Plant & Food Research scientist Brent Clothier to be next President of Royal Society Te Apārangi

10 July 2020

Dr Brent Clothier FRSNZ has been appointed President-Elect of the Royal Society Te Apārangi. He will become the first Crown Research Institute scientist to be in the role in more than 30 years. Currently a leading soil and water expert at Plant & Food Research, Dr Clothier will take over from Professor Wendy Larner FRSNZ on 1 July 2021 for a three-year term. He joins the Society’s Council as President-Elect immediately.

“It is a tremendous honour. I’ve big shoes to fill, and that is very motivating for me,” Dr Clothier says. “The global challenges are immense, and we need research to find solutions. Without the knowledge from research we’re not going to be able to ‘organise’ and plan for a sustainable future.”

Dr Clothier has advanced quantitative understanding of the world’s natural capital assets that deliver ecosystem services to grow crops and enable us to make informed land-use decisions. He has developed new theories for water and chemicals moving through soil, along with inventing new devices to monitor the parameters controlling these flows. He has developed new technologies with his colleagues to directly measure water use by trees and vines that have helped improve water management in water-short regions globally.

Plant & Food Research CEO David Hughes says, “Brent has had a prolific and impactful career at our organisation. He has worked with collaborators around the world to better the environment and the lives of many. He understands the important role of environmental and horticultural science in solving the problems of tomorrow’s world. I have no doubt that his experience and knowledge will greatly benefit the Royal Society Te Apārangi.”

It will be exactly 40 years since Dr Ted Bollard started as the Royal Society’s President when Dr Clothier takes over next year. Dr Bollard was the former Director of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) Plant Diseases Division, the predecessor of Plant & Food Research. Dr Trevor Hatherton OBE, who was the Director of the DSIR Geophysics Division, succeeded Dr Bollard as Royal Society President from 1985-1989 and was the last Crown researcher in the role.

Dr Clothier is a Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, elected in 1994. Last year he become the first New Zealander to be elected as an Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE). He is also a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, the American Agronomy Society, the New Zealand Soil Science Society, and the American Geophysical Union. He was the recipient of the American Soil Science Society’s Kirkham Soil Physics Award in 2000.

He has a BSc (Hons) from Canterbury University, and a PhD and DSc from Massey University and is an Adjunct Professor at Massey University, Lincoln University, and China Agricultural University in Beijing. He served as Chair of the Royal Society’s Academy in 2008-2009.

Dr Clothier will maintain his role at Plant & Food Research as Principal Scientist in the Cropping Systems & Environment Group, where much of his work involves research, leadership and the mentoring of young scientists. He has worked on aid and development projects in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as in Africa, the Middle East, and China. He is actively involved in mahi about whenua and oneone, and land use projects working with Māori entities. Next month he will attend two hui in the eastern Bay of Plenty to assess new and high-value options for land uses that meet the social, cultural, environmental and economic aspirations of the tangata whenua.

Nickkita Lau
Senior Communications Advisor, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
Telephone: +64-9-925-7204
Mobile: +64-21-569-221