Internships, Fellowships and Secondments
As part of our mission to build and develop links between science, research and policy, the Office is keen to support and sponsor interns and secondments from research organisations into policy environments. Internships might be with our office, assisting with projects on our workplan, or they might work alongside Chief Science Advisors within ministries on specific projects. We are happy to explore options and opportunities that build the capability for evidence based policy within government, but that also develops an awareness of policy needs and policy impacts for research organisations.
If you are interested in exploring possibilities, get in touch with our office.
Below are some of the past and present interns who have worked with us, and Juliet has also recently talked about interns and developing the better relationship between the research community and policymakers in a recent “Reflections” post: Interns at the Science Policy Interface
Dr David Pomeroy
David has a background in high school mathematics teaching (Tawa and Onslow Colleges) and is now a Lecturer in mathematics education at the University of Canterbury. He attended Cambridge University on a Woolf Fisher scholarship, where he earned his PhD researching socio-economic, ethnic and gender inequalities in the mathematics learning of New Zealand Year Nine students. He was a member of the inaugural Science Policy Exchange and recently published a comparative analysis of UK and New Zealand education policies in Critical Studies in Education. He is interested in building stronger connections between research, policy and practice in education.
David is piloting a model for building closer links between research and policy professionals with common interest and goals. Working under the guidance of Prof Stuart McNaughton (Chief Science Advisor for the Ministry of Education) he is working on a synthesis of research about achieving equity and excellence in mathematics education. The goal is to produce rigorous but plain-language advice to the PMCSA and the Ministry of Education about how more of our young people can enjoy success in mathematics learning.
Dr Anne-Gaelle Ausseil
Anne-Gaelle completed her studies in France, with a PhD in precision agriculture. She moved to New Zealand with her family in 2002 and has been working for the last 17 years at the Crown Research Institute, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research. Her research focuses on land-use and climate change impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. She has been an active expert with the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), participating as a coordinating lead author and as a member of the New Zealand delegation in 2019. Her systems thinking and wide-ranging knowledge on land use and ecosystem services, have been used to help shape and develop recent reports by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics NZ such as Our Land, 2018 and Environment Aotearoa, 2019.
Working with Alison Collins (Chief Science Advisor for the Ministry for the Environment), as well as experts in several other government agencies, Anne-Gaelle will explore the different frameworks used for understanding the environment and its relationship to well-being. As part of the review she will map the different initiatives being used to understand, report on, and manage the environment, how initiatives relate across agencies, as well as identify where there are data and knowledge gaps. The intended impact of the project is to stimulate conversation on how to move towards more robust, relevant, and integrative data and indicators for the environment.
Casey has a background in conservation and science education. She completed her undergraduate degree in chemistry, moving herself from Canada to Aotearoa New Zealand in the process. Currently, she’s completing her Masters degree in Science in Society at VUW, while also working as a science communicator for DOC’s Marine Ecosystems Team.
Her internship project, conducted with the supervision of Anne-Gaelle Aussiel (Manaaki Whenua) and Alison Collins (MfE) studies the initiatives to link environment and well-being in relation to Cultural Health Indicators (CHIs). CHIs include the diverse recreational, educational, spiritual and social benefits that humans derive from healthy ecosystems, and how these can be robustly represented in policy decisions. Casey is particularly passionate about cross-cultural interfaces between science and other knowledge cultures.
Dr Tara McAllister
Dr Tara McAllister (Te Aitanga ā Māhaki) did her PhD in freshwater ecology at the University of Canterbury. Her thesis involved examining the environmental drivers of toxic cyanobacterial blooms in New Zealand rivers. She focused on the influence of nutrients and river flow on cyanobacterial growth in order to understand how bloom formation is likely to be affected by agricultural intensification. She is currently a Research Fellow with Te Pūnaha Matatini and is working in association with us to examine the numbers of Māori in science, as an MBIE-based internship.
Assoc. Prof. Duncan McGillivray
Duncan is an Associate Professor in Physical Chemistry at the University of Auckland, whose current research is focussed on materials science, including colloids and surface science. He is interested in the physical basis of biologically-relevant materials and how to adapt colloidal systems and surfaces to control how they behave. His research group is looking at wide range of challenges, including developing low-waste surface coating methods, improving antimicrobial materials, understanding the impacts of nanoplastics, developing surfaces that can be used for spintronic devices, and novel functional food encapsulation. Duncan trained in neutron and X-ray scattering in the UK, USA and Australia before establishing his research group in New Zealand. His PhD was at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and he then worked in the USA as a post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon Universities, and the NIST Center for Neutron Research. This was followed by working at the Australian National University as a Research Fellow before returning home to New Zealand, where he is also a Principal Investigator of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology and an Affiliate of the Riddet Institute. Duncan is a visiting fellow, with the PMCSA, initially investigating nanoplastics.
Ben’s academic background is in Pharmacology and he holds a Master’s degree in Drug Discovery and Development from Victoria University of Wellington. During these studies he contributed to research on a number of novel natural product anti-cancer agents from sources such as sea sponges and feijoa. Since graduating, he has worked at Medsafe, New Zealand’s medicines regulator, where he currently leads the team responsible for the pre-market assessment of prescription medicines to be approved for use in Aotearoa. For the past year he has been studying science communication through the University of Otago, with a keen interest in how narrative plays a role in the communication of important health issues. As part of this programme, he is conducting an internship to build a framework for the communication of research already completed by the PMSCA on antimicrobial resistance, and as a model to apply to future work done by the office. He is also working with the Ministry of Health to assist in their communication efforts on this issue, particularly around initiatives for World Antibiotic Awareness Week.
Ben has collated resources which explain what antimicrobial resistance is, what the impacts may be and what workstreams are in place nationally and internationally.
Fang recently submitted her thesis for a PhD in Physics at the University of Auckland, where she developed a novel method for convenient and rapid bacterial detection. Her PhD project was highly interdisciplinary and combined techniques from optics, applied microbiology, data analytics, and machine learning. Fang is excited by the changing landscape of work and the potential that scientific and technological advancements bring. In particular, her interests are in education, data analytics, photonics, sustainability and healthcare.
Fang’s project at the OPMCSA is to assess the impact of artificial intelligence and augmented and virtual reality technologies on learning, teaching and education in Aotearoa New Zealand
The MacDiarmid Insitute for Advanced Material and Nanotechnology has funded a number of 3 month internships to help build bridges between active research and policy.
I have an educational background in theoretical physics and I obtained my PhD in computational physics/chemistry. I am now a Postdoctoral researcher in nuclear physics, studying the physics and chemistry of the heavy elements.
Besides my interest in understanding the fundamental laws of nature, I am interested in applying my knowledge to environmentally related issues.
The research project will be on the subject of minimizing the carbon footprint by efficient electricity distribution and storage.
Born in India, I moved to the UK in 2011 to do electronics engineering at the University of York. After graduating with an MEng Electronics with Nanotechnology in 2015, I moved to New Zealand. I am currently finishing a PhD in the Department of Physics at the University of Auckland. In my project I have looked at combining principles of engineering, physics, chemistry and biology to study the mechanical properties of soft nanoparticles.
I am a staunch advocate for equity in STEM, and consider myself very fortunate to be able to explore ways to improve that as part of this internship. Ankita discusses the findings of her internship in the report Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
Past interns have produced or contributed towards a number of works for the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. We are very appreciative of the hard work these interns have contributed.
With a background of maths and physics, Wayne Crump undertook his PhD in the field of superconductivity. His research investigated the relationship between the maximum electric current a superconductor can pass, and its superconducting properties. His project at the OPMCSA focused on the potential impacts of quantum computing technology, including looking at the potential timelines for its impact on New Zealand industry and society.
Wayne completed his internship in July 2019, and created the two resources below. We thank the MacDiarmid Institute for support of this work.
Quantum Computing Information Sheet: An accessible, short summary on the state of quantum computing in 2019, what the future might hold, and what that means for Aotearoa New Zealand.
Quantum Computing Resource List: A list of local and international resources related to quantum computing, including general reports on the state of technology, government research programmes, potential policy implications, commercial aspects, post-quantum cryptography, research organisations and cloud services, as of July 2019.
You can read Wayne’s reflection on his work as an intern here. Wayne has accepted a postdoctoral position in Finland working at Aalto University in Helsinki with the Professor Mika Sillanpää and his Quantum Nanomechanics team.
Update 30/09/2019: a draft of a paper by Google researchers reported the achievement of quantum supremacy (where a quantum computer solved a problem faster than the fastest conventional supercomputer). You can read more about it in a conversation article here.
Dr Georgina Shillito
Georgina did her PhD in chemistry at the University of Otago and has just recently submitted her doctoral thesis for examination. Her thesis involved investigation into how transition metal complexes interact with light. Understanding the photophysical properties of such materials allows us to understand their potential for application in areas of technology, such as solar energy conversion.
Georgina’s intern project will involve examination of current solar energy use in New Zealand and will also evaluate new, emerging technologies and assess their potential impact on energy use and policy in New Zealand.
Georgie has accepted a postdoc at the University of Bordeaux Nathan McClenaghan and Gediminas Jonusauskas in their laser lab looking at ultrafast spectroscopy of molecular machines.
Dr Akshita Wason
Akshita worked as research analyst during her internship, on secondment from a research role at the University of Canterbury. With a background in biotechnology and science commercialisation, she worked across a broad range of topics, including background research for our rethinking plastics project, our diversity in education work stream, and miscellaneous enquiries from the public. Akshita is pursuing a Masters in Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland and leaves us to join KPMG, Auckland, as a Senior Consultant (Innovation and Growth) in February 2019. Thanks for all your hard work Akshita and we wish you all the best in your exciting new role.
I grew up in Nelson and enjoy travel, running, triathlons, and video games. My research background is in protein nanotechnology. I have worked on combining nanoparticles with human proteins to work towards self-assembling manufacturing techniques for next-generation computer processors. My internship involved exploring the technological background of artificial intelligence. I talked to people around the country to capture what experts were thinking in this area, and I scoped the long term impacts of AI development on New Zealand society and policy. We thank the MacDiarmid Institute for support of this internship.
You can read Kyle’s reflection on his work as an intern here, the article that was published in The Conversation here and a summary of resources here. Kyle Webster is fully occupied with his start-up company, Litmaps (https://www.litmaps.co/).
Dr Jono Barnsley
Jono has a background in physical chemistry and recently finished his PhD involving the study of highly coloured materials.
He worked on ‘insect decline’ and the potential impacts it has for New Zealand industry and biodiversity. This involved working alongside the Chief Scientists at Ministry for Primary Industries, MPI, and Department of Conservation. Jono carried out research into the trends and the state of monitoring efforts both nationally and internationally.
Jono is pursuing an analytical career in industry or in government.