NZ's biggest science conference heading to Nelson

Queenstown Research Week co-ordinator, professor Peter Shepherd.

The biggest biological science conference in the country is heading to Nelson next year after being hosted for more than two decades in Queenstown.

Queenstown Research Week, which has been held in the southern lakes region for the last 25 years, will be held in Nelson for the first time in August.

Conference co-ordinator Peter Shepherd said the only venue in Queenstown big enough to hold the conference was undergoing renovations next year so they had to find an alternative venue.

It's grown to a point where last year, over the whole week we had 10 different meetings running consecutively, said Shepherd.

More than 1200 people attended this year's conference and Shepherd expected that number to grow.

Queenstown Research Week co-ordinator, professor Peter Shepherd.

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The week consists of co-ordinated but independently run meetings that cover a range of areas of science including the New Zealand Medical Sciences Congress and the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists.

Next year's conference will be made up of 13 different meetings that cover a wide range of topics, including plant research through to cancer, stem cells and heart disease amongst others.

The concept to host them at the same time developed from three different iconic New Zealand scientific meetings each of which were held annually in Queenstown.

"Nelson appealed because of the connectivity via Nelson airport and the competition with new airlines, makes it a bit more of a feasible place to have large meetings."

The conference centre at the Rutherford Hotel also provided suitable facilities to accommodate the growing event.

The recently introduced direct route between Dunedin and Nelson meant scientists from the University of Otago could easily make it to Nelson.

Shepherd said he had received a very enthusiastic reception from local tourism agencies and high schools to bring some high level science to the region.

"I think the people of Nelson are a very intelligent and literate bunch and are interested in attending the public events."

He said all of those things added up to Nelson being a fantastic alternative for the conference next year.

A number of events will be open to the public and students during the week including one with Nobel prize winner and developmental biologist professor Sir John Gurdon.

 - Stuff