Dr Stephen Goldson – Strategy Advisor to the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science AdvisorI developed an interest in biodiversity and particularly entomology, in Sarawak’s rain forest as a school-leaver on Volunteer Service Abroad. As a result I undertook an undergraduate degree in Zoology at Otago University. Thereafter, and wanting to specialise in entomology, I was awarded a PhD in grassland weevil ecology at what was then Lincoln College. During this time I was recruited by MAF’s Agricultural Research Division and asked to focus on the management of the country’s very damaging exotic pasture pest species (especially weevils). My career thereafter progressed in this area, while accommodating the various organisational changes that ensued. Thus during some 25 years of focused and well supported long-term research, my team and I were able to make a useful contribution to the suppression of these pests. This was based on the use of imported parasitoid wasp species as classical biological control agents. At the same time I became involved in early to attempts to develop sensor technology that might improve sea container biosecurity.
In the course of my work in AgResearch I was appointed as the leader of Biocontrol and Biosecurity Group, I then became the Institute’s Chief Science Strategist and later its Chief Scientist. Given my particular interest in pest management and biosecurity, I have now been appointed as Executive Director of the multi-organisational ‘Better Border Biosecurity’ Research Group. Earlier, as a member of a founding Partner Organisation, I assisted in arguing for the establishment of the Bio-Protection Research Centre (CoRE) at Lincoln University (2003) and was its Deputy Director for some years. At this time I became a Professorial Fellow at Lincoln University.
I was President of the New Zealand Plant Protection Society between 2001 and 2003 and at this time was appointed to several national science policy advisory groups. In 1996-97 I worked part-time as Science Adviser to the Minister of Research, Science and Technology, the Rt. Hon. Simon Upton. In 1999 I was appointed by Cabinet to the New Zealand Independent Biotechnology Advisory Council to advise on biotechnology. In 2005 I joined the Biosecurity Ministerial Advisory Committee and in 2006, I was invited on to the National Science Panel by the Royal Society of New Zealand. This was set up to consider how New Zealand might get more out of its science system.
I am a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural Science (1998), a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London (2000) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (2006). In 2007 I was awarded the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science’s Jubilee Medal for my contribution to primary industries research. In 2009, I was elected to the Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand as Vice-President, Biological and Life Sciences. Since 2011 I have been the Chair of the Academy of the Royal Society of NZ.
Thus I have effectively spent my entire career as an applied scientist in the CRI system and its MAF antecedents. I have always had an interest in research for industry and the public good.