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Unbiased and topical backgrounders and handy reference sheets for journalists covering issues in science and technology.

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Antimicrobial resistance – Expert Q&A

Posted in Briefings on November 21st, 2016.

Growing rates of antimicrobial resistance could leave us without effective drugs to treat serious infections – “the end of modern medicine as we know it”, according to the WHO’s Margaret Chan. November 14-18 was World Antibiotic Awareness Week and Dr Siouxsie Wiles at Te Pūnaha Matatini planned an awareness campaign about antimicrobial resistance: InfectedNZ. It was […]

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Kaikoura earthquake – Expert Q&A with GeoNet

Scientists are still unravelling what happened a week ago on several faults near Kaikoura and Culverden. We asked GeoNet scientists about what they have been finding out. What do we know about the possibility of stress added to neighbouring faults? “We understand this is an important question. We are currently developing the model for this […]

November 21st, 2016 Read full Story

Earthquakes and landslides – Expert Q&A

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck North Canterbury on Monday morning caused numerous landslides, blocking roads and damming rivers. Early estimates suggest there could be tens of thousands of landslides through the area, causing hazards such as blocked rivers which could result in floodwaters if the dams break. Dr Tom Wilson and Professor Tim Davies […]

November 17th, 2016 Read full Story

Earthquake effect on tourism – Expert Q&A

Over the coming days and weeks the full impact of Monday morning’s Kaikoura earthquake will become apparent. We asked an expert in the effect of natural disasters on tourism what the recovery of this tourist town might look like. Dr Caroline Orchiston, Deputy Director, Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago How do natural disasters like […]

November 15th, 2016 Read full Story

Coping with disaster – Expert Q&A

Following the magnitude 7.5 earthquake near Kaikoura on Monday morning, people are likely to feel rattled especially during numerous aftershocks. We asked a psychologist who works in disaster recovery for his tips on coping through this period. [Note: since this was written, the November 14 earthquake had been upgraded to magnitude 7.8.] Associate Professor Sarb […]

November 15th, 2016 Read full Story

Antibacterial products banned in the US – Expert Q&A

A substance found in many antibacterial consumer products – like handsoaps and toothpaste – has been banned from some products in the United States because of its environmental effects. New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month accepted an application from the Green Party to consider grounds for reassessing triclosan. The Science Media Centre asked […]

September 6th, 2016 Read full Story

Local councils, medical trials and GMOs – Expert Q&A

UPDATED: Medical trials involving genetically modified vaccines and other GM treatments will still be allowed under planning changes Auckland and three other local councils are making. Auckland councillors this week agreed to a ban on the general release of genetically modified organisms under the city’s Unitary Plan. *See new comments below on the legal aspects […]

September 2nd, 2016 Read full Story

East Cape earthquake and tsunami warning – Expert Q&A

An early morning earthquake off the coast of the East Cape rattled many from their beds and sparked a tsunami warning. The Science Media Centre asked GNS Science seismologist Dr John Ristau to answer some questions about earthquakes in the region. Please feel free to use this Q&A in your reporting. Dr John Ristau, seismologist, GNS […]

September 2nd, 2016 Read full Story

Expert Q&A: Aquifers, groundwater and how contaminations can occur

A campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North affected an estimated 4000 people, sent dozens to the emergency department and sparked an inquiry into what happened and how well the response was managed. We’ve worked with experts to answer some simple and frequently-asked questions about the water in our aquifers, how it’s linked to surface water, and […]

August 24th, 2016 Read full Story

Expert Q&A: Zika virus and the Rio Olympics

With the Rio Olympics kicking off, the SMC gathered background information on the Zika virus to aid in any reporting during the Games. Here is a Q&A with local experts, please feel free to use any of these comments in your reporting. Professor Michael Baker, Professor of Public Health, University of Otago What are the […]

August 5th, 2016 Read full Story


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