Kiwi researchers’ vital work guided by refreshed Science Board

Professor Aidan Byrne has been appointed Chair of the Science Board, alongside new Board members Dr Jessica Hutchings and Ms Elizabeth Hopkins.

The Science Board is responsible for investing Government funds in research, science and innovation.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister, Megan Woods announced the appointments today, saying Professor Byrne’s wealth of knowledge and experience will provide the board sound leadership.

Professor Byrne has a PhD in Nuclear Physics from Australian National University, where he also served as Director of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and as Dean of Science.

After ably serving the Board as acting Chair since July 2018, I welcome Professor Byrne’s permanent appointment,” says Megan Woods.

New Board member, Dr Hutchings (Ngāi Tahu, Ngati Huirapa, Gujurati) is a research strategist, leader and manager with 25 years of experience in the development and implementation of Māori science strategy.

“Dr Hutchings is a well-respected kaupapa Māori research leader. Her expertise working at the interface of science and society will strengthen the Board.”

Lastly, Mrs Hopkins trained as a research biologist at Oxford University where she investigated the role of genetic inheritance in breast cancer. She has held several Director and Chairperson roles on biotechs and state-owned enterprises, and served as CEO of Wool Equities, a NZX listed company.

“We have a wealth of knowledge and experience across the new Board, which positions it well to make funding decisions that support the vital work our New Zealand researchers do,” Megan Woods said.

Background

Professor Byrne, Dr Hutchings and Mrs Hopkins will serve terms of three years from July 2019. Read more here: https://www.mbie.govt.nz/about/who-we-are/our-external-boards/our-science-board/

Biographies of new members

Professor Aidan Byrne is Provost at the University of Queensland and was previously the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council.  Professor Byrne completed a BSc and MSc degrees at the University of Auckland.  He also completed a PhD in Nuclear Physics at the Australian National University, where he later served as Director of College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and Dean of Science. Professor Byrne brings with him a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise, particularly in the Physical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering. Professor Byrne has been the Acting Chair of the Science Board since July 2018.

Dr Jessica Hutchings Dr Hutchings (Ngāi Tahu, Ngati Huirapa, Gujurati) is Co-Director of Tiaho Ltd and Tumu Whakarae of the of the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge (NSC). She is also the Chair of the Rauika Māngai, a Cross NSC Māori Leadership forum.  She was recipient of a Health Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellowship, has a PhD and Masters in Environmental Studies from Victoria University and a Bachelor of Resource Studies from Lincoln University.

She has 25 years of experience in the development and implementation of Māori science strategy which includes building and leading Māori research teams and programs across a wide range of disciplines and science models.

Dr Hutchings leads key kaupapa Māori research initiatives with clear community outreach objectives. She has a particular expertise of working at the interface of science and society and mātauranga Māori and is an award winning author.

Mrs Elizabeth Hopkins, is a member of the Investment Committee of Kiwinet, Acting Commercial Director at the University of Canterbury.  She trained as a research biologist at Oxford University where she investigated the role of genetic inheritance in breast cancer. 

Mrs Hopkins has over 25 years of experience of successfully transitioning biological research into products in the life science sector.

Mrs Hopkins has been a Senior Advisor to MBIE and other government agencies in relation to the National Science Challenges and the establishment of Callaghan Innovation and also the development of the 2012 Science Strategy and Research investment processes.