Massey's three new Distinguished Professors

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Distinguished Professor Anne Noble

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Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh

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Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley

Photographer Anne Noble, food scientist Harjinder Singh and sociologist Paul Spoonley have been awarded the title of Massey University Distinguished Professors.

The award is the highest academic title the University offers and is normally bestowed on up to 15 professors who have achieved "outstanding international eminence in their fields". They were confirmed in writing by Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey last week and took effect from March 18. Formal presentations will be made later this year.

Wellington-based Distinguished Professor Noble is the College of Creative Arts principal research adviser and she is the first woman from Massey and the first academic from her college to hold the title.

Recognised as an influential figure in New Zealand photography, her work ranges from a 1982 essay exploring the Whanganui River to the contemplative life of nuns, to photographs of her daughter Ruby and an exploration of the notion of the Antarctic. Her contribution to international contemporary photography is recognised with representation in many gallery collections worldwide, notably the Musee du Quai Branley in Paris, the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra and the Queensland Art Gallery's international collection of contemporary art. Her work has also been exhibited at Te Papa and all other major New Zealand museum collections.

In 2000 she received Public Good Science Funding from the Ministry of Research Science and Technology and had a retrospective exhibition and accompanying book published reflecting on her photographic work over the previous 20 years. The exhibition Anne Noble: States of Grace toured New Zealand’s main public art galleries for two years 2001-2003.

Since 2001 she has been researching and photographing in Antarctica and, in 2008, she was the only international recipient of a United States National Science Foundation Polar Artists and Writers award. She has also been awarded six Creative New Zealand grants in the past 15 years.

In 2003 she was awarded the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to photography in New Zealand; in 2006 she helped secure a top ranking in the Performance-Based Research Fund, earning the University a rating of being the number one design institution in New Zealand; and in 2009 she was awarded the Massey University Individual Research Medal, Massey’s highest award for research, and also received the New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate Award, which recognises a moment in the artists’ career that will allow them to have their next great success.

“It’s a surprise and wonderful recognition for our disciplines, and reflects the value of art and design to New Zealand culture and society, alongside the sciences, social sciences and humanities," she says. "I’m honoured to have been included in that group of esteemed professors, and it’s fantastic for all women academics.”

Distinguished Professor Singh, from Manawatū, is co-director of the Riddet Institute, a Massey-hosted centre of research excellence, one of seven funded by the Government. Its focus is on food and health innovation. His current research programme involves understanding structures, interactions, and functions of food colloids. He also holds an industry-endowed Chair in Dairy Science and Technology at Massey.

Last year he and fellow Riddet co-director Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan were jointly awarded the Prime Minister’s Science Prize of $500,000, New Zealand’s most valuable award for scientific achievement. Since 2003 the pair have been instrumental in securing more than $40 million in research funding for the institute.

Professor Singh’s expertise in food protein structures and how they interact in food systems is world-renown. He has published more than 300 research papers in international journals, presented more than 60 keynote addresses at international and national conferences and holds 10 patents. He has received numerous awards, including the Marschall Rhodia International Dairy Science Award (2001) by the American Dairy Science Association; the William C. Haines Dairy Science Award by the California Dairy Research Foundation (USA) in 2008; the Massey University Research Medal in 2008. In 2011, he received the JC Andrews Award by the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology (the Institute's most prestigious award) and New Zealand Association of Scientists’ Shorland Medal.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, a Fellow of the International Academic of Food Science and Technology, a member of the editorial boards of the International Dairy Journal, the Journal of Food Science, Food Research International, Dairy Science and Technology, Food Hydrocolloids and Research Advances in Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

“I feel privileged and honoured to receive this recognition and would like to thank Massey University for acknowledging my contributions and services. I would also like to acknowledge the contributions from my colleagues, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers from around the world. I could not have achieved this success without their inspiration and dedication. A major highlight of my career has been the opportunity to work with Professor Paul Moughan to establish the Riddet Institute, with the strong support from Massey University.”

Distinguished Professor Spoonley is the College of Humanities and Social Sciences research director and Auckland regional director. He says he is elated to be awarded the title. “It’s such an honour to be recognised by the University in this way."

He joined Massey in 1979, attracted by its reputation for being hands-on. He taught in the Sociology programme, with a major focus on distance education. “In the social sciences, we have developed a reputation of dealing with real world communities and issues, and that is enormously satisfying. In the last 20 years, this has been reflected in our external research funding. I think it is one of the privileges of the work that we do that we can continue to do research in areas that are exciting for us but which are also really important to the communities in which we live.”

In 2010, he was awarded a Royal Society of New Zealand Science and Technology medal in recognition of his academic scholarship, leadership and public contribution to cultural understanding. He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of California Berkeley the same year and, in 2011, made a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Professor Spoonley is the project leader for the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology-funded Integration of Immigrants Programme, which received $3 million to examine the economic settlement of immigrants in Auckland and another $800,000 for a study called Ngā Tāngata Oho Mairangi, on the future population shape of New Zealand. He is a social commentator on ethnic and race relations’ issues.

He has published 28 books on sociology, biculturalism, racism, ethnic relations and international migration. His most recent books published are Welcome to Our World?: Immigration and Reshaping of New Zealand and Diverse Nations, Diverse Responses: Approaches to Social Cohesion in Immigrant Societies, both published last year.

The selection process for distinguished professors involves nomination by a pro vice-chancellor (one of the heads of the five colleges) at the Vice-Chancellor's invitation. A selection committee is then convened and chaired by the Vice-Chancellor. There are now nine distinguished professors. The other six are: Bill Tunmer from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Gaven Martin, Paul Moughan, David Penny, Paul Rainey and Peter Schwerdtfeger from the College of Sciences.

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