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.
Ben is a human geographer and social scientist studying for a PhD at the University of Cambridge. His doctoral research focuses on the public communication of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand; in particular, he is interested in unpicking the language of the intricate political discourse that emerged as the government responded to the virus, as well as piecing together how this discourse was shaped by the complex relationship between science and policy.
Ben’s internship project explores New Zealand scientists’ reflections on the public reception of the science communication during the COVID-19 pandemic, considering both the successes of the government’s response as well as potential lessons for the future.
Jared is a Senior Lecturer in Teacher Education in the Institute of Education, Massey University. He has a PhD in education with a focus on science education and was a science, chemistry, and physics teacher for a decade. His research interests include supporting teachers to develop their specialised knowledge to effectively plan and teach science. Under the guidance of Professor Stuart McNaughton (Chief Science Advisor for the Ministry of Education), Jared will be exploring science education in New Zealand primary schools.
The focus of Jared’s internship is to develop a deeper understanding of the enablers and constraints that teachers and students face in Years 4-8 science. Outcomes from this work will be used to increase student interest, engagement, and achievement in science, including changing the inequitable patterns of achievement by ethnicity and gender.
Emma has a Bachelor of Science in Geography & Sociology and graduated from the Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience programme at the University of Canterbury. Emma is also completing her Masters of Science at the University of Canterbury. The kaupapa of her Masters research is to enhance volcanic evacuation resilience in the Taranaki region by exploring evacuation dynamics through long-duration volcanic crises, considering social, economic, and cultural wellbeing, as well as life safety.
Emma also works part time as a research manager within the He Mounga Puia | Transitioning Taranaki to a Volcanic Future programme, which looks to enhance overall volcanic resilience in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Emma’s project focuses on coordinating the national science response to the Cyclone Gabrielle recovery. She is working with Tom Wilson (Chief Science Advisor for the National Emergency Management Agency) to provide national support to locally led science, mātauranga, and Te Ao Māori initiatives.
Hannah has a PhD in biochemistry which mapped changes in food proteins and has a background as a commercial litigation lawyer.
Hannah’s project is exploring how to improve the use of research evidence and connections with policy in the area of food sustainability regulations in Aotearoa.
Hannah has produced a resource ‘Engaging with policy – resources to help scientists navigate a complex environment’
We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Riddet Institute.
(Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Hako)
Ko Horouta, Tākitimu, Tairāwhiti ngā waka
Ko Maungahaumi, Pukehāpopo, Te Rae o Te Papa ngā maunga
Ko Tūranganui a Kiwa, me Tikapa ngā moana
Ko Waipaoa, Waiomoko, Waihou ngā awa
Ko Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Hako ngā iwi
Ko Ngāti Wāhia, Ngāti Konohi ngā hapū
Ko Parihimanihi, Whangara, Tirohia ngā marae
Ngahuia is a fellow with the OPMCSA and she is working on a project in collaboration with Professor Anne-Marie Jackson. She has completed a PhD on Māori Health and Physical Education entitled Tairāwhiti Waka, Tairāwhiti Tāngata: Examining Tairāwhiti Voyaging Philosophies. Her PhD examines Tairāwhiti voyaging whakapapa and how Tairāwhiti Waka hourua can improve health and wellbeing in Te Tairāwhiti.
In 2021-2023, Ngahuia was one of two Tairāwhiti interns in partnership with Tairāwhiti iwi Ngāi Tāmanuhiri (Tāmanuhiri Tūtū Poroporo Trust), Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Rongowhakaata and Ngāti Porou, and the OPMCSA. The Prime Minister had asked our office to host two internships to undertake future-focused projects centred in Tairāwhiti, to support the ‘shared future’ kaupapa of the 2019 commemorations of the beginnings of the nation now known as Aotearoa New Zealand. As a fellow Ngahuia will continue this work alongside Professor Jackson and Te Koronga, the Centre of Indigenous Science at the University of Otago.
The focus of Ngahuia’s internship is to examine, understand and highlight a Te Ao Māori perspective on the climate emergency, specifically from the perspective of Te Tairāwhiti. In order to achieve this Ngahuia will examine a number of significant sites, connected to tūpuna waka (ancestral canoes), in the Tairāwhiti rohe (region) to determine what the impact of the current climate change emergency is in these places.
We gratefully acknowledge funding from Te Koronga.
Intern and fellow alumni
Dr Anne-Gaelle Ausseil
Working with Alison Collins (Chief Science Advisor for the Ministry for the Environment), Anne-Gaelle’s project explored the different frameworks used for understanding the environment and its relationship to well-being. She completed her fellowship in 2021, but is continuing this work in her new role as a principal scientist at the Ministry for the Environment. Previously, Anne-Gaelle spent 17 years working at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.
Read the report ‘Environmental stewardship and well-being’ on the Manaaki Whenua website (May 2021)
Read a summary ‘Codifying the relationship between nature and people’ (PDF, 658KB) (May 2021)
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 the report ‘What is known about terrestrial insect population trends in Aotearoa New Zealand?’ (PDF, 597KB) (September 2021)
Read Jono’s reflection on insect decline (November 2021)
Read an interview with Jono on RNZ (January 2020)
Brittany has a Postgraduate Diploma in Science in Psychology, and is currently completing the Master of Science in Society at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington. She is passionate about effective science communication, sustainable practices, mental health, and wellbeing.
Brittany’s project with the office was a collaboration with the Kindness in Science project with Te Pūnaha Matatini. She explored the effect and timing of past policy changes aimed at improving a culture of inclusion, or kindness in research in Aotearoa.
We gratefully acknowledge funding from Te Pūnaha Matatini.
