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Hutton medal win recognising work on non-native plants first for Lincoln

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Lincoln University’s Distinguished Professor Philip Hulme winning of the Royal Society’s prestigious Hutton Medal is a particularly notable event in the medal’s 108-year history.

It recognises work on non-native plants and is the first time it has been awarded to a Lincoln University academic.

The medal, presented at tonight’s 2019 Research Honours Aotearoa at the Dunedin Town Hall, is given to researchers significantly advancing understanding in animal, earth, or plant sciences.

Professor Hulme said the Hutton medal had traditionally been awarded for work that improved knowledge of our native flora and fauna.

"To receive the award for my research on non-native species is truly an honour. Perhaps it reflects a wider recognition that, whether we like it or not, non-native plants form a major component of our environment that demands greater scientific understanding."

It highlights the Professor of Plant Biosecurity’s outstanding contributions to the knowledge of plant invasions in New Zealand, especially his insights into why and how non-native plants become weeds.

Based at the Bio-Protection Research Centre (BPRC) at Lincoln University, Professor Hulme has investigated how invasive plant species are introduced, how they get established, the harm they cause and what can be done to prevent or manage invasions.

The Royal Society said he provided insightful contributions to these questions and has shared this knowledge, creating tools for managing plant invasions with other scientists, conservation workers and policy makers worldwide.

"Philip has assessed how botanic gardens, ornamental nurseries and the pastoral sector have facilitated plant invasions, but, in each case, he has also presented clear and practical policy recommendations to both government and industry as to how to reduce or manage this threat.

"In doing so, he has demonstrated world-class leadership in bridging the science-policy interface, which has led to changes in the way scientists and policymakers address biological invasions at an international level."

Professor Hulme has published over 200 papers in international journals, and is the only New Zealand-based environmental scientist to be listed among the world’s Highly Cited Researchers in each of the last five years, reflecting that his research outputs are often ranked among the top 1% most cited in his discipline.

He was elected a Fellow of Royal Society Te Apārangi in 2013 and in 2018 was awarded the Leonard Cockayne Lecture Award. He was also granted the title of Distinguished Professor by Lincoln University last year.

Lincoln University Vice-Chancellor Professor Bruce McKenzie said the medal recognises research work that has significantly advanced our understanding through work of outstanding scientific or technological merit. Recipients among our most highly-respected scientists and include many Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

"Lincoln University is very proud that Distinguished Professor Philip Hulme is the latest recipient of the Hutton Medal."

BPRC Director, Professor Travis Glare, said Professor Hulme had been a leading investigator at the BPRC for many years.

"He is an outstanding scientist who continues to make major contributions to the field of plant invasions."

- The BPRC is a national Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) funded since 2003 by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and based at Lincoln University. It has seven partner institutions: Lincoln University, University of Canterbury, Massey University, University of Otago, AgResearch, Plant and Food Research , and Scion. Its focus is on fundamental research into natural, sustainable ways of protecting New Zealand from plant pests, diseases and weeds.

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