February 21, 2017
Did you know the little spotted Kiwi was nearly lost when just 5 individuals remained? A conservation program saw its numbers grow. But a bigger population is not enough. Dr Helen Taylor, research fellow in conservation genetics at the University of Otago, is tackling what happens when a population crashes and inbreeding – a threat to even thriving populations – affects the survival and reproduction of subsequent generations.
Dr Taylor discussed how conservation is often considered to be a numbers game – if we increase the size of a threatened species’ population, we think this a conservation success. Unfortunately, population growth is not always the full story; factors such as genetics have a big part to play in whether or not a species will survive.
February 14, 2017
Three top international women scientists working in advanced materials and nanotechnology conference inspired an overflowing audience, including primary and high school students, by describing their work and experiences on the road to science.
Many common threads bound together the stories of Professor Silvia Giordani, Dr Carla Meledandri, and Professor Natalie Stingelin. We learnt that science is hard and science is unexpected – taking the path of science opened doors they never expected and took them to places they never thought they’d go. Science means learning all the time – it means being driven by curiosity and being stubborn to get results. And all three had inspiring high school science teachers! For more on the panel’s talk and Q&A with the audience, read the article in The Spinoff.
February 14, 2017
Catalyst plucked bioengineer Dr Albert Folch from the 2017 AMN8 conference and took him to Shotover Primary School to talk to students about the science of soccer and the end of the world. You can read more about his talk at The Spinoff.
February 9, 2017
Donald Trump and Treaty of Waitangi issues added topicality and spice to the Constitution Aotearoa discussion with Former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer and constitutional lawyer Dr Andrew Butler. In Queenstown at the invite of Catalyst, they met with an engaged audience keen to participate in a nationwide conversation about New Zealand’s Constitution.
New Zealand does have a constitution, but it is neither well-known nor well understood. It is subject to political whim, as Parliament can change or remove fundamental rights and protections without consultation or a popular mandate.
Palmer and Butler argued a modern, codified Constitution would strengthen democracy, make government more transparent and accountable, and protect human rights. They proposed a constitution “that is easy to understand, reflects New Zealand’s identity and nationhood, protects rights and liberties, and prevents governments from abusing power”.