Newest distinguished professors join elite group

Distinguished Professor Marti Anderson

Scientists Marti Anderson and Nigel French have been appointed distinguished professors, a title bestowed on up to 15 Massey University professors who have achieved outstanding international eminence in their fields.

They were confirmed by Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas last week. Formal presentations will be made next month.

Distinguished Professor Marti Anderson is a statistician and ecologist at the University’s New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study, based at Auckland. Her career has been dedicated to developing novel multivariate statistical techniques to analyse variation in ecological communities, using computer-intensive algorithms for modelling species’ distributions in space and time, allowing rigorous statistical inferences to be made in high-dimensional multi-factorial natural systems.

She completed her undergraduate studies at Occidental College in Los Angeles, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology in 1991, and holds a Graduate Diploma in Zoology (1992), Master of Arts in Mathematical Statistics (1999) and PhD in Ecology and Marine Science (1997) from the University of Sydney. In 2013 she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. She has been awarded Marsden Grants on three occasions, the latest an $840,000 grant for a study of the functional and phylogenetic diversity of New Zealand fishes. She also holds a prestigious James Cook Fellowship, allowing her to expand her research into new areas of statistical modelling for species’ abundance data.

She has published 97 peer-reviewed journal articles and invited to do 88 conference presentations, plenary talks and public lectures. She also regularly presents international workshops to showcase the latest methods and associated software tools for ecological and environmental scientists.

Distinguished Professor Nigel French

Distinguished Professor Nigel French, a world leader in molecular epidemiology and public health research, heads the New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre. The centre is jointly funded by industry and the Government to deliver world-class strategic scientific research that benefits consumers.

A graduate of the University of Bristol, where he attained his Bachelor of Veterinary Science (1987) and PhD (1993), he also has a Master of Science in Epidemiology from the University of London (1993).

In 2004 he was appointed Professor of Food Safety and Veterinary Public Health at Massey. He has led research programmes that have informed the control of infectious diseases in New Zealand, with a focus on reducing the public health impact of food and water-borne pathogens. He founded the Molecular Epidemiology and Public Health laboratory in 2005, which has grown to become a leading infectious disease and public health research group in New Zealand. In 2012, he established the Infectious Disease Research Centre bringing together six research groups across Massey University, including mEpiLab and the EpiCentre, in a multidisciplinary network, comprising mathematical modellers and statisticians, micro and molecular biologists and evolutionary biologists.

In 2014 he was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, in recognition of his contribution to the control of foodborne disease, both in New Zealand and overseas. In 2012, he received the Massey University Research Medal, the University’s highest award for an individual researcher, in recognition of his work on food safety and the control of infectious disease.

His work has seen him acquire more than $60 million in research funding since 1998, including two prestigious Royal Society Marsden Fund grants.

Other distinguished professors are Gaven Martin (College of Sciences), Robert McLachlan (Sciences), Sally Morgan (Creative Arts), Paul Moughan (Riddet Institute), Anne Noble (Creative Arts), David Penny (Sciences), Paul Rainey (Sciences), Peter Schwerdtfeger (Sciences), Harjinder Singh (Health), Paul Spoonley (Humanities and Social Sciences) and William Tunmer (Humanities and Social Sciences).

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