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Waikato provides fertile ground for science conferences

September 4, 2019 Conferences No Comments Email Email

Waikato is producing world-leading scientific minds.

Peter J.J. Kamp, Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Waikato and recipient of the Kudos Life-Time Achievement Award in 2017, says the region’s science sector is, quite literally, on fertile ground.

“Waikato is very strong in science research, particularly in the area of agriculture, horticulture, dairying, health, environment and related technology. There’s a diversity of research happening at the University, CRI’s, Waikato Innovation Park and other organisations and private companies that’s relevant to the region and beyond.”

From his own field of research, he notes: “It’s a wonderful province for the study of sedimentary rocks and what they can tell us about the geological development of New Zealand, its resources and associated physical hazards.”

Kamp was recognised by Kudos for his leading research spanning 40 years across both sedimentary geology and energy efficiency.

In the sedimentary geology area his work has included establishment of the timing and magnitude of uplift of the Southern Alps and other ranges in New Zealand. Together with post-graduate students he has also geologically mapped the whole of the King Country as well as all of central Hawke’s Bay.

The Industrial Energy Efficiency research group he established at the University has become New Zealand’s centre of research excellence in the field. The results of the group’s work have been implemented in numerous dairy processing factories in New Zealand, thereby reducing energy use and emission levels.

Kamp says that beyond its natural advantages as a place to do science research, Waikato benefits from a strong science community.

“To be successful in science you need to have friends. There’s a highly competitive element – which drives productivity and innovation – but at the same time there needs to be collegiality.”

Whether that means finding collaborators with specific capability or gaining access to analytical facilities, building relationships with people is an essential element of research activity, which is where conferences bring benefits.

Tourism New Zealand partnered with Hamilton-based Kudos Science Trust in 2018 to further promote the science community and the potential for scientific business events in the region. The Kudos Science Awards is New Zealand’s sole regional scientific awards programme, recognising the achievements of the Waikato’s top scientists, and supporting ongoing research.

Since 2016 Tourism New Zealand has supported 24 Waikato-based international conferences through its Conference Assistance Programme and delegate marketing programmes. Nine of the 15 international conferences won were science-related.

Tourism New Zealand’s Global Manager Business Events Anna Fennessy says Hamilton is gaining an international reputation for scientific research.

“New Zealand is renowned for its scientific innovation and is increasingly becoming recognised as a preferred location for scientific conferences. Business events bring economic benefits to a region, with delegates spending more than the average visitor and exploring the area,” she says. “They also build networks, provide opportunities for knowledge-sharing, and showcase our strengths on the world stage.”

Professor Kamp is convenor of the Geoscience Society of New Zealand Annual Conference, which will be held this November on the University of Waikato Hamilton Campus.

“Geoscience is a broad area – and one New Zealand excels in – including earth resources, natural hazards, and environmental change. The Waikato region is very well placed to hold this type of conference, with good facilities and good opportunities for field trips.”

He applauds the move to bring more international conferences – and international thought leaders – to Waikato and New Zealand.

“It helps connect us with the global community, and it’s a good thing for our science activity. They represent our science credibility.”

Kudos Science Trust Project Manager Soteria Ieremia adds: “The Kudos Awards have driven recognition of outstanding science achievement from our region for 13 years. We boast a University in the top 5% of all globally ranked institutions for research quality and impact (citations per faculty), the fastest growing tech sector in New Zealand, and world-leading cardiovascular surgeons making groundbreaking innovations. Our partnership with Tourism New Zealand has been invaluable in raising the international profile of our scientists, their research and the economy of our region.”

The 2019 Kudos Awards Annual Gala Dinner takes place Thursday 5 September at The Claudelands Event Centre, Hamilton.

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