PM's chief science advisor announced

By Tema Hemi

Prime Minister Jacinda Adern will take on a University of Auckland professor as her chief science advisor.  Professor Juliet Gerrard will start the role by connecting with scientists around the country to gauge how science can further help New Zealanders.  

The prime minister is four days away from her due date but she continues to serve the country.

Ardern says,  "We've had a science network for a few years now and the thing is they've added to our decision making and policy making, it's making sure we have that independent stream of evidence and advice."

Gerrard will provide scientific advice to policymakers on issues such as climate change and diseases such as Mycoplasma bovis. 

Gerrard says, "People are really worried about bio-security, about climate change, about clean energy.  I noticed a call in the paper the other day for the chief science advisor to look again at genetic editing and I'm sure that's an issue that will keep bubbling up."

Ardren says, "A lot of the issues we have the chief science advisor and the network work on are often issues of the day.  So climate change, Mycoplasma bovis, where things crop up and we need that extra advice, they play a really critical role."

Gerrard completed both Honors and Doctorate degrees in chemistry and bio-chemistry at Oxford University.  Now she plans to hear the views from scientists on the difference science can make for New Zealand. 

"I really hope that we can do some celebrating of science and start some conversations with all sorts of people and bringing all sorts of worldviews and viewpoints," she says.

Outgoing advisor Professor Sir Peter Gluckman has given Gerrard an insight into the role and she says, "He's been very generous with his time and he's very wise."

Gerrard will have a small team of staff that will work alongside her and she hopes to make a big difference in serving New Zealand the best she can.