New role a ‘tremendous honour’

Dr Brent Clothier.

When Dr Brent Clothier takes over as president of the Royal Society Te Aparangi in July 2021, he’ll be the first Crown Research Institute scientist in the role in more than 30 years.

A leading soil and water expert at Plant & Food Research, Brent will take over from Professor Wendy Larner on July 1, 2021, for a three-year term.

He joins the society’s council as president-elect immediately. The society is an independent, statutory not-for-profit body in NZ providing funding and policy advice in the fields of sciences and humanities.

“It is a tremendous honour. I’ve big shoes to fill, and that is very motivating for me,” says Brent. “The global challenges are immense, and we need research to find solutions. Without the knowledge from research, we’re not going to be able to ‘organise’ and plan for a sustainable future.”

Brent has advanced quantitative understanding of the world’s natural capital assets that deliver ecosystem services to grow crops and enable us to make informed land-use decisions.

He’s developed new theories for water and chemicals moving through soil, along with inventing new devices to monitor the parameters controlling these flows. He’s developed new technologies with colleagues to directly measure water use by trees and vines that have helped improve water management in water-short regions globally.

P&FR’s CEO David Hughes says Brent has had a prolific and impactful career at his organisation. “He’s worked with collaborators around the world to better the environment and the lives of many. He understands the important role of environmental and horticultural science in solving the problems of tomorrow’s world. I have no doubt that his experience and knowledge will greatly benefit the society.”

It will be exactly 40 years since Dr Ted Bollard started as the royal society’s president when Brent takes over next year. Dr Bollard was former director of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research’s Plant Diseases Division, the predecessor of P&FR.

Dr Trevor Hatherton, who was director of the DSIR Geophysics Division, succeeded Dr Bollard as royal society president from 1985-1989 and was the last Crown researcher in the role.

Dr Clothier will maintain his role as P&FR’s principal scientist in the Cropping Systems & Environment Group, where much of his work involves research, leadership and the mentoring of young scientists.


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