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

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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Four leading University of Otago academics are among 19 top researchers and scholars to be newly elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

In announcing the new Fellows, the Society described their election as recognising true international distinction in research and scholarship.

Professor David Craw (Geology) has advanced understanding of New Zealand geology including work on the relationship between tectonics and the movement of mineral deposits. His research underpins an internationally developed surface and thermomechanical model which links plate-edge dynamics, surface erosion cycles, and changes in the Earth’s crust. More recently he has been involved in demonstrating links between tectonic movement with biological speciation, including the evolution rate and distribution of our fresh water fishes.

Professor Parry Guilford (Biochemistry) is an expert on cancer biology and cancer genetics and is committed to translational research for the benefit of the cancer patient. Research in collaboration with a large Māori family identified the first known gene for inherited gastric cancer. This defined a new cancer syndrome, saved many lives worldwide, and provided a completely new insight into the mechanisms of cancer development. He has been involved in the development of Cxbladder, a urine test for bladder cancer. This test will reduce the need for painful bladder cystoscopies and reduce healthcare costs.

Professor Tony Merriman (Biochemistry) has contributed to the pre-clinical and clinical science of autoimmune diseases and gout in New Zealand, particularly in Māori and Pacific people. He has shown the genetic and environmental elements of gout, which has informed public health advice and drug availability in New Zealand. Tony has made important academic advances extracting key conclusions from large health data sets.

Professor Jacinta Ruru (Law) is working on understanding how colonial legal systems ought to recognise Indigenous peoples’ interests in land and water. She has authored more than 90 publications, including her co-authored book Discovering Indigenous Lands. This presents new insights about how England’s colonisation relied on the Doctrine of Discovery (a key premise for non-Indigenous sovereignty over Indigenous lands and territories). She is in demand internationally and locally and provides advice to many groups from government to communities. She is also Co-Director of Nga Pae o te Maramatanga - New Zealand’s Maori Centre of Research Excellence.

About the Royal Society of New Zealand

The Royal Society of New Zealand offers expert advice to government and the public, recognises excellence in research and scholarship in science, technology and humanities, promotes science and technology education, publishes peer-reviewed journals, administers funds for research and fosters international scientific contact and co-operation.

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

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