Now that non-scientists can win a Rutherford Medal, there’s a good case for changing the name of the award

Until this year, the Rutherford Medal has been the most prestigious science award the Royal Society of New Zealand can bestow on worthy scientists.

But big changes are being made to the meaning of “science” and the society has proudly announced:

Rutherford Medal now includes humanities

The announcement explains that Royal Society Te Apārangi’s highest award, the Rutherford Medal for recognition of eminent research, scholarship, or innovation, will now include humanities scholarship in the fields of recognition.

This change has been made to recognise the widening of the object and functions of the Society under our Act, with the inclusion of the humanities, so that now the Society’s highest award will be opened to all disciplines covered by the Act.

In light of this change, the nomination deadline for the Rutherford Medal (and $100,000 prize money) will be extended out for an extra month (to 30 April 2020) to allow time for humanities nominations to be submitted for the current year.  Continue reading “Now that non-scientists can win a Rutherford Medal, there’s a good case for changing the name of the award”

An emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion has an impact (and raises questions) on Marsden Fund grants

Questions are raised on the AgScience blog about the allocation of grants from the Marsden Fund this year.

The fund is managed by Royal Society Te Apārangi on behalf of the government and presumably its decisions reflect government policy.

The allocation of $83.671 million (excluding GST) to 125 research projects across New Zealand was announced this week.

The society says the 2019 grants support excellent New Zealand research in the areas of science, engineering, maths, social sciences and the humanities

The AgScience post reports a dearth of grants for science in the agricultural and horticultural sector.

It also questions whether the money is being invested in the best projects or has been allocated on the basis of other considerations. Continue reading “An emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion has an impact (and raises questions) on Marsden Fund grants”

Marsden Fund dishes out $85.64m of grants – and we can’t wait to read the research reports

Want to know what counts as a “critical issue” when public funding is dispensed, through the Royal Society of New Zealand, to the country’s top researchers?

You can get an idea from the titles of the successful projects in the latest round of grants.  They include –

  • The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: A Biocultural investigation of 19th century Frontier mining cemeteries in Australia, New Zealand and California;
  • Sensitive Negotiations: Indigenous Diplomacy and British Romantic Poetry;
  • The Natural History of Film Form: Film Aesthetics through Animal, Vegetable and Mineral Matter;
  • Legal cannabis for sale: home-grown or supermarket?
  • Embodying the law: Manhood and authority in the making of English legal culture c.1300-1600.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods announced the successful projects yesterday (almost 90% of the applications missed out), saying the country’s top researchers will be able to investigate critical issues and build knowledge across the board supported by $85.64 million over the next three years through the 2018 Marsden Fund round. Continue reading “Marsden Fund dishes out $85.64m of grants – and we can’t wait to read the research reports”

Diversification in science – a policy that might have squeezed out Dr Einstein

Great news for mathematicians.  Their services – or the services of a few of them, appropriately selected – look likely to  be increasingly required to monitor the implementation of the Government’s diversification policies.

Those policies are being pushed into the domain of science by the Royal Society of New Zealand and by Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods.

The society and the Minister are saying – in effect – they can’t wait for the gender and race blends they seek to evolve naturally.  They favour a creative approach, to be effected through social engineering.

This puts merit on the back seat and promotes a numbers game.

Continue reading “Diversification in science – a policy that might have squeezed out Dr Einstein”

New charter aims to culturalise scientists – will dissidents be starved of funding?

Several questions are raised by the development of a “charter” to set out the principles to guide “sound research” practice in New Zealand.

The Royal Society has announced the formation of a working group to develop the charter with support from research funding agencies, bodies representing different types of research organisations and the Royal Society.

Dr John Hay, appointed independent chair of the working group, says the task is to develop the proposed charter within 12-18 months.

One aim of the charter “is to provide clarity to all researchers and research organisations on expectations for sound research practice”.

The charter will foster “a culture of collective responsibility” for maintaining good research practice, set out what sufficient compliance looks like and support cohesive research teams working across many research organisations.

Continue reading “New charter aims to culturalise scientists – will dissidents be starved of funding?”