Lynley Hargreaves

Lynley Hargreaves is a freelance science communicator with a background in mathematical physics. After a stint overseas at Physics Today magazine, she spent happy years working for the Royal Society Te Apārangi, albeit with intermittent disappearances to the mountains of the West Coast of the South Island. From this now permanent West Coast base, she has been conducting IAQ interviews since the beginning of 2014, asking a wide range of researchers how their work can give us insights into the workings of the world.

Curiouser and Curiouser: The mysterious incidence of testicular cancer in Māori - Unsorted

Jun 15, 2017

Originally posted on Royal Society Te Apārangi’s Past and Future series where, as part of 150th anniversary celebrations, early career researchers are invited to share discoveries in their fields from days gone by or give us a glimpse into where their research may take us in the future. By Jason Gurney, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington I was a complete novice when I started work as a public health researcher. I’d spent my prior (academic) life in a multi-million dollar biomechanics laboratory: my doctoral studies had involved years of painstaking data collection with a tiny sample of patients, with the grand result that the intervention-thingy I was testing didn’t actually work.  In an effort to hide this fact, I filled my thesis with technical jargon and more formulae than I care to remember; as a … Read More

The lost map of South Westland - Infrequently Asked Questions

Apr 27, 2017

Fascinating science stories await those willing to delve into New Zealand’s archives. But few do, because of the vast amount of information to sift through, says Dr Simon Nathan, geologist and guest editor of a special issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. The first of two issues focused on science history, this issue is freely available to the public between April and October 2017. Dr Nathan tells us about his contribution to the issue, and the New Zealand science history scene. Who are the science historians of New Zealand? Dr Simon Nathan There really isn’t a terribly strong science history movement in New Zealand. The papers have mostly come out of a conference we held at the end of 2015 on New Zealand science history. The previous … Read More

The Royal Society, 150 years on - Infrequently Asked Questions

Apr 06, 2017

There’s a common thread running through the 150 year history of the Royal Society Te Apārangi. That is the Society’s ability to reinvent itself, says historian John Martin, who wrote the book Illuminating our World: 150 Years of the Royal Society Te Apārangi launched in Wellington last night. The Society’s latest reconception, in some ways, takes the organisation back to its roots – of encompassing not just science, but all forms of knowledge. John Martin tells us more. Is there a common theme running through Illuminating Our World? What I’m hoping comes through in the book is the very interesting evolution of an organisation that, in order to survive and prosper, has had to reinvent itself multiple times. When it began as the New Zealand Institute the government was a very different beast from in the 20th century. The government didn’t have sets … Read More

Kaka, cognition and how bird brains help us understand intelligence - Infrequently Asked Questions

Mar 23, 2017

Dr Rachael Shaw Bird brain shouldn’t be an insult anymore, says Victoria University Research Fellow Dr Rachael Shaw, because birds can do amazing things. Dr Shaw studied the cognition of a population of curious robins in Wellington’s Zealandia ecosanctuary with a Fast-Start Marsden Fund grant. Together with students, she has since found these birds may be able to pass on behaviours taught to them by humans to their offspring. Dr Shaw tells us how her results can help us understand the evolution of intelligence, and might even offer insights into ways to teach Wellington’s burgeoning kaka population to avoid the pitfalls of living in a human-centric environment. How can bird brains tell us about the way intelligence works? There are two main theories of intelligence that researchers typically focus on, … Read More

Deciphering scientific history (and handwriting) - Infrequently Asked Questions

Mar 08, 2017

Dr Simon Nathan The human side of James Hector, the dominant scientist of nineteenth century New Zealand, long lay hidden in the illegible scrawl of Hector’s handwriting. Then Dr Simon Nathan began writing a biography of the man who established the museum that became Te Papa and the institute that became the Royal Society of New Zealand. In making sense of Hector, Simon has also illuminated New Zealand’s history. He will give a talk in Wellington on the day that would be Hector’s 183rd birthday. Here, he muses on perception, politics and science. You’ve now published transcriptions of many of the letters between Hector and his contemporaries. How did that come about? When I started writing the book about Hector I had worked out a plan and I’d written a couple of chapters. But I … Read More

