Research Committee

Alex James

Alex James

Deputy Director, Industry and Stakeholder Engagement

With a PhD in combustion engineering, Associate Professor Alex James made the transition from catalytic converters to the rest of the world, where she uses mathematical modelling to solve problems. At heart she’s a mathematical modeller and works on problems from social science to climate change, but her main hobby is ecology. Although Alex says she is no ecologist – “friends had to teach me the difference between beetles and bugs” – she is excited by the contribution mathematics can make to the analysis and study of interactions among organisms and their environment. More about Alex here.

Cate Macinnis-Ng

Cate Macinnis-Ng

Theme Co-Leader, Complexity and the Biosphere

Cate is a Senior Lecturer in Ecology at the University of Auckland’s School of Biological Sciences and the President of the New Zealand Ecological Society. As an enthusiastic ‘tree ecophysiologist’, Cate’s current research focuses on plant responses to climatic conditions – in particular, the impact of drought on New Zealand’s native forests. Before moving to Auckland in 2010, Cate was based in Sydney, Australia, where she completed her undergraduate degree and PhD, and undertook postdoctoral research. Since then, she has received a host of awards – a Marsden Fast-Start grant in 2012 and a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship in 2015. More about Cate here.

Dan Hikuroa

Dan Hikuroa

Co-Deputy Director, Public Engagement and Outreach

Daniel (Dan) Hikuroa is an earth systems scientist at the University of Auckland who integrates mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) and science to enhance the value of his research to the communities he works with. For his PhD, Dan led a British Antarctic Survey deep field geology mapping expedition, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship looking into how naturally occurring climate change affected the world’s oceans and biosphere in the distant past. Among his many projects in recent years, Dan was a co-author on the 2014 State of the Hauraki Gulf Environment Report. More about Dan here.

Dion O'Neale

Dion O'Neale

Principal Investigator

Dion is a complex systems and networks science researcher in the Department of Physics, University of Auckland. After completing a conjoint BA/BSc and BSc (Hons) at Auckland, he obtained a MSc from Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf, and a PhD from Massey. Before Dion’s current role, he worked for a time as a postdoctoral researcher at La Trobe University in Melbourne, then with the Applied Mathematics team at Industrial Research Limited (now Callaghan Innovation) in Wellington. Dion currently lends his expertise to some notable projects – in particular one that traces obsidian movements in pre-European New Zealand and another studying the impact of humans visiting Antarctica. More about Dion here.

Isabelle Sin

Isabelle Sin

Principal Investigator

Isabelle is a Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research where she specialises in labour economics and economic history. She holds a PhD in Economics from Stanford University, California, and an Honours degree in Economics from the University of Canterbury. Through her work at Motu, Isabelle has researched questions of national and international importance, including how government policies affect migration and the labour market, what drives the gender pay gap, and what determines the international diffusion of knowledge. More about Izi here.

Kate Hannah

Kate Hannah

Executive Manager, Te Pūnaha Matatini

Kate Hannah has a Master of Arts (2004) from Waikato University in 19th Century American Literary Culture. Her principal research area is the historiography of the history of science, with a focus on the cultures and subcultures of science, gender in science history, and narrative and complexity. She holds dual roles at Te Pūnaha Matatini, a New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence for complex systems and networks – executive manager and associate investigator; she is a research fellow in the Department of Physics at the University of Auckland, course convener of Science Scholars 101, and a Te Pūnaha Matatini-funded PhD candidate in the Science and Society Group at Victoria University Wellington, investigating novel hybrid methodologies for the historiography of science. Basically, she’s a historian in a Physics department. More about Kate here.

Michele Governale

Michele Governale

Theme Co-Leader, Complex Economic and Social Systems

Michele Governale is an Associate Professor of Physics at Victoria University of Wellington. Prior to his arrival at Vic in 2009, Michele is a condensed matter theorist, with a particular interest in the theory of quantum transport in nanostructures. Studying the basic electronic properties of nanostructured systems has potential applications in the design of electronic devices of exceptionally minute dimensions (in the nanometres!) More about Michele here.

Mike Plank

Mike Plank

Theme Co-Leader, Complexity and the Biosphere

Mike’s research is in mathematical modelling, particularly in ecology and physiology. The motivation for this research comes from real-world problems and the emphasis is on qualitative mathematical models that capture the essential behaviour of a particular phenomenon. Mike has research interests in a variety of applications – ecology and exploitation of fish communities, collective cell behaviour, complex ecological networks, invasive species, epidemiology, animal movement, and neurovascular coupling. More about Mike here.

Reno Nims

Reno Nims

Te Pūnaha Matatini Whānau Chair

Reno is a PhD student in the University of Auckland Anthropology Department where he uses zooarchaeological methods to explore Māori interactions with the environment in the past. He began studying anthropology at the University of California and completed his M.S. in Anthropology at Portland State University in 2016. Reno’s doctoral research will also contribute to a multidisciplinary collaboration between archaeologists and computational mathematicians at Te Pūnaha Matatini who seek to understand the long-term resilience of Aotearoa New Zealand fisheries.

Rhian Salmon

Rhian Salmon

Principal Investigator

Rhian is a Senior Lecturer in the Science faculty at Victoria University of Wellington. Before coming to New Zealand, she was based at the British Antarctic Survey in the UK for several years, working initially as an Antarctic atmospheric chemist (which included spending 18 months ‘overwintering’ on a remote Antarctic base) and later as education, communication and outreach coordinator for the International Polar Year 2007-2008. Rhian has expertise in catalysing conversations between scientists and different publics and currently leads the Engagement programme of the Deep South National Science Challenge. More about Rhian here.

Shaun Hendy

Shaun Hendy

Director, Te Pūnaha Matatini

Shaun Hendy is Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini and Professor of Physics at the University of Auckland. His interest in the science of complexity stems from a conversation at a lunchtime journal club at Industrial Research Ltd about Geoffrey West’s work on the increase in the number of patents per capita with city size in the US. Hendy then downloaded an international patent database and found that the difference in patents per capita between Australia and New Zealand could be explained by the difference in population distributions. More about Shaun here.

Siouxsie Wiles

Siouxsie Wiles

Co-Deputy Director, Public Engagement and Outreach

Siouxsie is an award-winning scientist who has made a career of manipulating microbes. She and her team make bacteria glow in the dark to understand how infectious microbes make us sick and to find new medicines. Siouxsie is also an enthusiastic tweeter, blogger, artist, curator and media science commentator and has won numerous prizes for her efforts, including the Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize. In 2017, she published her first book, ‘Antibiotic resistance: the end of modern medicine?’, as part of the BWB Texts series. More about Siouxsie here.

Stephen Marsland

Stephen Marsland

Theme Leader, Complexity, Risk, and Uncertainty

Stephen is Professor of Mathematics at Victoria University of Wellington. He was previously Professor of Scientific Computing at Massey University and has PhD from Manchester University and a degree from Oxford University. His research interests are in the applications of mathematics, especially differential geometry, to a wide variety of problems such as birdsong recognition, shape and medical image analysis, machine learning, and smart homes for the elderly. He also works in complexity science, including complex networks and agent-based models. More about Stephen here.

Uli Zuelicke

Uli Zuelicke

Co-Theme Leader, Complex Economic and Social Systems

Uli Zuelicke is a Professor of Physics at Victoria University of Wellington and a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Physics. With a background in theoretical condensed-matter physics, Uli’s research interests include mesoscopic and low-dimensional systems, spins in semiconductors, and complex materials such as graphene. He enjoys solving theoretical problems and collaborating with colleagues on experiments of mutual interest. More about Uli here.