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Sir Peter Gluckman Receives 2015 AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy for Bringing Together Science Advisers

Sir Peter Gluckman, who convened an international conference for governmental science advisers and now chairs the International Network for Science Advice to Governments that emerged from the conference, has been chosen by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to receive the 2015 Award for Science Diplomacy.

Gluckman is chief science adviser to the prime minister of New Zealand. He is also professor of pediatric and perinatal biology at the University of Auckland and founder of the Liggins Institute, the university’s first large-scale research institute. He was honored by AAAS for transforming the theory and practice of science advice—an essential component of science diplomacy—by bringing its practitioners together into a global network.

“In an increasingly interconnected world characterized by global threats, the demand for good scientific advice has arguably never been greater. While many governments have structures and systems in place to provide this at a national level, the cross-border nature of these threats mean that the need for effective communication and coordination between scientific advisers is becoming increasingly essential,” the nominating committee wrote.

Peter Gluckman
Peter Gluckman earned the 2015 Award for Science Diplomacy. | International Network for Government Science Advice

Gluckman convened, hosted, and chaired the international conference on Science Advice to Governments in 2014, bringing together 220 people from more than 45 countries as well as representatives from regional and multinational organizations. The meeting resulted in an agreement to establish the International Network for Science Advice to Governments (INGSA), with Gluckman as its founding chair. INGSA now provides a space for capacity building and dialogue on best practices in the field of scientific advice.

The conference and network built upon Gluckman’s contributions to developing the theory of science advice. His 2014 paper in Nature, “Policy: The Art of Science Advice to Government,” outlines 10 fundamental principles for providing sound scientific advice while navigating political dynamics.

Gluckman drew on his experience as the first chief science adviser to the prime minister of New Zealand. In addition to advising the prime minister, Gluckman promotes an understanding of science among policymakers and the public, enhances the role of evidence in policy formation, and promotes New Zealand’s interests through science diplomacy. He was named to the role in 2009, and his appointment has been extended twice until June 2018. He was also appointed special science envoy for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2010.

Gluckman was nominated to receive the 2015 AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy by an advisory committee including Cathleen Campbell, president and CEO of CRDF Global; William Colglazier, past science and technology adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State and former executive officer of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council; and Romain Murenzi, executive director of The World Academy of Sciences. Gluckman's selection was approved by the AAAS Board of Directors.

The committee cited Gluckman’s leadership in using science diplomacy to benefit New Zealand. Under his tenure as chief scientific adviser, New Zealand established the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases. The alliance, which now counts 46 countries as members, focuses on the research and development of methods to grow food using climate-resilient systems without increasing emissions—and demonstrates the significant role that small nations can play on the global stage through science diplomacy.

Gluckman is also the founding head of the secretariat of the Small Advanced Economies Initiative and served as co-chair of the World Health Organization Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity. He also proposed that the Asia Pacific Economic Council should have a grouping of chief science advisers; the group, the first formalized regional network of its kind anywhere, was approved in 2012 with Gluckman as its standing co-chair.

Gluckman earned a bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery at the University of Otago. He received a master of medical science and a doctor of science degree from the University of Auckland. Prior to his appointment as chief science adviser, he served most recently as director for New Zealand’s National Research Centre for Growth and Development and as director of the Liggins Institute for Medical Research. His many honors and awards have included the Rutherford Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand, the society’s highest award; the David Barker Medal from the International Society for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease; and the Sir Paul Callaghan Award Medal for outstanding contributions to science communication. In 2015, Gluckman was named a member of the Order of New Zealand, a royal honor restricted to 20 living New Zealanders.

The AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy was approved by the AAAS Board of Directors in 2010 (it was formerly the AAAS International Scientific Cooperation Award, established in 1992). It recognizes an individual or a small group working in the scientific and engineering or foreign affairs communities making an outstanding contribution to furthering science diplomacy. The Award consists of a plaque and an honorarium of $5,000. Gluckman is the first awardee outside the United States since the award’s renaming.

The AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy will be bestowed upon Gluckman during the 182nd AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., 11-15 February 2016. The AAAS Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, February 12, in Palladian Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham Hotel.