The secret of connecting communities with science - Infrequently Asked Questions

Feb 16, 2017

Professor Hamish Spencer When the remote and rural Tolaga Bay community approached Allan Wilson Centre scientists about a tree planting project in 2011, an amazingly successful partnership began. The project blossomed in scope. It normalised a scientific approach across the community. Funding was lost, but other funding gained, and some of the collaborations continue to this day. Professor Hamish Spencer, who led the initial group of scientists through this process, recently won the Callaghan Medal for this outstanding contribution to science communication in New Zealand. Here he talks about the secret of a successful community partnership and some of the surprising benefits to be gained. What is the most important part of a community partnership? The relationship is what really matters. They came to trust us and we came to trust them. We couldn’t have done … Read More

’tis the season we ate sugar - Infrequently Asked Questions

Jan 26, 2017

Dr Lisa Te Morenga It’s particularly hard to reduce sugar intake over the holiday season, when so many of our social interactions revolve around the consumption of sweet food, says University of Otago Research Fellow Dr Lisa Te Morenga. It’s also difficult when we don’t know, or won’t admit, how much sugar we’re eating. Dr Morenga provided expert advice for a Royal Society of New Zealand paper on sugar and health, which called for better labelling to allow consumers to assess how much added sugar products contain. She tells us about the links between sugar and ill health, how under reporting of sugar consumption makes it difficult to prove those effects, and how a new test can measure long-term sugar consumption by looking at hair. Do you think people see one piece of research … Read More

I need to discuss my concern… - Infrequently Asked Questions

Nov 24, 2016

Distinguished Professor Viviane Robinson Education leaders can shy away from difficult conversations with teachers, or, struggle to recognise when they’ve prejudged the situation. But they can be taught to do better, and The University of Auckland’s Distinguished Professor Viviane Robinson is doing just that. Professor Robinson’s work on research-based guidance on student-centred leadership just won her the Mason Durie Medal for an outstanding contribution to the social sciences. But she wasn’t at the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Research Honours dinner last night to receive the award. From a rather noisy lounge in Copenhagen Airport, Professor Robinson tells us why. Your research produced an evidence-based model about how educational leadership makes a difference to student outcomes. Your model includes five dimensions of leadership practice and three capabilities. How does the ability to handle … Read More

New Zealand needs climate leadership - Infrequently Asked Questions

Nov 10, 2016

Professor Ralph Sims We’ve got to get cracking – grow trees, stop wasting food, stop burning coal, electrify the vehicle fleet. That’s the message from Massey University’s Professor Ralph Sims, who chaired the panel which produced the Royal Society of New Zealand report Transition to a low-carbon economy for New Zealand. Six months after the report we still lack leadership, says Professor Sims. Individuals, businesses, towns and cities are moving faster than the government on reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet our climate change targets. Have you seen any encouraging signs that we are shifting towards a lower carbon economy? The New Zealand Government hasn’t announced anything on climate change mitigation policy, so the answer is no. The Royal Society of New Zealand report was acknowledged by Paula Bennett, the Minister for Climate Change Issues, as … Read More

The future of milk - Infrequently Asked Questions

Oct 28, 2016

Dr Skelte Anema Value-added milk products are likely to continue their rise, says new Royal Society of New Zealand Fellow Dr Skelte Anema. That means we’ll keep moving away from commodities like dried milk powder and export more expensive products such as fresh and long-life liquid milk and cream. A Principal Research Scientist at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre, Dr Anema has worked in the New Zealand dairy industry since 1990. He tells us how the science and economics have changed, and how processing milk in different ways can effect milk proteins, making for more consistent products, a longer shelf life, or even pourable cheese. When you first started working in this area, New Zealand had cream-topped glass bottles of home-delivered milk. How has the research environment changed in the last 26 years? Fresh milk that is sold … Read More