The CARIM team is super thrilled that one of our scientists, Wendy Nelson (University of Auckland and NIWA) was this week awarded the Hutton Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand for significant contributions to understanding the diversity, biology and evolution of marine macroalgae (seaweeds). The Hutton Medal is given each year by RSNZ for outstanding work by a researcher in New Zealand in the Earth, plant and animal sciences. It is rotated among these disciplines- in 2016 it was for someone in the plant sciences.
I spoke to a beaming Wendy just after she received her awards - her infectious enthusiasm for the marine space and the often overlooked seaweeds and coralline algae is fantastic. We might not often think of marine algae as plants but Wendy has been working hard to change that.
Wendy talks about her work:
"New Zealand is an extraordinary place to work as a marine botanist with such diverse marine systems to study, spanning the warm waters of Te Rangitahua/Kermadecs to the cold sub-Antarctic islands. Our long isolation from other land masses and dynamic geological history have all contributed to the evolution of a rich and intriguing marine flora, and there is still a great deal to be discovered.
“Macroalgae are critical to the health and well-being of coastal ecosystems – and it is important to discover and document our flora, understand how coastal systems function – in order to be stewards of coastal environments for future generations.”
From the RSNZ announcement: "She has significantly expanded knowledge of New Zealand seaweeds and the evolutionary relationships between seaweeds worldwide. She has also campaigned against seaweed pests and advanced understanding of the ecological importance of coral seaweeds and their vulnerability to climate change."
You can read more about her achievements here.