Position: Associate Professor, Leigh Marine Laboratory, The University of Auckland
Field: Marine science and physiology
Craig Radford trained as a marine biologist and physiologist before joining the interdisciplinary research team at the Leigh Marine Laboratory.
His work focuses on the noises of New Zealand reefs and how larval animals (such as crabs) find their way to suitable reef habitats for settlement. Within this theme, he is investigating how far sound can travel and be detected under water, the limits of hearing for animals such as shrimp and the role of kina in producing reef noise.
Craig Radford attended Melville High School in Hamilton, then the University of Waikato where he obtained his BSc in Marine Science. From there, he went to the University of Canterbury where he obtained his MSc (Hons) in Zoology and conducted research on the physiology of the New Zealand rock lobster.
Following this, Craig took up a position at Massey University working as a research technician for the Animal Health Services Centre. After working there for a year, he decided to undertake his PhD at Auckland University, researching the effects of underwater sound on marine larvae.
Following completion of his PhD, he was successful in securing his current position, continuing the research he started as a PhD student.
A teacher, the late Christina Phillips, was instrumental in stimulating Craig’s enthusiasm for biology in general, and it was his love for all things to do with the sea that stimulated his interest in marine biology.
In 2008, Craig was awarded runner-up in the prestigious MacDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year Award for his PhD research. 2009 was another big year for Craig where he was awarded a Canadian Commonwealth Post-Doctorial Fellowship, which he turned down because he was awarded both a Te Tipu Pūtaiao Fellowship and obtained a Marsden Fast-Start award to continue his research here in New Zealand.
In 2013 Craig was awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship. The Royal Society Te Apārangi awards ten Rutherford Discovery Fellowships each year to mid-career researchers. The fellowships recognise future science leaders with a research grant of $800,000.
Craig has broadened his research focus to look at how anthropogenic noise might be affecting marine animals, a particularly important biological processes, which involve sound – such as larval crabs that use noise to find their way back home to the reef. His Rutherford Discovery Fellowship research involved 5 years monitoring human and biological noise in the Hauraki Gulf with a team that included PhD student Rosalyn Putland.
The Hauraki Gulf was chosen because it is not yet impacted by a lot of shipping and it also has a significant population of whales, dolphins, visiting seabirds and endemic fish that produce noise. However, it is projected that shipping (and the associated noise) will increase by 75% and recreation vessels by 20% in the next 20 years. Craig and Rosalyn’s research has enabled the establishment of baseline data for looking at human impacts on marine animals. Further, their data showed that “vessel passages have the potential to reduce both fish and whale communication space”. This is particularly important for those working to protect the endangered Bryde’s whales – a population of which live in the Gulf.
What Craig loves most about science is that it is fun and for every question that is answered, another 10 are created. He also enjoys travel, which gets him to some exotic places around the world.
This article is based on information current in 2011 and updated in 2019.
Rosalyn Putland, a PhD student, was supervised by Craig when researching noise in the Hauraki Gulf. Read about her work and some of the outcomes in this news article Tapping Hauraki Gulf's 'underwater orchestra'.
Meet some of the outstanding New Zealand scientists who have been awarded Rutherford Discovery Fellowships and find out how the fellowships operate here.