Professor Paul Rainey has been awarded a prestigious James Cook Research Fellowship, worth $126,000 a year, for two years.
He is one of four researchers to receive the fellowship, announced today by Research, Science and Technology Minister Wayne Mapp.
Based in the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study at the Albany campus, Professor Rainey will look into the detailed workings of genetic evolution – contributing to a better, more predictive theory of evolution.
“This fellowship provides a wonderful opportunity for me to focus on an area of research I am excited about,” Professor Rainey says.
His research will centre on the modern evolutionary synthesis, which he says is the cornerstone of biology.
“Significant recent advances in knowledge provide us an opportunity to build an extended evolutionary synthesis,” he says. “Central to these advances has been our work on the genetic basis of evolution in model bacterial populations, which has provided clear mechanistic evidence for development as a causal process in evolution.
“From this frontier position, an ambitious theoretical and experimental programme of research is proposed that will deliver insight into the detailed workings of genetic evolution essential for the emergence of a richer and more predictive theory of evolution.”
Dr Mapp says the recipients are all making vital contributions in their fields. “Fundamental research is the foundation of modern society. Discoveries made in the fields of the four awardees will improve our health, in particular, and contribute to lifting the economy.”
The Government invests $720,000 in the James Cook Research Fellowships every year. They are administered on behalf of the Government by the Royal Society of New Zealand. Previous fellows include such eminent scientists as Professors Sir Paul Callaghan, Dame Judith Binney and Peter Hunter.