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Source: University of Waikato

Professor Troy Baisden, who is based in School of Science at the University of Waikato, has just been named the new president of the New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS).

Professor Baisden, who is Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chair in Lake and Freshwater Science, is the first recent NZAS president based outside Wellington or Auckland.

“By taking on this role, I can help represent the large number of scientists working out of regional centres, including those focused on primary production and environmental issues,” he says.

“A large proportion of public research funds relate to primary production and environment, and the nexus between these issues is a matter of deep public interest. These areas will get some extra focus within NZAS’s main objectives, which are to support scientists, promote and communicate science, including sound science policy.”

“For years, NZAS has raised concerns that a lack of stable positions for scientists immediately after their PhDs undermines the science sector. The problem is most acute in research disciplines including agriculture and the environment where New Zealand careers require unique knowledge that takes years to build.”

“Our focus on supporting early career scientists intersects with our focus on diversity issues in science. There are widespread concerns that Māori and Pasifika are underrepresented, undermining the role of science in addressing equity and Treaty of Waitangi issues.”

Professor Baisden specialises in understanding the flow of nutrients, water and carbon through terrestrial ecosystems and resulting impacts in freshwater. He spent the last decade at GNS Science’s National Isotope Centre, ensuring New Zealand has access to challenging isotope techniques combined with the ‘big-picture’ understanding required to apply them to the nation’s most important environmental issues.

This has involved sophisticated instrumental techniques, yet the most crucial understanding often evolves from large scale environmental economic data, viewed in a policy, social and cultural context. His experience cuts across major environmental issues, starting with acid rain in the United States, and bringing parallels from climate change research to managing water quality in a catchment context.

Professor Baisden wants to see science enable innovative approaches to water management that create flexibility and efficiency beyond what conventional environmental regulation offers. He has an interest in analytics and science policy as they relate to addressing global change issues. He holds a PhD from the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also an Investigator in Te Pūnaha Matatini, the Centre of Research Excellence on networks and complexity. He now leads the Lakes Ecosystem Research New Zealand (LERNZ) group.

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