Colin Townsend (Awarded 2014)

At our 2015 conference I had the pleasure of awarding the 2014 New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society Medal to its recipient, Professor Colin Townsend.  Colin surely deserved this award as his name is globally associated with freshwater science due to his long and productive career as a freshwater scientist both in the UK and in New Zealand, but also because of the seminal text book, Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems, that he has co-authored, which is now in its 4th edition.  In my presentation speech, I could do no better in praising Colin than by quoting some of the many letters of support from his colleagues that accompanied his nomination for the award.  These mentioned his outstanding publication record which includes three important text books, the importance of his work in ecology as indicated by his citation record, his inspired and inspiring teaching of ecology and freshwater science, his long tenure as co-editor of the highly respected journal Freshwater Biology, his election as Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and his membership in other academic societies… the list goes on.  However, his nominators (and I echo them) also spoke of his warmth, sense of humour, humility, interests outside of work, his mentorship and genuine friendship.  So on behalf of the NZFSS, I would like to thank Colin again for all that he has contributed to the field of freshwater sciences and for promoting New Zealand as an important centre of freshwater science research to the rest of the world.  He is a very worthy recipient of our Society’s highest honour.

Carolyn Burns (Awarded 2013)

For her scientific knowledge, rigour and sustained contributions to freshwater sciences over many years. She has been a long-standing member and stalwart of the society, and she has served terms as President and Secretary-Treasurer for the Society
Carolyn has been a long-standing member of the International Society for Limnology (SIL) and served as its President from 1995-2001.  She was also the New Zealand representative to SIL for many years.  In terms of ecosystem protection and conservation, Carolyn has been the Regional Councillor for Australasia and Oceania for IUCN (World Conservation Union) and has advised and chaired several committees on behalf of the Department of Conservation.
Carolyn has research interests focused on biological processes and population dynamics in lakes, plankton ecology and productivity, water quality and the conservation of aquatic ecosystems. The scientific paper that launched her standing as a scientist of international renown was “The relationship between body size of filter-feeding Cladocera and the maximum size of particle ingested”, published in Limnology and Oceanography in 1968, and currently with around 500 citations. This work followed on from her Ph.D. thesis at the University of Toronto on “The feeding behaviour of Daphnia under natural conditions”.  Carolyn has maintained a productive publication output for many years and has a tremendous wealth of knowledge that she has contributed to further understanding of zooplankton ecology in lakes.  More recently she has contributed publications related to the occurrence of invasive zooplankton in New Zealand lakes.
Carolyn has played a major role in science and technology at many levels within New Zealand. She has been President of the Royal Society’s Academy, a member of the Board of the NIWA, and a member of the Governance Boards of the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, and the New Zealand Antarctic Institute. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and has been Academy President of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Carolyn Burns has only recently stepped back from her full-time role as Professor of Zoology at the University of Otago though she tells me that she is usually in the department seven days a week. She has had significant administrative roles within the University of Otago including, for example, Head of this Department from 1998 to 2005.  She currently chairs the University of Otago Governance Board for Genetics and is on the Advisory Board for Environmental Sustainability. She has also chaired University of Otago review panels, including, for example, the Departments of Music and Theatre Studies, Philosophy, Anatomy, and Anthropology and Archaeology. At a wider university level her experience has been used in roles as a member of the Cycle 4 panels (university quality assessment) for Victoria University and Lincoln University, and she has chaired the Cycle 4 panel for the audit of the University of Waikato. Her expertise as an academic reviewer has been used in institutions in New Zealand, Australia, Sweden and the Netherlands. As anyone reading this synopsis of Carolyn’s scientific career will appreciate, she has made an extraordinary contribution to science in New Zealand and it is appropriate that her achievements are acknowledged by the Society through award of its highest honour of achievement and service.

Bob Wilcock (Awarded 2012)

