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Plenary speakers at the VII Southern Connection Congress

Peter Raven

Peter Raven. Peter H. Raven, long-time director and now President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, was one of the initiators of Southern Connection and also a co-organiser of the first Congress held in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1993. World-renowned botanist, environmentalist, and advocate for conservation and biodiversity, Peter is past President and Chairman of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest organisation of professional scientists in the world. He is also Chairman of the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration, and Chair of the Division of Earth and Life Studies of the National Research Council, which includes biology, chemistry, and geology. Peter is also the Engelmann Professor of Botany at Washington University in St. Louis.

Described by TIME magazine as a "Hero for the Planet," Dr. Raven champions research around the world to preserve endangered plants and is a leading advocate for conservation and a sustainable environment. In recognition of his work in science and conservation, Dr. Raven is the recipient of numerous other prizes and awards, including the prestigious International Prize for Biology from the government of Japan; Environmental Prize of the Institute de la Vie; the Volvo Environment Prize; the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and the Sasakawa Environment Prize. He has held Guggenheim and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowships.

He was a member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology during the Clinton Administration. In 2001, he received from the President of the United States the National Medal of Science, the highest award for scientific accomplishment in this country. Dr. Raven served for 12 years as Home Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences, is a member of the academies of science in Argentina, Brazil, China, Denmark, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, the U.K. and several other countries, and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He was first Chair of the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation, a government-established organisation that funds joint research with the independent countries of the former Soviet Union, and served as President of the XVI International Botanical Congress in St. Louis in 1999.

Dr. Raven is Co-editor of the Flora of China, a joint Chinese-American international project that is leading to a contemporary account on all the plants of China. He has written numerous books and publications, both popular and scientific, including Biology of Plants (co-authored with Ray Evert and Susan Eichhorn, Worth Publishers, Inc., New York), the internationally best-selling textbook in botany, now in its sixth edition, and Environment (Saunders College Publishing, Pennsylvania), a leading textbook on this subject.

Dr. Raven received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1960 after completing his undergraduate work at the University of California, Berkeley. He has received honorary degrees from universities in this country and throughout the world.

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Christian Kὅrner

Christian Kὅrner. Professor Christian Kὅrner of the Institute of Botany, University of Basel, Switzerland, is probably the world’s leading alpine plant ecophysiologist, best known for his recent (1999) book "Alpine Plant Life: Functional plant ecology of high mountain ecosystems", published by Springer-Verlag of Germany and now (2003) in its second edition. Professor Kὅrner’s researches are very wide ranging, as are the countries in which he has worked and collaborated.

One of his most ambitious studies was into the influence of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations on natural vegetation, both in alpine and forest (with the Swiss canopy crane  project) environments. Professor Kὅrner has received many prestigious international awards and led or collaborated in many national and international committees dealing with a wide range of botanical and ecological topics.

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Janet Wilmshurst

Janet Wilmshurst. Dr Janet Wilmshurst’s main research interest is the analysis of fossil remains from sediments to reconstruct past ecosystems. Of particular interest are the ecological changes that occurred on pristine island ecosystems following initial human settlement, in New Zealand and other islands in East Polynesia. Her work ranges over timescales of 100s of years to the last 10,000 years; the longer time perspective provides context to the more recent changes associated with human settlement

Dr Wilmshurst’s research is characterised by a multidisciplinary approach including palaeoecology, archaeology and zooarchaeology, and uses advanced analytical methods to provide novel views on ecosystem change (from both natural and human disturbance).

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Angus McIntosh

Angus McIntosh. After completing a PhD at the University of Otago and a post-doctoral fellowship at Cornell University, Professor McIntosh joined the University of Canterbury in Christchurch where he is now the Mackenzie Foundation Chair in Freshwater Ecology. He has worked from the population through to ecosystem and landscape levels, focusing on New Zealand’s South Island freshwater systems.

Most recently his group has combined investigation of food webs with spatial analysis of waterways to reveal how environmental context and change affect river biota. This has involved work on food-web stability, invader impacts and riparian management.

Collaborations with students have been an important part of this work, and Angus is a member of the Academy of Ako Aotearoa, New Zealand’s national centre for tertiary teaching excellence.

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Alexander Schmidt

Alexander Schmidt. Alexander is currently leader of a research group in the Courant Research Centre Geobiology of the Georg-August-University, Göttingen, Germany.

