Plant & Food Research scientist Professor Nigel Perry has been awarded a prestigious Fellowship to the Academy of the Royal Society Te Apārangi for distinction in research with impact and advancement of mātauranga Māori. The Fellowship celebrates his contribution to new knowledge on natural products, the diverse molecules that regulate many interactions in nature.
“I am delighted. It’s an honour to have my research recognised with such a prestigious award,” says Professor Nigel Perry, Bioactives Team Leader at Plant & Food Research and Professor Department of Chemistry, University of Otago.
“I am very grateful for the support and efforts of my colleagues, and for the collaboration between Plant & Food Research and the University of Otago, which has made our research so successful," says Perry.
Professor Perry and colleagues have discovered more than 80 previously unknown compounds from Aotearoa New Zealand’s native marine and terrestrial plants and animals. He is also a world leader in understanding the impacts of production and processing on natural products in medicinal and culinary plants.
In his research, Professor Perry combines fundamental science with a drive to create impacts through practical applications working with Māori, medical and agricultural researchers, and local and international companies. He is an inventor on six patents, including an insect attractant in commercial use worldwide.
Professor Perry has made significant contributions to the knowledge and applied science of mānuka, mainly on leaf bioactives as products supplementary to mānuka honey production. His research on the bioactives of taonga species has evolved into co-designed studies linking Māori mātauranga (traditional knowledge) and science. Current projects include cannabinoid analogs, and work on harakeke bioactives with Māori weavers.
He received the 1994 NZ Science & Technology Medal for excellence and the 2013 New Zealand Institute of Chemistry Prize for Industrial and Applied Chemistry.