Tom Logan wins Rutherford Discovery Fellowship

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The Royal Society Te Apārangi has announced that the 2023 Rutherford Discovery Fellowship will go to Dr Tom Logan from Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC).

Dr Logan, a senior lecturer in Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, is the director of UC’s Cluster for Community and Urban Resilience (CURe) and president of the Australia NZ Society of Risk Analysis. He is known for his research on risk and resilience and boosting understanding of how to adapt cities to climate change, while making them more sustainable, healthy, and equitable.

As part of his Fellowship, Dr Logan will explore how cascading risk and multiple uncertainties can be built into climate adaptation planning.

He will evaluate the effects of interventions with indirect and cascading risks in communities around Aotearoa. For example, building a seawall to protect a road may devastate an ecosystem, which could in turn affect access to mahinga kai, and diminish the cultural value of an area.

“Recent events, such as the floods in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and Cyclone Gabrielle, were a rude awakening to the future our communities face from multiple hazards exacerbated by climate change,” he says. “We must provide communities scientifically robust guidance on managing these interconnected impacts so they can effectively adapt.”

Dr Logan’s approach will combine state-of-the-art methods in indirect risk assessments to develop robust intervention plans. “This fellowship will provide an important platform for decision-makers and communities to plan for the worst and use all available knowledge to do our best,” he says.

Nationwide, there are 12 Rutherford Discovery Fellowship recipients this year. They are the last to receive funding through the scheme. From 2024, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment will support future leaders in research, science and innovation through the three Aotearoa New Zealand Tāwhia te Mana Research Fellowships schemes.

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