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Leading Antarctic researcher wins global award

Professor Naish, who is also a Principal Scientist at GNS Science, has become the first New Zealand recipient of the Martha T. Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica. This leading global award for Antarctic science is funded by the Tinker Foundation and administered by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). The award recognises significant and sustained contribution to Antarctic scientific research and policy.

Professor Naish receives US$100,000 in prize money with the award which will be presented in Auckland next month when New Zealand hosts the biennial SCAR Open Science Conference.

He says he is thrilled and honoured to receive the 2014 Muse Prize which reflects the combined efforts of a much larger group.

“That includes my friends and colleagues at the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University and at GNS Science as well as a fantastic network of national and international collaborators.

“The nature of Antarctic research is multidisciplinary, expensive and logistically complex and can only really be achieved through multinational collaboration and the pooling of resources. I have been privileged to have worked with some of the world’s best scientists on some very important questions about how Antarctica’s ice sheets respond to climate change and contribute to rising global sea-levels,” he says.

“The policy relevance of Antarctica is hard to ignore, given that the contribution of its ice sheets to future sea-level rise is still one of the biggest uncertainties facing humanity,” says Professor Naish.

“While there is still a lot more work to do, over the last 10 years the international research community has made major progress in understanding how the highly vulnerable marine-based parts of the Antarctic ice sheet respond to climate change and particularly to a warming Southern Ocean.

“It is a privilege to have contributed in some small way to this effort.”

Victoria University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Science Professor Mike Wilson, congratulated Professor Naish on his award which he described as an outstanding achievement.

“The award is also recognition of New Zealand’s world-class Antarctic research programme, and, specifically, Victoria University’s Antarctic Research Centre which has gained an international reputation in understanding Antarctica’s past climate to better predict further changes,” says Professor Wilson.

Antarctica New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Beggs, said the recognition of Professor Naish as a global research leader was a major boost for New Zealand’s Antarctic endeavours.

“New Zealand is acknowledged as a leading collaborator in Antarctic science and policy and it is a significant achievement for an individual scientist to be recognised by his scientific peers with such a prestigious award,” he says.

The presentation of the Martha T. Muse prize will be a highlight of the SCAR Open Science Conference which will be attended by close to 1000 of the world’s leading Antarctic science and policy experts in Auckland from August 25—28.

Download the media release here.