His research focuses on the evolution of land plants and the development of terrestrial ecosystems. Alexander uses fossils exquisitely captured in amber, fossil resin produced by conifers and angiosperm trees. He has published on the diversity, evolution and paleoecology of various Mesozoic and Cenozoic groups of eukaryotic microorganisms, fossil fungi, liverworts, vascular plants and more recently the paleoecology of Mesozoic and Cenozoic “amber forests”.

He is currently working on microorganisms associated with modern resin in New Caledonian forests, and on insect and other fossils in New Zealand Cenozoic amber.

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Jon Waters

Jon Waters. After completing a PhD at the University of Tasmania and a post-doctoral fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University, Professor Waters joined the University of Otago in Dunedin where he now has a personal chair in Zoology. His research uses distributional and genetic data to address fundamental questions in biogeography, ecology, and evolution.

Most recently his group has assessed the role of macroalgal rafting in mediating long-distance dispersal and connectivity in southern marine ecosystems, and also the extinction-recolonisation dynamics associated with human arrival in New Zealand. Jon is a Principal Investigator for New Zealand’s Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution.

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Mick Clout

Mick Clout. Mick Clout is Professor of Conservation Biology in the School of Environment, University of Auckland. He has had a life-time interest and involvement in the ecology of New Zealand birds, initially looking at the effects of plantation forestry and more recently on several of the endangered species, notably the critically endangered Kakapo (Strigops habroptilis) and the Kereru, New Zealand pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae). Mick has also worked with post-graduate students on a variety of indigenous vertebrates, including bats (Mysticina tuberculata), morepork owls (Ninox novaeseelandiae), kiwi (Apteryx spp.) and North Island kokako (Callaeas cinerea), plus some invertebrates; Powelliphanta snails.

His considerable involvement with the Department of Conservation has included not only employment but chairing their Kakapo Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee and contributions to the management of some North Island “Mainland Islands”: Trounson Kauri Park, Te Urewera and Wenderholm Regional Park, reflecting his interest in all aspects of restoration ecology, from invasive species ecology to species translocations. Mick has also had considerable involvement with the IUCN, having initiated and chaired their Invasive Species Specialist Group for their Species Survival Commission, which now involves >200 scientists from >50 countries.

With a BSc (Hons) from the University of Edinburgh (1972) and a PhD from the University of Auckland (1978), Mick’s many important contributions to nature conservation, here and abroad, has been recognized in many ways, including a Fellowship of the Royal Society of New Zealand and a recipient of the Society’s Sir Charles Fleming Environmental Award.

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Lionel Carter

Lionel Carter. Lionel Carter is Professor of Marine Geology at Victoria University of Wellington. He was educated at the University of Auckland and gained a PhD from the University of British Columbia. He joined the New Zealand Oceanographic Institute and continued through its merging into NIWA before moving to Victoria University.

His research focuses on modern and past processes that affect the ocean environment including the SW Pacific, North Atlantic and Southern Ocean. The cornerstone of this work has been participation on 34 oceanographic voyages including the multi-national Ocean Drilling Program and MARGINS “Source to Sink” initiative.

He was also a member of the Antarctic Drilling (ANDRILL) programme. A major research theme is the deciphering of marine geological records to determine past changes in global climate. This research has contributed to the development of observational and numerical models that aid prediction of potential environmental responses to the present phase of global warming. Part of this work has been applied to a wide range of marine engineering projects with the focus on subsea telecommunications.

Michael Walker

Lionel Carter. Michael Walker is a Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He has master’s and PhD degrees from the Universities of Auckland and Hawaii respectively and has published extensively on the magnetic sense and its use in navigation over long distances by animals.

This research has included laboratory studies of the structure and function of the magnetic sense in both vertebrates (elasmobranch and teleost fishes; birds; bats;) and insects (honeybees) together with field studies of homing pigeons, elasmobranch fishes, and bats.

His research is characterised by being an early mover in bringing new techniques and approaches to the study of the magnetic sense and its use in navigation over long distances, particularly for animals that travel in the fluid environments. In recent years, he has developed separate strands of research testing the mechanisms of the circa-tidal and circa-lunar rhythms in inter-tidal species.

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Professor Lesley Hughes

Lionel Carter. Professor Hughes is an ecologist in the Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University who researches the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems. She is a lead author on the IPCC fourth and fifth assessment reports, a member of the Australian Government’s Land Sector Carbon & Biodiversity Board and commissioner on the federal Climate Commission

Professor Hughes will give a public lecture entitled Southern Hemisphere biodiversity in a changing climate: 2050 & beyond

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© VII Southern Connections
Congress 2013

Department of Botany
University of Otago
PO Box 56
Dunedin 9054
New Zealand
Email southern.connection@otago.ac.nz