For his services to understanding and managing freshwaters. Bob has maintained and promoted excellence in science over many years – from solution chemistry to catchment studies. He has been a great mentor to many and is widely trusted in the agricultural community. Bob gained his BSc (Hons) in chemistry and his PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Canterbury (NZ) before working as a postdoctoral research associate at Wright State University, Ohio, where studies included gas solubility in liquids and related thermodynamic properties. He joined the water section of the Chemistry Division, DSIR, in 1975 and then moved to the Ministry of Works Water and Soil Science Centre in Hamilton, in 1980. The Centre (renamed the Hamilton Science Centre) became one of the principal components of NIWA. Bob’s early work focused on dissolved oxygen and reaeration in rivers, colour and optical properties of waters, pesticide threats to aquatic ecosystems, effects of macrophytes on water chemistry, and catchment science. Since the mid-1990s his research has mainly concerned land-water interactions, with special emphasis on dairy farming and the development of mitigation methods. A major project was the Best Practice Catchments for Sustainable Dairying (2001-2011) that has been very influential in informing key groups about dairy impacts, possible mitigation measures and their likely effectiveness. Recently, Bob has been studying gas transfer across the air-water interface again, but this time focusing on nitrous oxide emissions and the importance of denitrification in lowering nitrate concentrations. At NIWA, Bob is Programme Leader – Causes and Effects of Water Quality Degradation in the Freshwater & Estuaries National Science Centre. His career has been characterised by a range of fundamental through to more applied activities in more recent times. He has co-supervised postgraduate students, has written around 100 peer-reviewed papers, most of which are first-authored, and has written around 90 technical reports. Notable papers which he first-authored range from the fundamental (and notorious): “Solubility of oxygen-nitrogen mixture in water” which was published in Nature in 1974; to more recent applied papers such as “Inputs of nutrients and fecal bacteria to freshwaters from irrigated agriculture: Case studies in Australia and New Zealand” published in Environmental Management in 2011.

David Hamilton (Awarded 2010)

imageFor his outstanding contribution to aquatic modelling and adapting computer models as tools for managing aquatic systems.  While at the Centre for Water Research, The University of Western Australia, David pioneered the development of the ecological model CAEDYM for lake water quality predictions, in conjunction with previously established hydrodynamic models that simulate lake water transport and mixing.  The CAEDYM model is now used in more than 70 countries and sets an international benchmark for whole-lake ecosystem simulations of water quality.  The hallmarks of David’s scientific contributions have been in inter-disciplinary understanding of lake water quality enabled by computer models and practical lake management initiatives. David was the inaugural professor appointed to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chair in Lakes Management and Restoration at Waikato University in 2002.  In this role he leads a research team which provides scientific advice to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to assist with its management of water quality in the Rotorua lakes.  David was a founding member of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON;, which was established in 2005 and has more than 250 members.  This network has successfully built international collaborations amongst lake scientists in the deployment of, and analysis of data from, real-time sensors for lake monitoring.  David was a founding member of the International Society for Limnology journal Inland Waters (2010) and has been active in assisting Chinese colleagues to become involved in the international freshwater science community, including holding an adjunct professorial position at Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan.

Graham McBride (Awarded 2008)

imageFor his sustained and distinguished contributions over 30 years to pollutant transport modeling, statistical analysis and design of water quality monitoring networks, and human health issues related to waterborne pathogens. Graham’s focus has been on applying mathematical modeling methods to water-related issues to improve understanding of key environmental processes and provide technical support for development and implementation of public policy. At first this involved pollutant transport and transformation process in rivers, lakes and coasts, often concerning dissolved gasses (particularly dissolved oxygen) and, in later years, microbial pollutants. After encouragement from central government agencies, especially the National Water and Soil Conservation Organisation, he moved into monitoring network design with an emphasis on statistical aspects. In that regard he was a key player in setting up the on-going National Rivers Water Quality Network. This kindled a strong interest in environmental statistical methods and, pleasingly, a proposal to continue this line of work was funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. This work is ongoing, and has resulted in publication of an invited text (McBride, G.B. Using Statistical Methods for Water Quality Management: Issues, Problems and Solutions, Wiley, New York). He has now moved into a third major area, applying risk analysis methodology to water-related human health issues, which has now become a major focus, including new work in the USA. He enjoys both the mathematical approach to issues, and seeing their influence on the development of public policy. For example, his results have been used by the Ministries of Health and the Environment in the promulgation of new Drinking-water Standards and Microbiological Water Quality Guidelines for Marine and Freshwater Recreational Areas. Graham is recognised internationally as a specialist in the philosophy and procedures of water quality management, and has been a tireless teacher and statistical advisor to generations of New Zealand water quality scientists.

Mr Ian Jowett (Awarded 2007)

imageFor his outstanding contribution to the field of eco-hydraulics and his work in understanding the relationships between the distribution, abundance and response of fish populations to flow regime, hydrology, and physical habitat. His key studies have included the “100 rivers study”, which led to a model of brown trout abundance, and long-term studies of fish populations in a number of rivers to determine factors that control populations of brown trout and native fish. With others in NIWA, Ian has contributed greatly to our knowledge of habitat use by fish and benthic invertebrates, and has developed methods and computer programmes that allow this information to be used to assess the potential effects of flow changes. With over 30 years of experience in engineering hydrology and environmental flow requirements, and a very practical focus, Ian has provided advice to a wide variety of clients on the biological implications of flow regime alteration and environmental flow requirements, including in-stream habitat, water temperature, flushing flows, seasonal flow variations, and flow fluctuations below hydro-peaking stations. This experience has been used to formulate methods for assessing flow regime requirements in rivers by many regional councils in New Zealand.

In this section: