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Thursday 16 December 2021 9:34am

Astrophysicist Tan Sri Professor Emeritus Dr Mazlan Othman receives prestigious honour

Tan Sri Professor Emeritus Dr Mazlan Othman Photo: Manfred Werner (Tsui)

Distinguished astrophysicist Tan Sri Professor Emeritus Dr Mazlan Othman has been awarded the prestigious Commander of the Order of Loyalty to the Crown of Malaysia, also known as the Darjah Panglima Setia Mahkota (PSM).

Presented for meritorious service to the country, the award is limited to 250 living recipients at any one time, not including foreign citizens who receive it as an honorary award.

Tan Sri Professor Emeritus Dr Mazlan completed her undergraduate and doctoral study at the University of Otago, graduating with a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics. She is Malaysia's first astrophysicist and the founding Director General of the Malaysian National Space Agency. She was Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and was named Director of the International Science Council (ISC) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in 2017.

Emeritus Professor Alastair Goss honoured at University of Adelaide Jubilee celebrations

Emeritus Professor Alastair Goss

Emeritus Professor Alastair Goss graduated from the Otago Dental School with Distinction in 1966. Greatly influenced by the Dean of School, Professor Sir John Walsh, he decided on a similar academic career. A Rotary Foundation Scholarship took him to the Royal College of Surgeons of England and then to the University of Michigan in the USA.

In 1970 he was appointed to a junior academic post at the University of Adelaide for one year but stayed. He was awarded a Doctor of Dental Science from Otago in 1981 and completed an Australian Surgical Fellowship.

For more than three decades he was the Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Head of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. In a long career he taught many undergraduates and postgraduates and published more than 300 peer reviewed papers.

In 2014 he was appointed Emeritus but still actively teaches and researches. The longest serving full time academic in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Emeritus Professor Goss was congratulated by the Chancellor of the University of Adelaide at the 1970 and 1971 Golden Jubilee celebrations.

Emma Gilmour first female driver for McLaren Racing

Alumna Emma Gilmour, from Dunedin, is the first woman to be chosen to drive for the McLaren Racing team. Emma (BA in Design Studies, 2001) will drive in the Extreme E off-road racing series, which takes its races to remote places to draw attention to climate change.

Professor Robin Knight one of world's most highly cited scientists

Professor Robin Knight Photo Carlos Figueroa CC BY-SA 40

Professor Rob Knight has been listed as one of the world's most highly cited scientists in the recent Clarivate PLC 2021 list of Highly Cited Researchers. Professor Knight completed his BSc in Biochemistry at Otago in 1996, and his PhD on the Origin and Evolution of the Genetic Code at Princeton University in 2001. He is founding Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation and Professor of Pediatrics and Computer Science & Engineering at University of California San Diego.

Professor Knight was alone in being named for four ESI fields (Biology and Biochemistry; Environment and Ecology; Microbiology; Molecular Biology and Genetics.

Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Semi-Finalists

Congratulations to the Otago alumni named as 2022 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Ngā Tohu Pou Kōhure o Aotearoa Semi-Finalists (with their award nomination citations):

Professor Michael Baker

New Zealander of the Year Te Pou Whakarae o Aotearoa: Professor Michael Baker MNZM, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington. Professor, leading researcher, and Science Communicator of the Year, Professor Michael Baker, has been a reassuring, measured voice during the COVID-19 pandemic, influencing Government policy, and sharing his epidemiology expertise with the public in an easy and helpful way.

Senior New Zealander of the Year Te Mātāpuputu o te Tau: Dr Murray Heasley. A campaigner for sexual abuse survivors, Dr Heasley has helped numerous New Zealanders seek justice and gain acknowledgement of their experiences.
New Zealand Environmental Hero of the Year Te Toa Taiao o te Tau: Professor Bronwyn Hayward MNZM. University of Canterbury Professor, Bronwyn Hayward, is an esteemed academic, whose work on climate change, sustainability and youth politics has been influential globally. She was a lead author on the UN's IPCC Special Report on global warming of 1.5 °C and is a member of the IPCC's core writing team.

New Zealand Environmental Hero of the Year Te Toa Taiao o te Tau and New Zealand Local Hero of the Year Te Pou Toko o te Tau: Deborah Manning. Deborah Manning was a lawyer when she changed her career a decade ago to establish KiwiHarvest, a food rescue organisation that has redirected six million kilos of edible nutritious food destined for landfill to people in need.

The winners will be announced on 31 March 2022 at the New Zealander of the Year Awards Gala.

Women of Influence finalists announced

An inspiring group of alumnae have been named as finalists in the 2021 Women of Influence Awards. Presented by Stuff and Westpac NZ, the awards recognise women who are making a difference in the work they do and paving the way for others to follow, from grassroots to the global stage. The winners will be announced in February next year.

The Otago alumnae finalists include:

Business Enterprise: Chloe and Florence van Dyke, Co-founders of Chia Sisters. Chloe: BSc (Neuroscience), PGDipSci (Neuroscience); Florence: BA (History), LLB.

Environment: Professor Bronwyn Hayward MNZM, University of Canterbury, Department of Political Science. BA(Hons) (Geography and Political Studies), MA (Geography and Political Studies), PhD (Geography). Dr Danielle Shanahan, Director of the Centre for People and Nature, and Deputy Chief Executive of Zealandia. BSc (Geology), PGDipWLM, MSc (Geology).

Innovation, Science & Health: Professor Beverley Lawton (Ngāti Porou), Founder and Director of the Centre for Women's Health Research Te Tātai Hauora o Hine. MBChB.

Public Policy: Fiona McTavish, Chief Executive, Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council. BSc (Geography), MRRP (Regional and Resource Planning). Dr Jessica Young, Postdoctoral Fellow at Victoria University. BPhEd(Hons) (Sport and Leisure Studies), MPhEd, PhD.

Tara Shepherd

Young Leader: Tara Shepherd, University of Otago student and climate change champion. Studying for BA (Politics), LLB.

Law alumni named in Top Diverse Board-Ready Directors list 2021

Adrienne Miller, Ben Nettleton and Herman Visagie have been named in the list of top Diverse Board - Ready Directors by the Superdiversity Institute for Law, Policy and Business in conjunction with the Ministry for Ethnic Communities. The initiative aims to identify directors across a range of diversity dimensions that bring a unique worldview and perspective to New Zealand's board tables.

Pharmacist Fiona Bradley wins Institute of Directors award

Palmerston North pharmacist Fiona Bradley has won an Emerging Director Award from the Institute of Directors Wellington Branch.

Dr Neville Ritchie co-authors book on the history of the Queen's Redoubt and invasion of Waikato in 1863

In December, Atuanui Press is releasing A History of Queen's Redoubt and the Invasion of the Waikato, co-authored by Otago alumnus Dr Neville Ritchie who completed his PhD in Archaeology at Otago in 1986. Dr Ritchie retired in 2018 after 32 years with the Department of Conservation, Hamilton, as Regional Archaeologist. His major research projects have been on the Chinese miners in Central Otago, the archaeology of Scott's and Shackleton's huts in Antarctica, and the New Zealand Wars.

Physiotherapist Dr Margot Skinner a champion of autonomy and collaboration

Dr Margot Skinner

Dr Skinner retires as Associate Dean Academic Engagement at the School of Physiotherapy Te Kura Kōmiri Pai this December, ending just one chapter of a long involvement with the School since she first enrolled as a student in the early 1970s. During this time, she has made a significant contribution within the University and to physiotherapy as a profession nationally and globally.

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