Top brains to tackle NZ's scientific challenges

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013

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Some of New Zealand's top scientific talent have been tasked with identifying the biggest science challenges facing the country.

The prime minister's chief science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, will chair the 11-person panel, which contains a mix of experienced and emerging young scientists from a wide range of fields.

Minister of Science and Innovation Steven Joyce said the panel's task would be to identify the national science challenges the country needs to solve in the next five to 10 years, for which the Government had set aside $60 million in new funding.

"Science is essential to addressing some of the key issues facing our nation - whether it be challenges like improving water quality while at the same time lifting our farm productivity, or the state of our health."

The funding is part of a $385m boost to science and innovation spending during the next four years, taking the total spending to more than $1.3 billion by 2015-16.

Also on the panel are New South Wales chief scientist and engineer Professor Mary O'Kane, Otago University director of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit Professor Richie Poulton, and MacDiarmid Institute PhD student Elf Eldridge.

Speaking from Copenhagen, Sir Peter said he was pleased the panel was independent and made up completely of science-minded members.

He said he believed the main challenge facing the country was its use of science.

The panel will look at hundreds of submissions from the public and science sector and recommend up to 10 final challenges to the Cabinet for approval.

The Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry will then work with the science sector to develop detailed themes and projects and decide how challenges will be led.

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- The Dominion Post

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