Our interns and fellows

As part of our mission to build and develop links between science, research and policy, the Office continues to host and mentor interns and seconded fellows from research organisations into policy environments.

Read more about our internships and fellowships

Meet our past and present interns and fellows below.

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 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.

The project

Working with Alison Collins (Chief Science Advisor for the Ministry for the Environment), as well as experts in several other government agencies, Anne-Gaelle is exploring the different frameworks used for understanding the environment and its relationship to well-being. 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.

Read the report ‘Environmental stewardship and well-being’ on the Manaaki Whenua website

Read a summary ‘Codifying the relationship between nature and people’ (PDF, 658KB)

Pauls Davis

Pauls Davis

Pauls has just completed his PhD in innovation management at the University of Auckland. Pauls is passionate about innovation ecosystems and in his current internship with OPMCSA he is exploring academic-business collaboration linkages and their potential in the Aotearoa New Zealand innovation ecosystem.

headshot of Jacques smiling

Jacques de Satgé

Jacques is doing his PhD in conservation biology at Massey University and has a background in urban ecology and human-wildlife conflict studies. His current research in the field of mangrove ecology examines the relationships between Aotearoa New Zealand’s mangrove forests and native birds, with a focus on the banded rail moho pererū. Working with the OPMCSA, Jacques is producing a synthesis of the types and extent of legal mangrove removal in Aotearoa New Zealand, the socio-ecological drivers of this removal, and how removal practices may affect native birds. To do so, Jacques is using data associated with resource consents from regional councils whose coastlines are home to mangrove forests.  

Associate Professor Duncan McGillivray

Duncan is an Associate Professor in Physical Chemistry at the University of Auckland, whose current research is focused 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. Duncan is a visiting fellow with the PMCSA, initially investigating nanoplastics.

Professor Justin O'Sullivan

Professor Justin O’Sullivan

Justin is a Professor in the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland. His current research focuses on a holistic approach to understand genomes and cell structure formation, function, and inheritance. The goal is to interpret the relationships between what a cell’s DNA codes for (the genotype) and what we actually see (the phenotype) in terms of genome biology. To do this he uses and develops methods and technologies from molecular biology, bioinformatics, and computational biology to integrate the spatial organisation of genomes with measures of their function. He also has a work programme about the microbiome and the potential use of microbes as therapeutic treatments. Justin is a visiting fellow with the OPMCSA, initially investigating antimicrobial resistance and threats from infectious diseases.

Olivia Ogilvie

Dr Olivia Ogilvie

Olivia completed her studies at the University of Auckland with a PhD in Biochemistry. Her PhD was in food biochemistry and used mass spectrometry to investigate the digestion of gluten peptides that cause coeliac disease. She is interested in using science to innovate and improve our food production system, leading her to undertake a postdoctoral fellowship in cellular agriculture. She is also interested in research commercialisation and investment.

The project

Olivia’s work now focuses on cellular agriculture and future protein sources with a lens on the regulatory, policy and ethical implications of these technologies in an Aotearoa New Zealand context. She is interested in how these technologies will be regulated within Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally, and how science can be used to inform regulations. Her work is part of a larger research project in this area, in conjunction with researchers at the University of Canterbury, the University of Auckland and Massey University.

See Olivia’s cellular agriculture summary and resource portal

Dr David Pomeroy

David has a background in high school mathematics teaching 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 socioeconomic, ethnic and gender inequalities in the mathematics learning of New Zealand Year 9 students. He was a member of the inaugural Science Policy Exchange. He is interested in building stronger connections between research, policy and practice in education.

The project

David is piloting a model for building closer links between research and policy professionals. Working under the guidance of Professor Stuart McNaughton (Chief Science Advisor for the Ministry of Education) he is producing a synthesis of research about achieving equity and excellence in mathematics education.

