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Greg Anson

Greg Anson

Otago alumnus Associate Professor Greg Anson has become an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. The award recognises his life-long contribution to exercise sciences and the field of human movement neuroscience, both in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally.

He says it’s an honour, which will be shared with the many great colleagues and students that he has had the privilege of working with over the past 45 years or so.

“It’s a combination of being surprised and quite overwhelmed to have received this honour. I am very humbled by the experience.”

From initial studies in Physical Education, his career progressed into kinesiology, specifically movement neuroscience and in later years significant leadership responsibilities in Exercise Sciences.

While working at Oregon State University in the mid-eighties, he was approached by the late Professor David Russell (Dean of the then Otago School of Physical Education 1981-91) about returning to lecture at Otago.

“I loved my time in Oregon. It was a tough decision to come back to Otago, but the pull back of New Zealand is always a strong one for Kiwis.”

Greg Anson

Greg’s lab group expedition (2003), Left to Right Rosie Christenson (MBChB), Matt Dalton (BPhEd Hons), Sam Lucas (PhD), Rebekah Blakemore (PhD), Amelia Smith (BPhEd Hons)

Greg says on his return to the University he had the chance to work with some amazing colleagues and students. Amongst students he had the privilege of working with or mentoring were Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie, based at the University’s Brain Health Research Centre, Professor Anne-Marie Jackson (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu o Whangaroa, Ngāti Wai) Kaihautū Centre of Indigenous Science and Dr Olivia Harrison (Psychology).

“I am indebted to the rich collegial environment and mentoring at Otago, especially from Professor Brian Hyland (Physiology) and Professor Jeff Wickens (formerly Department of Anatomy, now based at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan), along with serious tutoring in long-distance endurance events from Professor Jim Cotter (School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences).”

Greg completed his DipPhEd at Otago in 1973, an MSc in Motor Control at the University of Wyoming in 1976 and his PhD at Penn State in 1980. He worked at the University of Otago from 1985 to 2009, and was an Associate Professor and Director of the Applied Sciences Programme before moving to Auckland.

He was Head of Department of Exercise Sciences at the University of Auckland from 2010 to 2020, Head of the Tāmaki Campus for seven years, and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Science in 2014. He served as Deputy Chair (2010-2017) and Chair (2018-2019) of the New Zealand Tertiary Council for Physical Activity, Sports and Exercise.

Greg’s outstanding career has included being a Board member of the International Society of Motor Control for many years and an International Fellow of the American National Academy of Kinesiology since 1997. He has been on organising committees for several international conferences, including chairing the organising committee of the 2021 Progress in Motor Control conference.

Greg Anson
Running the Kepler Challenge in 2004.

He retired in September 2021, but as a “lay person” was invited to serve as Chair of one of the two University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committees.

“This allows me to maintain contact with the university and continue to engage with staff and students in the School of Exercise Science.”

With a life-long passion for sports, Greg and his wife Hilary recently travelled to Melbourne to visit two of their grandchildren and watch some world-class athletes at the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam. Retirement has enabled him to play more tennis, doubles only he says, enjoying both the physical and social benefits.

The first from his family to study in the south, his three children all attended the University of Otago. Rachel Anson completed her Master of Science Communication in 2015, after finishing a BA in 2009, Jason Anson graduated with a BA in Design and Political Studies in 2008 and Mark Anson completed his BA at the University of Melbourne, after starting his studies at Otago.

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