A tribute to Dr Grant Hotter
Dr Grant Hotter
Grant Hotter loved science as a school student and excelled at Victoria University in Wellington, where he gained a first class honours degree in botany.
After doctoral studies in molecular genetics at Massey University, Grant conducted postdoctoral research in Oklahoma and at Massey University. Grant was a recipient of a Noble Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship and a NZ Science and Technology Postdoctoral Fellowship before moving to HortResearch in Ruakura.
Grant joined AgResearch in 1999 as a scientist within the infectious diseases molecular biology team at Wallaceville. He was very dedicated to science and was noted as an independent thinker with a sharp analytical mind. He had a great sense of humour, which he drew on to make insightful comments and people enjoyed being around him. He was actively involved in planning the new laboratories for the Hopkirk Research Institute, and was involved in many social and team-building activities at the Hopkirk. This included coordinating the lunchtime seminar programme, which he had also done for years previously at Wallaceville.
Grant developed many new links and collaborative projects with Massey University staff at the Hopkirk, including a Marsden-funded project designed to understand the natural processes of mutation and recombination in the evolution of Campylobacter. The research helped scientists understand how and why C. jejuni emerged to become such a prominent human pathogen, and helped enhance scientists’ ability to anticipate further evolution and restrict the emergence and spread of new strains. The work was at the cutting edge of research, linking bacterial genomics, evolution, population biology and epidemiology.
In earlier work with Professor Nigel French from the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences at Massey University, Grant examined differences between Campylobacter strains at the genome level, to uncover why some strains are found in humans and why some strains cause disease while others do not. This research identified specific genes and patterns of gene presence or absence that can differentiate key strain types.
During all of his time at AgResearch most of Grant’s research was focused on trying to produce a vaccine against tuberculosis (TB) for use in wild possum populations. Possums serve as a major reservoir of bovine TB and a vaccine could help prevent the spread of TB from the wild possum population to cattle. His research was specifically aimed at identifying and understanding the genetic and biochemical changes that make particular attenuated bacterial strains good vaccines.
Dr Wayne Hein, a colleague of Grant's, commented on his outstanding attributes as a scientist, which included 'dedication to science, engagement in his work and being a team player.'
Hein says, 'These attributes endeared Grant to all of his work colleagues. He will be sadly missed.'