Scion a winner in national science awards

10 November 2017

New Zealand's Crown research institutes gathered to celebrate their own at the inaugural Science New Zealand Science Awards on 9 November. The awards were held in celebration of the 25-year anniversary of CRIs, and the contribution that their talented men and women have made to science, industry and New Zealand.  

Scion forest pathologist Dr Nari Williams was presented an early career researcher award for her work in forest diseases, particularly Phytophthora. Her work to combating Kauri dieback, red needle cast and crown rot, is part of a research programme that brings together researchers from New Zealand’s primary sector CRIs, universities and overseas organisations. She leads this programme to defend our forests and horticultural crops from present and future Phytophthora diseases.  

Forest research veteran Dr Dave Cown, was awarded a lifetime achievement award for his work in wood science and understanding the sources of wood quality variation and how to control it. In the 40 years Dave spent at Scion (then Forest Research Institute), Dave was responsible for creating the Wood Processing Research Group that developed the drying schedules now used by most of the softwood industries across the southern hemisphere, such as the Dryspec™ Control system. Their work played a vital role in growing the $2.9 billion added-value wood products industry.  

Dave has also authored over 140 refereed publications, been on every major forestry journal editorial board and received many awards including the Distinguished Service Award from the International Union of Forest Research Organisations for his contribution to forestry science in 2013.   

Scion's world-class Biosecurity Team picked up a team award acknowledging their hard work. Their research has resulted in successful management of several new-to-science diseases and development of a forestry biosecurity surveillance system considered by overseas experts to be the best in the world.  

Their discovery of the pitch canker pathogen in plants held under quarantine avoided establishment of a disease that was predicted to cause over $400 million damage to the forest industry. The team also supported the successful eradication of three moth species that could have damaged forestry, horticulture and our native forests. More recently, the team’s work on determining the biosecurity risk of Phytophthora spp. on forest product exports showed that there was no risk to trading partners, preventing the potential loss of over $2 billion per year in trade bans or restrictions.  

The awards are part of the CRI's 25th anniversary celebrations, which includes a two-day free science exhibition at Te Papa from 10 -11 November. Scion’s research areas are on display, showcasing fantastic ways we can use trees and other biomaterials to make next generation bioproducts to replace non-renewable products, and explaining the cutting edge science we are using to grow and protect the trees our low-carbon future will be built on.  

Scion's novel research was in the hands of award winners, who received distinctive trophies made by Scion comprising a composite incorporating harakeke (New Zealand flax) fibres set on a tōtara base.