Dr Jenny Webster-Brown will be the next director of the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, after current director Ken Taylor retires on May 29.
She joins Our Land and Water following over nine years as Professor of Water Resource Management and inaugural director of the Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management, established between the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University in 2010.
“I’m looking forward to leading the Our Land and Water challenge as it does the critical job of translating science into a real, lasting change in the way Aotearoa manages our water and land resources, with the potential to impact every New Zealander,” says Dr Webster-Brown.
The director’s role is a natural culmination of her lifetime commitment to research and action around improving water and land use in Aotearoa, says Our Land and Water governance group chair Hone McGregor. “Jenny will be an outstanding director to follow on from Ken. She is passionate about the kaupapa of Our Land and Water and has the ability to bring people with her in the mission-led environment of a National Science Challenge.”
Dr Webster-Brown has a strong commitment to finding interdisciplinary, innovative and imaginative answers to the problems currently facing Aotearoa New Zealand in the freshwater management and agricultural production sectors.
She has constructive relationships with many parties whose engagement and commitment is critical to improving freshwater quality in New Zealand, and is open to innovative ideas and different perspectives on water and land use in New Zealand. “I am a firm believer in finding collaborative, consensual solutions to environmental problems, and in the role of interdisciplinary science and research in these solutions,” she says.
“Jenny will be an outstanding director to follow on from Ken. She is passionate about the kaupapa of Our Land and Water” — Our Land and Water chair Hone McGregor
Jenny Webster-Brown holds a PhD in geochemistry and worked for the DSIR and ESR before joining the University of Auckland for 12 years, prior to her director’s role at the Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management. Her academic research was principally in the field of freshwater chemistry and quality in New Zealand and Antarctica.
An experienced science communicator on freshwater issues, Dr Webster-Brown is a frequently sought expert for media commentary on major national and regional government initiatives for freshwater management, and in response to water shortages or contamination events.
She comes from Northland originally and her whakapapa connects to Ngā Puhi on her grandmother's side. She has been involved in small scale farming since 2004, and now raises sheep and angora goats for fleece and fibre, selling to spinners and crafters all over New Zealand. Her current farming operation includes “two beautiful but largely ineffectual border collies, a John Deere tractor, 12 chickens, three troublesome dairy goats, a Maine Coon cat for rabbit control, and a very tolerant partner/farmhand”.
Outgoing director Ken Taylor is an enthusiastic supporter of Dr Webster-Brown’s appointment to the role. “My four years as director of the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge has been a career highlight,” he says. “It is really exciting to know that someone of Jenny’s calibre will be in the role, injecting new ideas and fresh perspectives into Our Land and Water.”
For more information or to request an interview contact Annabel McAleer, Senior Communications Advisor, Our Land and Water: phone 021480533, Annabel.McAleer@agresearch.co.nz
High-res photograph available via Dropbox