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Wednesday 15 February 2023 10:23am

Peter Dearden HOD_650

Professor Peter Dearden started his new job as head of the Department of Biochemistry at the beginning of February. You may already know him through his research into the genetics of insect development, especially bees. But we thought you'd like learn more about our new boss by way of a quick question and answer session...

Where did you grow up and go to school?

I was born in Montreal in Canada, but grew up (from the age of 2) in Wellington. I went to Wellington College where I distinguished myself by breaking into the grounds of Government house (where the Governor General lives) to turn the sprinklers round so we could have a refreshing spray of water on hot days.

What is your family situation?

I live in Dunedin with my awesome wife, Petra, and three kids, Elizabeth (14), William (16) and Victoria (18), a dog/bear called Barkerly, and an axolotl called Sir Axolot.

What areas of research are you most interested in?

How embryos evolve. But I also do genome evolution, plasticity and evolution and, apparently, population genomics. Embryos are awesome though.

Who are your scientific mentors?

In New Zealand, Geoff Rickards - best genetics teacher on earth. In my career, Prof Michael Akam, previously at the Museum of Zoology in Cambridge. An intellectual giant who also cares about the people who work with him.

Quick career bio?

I did my undergraduate degree at Victoria University of Wellington in Genetics and Molecular Biology. My PhD was in the Biochemistry Department, Imperial College, London on the development of the nervous system in Drosophila. First postdoc at the Wellcome institute (now Gurdon institute) and Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge, second (mistaken) postdoc at Agriculture Canada and University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. I returned to New Zealand in 2001, and started my lab in 2002. I started up and was the first Director of Genetics Otago in 2006, and have directed Genomics Aotearoa from 2017.

Nau mai, haere mai ki te hautūtanga o te Tari Matū Koiora, Peter! – welcome to the leadership of the Department of Biochemistry!

There will be a formal dinner later in the year to welcome Peter and farewell his predecessor, Prof Sally McCormick.

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini. - My strength is not mine alone, it comes from the collective.

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