• Who do you think you are New Zealand?

    Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith

    Gisborne: 11 November 2015

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The Allan Wilson Centre, established in 2002, is one of New Zealand’s seven Centres of Research Excellence and one of two hosted by Massey University. We are a scientific network of over 100 researchers based at five universities and two crown research institutes. Following in the footsteps of the great New Zealand scientist, Allan Wilson, our researchers study the evolution of humans, animals, plants and disease. We are committed to securing the future of New Zealand’s biodiversity and improving human and environmental health.

Uawa Bioblitz Report

Two rare species discovered in Uawa/Tolaga Bay census: Students, aged 5-18, from Tolaga Bay Area School, guided by scientists from the Allan Wilson Centre, DOC, Te Papa, and Groundtruth, collected over 500 species of plants and animals in a 24-hour Bioblitz (12-13 Feb) – a survey of local biodiversity that will inform the restoration project underway there. Excitingly, they detected the presence of bats, the only native land mammal we have, and sighted the NZ Dotterel, a shorebird which is rarer even than kiwi and tigers! Full results will be posted on this site soon. The full report is now available here Or you can order a hard copy from l.bergen@massey.ac.nz

Our Future

Director, Hamish Spencer, responds to the Government decision not to refund the Allan Wilson Centre.
Some of you will be aware of the news that the AWC’s application for continued funding in the latest Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) round was unsuccessful. This result means that the AWC will close at the end of this year, and the support for our science projects and outreach programmes will cease. I have to say I am extremely disappointed by this outcome, but I am not alone. Massey Vice Chancellor, Professor Steve Maharey wrote, "The Government's decision to end funding for the CoRE is not easy to understand given the outstanding record established by the AWC...
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Over 4000 people, including 1500 students, flocked to hear expatriate NZer, Professor Tom Higham (University of Oxford), the last speaker in the AWC's international speaker series. His update on ancient human history in Europe did not disappoint. Tom is an expert on carbon dating, and has been able to refine the date at which Neanderthals disappeared to 39,000-41,000 years ago. The newcomers, Homo sapiens sapiens - that's us - interbred with Neanderthals and the mysterious Denisovans, and carry some of their genes to this day. Understanding why our fellow humans became extinct is work in progress. See When Neanderthals and Modern Humans Meet (YouTube video)...learn more


Congratulations to the three winners of the WWF New Zealand Conservation Innovation Awards, announced 5 November 2015.
This includes He Manawa Whenua - He Oranga Tangata : Healthy Environment – Healthy People - by Peter Handford (Groundtruth) on behalf of Te Aitanga-A-Hauiti, Uawa Tolaga Bay Community, and the Allan Wilson Centre. The winners each receive $25,000 ... >>
Congratulations Jon Waters and Alexei Drummond
on being elected Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand ... >>
Visiting Prof Tom Higham was interviewed by Kim Hill on Radio NZ’s
Saturday Morning on 29 August 2015. Listen here ... >>
Congratulations to Principal Investigator Murray Cox (Massey University Institute of Fundamental Sciences)
on being promoted to Professor, and awarded a University of Oxford Fellowship which will allow him to spend a period of time at St John's College ... >>
What ancient DNA tells us about the evolution of our native birds
For scientists like Associate Professor Craig Millar of Auckland University, finding ancient DNA is relativiely ... >>
Scott Edwards: birds and dinosaurs
Curator of Ornithology at Harvard University, who will visit New Zealand in August as an Allan Wilson Centre guest speaker... >>
The latest issue of PHENO is now available here.
Director Hamish Spencer responds to the Government decision not to refund the Allan Wilson Centre... >>
New Zealand is home to tens of thousands of endemic plant, animal, insect and marine species,
and new discoveries are being made every year — including some creatures we’re too late to see. In the NZ Herald on 6 April Science reporter Jamie Morton looks at 10 new finds. Two AWC researchers, including Director Hamish Spencer... >>
Research body loses millions in funding – Evening Standard, 20 March.
The Allan Wilson Centre, hosted by Massey University, has been left off the Tertiary Education Commission's latest list for renewal as a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE). In the latest round 13 applicants made a bid to be one of the centres to receive on average $35 million annually in operating expenditure up until 2020. The AWC missed out and from December its funding will cease. “It's going to impact on the science being done around various aspects of the biodiversity of New Zealand, from mathematical investigations right through to molecular genetics, and it will also curtail our community outreach progamme" Director, Hamish Spencer said. ... >>
Polynesia Migration with AWC Principal Investigator and University of Otago Biological Anthropologist Lisa Matisoo-Smith speaking with Graeme Hill on RadioLive on Sunday, 1 March.
Lisa prises legend from fact about who went where when, and how. Some intriguing evidence is emerging of a late migration throughout Polynesia from South Asia very recently... >>
AWC Investigators in the news,
The war on infectious disease is far from over, according to Principal Investigator, Professor Nigel French, in a Dompost opinion piece (26 Jan). Analysing the genomes to gain insight into the evolution of viruses and bacteria, is key to staying ahead... >>
Interview with Terry Burrell,
which includes a lesson with a class of Year 10 students at Onslow College... >>
University of Canterbury has elevated Mike Steel, of the School of Mathematics and Statistics to the status of Distinguished Professor,
a title reserved for professors who demonstrate world-class academic leadership and achievements. This is in addition to receiving the UoC 2014 Research Medal, the highest honour the university’s council can extend to its academic staff, recognising research excellence. Congratulations to Mike - an AWC Principal Investigator and our deputy director... >>
Kim Hill talks to Associate Professor Thomas Buckley,
Principal Investigator at the Allan Wilson Centre, who was one of over 100 researchers from 16 countries who have just published the first paper from the 1KITE study of insect evolution... >>