle species from the devastating effects of myrtle rust. Key to the success of the consortium has been their collaborative and cohesive approach, along with the recognition and respect of Mātauranga Māori and mana whenua kaitiakitanga, which has empowered Māori involvement and leadership across the science response.
The Plant & Food Research Early Career Researcher Award recognises Dr Odette Shaw for her work on understanding how compounds in fruits and vegetables can support health and wellbeing, particularly conditions related to the body’s inflammation response. Her research into the effects of berryfruit on lung inflammation have led to the development of a new functional food product. Through her involvement with the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge, Dr Shaw is helping New Zealand food companies identify products with beneficial properties.
Science New Zealand represents the country’s seven Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) including Plant & Food Research. The annual awards recognise research excellence at each CRI.