The purpose of this blog is to provide a platform for commentary on science matters. The Office of the Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee is politically independent and will refrain from political debate.

Monthly Archives: November 2011

Collective responsibility

A recent issue of Nature (3rd November 2011) had two unrelated pieces that together merit comment. The first is a viewpoint by James Shelton, who is a science advisor at the US Agency for International Development, discussing a paper published … Continue reading

Helping to contain a killer

One of the achievements I was most proud of during my time as director of the Liggins Institute was the establishment of LENScience, which is the acronym for the Liggins Educational Network for Science (LENScience). It is one of a … Continue reading

We’ve got talent

Earlier this week, the Royal Society of New Zealand honoured a number of young and senior scientists with a range of medals and awards. The Rutherford Medal, the Society’s highest award, was presented to Professor Christine Winterbourn, a biomedical researcher … Continue reading

Scientific impact

The best kind of scientific paper is one that really makes one think. A recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine from Jo Proietto’s group in Melbourne does just that. As an individual who has lost a lot … Continue reading

No black hole: action on science education

Six months ago my Office published Looking Ahead: Science Education for the Twenty-First Century, which was a discussion paper on the future direction of school science education. This work, carried out in conjunction with the Royal Society of New Zealand … Continue reading

Thanks Ted

I note with sadness the death of Dr Ted Bollard FRSNZ CBE at the age of 91. Ted was one of the giants of our small science system. He was one of the key figures in building New Zealand’s science … Continue reading


In the last week I have had a number of requests from the press asking for my comments on proposals for the development of the science and innovation system emanating in recent days from political parties. It is important that … Continue reading

Lessons from the 18th century

While I was in Germany, I met again with Professor Dr Helmut Schwarz, President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which supports a very large international scientific exchange programme with Germany. Helmut kindly presented me with Botting’s biography of Alexander … Continue reading