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University of Waikato awards the title of Emeritus Professor

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Pioneering discoveries in the field of biochemical science including research on the deterioration of Scott and Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition huts has seen the University of Waikato award the title of Emeritus Professor to Professor Roberta Farrell.

Professor Farrell is a researcher of international renown in the fields of wood degradation, bioremediation, fungi and enzymology and, since 1997, research in Antarctica. She has produced a significant body of published work including 98 papers in refereed international journals, 10 book chapters and 30 patents as well as presentations to national and international conferences including the Sir Holmes Williams lecture to the New Zealand Antarctic Society in 2007.

Her research on bioremediation of dioxin-contaminated soils in the Bay of Plenty was featured in the documentary film "The Green Chain" and in Māori Television’s "Project Matauranga". She was named "Influencer of the Year" by Unlimited Magazine in 2011, was the 2008 Kudos Science Entrepreneur of the Year and was named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Fellow of the International Academy of Wood Science, and former board member of the New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology, Professor Farrell’s remarkable academic achievements sit alongside a successful career in industry where she rose to the position of Executive Director of Research and Chief Operating Officer of biotech company Sandoz Chemicals Biotech Research Corporation before joining the University of Waikato in 1996.

Professor Farrell’s work on understanding the deterioration of the Antarctic expedition huts of Scott and Shackleton led to the discovery that fungi caused wood rot to the exterior of the huts, and secondly, these fungi are also present in pristine areas of Antarctica and are thought to be related to fungi present in the Jurassic Period. She and her team’s findings of how functional ecology drives microbial community assembly in an Antarctic Dry Valley was recently published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford says the title of Emeritus Professor recognises Professor Farrell’s outstanding career in academia, commerce and biochemical research.

"Professor Farrell is a researcher of international standing and a pioneer in the field of biochemical research," he says. "Her leadership at the university and her remarkable achievements stand as a model for young women thinking about a career in science."

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