Royal Society of New Zealand, Canterbury Branch
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RSNZ Canterbury Branch

Managed by our council since 1862 promoting science and technology in Canterbury.

Anyone can join or post to our mailing list to keep up to date with science-related activities in Canterbury.

Join us and support our activities: our lecture programme and receive our monthly newsletter.

Find out more about us or our Awards programmes: our science promotion and student travel grants and Science fair prizes.


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Upcoming Events

Cockayne Lecture 2018
Ornamental to detrimental: the invasion of New Zealand by non-native plants

Professor Philip Hulme FRSNZ from Lincoln University

Wednesday 16 May 6:30pm
Lecture Theatre C2, University of Canterbury

Aotearoa New Zealand has more types of non-native plants than almost anywhere in the world. Our great botanist, Leonard Cockayne (1855-1934), believed that such non-natives would never pose a threat to our native flora. Yet today, many of these introduced species are causing significant economic and environmental costs, with all signs pointing to this problem growing in the future. Professor Philip Hulme, recipient of the 2017 Leonard Cockayne Lecture Award, will explore the history of plant invasions in New Zealand and examine the underlying causes and potential future trends. Some of these invasive plants have been introduced as commercial crops such as pine and pasture grasses, while others have arrived as ornamentals from around the world. Cockayne himself introduced thousands of non-native plants to his property in Christchurch. Although new imports are screened at the border for signs of invasive behaviour, New Zealand faces a threat from the 30,000 or so varieties already grown here in our gardens, though sometimes it takes up to 100 years before these invaders jump the garden fence and become a problem. So what are the tools available to control these current and future threats? Philip looks at the role of botanic gardens in both the spread and management of invasive weeds, and consider how both the government and public can be more effective in preventing and controlling the plant invaders.

Professor Philip Hulme FRSNZ is the Chair in Plant Biosecurity at Lincoln University, where he is based at the Bio-Protection Research Centre. He has been listed in the top 1% of all scientists worldwide in terms of his research impact in each of the past four years. His expertise lies in biological invasions and biosecurity and he is a member of the New Zealand Biosecurity Ministerial Advisory Committee.

This talk is in association with the Royal society of New Zealand

Hochstetter Lecture 2018
The Pounamu terrane: a new component in the assembly of Zealandia?

Emeritus Professor Alan F. Cooper
Geology Department, University of Otago,

23 May 6:00pm
Lecture Theatre A5, University of Canterbury

I continue to do research work in the Southern Alps, investigating amongst other things, a lamprophyre-carbonatite dyke swarm intruding the schist (first documented by Julius von Haast), the Pounamu Ultramafics and correlative rocks, marine terrace remnants and uplifted Holocene sedimentary sequences, mapping of the Alpine Fault, anatectic pegmatites, and more recently ages of detrital zircons within the Alpine Schists. The lamprophyre–carbonatite interest has taken me to experimental work on carbonate minerals in Toronto, Canada, and mapping of carbonatites in Antarctica, Namibia and Turkey. I have had eight field seasons in Antarctica mainly supervising students, investigating the basement geology of the Transantarctic Mountains and more recently the Neogene to Recent alkaline volcanic rocks of the Erebus Province of the McMurdo Volcanics.

Educated in Burton-on-Trent and Sheffield, England, I came out to New Zealand in 1966 as a Teaching Fellow to undertake a PhD in the Geology Department, University of Otago, supervised by Professor Douglas Coombs. My thesis area was the Haast River, south Westland where I investigated the structure and progressive metamorphism of greenschists and amphibolites in the Alpine Schist. In 1970, I was appointed to the position of Lecturer at the University of Otago, retiring in 2012 after 46 years service.

He will be giving a second talk on Thursday the 24th May 11am-12pm on "Carbonatites".

This talk is in association with the Geological Society of New Zealand

Darcy Lecture 2018
Alpine Hydrogeology: The Critical Role of Groundwater in Sourcing the Headwaters of the World

Dr Masaki Hayashi

Tuesday 29 May, Nibbles, tea/coffee from 5:30, Talk 6:00pm
Lecture Theatre C3, University of Canterbury

Many of us have been awed by the stunningly beautiful view of alpine lakes and streams—and they are not just beautiful. Nearly half of the world’s population relies on rivers originating in high mountains for water supply. Source areas of mountain streams have rugged topography with sparse soil and vegetation covers, and were once considered “Teflon basins” that have minimum capacity to store groundwater. Over the past decade or so, a new understanding of alpine hydrogeology has been emerging based on detailed field observations around the world. Alpine basins actually have important aquifer units that provide temporary storage of rain and meltwaters from snowpack and glaciers. Gradual release of water from these aquifers sustains streamflow during dry or cold periods, and is critically important for water supply and aquatic habitats in downstream regions. Due to rugged terrain and severely limited vehicle access, alpine hydrogeologists need to rely on creative methods to investigate groundwater, such as geophysical imaging techniques or observation of surface water/groundwater interaction. This lecture will demonstrate how we can gain valuable insights into groundwater in challenging environments and develop a conceptual understanding of hydrological systems. These ideas and approaches will have broad applicability in a variety of environments, where hydrogeologists are faced with challenging conditions.

Masaki Hayashi, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Physical Hydrology. Hayashi received his B.S. and M.S. in earth sciences from Waseda University and Chiba University, respectively, in Japan, and his Ph.D. in earth sciences from the University of Waterloo in Canada. His main research interests are in the connection among groundwater, surface water, and atmospheric moisture in various environments ranging from the prairies to the mountains.

This talk is in association with the Hydrological Society, NIWA and Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management

2018 NZ Research Series
Digital breaths: The benefits of bioengineering

Prof. Merryn Tawhai

6:30pm Wednesday 27 June
University of Otago Christchurch, Rolleston Lecture Theatre

Full info:

UC Connect public lecture
Discovering New Particles

Physics Professor Sally Seidel
University of New Mexico, United States

7pm Thursday 26 July
C Block lecture theatre, Ilam campus, University of Canterbury.

What can a particle tell us about the nature of the universe? And what fundamental natural laws might be discovered next?

On 4 July 2012, two international experiments announced simultaneously the discovery of the particle known as the Higgs Boson. This was the culmination of a project that began 20 years earlier. Half a million people around the world watched the presentation streamed live. Why was it so important? Are there other particles, similarly important, waiting to be discovered?

University of Canterbury visiting Erskine Fellow Physics Professor Sally Seidel, who works at the Large Hadron Collider, will discuss particle discovery in her upcoming UC Connect public lecture on Thursday 26 July.

Discovering new particles involves teams of thousands of people, from dozens of nations, working together to build experimental facilities so large that, if they weren't buried deep underground, they would be visible from space, she says.

The detectors typically have tens of millions of components specially designed and built for this purpose alone. Why is all of this worthwhile? This talk will explain how each new particle has the potential to unlock the answer to a fundamental question about the nature of the universe.

Elementary Particle Physics, also called High Energy Physics, is the study of the very smallest building-blocks of nature.

This is a way to learn what the universe was like just seconds after it was born, billions of years before life existed to see it directly.

Sally Seidel is a Professor of Physics at the University of New Mexico and a member of the ATLAS Collaboration. Her primary research involves searching for new physics processes with heavy quark signatures. Her team also develops new technologies for particle tracking detectors. In 2014 her group discovered a new particle, the Bc(2S).


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