Scion staff recognised for excellence

Dr Richard Parker.

A scientist whose pioneering research is making work safer for people on the frontline of forestry and rural firefighting has been recognised by his peers at Scion.

Richard Parker has received the Roger Newman Award for Science or Engineering Excellence – one of 12 awards presented to more than 30 Scion staff during the Crown Research Institute's 2022 Employee Recognition Awards.

The awards coincide with Scion's 75th anniversary and celebrate not only individual scientific achievements but also team success, respect for mātauranga Māori and the values of ingenuity, collaboration, excellence and manaakitanga that are at the heart of Scion's way of delivering impactful science for New Zealand.

Dr Parker is a human factors researcher whose contributions to both science and engineering have exceeded expectations throughout his 30-year career.

He specialises in developing work practices that enhance productivity and safety in dangerous occupations – primarily forest harvesting and rural firefighting.

He explores robotic solutions aimed at removing workers from high-risk situations, with his research on high visibility clothing leading to garments being adopted as an industry uniform that has reduced ‘not seen' accidents across New Zealand's trade and primary sectors.

His pragmatic brilliance is built on his experience as both a volunteer firefighter and a professional tree feller.

Scion chief executive Dr Julian Elder says Richard has not only laid the foundation for a deeper understanding of decision-making in life threatening environments and developed tools to augment it, he has created award-winning engineering and design solutions for industry.

'Richard's concepts stem from caring for others and applying smart lessons from nature. This combination allows for incredible innovation in the service of others, creating a powerful vision that captures everyone's imagination.”

Three further Scion award recipients are among nominees in three categories who will be acknowledged for their contributions at the 2022 Science New Zealand Awards being held in Parliament on December 6. Scientists from all seven CRIs are represented.

Dr Angelique Greene has been nominated in Science New Zealand's Early Career Researcher category after developing into one of Scion's most creative and productive emerging scientists since joining the Biopolymers and Chemicals team four years ago.

Angel's keen sense for immediate commercial impact has been demonstrated through the success of her Innovation Jumpstart project which developed into a collaboration with Auckland-based filament manufacturer Imagin Plastics – research that has led to an innovative new biodegradable product targeting home 3D printer users.

Scion's CVC Biotech Team has been nominated in Science New Zealand's Team Award category for its collaboration with a New Zealand company to fast-track the production of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine prototype.

Scion's resources and expertise working with PHA-producing bacteria, combined with the ability to work flexibly in the face of a global health challenge, was critical to the company achieving proof of concept for its strategy.

Nominated for Science New Zealand's Individual Lifetime Achievement Award is Scion Principal Researcher Dr Mike Watt, whose distinguished scientific career has spanned more than two decades.

Dr Watt has made significant contributions to several research areas with notable influence within the areas of forest science, weed management, forest growth modelling and, most recently, remote sensing.

Having produced more than 173 peer-reviewed publications, he is one of our country's most prolific and trusted forest researchers.

A celebration of excellence: More than 30 Scion staff have been acknowledged for their commitment to excellence during Scion's 75th anniversary.

This year Scion introduced a new category, Partnership with the Three Hapū Award, to recognise people who have contributed to the partnership between Scion and Ngāti Hurungaterangi, Ngāti Taeotu and Ngāti Te Kahu o Ngāti Whakaue.

The awards recognise principles of the Kawenata (MOU): whakapapa, rangatiratanga and manaakitanga. Marketing and Communications Manager Jenha Phillips, mechanical engineer Rob Whitton, and Scion's Te Ao Māori Team won the awards respectively.

Wharehuia Evans collected the Recognition of Contribution to Māori Award for consistently looking at approaches and solutions to problems that suit both mana whenua and Scion, as well as gauging ways to create big impact for Scion's mana whenua partners.

Rosie Sargent is this year's Leadership Award recipient. She leads Scion's high hazards committee and interactions with the speciality wood products group of Forest Growers Research.

Senior Scientist Dr Jianming Xue, whose research includes soil fertility and nutrient management, received Scion's Recognition of Publication Success Award.

He has published 72 peer-reviewed papers since 1996, which have been cited 1122 times.

Scion's Zespri Packaging Team collected the Industry/Stakeholder/External Customer Engagement Award and UAV Operations Manager Peter Massam won the Health and Safety Award.

The Management Assistant Team and Senior Events and Communications Advisor Kylie Gunn received Enabling Scion Awards for 'going above and beyond” for Scion.

This year's recipients of the Scion Values Awards went to Diego Elustondo, Kirsty Watt, Honey Estarija and Jo MacKenzie, with 2022 marking Jo's 40th year of service to Scion.


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