Timely second opinions on immigration and epidemics from New Zealand

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Two debates currently dominating news coverage – infectious diseases and immigration – will be greatly enriched with the arrival from New Zealand of the next two NZ-UK Link Foundation Visiting Professors.

Michael Baker (left), New Zealand’s leading infectious disease epidemiologist, is to be a NZ-UK Link Foundation Visiting Professor for 2015. He will be based at the School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London from April to July 2015 and will give his inaugural lecture in May.

He is followed by Jacques Poot, Professor of Population Economics at the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis at New Zealand’s Waikato University. An expert on how countries can better prepare for, and maximise the benefits of, diversity, Professor Poot will be at SAS from September until November.

‘These important new appointments provide excellent examples of how academics and policy makers in the UK can learn from the experience of their counterparts from elsewhere in the Commonwealth,’ said Professor Philip Murphy, Deputy Dean of SAS and director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. ‘The School of Advanced Study takes great pride in providing a forum for these sorts of discussions of issues of major public concern.’

Both award-winning academics are highly respected in their fields and have published and presented their research widely.

Professor Baker, a public health physician as well as professor in the University of Otago’s public health department, has more than 20 years research experience focusing on pandemic infectious diseases. He also consults for the World Health Organisation and leads continuing professional development for the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine.

He was educated at the Universities of Auckland and Otago, and said he was ‘deeply honoured and delighted to have been awarded the Visiting Professorship. My area of research while in the UK has taken on fresh urgency with the emergence of Ebola as a global health concern. I very much look forward to the opportunity the Visiting Professorship provides to pursue these research questions, and to contributing to the mission of the Foundation and to the academic community in London.’

Professor Poot (right) is only the second academic from Waikato University to secure this prestigious visiting professorship. After studying econometrics at the Free University Amsterdam, Professor Poot gained a PhD from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. He has lectured in Japan at the University of Tsukuba and is currently also Fellow-in-Residence at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Accepting his appointment, Professor Poot said, ‘I am absolutely delighted to have been given the opportunity to spend three months in the UK. With growing cross-border mobility, migration linkages between countries have become increasingly complex and dynamic; with many socio-economic impacts that also raise various policy issues. Interaction with scholars in the UK will enable me to develop detailed perspectives on contemporary population movements between the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and their implications. It will also benefit my research in population economics more broadly’.

While at SAS they both plan to deliver a series of public lectures. Professor Poot will address the trends in NZ-UK population exchange and their economic implications, while Professor Baker plans to delve into the issues that governments need to consider so they can respond in a timely and effective manner to natural disasters.

-Ends-

Notes for editors:

1. For further information please contact Maureen McTaggart, Media and Public Relations Officer, School of Advanced Study, University of London +44 (0)20 7862 8653 / Maureen.mctaggart@sas.ac.uk. Images available on request.

2. The Visiting Professors are chosen by a selection panel comprising NZ-UK Link Foundation Trustees and Professors at the University of London.

3. The NZ-UK Link Foundation is a registered charity whose primary objective is to make ‘an ongoing substantial contribution to the intellectual, educational, vocational and academic underpinning of the bilateral relationship in a changing world’. www.nzuklinkfoundation.org

4. The School of Advanced Study (SAS) at the University of London is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. The School brings together 10 prestigious research institutes to offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. The member institutes of the School are the Institutes of Advanced Legal Studies, Classical Studies, Commonwealth Studies, English Studies, Historical Research, Latin American Studies, Modern Languages Research, Musical Research, Philosophy, and the Warburg Institute. The School also hosts a cross-disciplinary centre, the Human Rights Consortium, dedicated to the facilitation, promotion and dissemination of academic and policy work on human rights. Find out more at www.sas.ac.uk or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews

5. Each year the School welcomes around 170 visiting research fellows who benefit from its unique research resources and multidisciplinary scholarly community. In addition to visiting fellowship programmes, the School offers professorial, honorary and senior research fellowships. Through the hosting of these fellowships, the School fulfils its overall aims of enriching the research infrastructure of its national and international subject communities and other stakeholders. www.sas.ac.uk/support-research/fellowships/visiting-fellowships

6. Professor Michael Baker is a public health physician and professor at the University of Otago, Wellington. He is co-director for He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme and principal investigator for the Social Housing Outcomes Worth Study, which is tracking the health of social housing tenants in New Zealand. His research interests include the health effects of household crowding, home injuries, homelessness, seasonality of disease, climate change, pandemic influenza and how it can be contained, infectious disease epidemiology, and emerging infectious diseases. In 2013 Professor Baker was awarded the HRC Liley Medal for his contribution to the health and medical sciences.

7. Professor Jacques Poot studied econometrics at the Free University Amsterdam and has a Ph.D from New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington, where he held various academic positions between 1979 and 2003. He was also Foreign Professor at the University of Tsukuba in Japan (1994-97 and 2002). He is a Correspondent (Honorary Fellow) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences; a member of the Board of Management of the Building Research Capability in the Social Sciences network and an Affiliate of the Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust. His research interests include all aspects of the economics of population and has also carried out research in other areas, including meta-analysis, the geography of economic growth; the construction sector, transportation, housing and forecasting.