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 (PDF, 252KB) (July 2019)
Read the quantum computing resource list (PDF, 194KB) (July 2019)
Read Wayne’s reflection on his internship (July 2019)
Pauls joined the OPMCSA in 2021, having just completed his PhD in innovation management at the University of Auckland. Pauls is passionate about innovation ecosystems and his internship explored academic-business collaboration linkages and their potential in the Aotearoa New Zealand innovation ecosystem.
Funded through Te Pūnaha Matatini and UniServices.
Richard is a MSc student at the University of Otago studying Science Communication, with a background in neuroscience. He is interested in how science advice contributes to policy making, and how to provide balanced science advice that looks at all available evidence. While interning with the office in 2022, Richard produced infographics to support OPMCSA’s 2022/23 project on food waste.
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.
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
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. In his 2021 internship with the OPMCSA, Jacques produced 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.
Download ‘Mangrove management in Aotearoa New Zealand: A bird’s eye review’ (PDF, 5MB) (October 2021)
Watch a presentation by Jacques about mangroves and the banded rail (September 2021)
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) (December 2019)
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 (December 2019), what the impacts may be and what workstreams are in place nationally and internationally.
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) (May 2021)
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 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
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 (2019)
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 (August 2019)
Professor Duncan McGillivray
Duncan is a Professor in Physical Chemistry at the University of Auckland. Duncan was a visiting fellow with the OPMCSA, finishing up in 2021. His current research is focused on materials science, including colloids and surface science.
André studied a Master of Public Policy (MPP) at the University of Oxford, with his internship the final part of this programme. His 2022 internship with OPMCSA explored food loss and waste at the primary production stage of the food supply chain, with a particular focus on the impacts of climate change and related extreme weather events. His project relates closely to the OPMCSA’s 2022/23 project on food waste.
Professor Justin O’Sullivan
Justin is a Professor in the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland. Justin joined the OPMCSA in 2021 and developed an explainer resource on genomics for policy makers. His current research focuses on a holistic approach to understand genomes and cell structure formation, function, and inheritance.
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) (May 2019)
Dr David Pomeroy
Working under the guidance of Professor Stuart McNaughton (Chief Science Advisor for the Ministry of Education) in 2020, David produced a synthesis of research about achieving equity and excellence in mathematics education.
David has a background in high school mathematics teaching and is a lecturer in mathematics education at the University of Canterbury.
Read ‘Could academic streaming in New Zealand schools be on the way out? The evidence suggests it should be’ on The Conversation (September 2020)
Dr Cate Roy
Cate is a senior policy analyst in the Office of Research Strategy and Integrity at the University of Auckland. She was a fellow with our Office in 2021.Working with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Universities New Zealand, Cate explored the research-policy interface. Her project aimed to expand knowledge on potential approaches to strengthening the two-way flow of knowledge between academia and policy makers.
Read Connecting two worlds: Enhancing knowledge sharing between academics and policymakers in Aotearoa New Zealand (November 2022)
Download ‘Enhancing knowledge sharing between academics and policymakers in Aotearoa New Zealand’ (PDF, 448KB) (December 2021)
Tom has a background in entomology, chemical ecology, and biological control, and he joined the OPMCSA in 2021 after submitting his PhD. Tom is passionate about open research practices. His internship explored the topic of public access to taxpayer-funded research in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Read ‘The Future is Open: Establishing Wider Open Access for Research Publications in Aotearoa New Zealand’ (May 2022)
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.
Download ‘Solar Energy Policy’ (PDF, 671KB) (October 2019)
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) (April 2020)
Download ‘How does the type of vehicle impact on whether hydrogen fuel cell EVs are better than battery EVs?’ (PDF, 476KB) (April 2020)
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 wellbeing in relation to Cultural Health Indicators (CHIs).
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) (July 2020)
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) (April 2021)
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’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 (August 2019)
Read “AI is here to stay. Now we need to ensure everyone benefits” on The Conversation (August 2019)
See Kyle’s summary of AI resources (PDF, 127KB) (August 2019)
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. In 2021, Simone was a visiting fellow that undertook a survey of international antimicrobial resistance policy responses.
Tanith Wirihana Te Waitohioterangi
(Rongowhakaaata, Ngai Tamanuhiri, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Rongomaiwahine, Ngati Oneone)
Ka rere Te Ārai te Uru, Ka rere Waipaoa ki Kōpututea ki Te Moana nui a Kiwa ko te ara tēnā o ngā waka i haere ai ki Nukunukuroa. Ko Tākitimu, Ko Nukutere, Ko Horouta, Ko Kurahaupō ngā waka tipua whakaihiihi, whakawehiwehi ka tau ki raro ngā ngaru whatiwhati, ka hoki atu i te pōuriuri, i te pōtangotango. Ko Arowhana, Ko Maungahaumi, Ko Pōpōia, Ko Titirangi, Ko Manawarū, Ko Puketapu, Ko Ngā pari mā mai, koirā ko Te Kurī o Whata, ngā Taupae rawa o Tūranganui a Rua te matua, o Tūranga nui a Maru, o Tūranganui a Kiwa. Kua mauria mai ngā iwi katoa ki rō te kupenga o Te wairua pane o te ora.
Tanith is currently completing a BA in political science and public policy. In his 2021/22 internship, he was attached to Te Papa Tongarewa, and worked closely with the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust in Tūranga (Gisborne) to establish the provenance of tāonga attributed to Rongowhakaata Iwi and hapū, collected and disbursed by Lt. James Cook and the Endeavour crew at the conclusion of their 1769–1771 voyage of discovery.
Funded from the PM’s Emerging Priorities Fund as part of the Tuia 250 commemorations.
We gratefully acknowledge past or present funding from Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies, MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, Riddet Institute, Royal Society Te Apārangi, Te Pūnaha Matatini, and UniServices.
We thank them for supporting internships that aim to bridge the gap between scientific research and policy.