Bruce Campbell honoured by Royal Society of New Zealand
The Thomson Medal for science leadership has been awarded to Dr Bruce Campbell of Plant & Food Research by the Royal Society of New Zealand.
The Thomson Medal is awarded by the Royal Society of New Zealand to recognise outstanding contributions to science and technology. It was presented to Dr Campbell for his outstanding leadership in both the agricultural and horticultural sciences over 35 years.
The medal selection committee noted, “His leadership has had a positive impact on the New Zealand economy, including innovations in forages, wine, kiwifruit and avocado sectors, and he has fostered new science talent and linked science closely with business and the wider community.” They particularly noted his scientific leadership during the response to the kiwifruit bacterial disease Psa when it was discovered in New Zealand in 2010, which saw more than 100 Plant & Food Research scientists mobilised to support Zespri and the kiwifruit industry in understanding and managing the devastating disease.
As Chief Operating Officer of Plant & Food Research, Dr Campbell leads a team of more than 600 scientists across New Zealand, delivering research and innovation to support the sustainable growth of the plant and marine-based food sectors. He has worked highly successfully to build relationships and research programmes based on shared understanding of how science can partner with industry to achieve targets for economic, environmental and social sustainability, with a close alignment between science and business strategies. This has extended recently to building much closer links with Māori food businesses and the Māori economy.
In his role, he acts as Director for a number of industry organisations and science partnerships, including Forage Innovations Limited, the Bio-Protection Research Centre of Excellence and the Horticulture New Zealand Vegetable Research & Innovation Board. He was made a Fellow of the NZ Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science in 2014.
Dr Campbell is a strong advocate for encouraging young people to build careers in the horticultural and wider food industries. He championed the development of the Plant & Food Research Summer Studentship Programme - which to date has seen more than 250 young scientists spend three months undertaking a research project at the Institute to gain insights into real life science and business activities – and the creation of scholarships that support young Māori and Pacific Island students in furthering their science education and careers. He was also instrumental in establishing the Joint Graduate School in Plant and Food Science with the University of Auckland, the first collaboration of its kind in New Zealand, and the Joint Graduate School of Horticulture and Food Enterprise with Massey University.
On receiving the Thomson Medal, Dr Campbell said: “I am thrilled and humbled to receive this award. It is a credit to the many talented people I have been privileged to work with over the years.”
“I have focused my career on partnering science with users of new knowledge to enhance food, the environment and people. It is great to see this connectivity of science now gathering momentum to enrich our society and wellbeing.”
Prior to his current role, Dr Campbell was General Manager Science Operations at HortResearch, acting as interim CEO during the merger of HortResearch and Crop & Food Research in 2008 that formed Plant & Food Research. He began his career, after completing his PhD in the UK, as a scientist at DSIR Grasslands, then as Scientist and Science Leader at AgResearch.
Dr Campbell received the Thomson Medal at the Royal Society Honours Dinner, held at the Transitional Cathedral in Christchurch.