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Curtin Professor appointed Chief Scientist for NZ environmental authority

Media release

Curtin University has congratulated Professor Michael Bunce on being appointed the Chief Scientist of New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Professor Bunce, a former ARC Future Fellow in Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences and the Head of Curtin’s Trace and Environmental DNA (TrEnD) laboratory, will be tasked with providing scientific advice that underpins the EPA’s decision-making in New Zealand.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry congratulated Professor Bunce on his prestigious appointment, adding it would present potential collaboration opportunities with Curtin’s research partners in New Zealand.

“Professor Bunce is a widely respected and highly regarded expert whose research uses DNA sequencing technologies to investigate important biological questions surrounding biodiversity – from extinct species to the corals and fish that live in our oceans,” Professor Terry said.

“His appointment as Chief Scientist for New Zealand’s EPA is testament to the quality of his research, which has pioneered new environmental DNA (eDNA) biomonitoring methods. We look forward to seeing the important role his vast expertise brings to the EPA’s decision-making and hope to continue our relationship with Professor Bunce through new research collaborations.

“Curtin will continue to develop its research and industry engagement in the biomonitoring area – our recent Excellence in Research for Australia results in environmental science document the University’s core strength in this growing discipline.”

Professor Bunce said he was honoured to be appointed the EPA’s Chief Scientist and looked forward to starting the new role in August.

“This opportunity will enable me to translate some of my research in environmental and biodiversity monitoring into the scientific decision-making of New Zealand’s environmental authority,” Professor Bunce said.

“Throughout more than five years at Curtin, I’ve been lucky to work with many dynamic academics from multiple disciplines researching environmental impacts from fossil bones in caves near Margaret River and remote coral reefs to mine sites undergoing restoration. I am excited to use that background in my new role in New Zealand.”

Professor Bunce, who joined Curtin in 2014, completed his undergraduate degree at Lincoln University in New Zealand and his PhD in medical research at the Australian National University in Canberra. He also completed post-doctoral positions at The University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and McMaster University in Canada.

Curtin’s TrEnD lab specialises in using DNA metabarcoding to characterise environmental and ancient DNA across a wide variety of biological applications including biodiversity assessment, palaeontology, archaeology, food webs, biosecurity, marine biology and human health.

Professor Bunce will commence his new role at New Zealand’s EPA in August this year.

For more information about New Zealand’s EPA, visit here.