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Distinguished Professor Hamish Spencer is honoured to share his expertise as a Fellow of the International Science Council, supporting their mission to act as the global voice for science.

Evolutionary biologist Distinguished Professor Hamish Spencer has received international recognition as a new Fellow of the International Science Council (ISC).

Receiving the highest honour to be conferred by the ISC, Professor Spencer was recently appointed with 100 new Fellows worldwide in recognition of their outstanding contributions to promoting science as a global public good.

Based in the Department of Zoology, he is just one of three New Zealanders to be recognised as Fellows by the ISC to date, the others being Sir Peter Gluckman and Sir Collin Tukuitonga.

Professor Spencer says the ISC is facilitating greater scientific expertise in, and advice on, issues of major global concern to science and society, including environmental, social and those such as artificial intelligence.

“Having scientific input and getting the facts right when exploring these matters will mean better decisions,” he says.

The new Fellows include eminent social and natural scientists, engineers and thought leaders from around the world who are recognised for their work in making important contributions to science and society.

“The ISC is very global in its outlook and mission, and therefore includes Fellows from round the world who represent a large diversity of backgrounds, expertise, and opinions,” Professor Spencer says.

“As a Fellow, I will have the opportunity to interact with people with new ideas who I never would have otherwise. As an academic, hearing new serious ideas is really stimulating so I’m really looking forward to that.”

Based in the Department of Zoology for over 30 years, Professor Spencer has engaged extensively with communities and the public on the communication and articulation of scientific information.

Professor Spencer says he’s been particularly fortunate to engage with communities and government agencies through his previous roles, including as Director of the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution (2012-2015), and as an independent science advisor for the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment for five years from 2016.

Locally, he contributes a regular popular sciences column with an evolutionary biology flavour for the Otago Daily Times and gives many public talks.

Professor Spencer says with the rise and breadth of contemporary global scientific challenges, the role of the Fellows is to help the ISC advance its vision of science as a global public good.

He reflects on receiving the Fellowship as both a great honour and an important responsibility.

“I am looking forward to assisting the ISC in bringing scientific evidence to bear on matters of major importance to science and society.”

Kōrero by Guy Frederick, Sciences Communications Adviser

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