Where to next? Human spaceflight at the crossroads.
Presentation by David MacLennan

Where: National Library, 70 Molesworth Street
When: 19 April 2016, 5:30 PM to 6:30PM

Attendance is free but please register at Eventbrite:

Download poster

NASA’s long-term vision is for a human mission to Mars, but

its strategy for getting there is flawed, as it does not include
the most logical intermediate step: a return to the Moon.
Instead, NASA’s proposed intermediate step is to retrieve a
large boulder from an asteroid and send an astronaut crew
out to investigate it – a plan that is not getting much support
from either Congress or the scientfi c community. A return to
the Moon would be a better way to prepare for a journey to
Mars, as much of the technology needed for a Mars mission,
such as habitats, life-support systems, rovers, tools and
instruments, could be fi rst proven under real off -world
conditions on the Moon. In addition, recent robotic missions
have shown the Moon to be a worthwhile scientific target in
its own right.

About the speaker:
David MacLennan has been lecturing and writing about
space exploration for over four decades. A founder and
former President of the NZ Spacefl ight Association, he
also edited the Association’s journal
Liftoff for many years.


The Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch AGM 2015

Time: 6:00pm, Monday, 19 October

Venue: Level 6, the Wellington Club, 88 The Terrace, Wellington

 You are welcomed to attend our AGM and gain a chance to visit the oldest Wellington business club and listen to its history.  Gentlemen please wear jacket or suit due to the club requirements.

The AGM is free, but if you wish to stay for refreshments, the catering per person is $30.  For catering purposes we need to know numbers so please deposit your payment to the RSNZ branch’s bank account by 14 October.

To complete the registration, please send an email to


telling us your name and organization.

The Annual Report 2015 AGM are available for down .

Bank account: 06-0501-0074841-00

Please put reference as bellow

Particular: Your name

Analysis Code: Your title

Reference: AGM 2015

Looking forward to seeing you in our AGM


Brian Jones

Royal Society of New Zealand
Wellington Branch Conference
Scholarships 2015

This year the Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch is pleased to offer financial assistance for up to four post-graduate students who:

1.     Are studying towards Masters degrees and PhDs at a University within Wellington

2.     Wish to attend a relevant conference within her/his own field of research

3.     Are members of the Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch.

Our financial assistance will take the form of scholarships up to the value of $500, specifically to assist students to meet the travel and other costs of attending conferences, preferably to international conferences, either within New Zealand or overseas. Our scholarships will be awarded on a competitive basis.

All applicants for financial assistance must be members of the Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch (information on joining the society can be found under the “membership” tab . The annual membership fee is $15). Recipients must give a presentation at the conference (oral or poster). Recipients of our scholarships must also undertake to give a presentation on their research to the Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch, at a date to be agreed.

Applying for Financial Assistance

Your application should include:

1.     A brief outline of your research topic and the degree for which you are enrolled

2.     The university and department in which you are currently enrolled, and the identity of your supervisor(s). A brief supporting statement from you supervisor(s) would assist your application.

3.     Details relating to the conference (e.g. the conference topic; when and where), including an abstract, and an indication as to whether or not your proposed conference presentation has been accepted.

4.     Information on your academic and research performance (e.g. a brief transcript).

5.     A brief justification for financial assistance from the Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch

Applications for awards close on 14 July, 2015. Please send your application to Bradley.Williams@vuw.ac.nz

Successful applicants will be notified by 31 July 2015 and the names, abstracts and conference details of the successful applicants will be published in the Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch Newsletter once the presentation has been delivered. The Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch reserves the right to make no awards.


Dr David Lillis (Council Member of the Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch) will present one or more workshops on statistical modelling during July. These workshops are intended primarily for students working towards Masters or PhD degrees in the bio-medical sciences, social sciences, education, psychology and other fields. However, everyone is welcome. The workshops will be conducted using R, a free, open-source statistics and graphics environment that originated in New Zealand and that has become very popular around the world in recent years.

Organiser:  Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch

Where:  Victoria University, Kelburn Campus. New Kirk Room 216   (KK216).

When:  10:00am – 3:00pm, Saturday 4 July and Saturday 11 July 2015

Fee:  $10 per person per session

Please see the registration form for more details.

Registration Form: StatWorkshopRegistrationForm_PDF.pdf

RSVP is essential.


2015 is a significant year for New Zealand science history. It is 150 years since James Hector arrived in Wellington to set up many of our national organisations, and also 100 years since Ernest Marsden first arrived in Wellington.

Victoria University of Wellington is hosting a science history conference on 23-24 November 2015 on the theme “Finding New Zealand’s Scientific Heritage”. The conference organising committee is now seeking proposals for papers, posters and discussion topics on their website, with a closing date of 30 June: https://sciencernr.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/call-for-papers-finding-new-zealands-scientific-heritage/

It is planned that a selection of papers will be published in a special issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

More information on the conference will be posted in Alert once the programme has been finalised.




