Gareth Renowden (MA Oxon) is the author of the award-winning The Truffle Book (Limestone Hills 2005), The Olive Book (Canterbury University Press 1999) and Video – The Inside Story (Collins (UK) 1983). He has written for and worked on a wide variety of magazines and newspapers in Britain, NZ and the US. He is trying to grow truffles, olives and grapes on a small farm in North Canterbury, and is immediate past president of the NZ Truffle Association. He is a member of the committee of the NZ Meteorological Society, deputy chair of the North Canterbury Radio Trust, and a founder member of the Waipara River Protection Group. Gareth is on Twotter @grenow
Dr Grant Jacobs is a computational biologist, a biologist who uses computers (algorithms, statistics, etc.) to explore biological systems, and who develops computer algorithms and tools for biologists to explore data from genes, genomes and proteins. He contracts to research groups and biotech companies through his Dunedin-based consultancy, BioinfoTools. He has an established interest in science communications and is open to science communication work as well as computational biology. Grant is on Twitter, @BioinfoTools.
This is the Sciblogs guest blog, where we run science-related submissions from the Sciblogs community and beyond. Contact Sciblogs editor Peter Griffin about making a submission - or about hosting a blog on Sciblogs.
Dr Helen Petousis-Harris blogs about vaccines and vaccination. Her background is predominantly biological sciences, and she did her PhD in Vaccinology, specifically around vaccine reactions. She worked at the Immunisation Advisory Centre at the University of Auckland between 1998 and 2018 where she has developed a passion for all things vaccine. Currently Helen has an appointment as an associate professor in the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care and her teaching is largely around vaccination. Her research focuses on a number of aspects of vaccines and vaccination but in particular vaccine effectiveness and vaccine safety. She was previously the chair of the World Health Organization Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS). Of course all opinions in this blog are her own. Disclosures: Helen has led a number of industry funded studies. These have all been investigator conceived and led. She does not receive honorarium from industry personally. She has received industry support to attend some conferences and has contributed to Expert Advisory meetings for GSK, Merck, and Pfizer. Helen is a member of the Covid vaccine Science and Technical Advisory Group to MBIE and the MoH and the Covid Immunisation Implementation Advisory groups to the MoH.
Helen Taylor is a conservation genetics researcher at the University of Otago in Dunedin. She is interested in what happens to the genetics of populations when they get very small, and how factors like loss of genetic diversity and increased inbreeding might affect species’ persistence via impacts on their reproductive success and survival. Helen’s research mainly focusses on threatened birds. In New Zealand, she has focused on little spotted kiwi, South Island robin, and hihi (or stitchbird), but she has also worked with threatened birds in Europe and the Peruvian Amazon. Helen’s time is currently split between remote islands around the country, and the lab/office in Dunedin. You can track her down on twitter @HelenTaylorCG
Jack grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand. Jack had an interest in science and public speaking from a very young age. He completed high school and moved to Dunedin, New Zealand, where he completed a Bsc in anatomy with a neuroscience focus at the University of Otago (the southernmost university in the world!). During Jack's degree he took several botany papers and fell in love with the subject, so continued his studies at Otago with a post graduate diploma in botany. At the end of that year he was looking for a Ph.D. topic and he found an interesting combination of botany and neuroscience with a study of the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on inflammation in the ischemic brain. Under the supervision of Dr. John Ashton, he enjoyed the roller-coaster of Ph.D. life and learnt the valuable lesson of applying a skeptical eye even to the most reputable sources. John really shaped him into the scientist he is today. John taught Jack the importance of just thinking (you’d be surprised how much this is overlooked in the average lab). Dr. Jack Auty is now doing post-doctoral research on Alzheimer’s disease and inflammation at the University of Manchester under the inspirational supervision of Dr. David Brough and Dr. Catherine Lawrence.