Brian Shorland: Doyen of New Zealand science
by Joan Cameron (NZ Association of Scientists, $25)
Reviewed by Simon Nathan
Geologist Harold Wellman and biochemist Brian Shorland were exact contemporaries in many ways – born in 1909, died in 1999, both spending many years at Victoria University, and continuing active research until their late 80s. The late Patricia Holborow recalled inviting the two elderly men to lunch, and finding that Shorland was jealous that Wellman’s life had featured in a BBC documentary. This biography by Joan Cameron helps to redress the balance by telling Shorland’s story.
In the middle years of the twentieth century, Brian Shorland was one of New Zealand’s leading organic chemists, making a major contribution to knowledge of the biochemistry of fats and their significance to human nutrition and health. Shorland made a significant contribution to fundamental knowledge, while also helping solve practical problems in agriculture and human health. But as far the government was concerned, his main job was to provide quality control of the huge amount of butter we exported to the United Kingdom.