Congratulations to award winners from NZIAHS’s new president

The latest newsletter from the NZIAHS introduces the institute’s newly elected president, Jeremy Burdon, and members elected to the NZIAHS Council earlier this month:

Dr Jeremy Burdon, Plant & Food Research – President

Dr Ben van Hooijdonk, Plant & Food Research – Vice President/Treasurer

Dr Rainer Hofmann, Lincoln University – Councillor

Dr Craig Bunt, University of Otago – Councillor

Dr Marty Faville, AgResearch Grasslands – Councillor

Prof Julian Heyes – Immediate Past President

Jeremy is a Senior Scientist at The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Ltd, based in Auckland, working in postharvest science supporting New Zealand’s kiwifruit and avocado industries. He undertakes fundamental and commercially funded science and provides practical advice to the post-harvest sector in New Zealand and overseas.

He says it is a huge privilege, in his first newsletter as president, to congratulate and celebrate the winners of NZIAHS awards announced at the annual general meeting.

The award winners are:

 Jubilee Medal

  • Dr Stuart Tustin

Stuart, an Honorary Fellow of Plant & Food Research, has had a significant impact on the horticultural sector in New Zealand and internationally through applying underlying physiological understanding to practical outcomes for growers. These scientific contributions over almost 40 years have systematically resulted in improvements in productivity and yield and in economic, environmental and social sustainability of the horticultural sector in NZ, particularly the apple and pear industries.

His most recent achievement has been conceiving and leading the development of a totally new orchard design, narrow row planar cordon design or Future Orchard Planting System (FOPS), which is still in in its early stages of industry adoption. This new design has resulted in a doubling of productivity of more uniform high-quality fruit and is amenable to mechanisation and improved labour efficiency.

Elected a Fellow of the NZIAHS in 2003, Stuart has won many awards and prizes and has been an international invited speaker on numerous occasions.

In 2020, the Future Orchard Planting System research programme team, led by Stuart, was awarded the NZ Primary Industries Science & Research Award for “developing new processes/initiatives or made discoveries that add value to New Zealand’s primary industries”.


  • Dr Grant Thorp

Grant, now with the International Development Unit at Plant & Food Research, has been engaged in innovative scientific research with wide commercial application for over 43 years. Starting his career in 1980 with New Zealand’s kiwifruit and feijoa industries, he is now internationally recognised also for research on almond, avocado, kiwiberry and macadamia and is regularly invited to collaborate with research in these industries in Australia, Europe and North and South America.

Grant is a specialist in plant architecture and the use of architectural tree models to better understand the development of productive fruiting canopies with tree and vine crops.  His work in understanding and manipulation of architectural traits determining/limiting productivity is wide reaching.

His publication record includes 45 refereed scientific papers, four books and book chapters, and 25 published conference proceedings and posters. He has an even stronger commercial publication record with 179 client reports and 67 industry articles, plus 216 formal presentations to industry and science groups to present research results.

  • Dr Robyn Dynes

A Science Strategy Leader and farming systems Senior Scientist with AgResearch at Lincoln, Robyn’s career has linked forage and animal science with farm systems. She has produced over 90 peer-reviewed science publications that have accumulated over 1500 citations in Google Scholar with an h-index of 23.

Robyn has applied her outstanding communications skills and practicality to working with farmers to have sustainable farming practices adopted in the best interest of wider New Zealand rural and urban communities. She was awarded the 2022 Sir Arthur Ward Trophy by NZIAHS in recognition of those skills.

Her recent research focuses on interactions between the environment and agricultural systems along with the practice changes that will be needed by farmers to mitigate climate-change impacts and adapt to the new realities.

Honorary Life Member

  • Dr Stuart Davis

Stuart, Sustainability Manager for LeaderBrand Produce, has had a long and distinguished career, applying his agronomic and crop-specific knowledge to the demanding world of the fresh product industry.  He also has a long involvement in industry bodies, as a Member of the NZ Vegetable Research Council (1997-2002), Director of Vegetables NZ Inc (2008-2018), and Director of the Vegetable Research and Innovation Board of Horticulture NZ (he was Chair from 2014-2018).

He was awarded an Honorary Life Membership of Vegetables NZ Inc in 2019 and an Industry Service Award for Horticulture NZ Inc in the same year.

Stuart served as a Council Member for NZSHS (2001-4) and its successor, NZIAHS (2005-2008), and became a Trustee of the NZ Horticultural Science Advancement Trust in 2003 (he has been its chair since 2010).

He has been a long-standing supporter of the activities of the Auckland Branch of NZIAHS, regularly attending events over several decades.

AGMARDT Knowledge & Technology Transfer Award

  • Dr John Caradus and the Grasslanz team

This award recognises the contribution of John Caradus and the Grasslanz (a wholly owned subsidiary of AgResearch) team to the pastoral agriculture sector’s long-term sustained adoption of science innovation in the form of novel plant and endophyte germplasm. That work has generated enormous on-farm productivity and profitability gains, mitigated pest challenges and supported the expansion of agricultural exports.

By partnering with science teams, germplasm marketers and farmer users, and communicating effectively with research, practice and policy stakeholders, Grasslanz has bridged the technology development chasm and taken science advances into the production sector for tangible benefit to New Zealand.

John Caradus and the Grasslanz team have also played a significant role in the ongoing biosecurity and GM technology policy deliberations within the sector and government.

Emerging Scientist Award

  • Dr Simona Nardozza

Simona, a plant molecular physiologist who applies a multidisciplinary approach to developing knowledge of vine and fruit carbohydrate metabolism, is a Senior Scientist and Science Team Leader for Vine Performance at Plant and Food Research based in Auckland.

She has been recognised for her contribution to the field of carbohydrate metabolism in kiwifruit.

Simona has addressed questions around the accumulation of starch in fruit which underpins Zespri’s ‘Taste’ programme and helping build an understanding of the role of carbohydrates in the development of red pigmentation in kiwifruit.

Recently, Simona led a successful MBIE Endeavour Fund Smart Idea bid titled ‘How many flower? Sugars, hormones and dioecy’.

Postgraduate Award

  • Kris Kramer-Walter

Kris, who joined Plant and Food Research as a Research Associate at Te Puke in 2016, has developed a commendable understanding of the science and management of kiwifruit vines. After Dr Bill Snelgar retired in 2017, he has led several large on-orchard kiwifruit projects for Zespri Group Ltd, including studies on key topics such as understanding and reducing variation in fruit quality, cane training systems and alternatives to Hi-Cane® to maintain vine productivity.

Kris has been the lead author on several complex reports and translated the results into grower articles and is often asked to present results to growers and the kiwifruit industry.

He will finish his PhD in 2025. His project at the University of Waikato is “Wood carbohydrate storage and mobilisation dynamics and the effects on flower and fruit development in kiwifruit (Actinidia sp.)”.


Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog