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Otago academics elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand

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Wednesday, 29 October 2014 2:58pm

Four leading University of Otago academics are among the 12 top New Zealand researchers and scholars in basic and applied science and the humanities newly elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Academy Chairperson Dr John Caradus FRSNZ said: “Being elected as a Fellow is an honour given to our top researchers for showing exceptional distinction in research or in the advancement of science, technology or the humanities.

“These newly elected Fellows are leaders in fields as diverse as surgery, mathematics, psychology, law, climate science and biochemistry. They reflect the wide range of work being undertaken by researchers in science, the social sciences and humanities in New Zealand. It gives me great pleasure to announce their election today.”

The new Fellows from the University of Otago are as follows:

  • Professor Catherine Day (Biochemistry) is a highly innovative protein biochemist and structural biologist who has made advances in understanding protein interactions that occur in programmed cell death and survival – critical in normal human development and cancer.
  • Professor Ewan Fordyce (Geology) is New Zealand’s leading vertebrate paleontologist and a world leader in research on the evolution of whales, dolphins and penguins and has shown that the Southern Ocean was a critical location for the evolution of these animals.
  • Professor Neil McNaughton (Psychology) is an internationally acclaimed behavioural neuroscientist who has developed a neuropsychological theory of anxiety. His research covers widespread areas, from drug-screening models of anxiety and the biological basis of human personality to learning and emotion. His ‘brain by-pass’ technique is being used in a clinical trial of therapeutic treatment for brain trauma in the United States.
  • Professor Iain Raeburn (Mathematics and Statistics) specialises in functional analysis: analysis is the part of mathematics which deals with limiting processes, and functional analysis is the part of analysis which deals with problems that are intrinsically infinite-dimensional. Such problems arise in quantum mechanics. Raeburn's main areas of research involve operator algebras.

One of the two new Honorary Fellows also elected is: Professor David Paterson (Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford). Professor Paterson was born and educated in New Zealand, graduating from the University of Otago. He is now a leading cardiorespiratory physiologist and a world authority in cardiac-neural control. His work focuses on the relationship between cellular and molecular mechanisms in cardio-respiratory control during physiological stress.

Honorary Fellowships are aimed at encouraging liaison and collaboration between outstanding scientists and scholars of different nations with established and new initiatives in the New Zealand knowledge community.

The Royal Society of New Zealand now has 399 Fellows and 59 Honorary Fellows. Fellows are involved in providing expert advice, promoting best and innovative research practice and disseminating information on the sciences and humanities.

For more information about the Society’s activities, please visit their website.

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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