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.

Counting carbon – knowledge is power - Infrequently Asked Questions

Jun 21, 2016

One of the striking things for University of Waikato law Professor Barry Barton, while working on the Royal Society of New Zealand report Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy for New Zealand, was how often his scientific colleagues had to tell him they didn’t have necessary data on New Zealand’s carbon emissions options. Without that information, we don’t know where the good opportunities are. An expert in laws that change behaviour, Professor Barton says we need policy measures which actually tell you how much carbon they’ll save and, in the case of transport, make changes across the whole fleet. What is the biggest finding of the Royal Society of New Zealand report? Professor Barry Barton One of the big findings of the report is that everywhere we look there are huge gaps in publicly available data about … Read More

New editor of Journal of Royal Society of NZ - Infrequently Asked Questions

May 12, 2016

The journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand began its life in the 1860s covering a wide range of topics. New editor Professor Ewan Fordyce FRSNZ would like to regain a little more of that breadth of discipline. The University of Otago Professor knows something about crossing disciplinary boundaries, as a paleontologist in a Geology Department, working on fossils that are represented by living animals. Are you hoping to make the journal more interdisciplinary? Professor Ewan Fordyce FRSNZ For any local journal that overlaps with other local journals, we have to think carefully about who it appeals to – in a way that’s a challenge for all of our journals in New Zealand. Perhaps we could do more to pitch the journal at the Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Read More

Electric cars – a slow hope - Infrequently Asked Questions

Apr 28, 2016

Dr Janet Stephenson Experts, just about everyone and even the government would like New Zealanders to be zipping around in electric cars. But it won’t happen, at least not rapidly. Otago University’s Director of the Centre for Sustainability Dr Janet Stephenson explains. She also tells us why New Zealanders are buying photovoltaic solar panels, wonders why we’re buying electric bicycles, and points out that the new Royal Society of New Zealand report on Climate Change Mitigation Options for New Zealand found only one highway to low emissions – reducing the use of fossil fuels. What is the importance of the Royal Society of New Zealand report? The thing that’s really important about the Royal Society report is that no one until now has pulled together in a comprehensive way the mitigation opportunities … Read More

Floods for you; sea level rise for me - Infrequently Asked Questions

Apr 21, 2016

Professor James Renwick With sixteen percent of New Zealanders living in the coastal zone, and two thirds in areas prone to flooding, most of us are likely to feel the watery effects of climate change. A new Royal Society of New Zealand report, Climate Change Implications for New Zealand, says your local council should be thinking about this. And they are, according to panel chair Professor James Renwick. He says that his is the easy job – telling councils what the science is. Councils have the hard job of figuring out what to do about it. The report seems to have mainly considered water impacts from climate change – sea level rise, flooding. Why is that? We spent quite a bit of time talking about what we were going to cover in … Read More

WWII war brides – love, law, race and marriage - Infrequently Asked Questions

Mar 10, 2016

Associate Professor Angela Wanhalla About 1,500 hundred New Zealand women married American Servicemen during WWII, says University of Otago’s Associate Professor Angela Wanhalla. With the latest of a string of illustrious research grants, she looks at the less-considered questions of this war time history – divorce, adoption, legitimacy, shame, the women who were married then abandoned, and the women who weren’t considered white enough to get married at all. What did being white have to do with anything? My research on New Zealand’s war brides originates with a collaborative Marsden-funded project with my colleague in history Judy Bennett and Jacqui Leckie in Anthropology, called Mothers’ Darlings. In that project we investigated the social impacts of US servicemen on Indigenous societies in the South Pacific Command, focussing on the fate of the children fathered by American men with Indigenous … Read More

Crabs hear turbines and stop developing - Infrequently Asked Questions

Feb 25, 2016

Dr Craig Radford When New Zealand marine crab larvae are played the sound of tidal turbines, they halt their metamorphosis into an adult form. That’s one of the findings of Rutherford Discovery Fellow Dr Craig Radford’s team, in the little-known, underwater world of crab hearing. The Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland tells us about another new finding that crabs can make sounds, how far fish can hear, and why hydrophones are a good way of monitoring marine habitats. Crabs don’t have ears, do they? How do they hear? For over 50 years, the mechanism and even existence of crustacean hearing has been fiercely debated. The lack of convincing evidence for how they hear is especially embarrassing given the tremendous advancements made in our understanding of crustacean behavior that clearly shows they produce sounds and can respond … Read More

Marmalade chapati multiculturalism - Infrequently Asked Questions

Feb 11, 2016

Professor Colleen Ward FRSNZ The more culturally diverse our neighbourhoods are, the happier we are about it – up to a certain point, says Professor Colleen Ward, Director of  Victoria University of Wellington’s Centre for Applied Cross-cultural Research. The Royal Society of New Zealand Fellow explains the tipping point of immigration acceptance, what makes kiwis tend to embrace diversity, and why it is a good thing that a friend of hers has marmalade on chapatis for breakfast. Are New Zealanders welcoming towards immigrants, compared to the rest of the world? New Zealanders actually have very good attitudes to multiculturalism, though there is always room for improvement. Our research has shown that 89 percent of New Zealanders agree that it is a good thing for a country to be made up of many different cultures, attitudes and identities. That’s a … Read More

Discovering new species in the Kermadec Islands - Infrequently Asked Questions

Jan 28, 2016

Dr Tom Trnski A November 2015 expedition to the remote, subtropical Kermadec Islands doubled the area’s number of known sponge species, with a sponges taxonomist on the team for the first time. That was exciting to see, says Auckland War Memorial Museum’s Tom Trnski, the expedition leader. But often the really interesting part, he tells us, is how species distribution fits together – and may change – in this isolated patch of ocean at the northern end of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Are the Kermadecs rich in new species? It had been considered a species poor region but we’re beginning to realise that was because of a lack of sampling. It actually has high levels of endemism in some groups such as algae, crustaceans, invertebrates or sponges. The sponges are a strange group. They have a skeleton of … Read More

What’s in a name? Funding New Zealand taxonomy - Infrequently Asked Questions

Dec 16, 2015

Professor Wendy Nelson Want to know whether that fruit fly is a dangerous new import? Or if the mussel you are about to eat has been feeding on toxic microalgae? Or what organisms are attached to the bottom of that boat? Call your local taxonomist. The trouble is, the few there are don’t get to spend much time actually doing taxonomic research. A new Royal Society of New Zealand report released this week highlights the underfunding of this crucial area. The National Taxonomic Collections of New Zealand panel convener Professor Wendy Nelson FRSNZ fills us in on the problems we could face, if underfunding continues. The report says New Zealand taxonomic collections contain about 10 million invertebrate specimens. Why so many? Invertebrate groups are very numerous – and occupy a huge range of habitats from … Read More

A spoonful of perception intervention helps the medicine go down - Infrequently Asked Questions

Nov 25, 2015

Two people have heart attacks. Who gets back to work sooner? The one who thinks their illness will be short, even if their symptoms were worse, according to research in the rapidly expanding area of patient illness perception. But the main reason for this, explains new Royal Society of New Zealand Fellow and Mason Durie Medal recipient, Professor Keith Petrie, is not that a positive attitude can cure you. It’s because getting people to stick with treatment is one of the biggest problems facing medicine today. Professor Keith Petrie Why do similarly ill people have varying ideas about how they feel? People have in their minds a collection of symptoms that go with a condition – we pick up that information from people that we know who have had the illness and from … Read More