Kia ora koutou

We’ve had an ‘on-again-off-again’ start to the year here in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, but that hasn’t stopped us kicking off an exciting new set of fellow and intern projects. We are delighted to welcome a new cohort of researchers to the Office. You can read all about them on our fellow and interns page and below, and we will do a more detailed reflection on their projects as the year progresses.

Cherie Tollemache previously joined us during the height of COVID-19. It was great to meet her in-person, now that she has returned to the Office, supported by the MacDiarmid Institute, to look at next steps for the #RethinkPlastics workstream.

Olivia Ogilvie is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Canterbury with interests in cellular agriculture and future protein sources. She has a particular interests in how these developing technologies intersect with our policy and regulatory environment, and will be spending time with us to work on this as her research programme progresses.

Justin O’Sullivan is our most senior researcher yet, and we are delighted he has chosen to join us for part of his sabbatical leave. Justin is interested in using his expertise in understanding genomes to further public health outcomes, and is, as I type, in Pōneke Wellington framing his project to be of most use to government departments. “It is one thing to write papers, give talks and interviews,” says Justin, “but I really want to know if I can use my knowledge to the benefit of others. So, I came to the OPMCSA to learn how I can help.” Justin also brings gender diversity to our office.

Simone Weyand is our first international fellow, based at the University of Cambridge, and is joining us virtually for part of her sabbatical leave. Simone has a long-standing interest in infectious diseases, their identification and therapies. She has worked in Germany (at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, EMBL) and had a brief visit to the University of Canterbury ahead of moving to the UK, first at Imperial college and now at Cambridge. Her seminal work was published in Nature and Science, and led to Simone being awarded the John Kendrew Young Scientist Prize in 2012. We are excited that Simone is now keen to apply her knowledge to help shape government policies in infectious diseases. She will contribute to our major project for the year on infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance. Simone says that she, “considered carefully which government to contact in order to get a better understanding of their requirements and their human health policies and chose the New Zealand government due to its spectacularly fast and appropriate decisions taken to save human lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Haere mai and welcome to all our new fellows and interns. I look forward to sharing more of their work during the year.

If you are interested in how science can make a difference, you can learn more about our intern and fellowship programme here.

Ngā mihi

Juliet's signature

Dr Simone Weyand.

Professor Justin O'Sullivan

Professor Justin O’Sullivan.

Olivia Ogilvie

Dr Olivia Ogilvie.

Headshot of Cherie with the MacDiarmid logo

Dr Cherie Tollemache.