General news

Professor Charles Eason
12 October 2020

Cawthron Institute announces Chief Executive Professor Charles Eason to step down

Cawthron Institute Board Chair Meg Matthews has announced the resignation of Professor Charles Eason as the Chief Executive of Cawthron Institute.

Professor Eason will step down on 18 December 2020.

Ms Matthews said Professor Eason’s fierce passion for science innovation and excellence has seen him build Cawthron into one of New Zealand’s exemplar science organisations that has led global science breakthroughs.

“Charlie has grown the organisation to nearly 300 people under his leadership since 2012 and helped our science and technology leaders to grow in confidence such that Cawthron now plays an increasingly important role in New Zealand’s Research Science and Innovation ecosystem. He has made an outstanding commitment to delivering science that has real-world impact in terms of supporting the sustainable development of New Zealand’s primary industries, as well as helping to protect and restore our natural environment.

“Charlie has expressed a desire to pursue governance and other research related opportunities, and we fully support him in this ambition. Charlie has grown Cawthron to where it is today, and has decided that in order to continue the momentum of the organisation it’s time for a new leader to drive the next phase of Cawthron’s growth,” said Matthews.

Professor Eason has been in leadership roles at Cawthron Institute since 2003, first as a Director, and then as Chief Executive from 2012, and his desire to step down as Chief Executive goes with the full support and goodwill from Cawthron’s Board of Directors and Trust Board.

“You’ve only got to look at Charlie’s long list of achievements at Cawthron, from overseeing the aquaculture hatchery and selective breeding methods that now underpin New Zealand’s seafood industry, to the development of international seafood safety standards through to our world-renowned algae research, to see the impact of Cawthron’s science,” said Matthews. “On behalf of the Board and Trust Board we thank Charlie for his eight years of leadership, which we know will leave a lasting legacy for science excellence. Tēnā rawa koe i tōu mahi Rangatira. Ahakoa tōu wehe, ka puta tonu ngā hua nō tōu mahi.”

Professor Eason said it has been a privilege to lead Cawthron to where it is today.

“I’m incredibly proud of Cawthron’s achievements. Over the nearly 100 years of Cawthron’s history we have been at the forefront of many science breakthroughs, with our research now firmly focused on growing and ensuring the safety of New Zealand’s seafood sector, developing exciting marine bioactive resources, and improving the health of our freshwater ecosystems and oceans.”
Professor Eason said that the success of Cawthron under his tenure was a tribute to Cawthron’s researchers, technical experts and wider support teams.

“Our people have an inspiring vivacity and the ability to link fundamental research through to practical outcomes that make a real difference for New Zealand. Cawthron has a strong platform for future successes. I would like to thank my colleagues and our Directors for helping make this possible. Ka piki e te tai, piki tū piki rere”.

During his leadership of Cawthron, Professor Eason, who is a Companion of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, has received a number of accolades. In 2019 he was appointed as a
Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for his services to science and wildlife conservation, and in 2017 was awarded the Thomson Medal for outstanding leadership in his research career.

Professor Eason has led international biomedical research linked to drug development as well as on products and tools to protect native wildlife, which have made a significant difference across New Zealand in the creation of predator-free zones and sanctuaries. He is recognised internationally as a leading expert in the field of toxicology and pharmacology and has published more than 230 scientific papers, and has been appointed to various scientific advisory committees and panels.

The Cawthron Institute Board will shortly commence a search for a replacement.