Read ‘Could academic streaming in New Zealand schools be on the way out? The evidence suggests it should be’ on The Conversation

Headshot of Cate Roy smiling against a green background

Dr Cate Roy

Cate is a senior policy analyst in the Office of Research Strategy and Integrity at the University of Auckland. She works with colleagues across the university sector and more broadly to develop and implement policies, strategy and related initiatives that aim to strengthen and support our research ecosystem. Prior to moving to Aotearoa New Zealand, Cate held academic positions at both RMIT University and Deakin University in Australia. Her research focused on international student mobility and skilled migration, with a particular focus on the impact of immigration policy on higher education in a range of national and regional contexts.

The project

Policy makers are increasingly drawing on knowledge outside the public service as they tackle complex public policy matters. Academic research is one source of external knowledge and expertise that can contribute to robust policy development. However, there are significant barriers to meaningful knowledge exchange.

Working with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Universities New Zealand, Cate will be exploring the research-policy interface. Her project aims to expand knowledge on potential approaches to strengthening the two-way flow of knowledge between academia and policy makers. 

Tom Saunders

Tom Saunders

Tom has a background in entomology, chemical ecology, and biological control, and he joined the OPMCSA after submitting his PhD. Tom is passionate about open research practices and is using his internship to explore the topic of public access to taxpayer-funded research in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dr Simone Weyand

Dr Simone Weyand

Simone was a Sir Henry Dale Fellow and Group Leader at the University of Cambridge, where she is now an independent scientist. Her research interests are in the structure determination of membrane proteins from pathogenic organisms in order to understand their molecular mechanism. She is also a fellow and member of the governing body of Darwin College in Cambridge. Simone is currently on sabbatical leave and working with the OPMCSA as a visiting fellow. Initially, Simone is undertaking a survey of international antimicrobial resistance policy responses.

Intern and fellow alumni

Dr Jono Barnsley

Dr Jono Barnsley

Jono has a background in physical chemistry and a PhD involving the study of highly coloured materials. For his internship in 2019, Jono worked on ‘insect decline’. He carried out research into the trends and the state of monitoring efforts both nationally and internationally.

Read Jono’s reflection on insect decline

Read an interview with Jono on RNZ

Dr Wayne Crump

Dr Wayne Crump

With a background in maths and physics, Wayne undertook his PhD in the field of superconductivity. His project at the OPMCSA focused on the potential impacts of quantum computing technology. Wayne completed his internship in July 2019, and created the two resources below.

Read the quantum computing information sheet

Read the quantum computing resource list

Read Wayne’s reflection on his internship

 

Ankita Gangotra

Dr Ankita Gangotra

Ankita completed her PhD in the Department of Physics at the University of Auckland. Ankita is a staunch advocate for equity in STEM, and explored ways to improve equity as part of her internship in 2019.

Read Ankita’s findings in the report ‘Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (PDF, 1MB)

Ben Jones

Ben Jones

Ben’s academic background is in pharmacology and he works at Medsafe, New Zealand’s medicines regulator. As part of a science communication programme, Ben worked with the OPMCSA and the Ministry of Health on antimicrobial resistance in 2019. Ben collated resources which explain what antimicrobial resistance is, what the impacts may be and what workstreams are in place nationally and internationally.

Shinji Kihara

Shinji Kihara

Shinji has a PhD in physical chemistry. His internship in 2020 looked into the regulatory framework on nanomaterials safety in Aotearoa New Zealand, assessing the strengths and weaknesses from a scientific point of view. He also undertook some work on AI and COVID-19.

Read Shinji’s report ‘Nanotechnology regulation in Aotearoa New Zealand: Current developments and comparison with overseas regulations’ (PDF, 865KB)

Madhuri Kumari

Dr Madhuri Kumari

Madhuri is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Otago’s Department of Physics. In her internship project, completed in 2020, she created a map of organisations working within the photonics sector of Aotearoa New Zealand. Her survey revealed that the current research and business activities related to photonic technologies play key roles in advancing agritech, enabling telecommunications, and empowering manufacturing industries.

Stephen Lo

Stephen Lo

Stephen has submitted his PhD thesis in chemistry at the University of Auckland. Stephen worked with the Office remotely during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 and prepared a report on seasonality.

Dr Tara McAllister

Dr Tara McAllister

Tara (Te Aitanga ā Māhaki) did her PhD in freshwater ecology at the University of Canterbury. She is a Research Fellow with Te Pūnaha Matatini and worked in association with the Office in 2019 to examine the numbers of Māori in science, as an MBIE-based internship.

Read the paper ‘Why isn’t my professor Māori? A snapshot of the academic workforce in New Zealand universities’ – a publication by TG McAllister, J Kidman, O Rowley and RF Theordore

Read and listen to an interview on RNZ with Tara and her fellow researcher Dr Sereana Naepi about their research into the stubbornly low numbers of Māori and Pasifika working at New Zealand universities

Fang Ou

Fang Ou

Fang has a PhD in physics from the University of Auckland. Her project at the OPMCSA in 2019 was to assess the impact of artificial intelligence and augmented and virtual reality technologies on learning, teaching and education in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Read the report ‘On the impact and potential of AI in education’ (PDF, 690KB)

Dr Georgina Shillito

Dr Georgina Shillito

Georgina did her PhD in chemistry at the University of Otago. Georgina’s intern project in 2019 involved examination of current solar energy use in New Zealand and also evaluated new, emerging technologies and assessed their potential impact on energy use and policy in New Zealand.

Dr Odile Smits

Dr Odile Smits

Odile obtained her PhD in computational physics/chemistry. Her intern project in 2020 was about minimising carbon footprints through efficient electricity distribution and storage.

Download ‘CO₂ emissions and energy consumption 2018’ (PDF, 2MB)

Download ‘How does the type of vehicle impact on whether hydrogen fuel cell EVs are better than battery EVs?’ (PDF, 476KB)

Casey Spearin

Casey Spearin

Casey has a Master’s degree in Science in Society from Victoria University of Wellington and works as a science communicator for the Department of Conservation’s marine ecosystems team. Her internship project, undertaken in 2019–20 and conducted with the supervision of Anne-Gaelle Aussiel (Manaaki Whenua) and Alison Collins (Ministry for the Environment), studied the initiatives to link environment and well-being in relation to Cultural Health Indicators (CHIs).

Abi Thampi

Abi Thampi

Abi has a PhD in physics from the University of Auckland. Abi’s work with the Office in 2020 looked at citizen science platforms around the world.

See Abi’s collated resources in ‘Citizen science: The international landscape’ (PDF, 262KB)

Headshot of Cherie with the MacDiarmid logo

Dr Cherie Tollemache

Cherie has a PhD from the School of Chemical Sciences at the University of Auckland. Cherie worked most recently with the Office in 2021 as a MacDiarmid-funded research assistant investigating new technologies to reduce waste. She previously worked with the Office on COVID-19 during the 2020 lockdown, preparing a report on COVID-19 severity and vitamin D status.

See Cherie’s work ‘Evaluation of new technologies to reduce plastic waste in Aotearoa New Zealand’ (PDF, 1MB)

Dr Akshita Wason

Dr Akshita Wason

Akshita worked as research analyst during her internship in 2018–19, on secondment from a research role at the University of Canterbury. 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.

Kyle Webster

Kyle Webster

Kyle’s research background is in protein nanotechnology. His internship involved exploring the technological background of artificial intelligence (AI). He talked to people around the country to capture what experts were thinking in this area, and scoped the long term impacts of AI development on Aotearoa New Zealand society and policy. Kyle is fully occupied with his start-up company, Litmaps.

Read Kyle’s reflection on his internship

Read “AI is here to stay. Now we need to ensure everyone benefits” on The Conversation

See Kyle’s summary of AI resources (PDF, 127KB)

We gratefully acknowledge the funding of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology and the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies.

We thank them for supporting several internships that aim to bridge the gap between scientific research and policy.