Media release: Hamilton scientist wins award at international science conference

Hamilton scientist wins award at international conference

1 September 2012

New Zealand scientist, Bruce Morris, from Hamilton, has won the inaugural “Excellence in Sample Prep” award at an international conference for analytical chemists held in North America.

The annual conference, known as the North American Chemical Residue Workshop (NACRW), is open to scientists from all over the world with attendees from North and South America, Asia, Europe, Africa and Australasia.

Dr. Morris, a Senior Technologist at New Zealand's leading analytical testing laboratory, Hill Laboratories, was judged against more than 35 international scientists for the Excellence in Sample Prep award. 

The award was given for an oral presentation delivered to more than 300 conference delegates. Dr. Morris, along with colleague Richard Schriner, were the first New Zealanders to attend and present at NACRW, which this year celebrated its 51st year.

According to Hill Laboratories founder and managing director Dr. Roger Hill, Bruce’s presentation demonstrated the benefits of a new type of sample preparation Hill Laboratories has spent many years perfecting.

“Hill Laboratory’s Food and Bioanalytical division has put in huge resources over many years to develop test methods for detecting pesticide residues in foods,” Dr. Hill said.

“About eight years ago we became aware of a new residue testing method, called the QuEChERS extraction, which was receiving great international acclaim as the most effective way to analyse pesticide residues in foods.”

“Since then, Bruce and the team, including Mr Schriner and Shaun Clay, have worked to improve the ‘clean-up’ process in residue testing. They developed a new 'clean-up' cartridge in co-operation with our US suppliers. Now, after five years of hard work, we have the method reliably running at Hill Laboratories,” he said.

According Dr Hill, Dr. Morris’ presentation of Hill Laboratories’ pesticide residue journey at the NACRW has a chance to put New Zealand on the international residue testing map.

“People have said to us that Hill Laboratories is 'world leading' in the area of residues testing, and this award confirms that. 

“Essentially the improved residue testing method means that clients end up with more accurate testing results, and thus people buying fruit and vegetables receive better protection against buying produce with unwanted pesticides. We are extremely proud of Bruce for presenting and receiving this award and hope it will spark improved pesticide residue methods carried out internationally,” he said.

Dr. Morris, who had only once before presented at an international level, said the process was both exciting and daunting.

“The NACRW is regarded as the best pesticide residue conference in the world. The people you are presenting to are experts in this field, so if you’ve got anything wrong, they’ll know about it, and they’ll tell you!” he said.

“Having never presented to that many people before, it was a bit unnerving. But also exciting to have had the opportunity to put Hill Laboratories, and New Zealand, on the international residue testing map,” he said.

Hill Laboratories celebrated its 30th anniversary in July this year. The company is a 100 per cent privately owned New Zealand analytical testing laboratory and has three major testing areas: Agriculture, Environmental and Food.

With its main site in Hamilton, the company currently has four sites in the North Island, two in the South Island, and an office in Japan. The conference was held last month in Tampa, Florida.