Flashes, bangs and shampoo’s secrets are coming to New Zealand in July with demonstration lectures and talks by UK chemist and educator Dr Peter Wothers.

Chemistry of Light Show, 3-10 July, Wellington and Palmerston North

This action-packed, family-friendly demonstration lecture explores the chemistry used over the centuries in our quest to find light. There’ll be plenty of flashes and bangs to keep you on the edge of your seat. Read more on Chemistry of Light show.

The Secret Life of Shampoo, 7-14 July, Wellington, Palmerston North and Auckland

After this lively talk, you’ll never look at a bottle of shampoo in quite the same way again! From Fooles Bolloxe and beaver testicles to urinating camels and spiral fossils, the chemistry of everyday shampoo reveals a fascinating insight into ideas and achievements through the ages, from astrology to zoology. Read more on Secret Life of Shampoo talk.



Why do clothes look darker when they’re wet? Why might grass “sing” when you blow on it? And how can coffee-loving scientists avoid spilling their drink when walking between labs? These problems, along with 14 more, are the battlegrounds of this year’s Physics World Cup.

Five New Zealand teenagers, four from Wellington, will go head-to-head with 155 other students from Nigeria to Macau in a series of “physics fights” at the annual week-long International Young Physicists’ Tournament held in Thailand on June 27. “It’s not as violent as it sounds,” 16-year-old Onslow College student Matthew Randle said. “The scary is thing is that the jury is made up of university professors.”

Randle, along with Jack Tregidga, 16, and Tess Breitenmoser, 17,  from Wellington High School, Catherine Pot, 16, also from Onslow College and Nicholas Lam,17, from Riccarton High School, make up the New Zealand physics battalion. Since winning spots on the team, the students have been working overtime to prepare for the scientific scuffles.”I’ve already put in almost all my lunchtimes this year and almost every single weekday after school,” Randle said.

Breitenmoser was on a school trip to Japan but had been snapped studying physics on a Japanese bullet train. While for some teenagers this might sounds like torture, for these students it’s fun. “Physics is my social life,” Pot said. “I came to an open day once [at Onslow College] and got slightly stuck in the physics lab, because it was so interesting, and I haven’t really left.”

There was a bit of stigma around doing physics, but Randle wasn’t too worried. “Catherine and I are quite well known around the school as ‘the physics people’, but Catherine does heaps of sport and I write, too.” “There’s an expectation that I’m really nerdy, which I am, but it’s not a bad thing,” he said.

[Reprinted from an article by JESSY EDWARDS, Stuff.co.nz]



Friend or Foe, how parasites educate our immune system and relate to the global allergic diseases epidemic

The unravelling of the cellular and molecular complexity of the immune system is rapidly leading to exciting breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer and vaccines against some of the most intractable of infectious agents. In parallel with these developments is the realisation that the education and development of our immune system by the parasites and microbes that inhabit us are emerging as increasingly important players in this dynamic system. In particular the immune mechanisms that have evolved that allow us to protect and cope with metazoan parasites are increasingly seen as the mechanisms underpinning pathology of inflammatory diseases that are major burdens on the developed world including allergies, autoimmune conditions and poor gut health.

This talk will detail some of the scientific evidence that now underpins our modern view of the immune system and how it balances health and disease and describes research pointing to potential new therapies on the horizon for treating the many immune mediated diseases we face.

Speaker Bio

Professor Graham Le Gros was appointed Research Director of the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research in 1994, following a three year Fogarty Fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Washington DC, and a five year scientist position with Ciba-Geigy in Basel, Switzerland. He has been a recipient of an International Senior Wellcome Trust Fellowship and James Cook Fellowship. In 2005 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in recognition of his research contributions to the fields of immunology and asthma. In 2010 Professor Le Gros was awarded the Wellington Medical Research Foundation Gold Medal, and in 2011 he won the Science and Technology category of the Wellingtonian of the Year Awards, for his contribution to medical research in Wellington and New Zealand. In 2014 Professor Le Gros was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA). In June 2014 he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Professor Le Gros has responsibility for the Science, Administration and Fundraising programmes of the Malaghan Institute and he directly leads an active biomedical research programme in the area of Allergic and Parasitic diseases.
Royal Society of New Zealand, 11 Turnbull Street Thorndon
Wednesday 29th July

We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge—from climate change to vaccinations—faces furious opposition.
Some even have doubts about the moon landing. By Joel Achenbach in National Geographic. 

Read article: Why do many reasonable people doubt science?




Welcome to the blog of the Wgtn Branch of the Royal Society of NZ. We’re a small collection of individuals passionate about promoting science and technology in the Wellington region. We run a wide assortment of science events, as well as supporting the bi-weekly science events newsletter published by Glean Media.

During 2013 our new ‘skunkworks’ project team will be trialling an assortment of new initiatives to see what Wellington wants, what it’s curious about and how we can best meet those needs. We’ll be documenting our activities here, but you can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or by old-fashioned email at media@wellington.rsnzbranch.org.nz

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