Scientists have applauded the appointment of respected biochemist Professor Juliet Gerrard as the next science adviser to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

She takes over the role from Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, whose decade in the position has involved reporting on everything from climate change and freshwater issues to youth suicide and asbestos exposure.

His final reports have investigated the justice system, youth offending, digital education and, most notably, supposed meth contamination of homes.

After stepping aside at the end of this month, Sir Peter will continue his widely-recognised work in science diplomacy overseas.


At home, he will returning to academic life at the University of Auckland, where he will help launch a new public policy institute and spend more time at the centre he helped found, the Liggins Institute.

Sir Peter said he was delighted Gerrard - a leading biochemist and a fellow University of Auckland academic - was stepping into the role.

"The system is in great hands."

There would be one last report before he departed, "arising from work that spans both our tenures".

Gerrard planned to use her first few weeks in the role to meet the Government's departmental science advisers and other key figures.

"I am very much looking forward to connecting with a cross section of scientists from all types of institutions, especially emerging scientists."

Scientists have welcomed the announcement.

Physicist and science commentator Professor Shaun Hendy described Gerrard as a "brilliant choice".

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman departs the role of chief science adviser at the end of the month. Photo / File
Professor Sir Peter Gluckman departs the role of chief science adviser at the end of the month. Photo / File

He noted how she'd worked across both the university and Crown Research Institute sectors, as well as with the Government as chair of the Marsden Fund Council.

"At least in terms of policy advice, Sir Peter Gluckman has proved much more effective under the current government than the last - for example, his hard-hitting report on meth contamination - so there is an excellent opportunity for Professor Gerrard to build on this," Hendy said.

"I have been an advocate for a Parliamentary Commission for Science because of its independence from the government of the day, but if the Prime Minister is willing to accept free, frank, and open advice from her chief science adviser then Professor Gerrard has the skills, background, and ability to make a real difference in this role."

MacDiarmid Institute Co-Director Associate Professor Justin Hodgkiss said Gerrard had an "exemplary track record" of bringing people together in many areas, and encompassed a "big picture perspective".

Royal Society Te Apārangi chief executive Dr Andrew Cleland was also "extremely" pleased at the news.

"Not only is Professor Gerrard a first-rate biochemist with expertise in fundamental and applied research, she has a high standing in the New Zealand research community as well as a significant international reputation."

Cleland said Sir Peter had made a huge contribution to science advice, both nationally and internationally.

"New Zealand is now held up as an exemplar of a good practice system of proving science advice to government," he said.

"We have confidence that Professor Gerrard will continue and build on Sir Peter's legacy.

"There will continue to be challenging policy issues where choices need to be evidence-based.

"We believe Professor Gerrard will pick up this challenge in a positive and influential manner."