Strategic Science Advisory Group Biographies
Ian Ferguson (Chair)
Ian is a leading researcher in plant and fruit physiology, horticulture and postharvest science. He was MPI’s Departmental Science Adviser from 2012-2017 and, prior to that, Chief Scientist of Plant & Food Research. Ian is a Fellow of the Royal Society of NZ and Life Member of the NZ Society of Plant Physiologists. He has been a member of government funding and review panels and has extensive research collaboration with China and Thailand. Ian was awarded the NZ Order of Merit for contributions to horticultural science, and is a fellow of both the NZ and International Societies for Horticultural Science.
James Ataria is a Senior Lecturer at the Bio-Protection Research Centre, Lincoln University; Co-Deputy Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (the Māori Centre of Research Excellence); an ecotoxicologist and Māori business development manager at the Cawthron Institute, Nelson. His previous roles include being a member of Ngā Kaihautū Tikanga Taiao (Māori Advisory Committee to the Environmental Protection Authority), an ecotoxicologist at Landcare Research, a member of the Biological Heritage National Science Challenges Kāhui Māori, and Senior Lecturer at Lincoln University.
Lindsay leads the Forest Protection research team of over 40 researchers at Scion, and is currently acting General Manager for Scion’s Forest Science Group. He has a background in forest pathology with research interests including foliage disease of pines, disease management, quarantine and surveillance. Lindsay helped design NZ's forest biosecurity surveillance systems for forests and high-risk sites that are in use today and developed a management system that controls what was a serious stem disease of pines in the lower South Island. He has published 30 papers and over 300 reports for stakeholders.
Marie is a socio-environmental scientist in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland where she teaches and researches in the broad theme of science in society, focussing on environmental and particularly biosecurity issues. Marie is currently engaged in a National Science Challenge citizen science project addressing kauri dieback. Her research investigates how science / community partnerships can generate effective environmental outcomes while meeting the multiple objectives of all partners
Karyn is an epidemiologist and the Director of Biosecurity Research Ltd, with over 25 years of research experience. She has been an independent consultant and research scientist for the last 5 years. Her two areas of expertise are in conducting observational research into new exotic pest and disease incursions particularly in association with plant based industries, and in developing biosecurity preparedness systems and response plans for primary industries. Prior to this she spent 10 years working for MPI in the Incursion Investigation area. Before that, Karyn was a research scientist at Plant and Food Research.
Giles is an expert in forest pathology and natural ecosystems, in particular, how biotic and abiotic plant diseases impact on ecosystem function and health. He has over 27 years of experience in the biology, ecology, taxonomy, pathology and control of Phytophthora species in natural and managed ecosystems. Based at Murdoch University (Australia), Giles has research collaborations in remote sensing, ecohydrology, entomology, molecular plant pathology, plant physiology and nutrition, fungal genetics, microbiology, soil health, restoration ecology, and native fauna among others. He is currently Director of the State Centre of Excellence on Climate Change, Woodland and Forest Health, and past Director of the Centre for Phytophthora Science and Management.
Veronica is Director of Diagnostic and Surveillance Services at MPI. She has been with MPI (and its predecessor agencies) for 21 years, holding different positions in biosecurity and now focuses on postborder biosecurity with emphasis in incursion investigation, diagnostic, and surveillance. Veronica has previously worked as a scientist in the Plant Health and Environment Laboratory in Auckland and has held a number of management positions focusing on the development of standards for quarantine facilities, the importation of risk goods, and management of laboratories.
Ken is on a 3-day per week secondment from Lincoln University to the Department of Conservation (DOC) as Chief Science Advisor, a position he’s held since 2014. In this role, Ken takes a broad overview of science issues relating to DOC’s responsibilities and advises the Director-General about preferred ways forward. Ken has broad ranging interests including science strategy; particular areas of interest include water resources, environmental perceptions and sustainable tourism (including in relation to climate change). He has been advising DOC’s Senior Leadership Team on science strategy improvements and has participated in MPI-facilitated work about strategic science.
Haami is chairperson of the Te Rarawa iwi and a member of the regional and National Iwi Chairs Forums. He works alongside the national network of Māori scientists (Te Tira Whakamātaki) who report to the forum on biosecurity issues. He is involved in conservation initiatives, in particular kauri dieback which has a significant presence throughout Te Rarawa tribal territory. He is one of the architects of the Korowai model for redress of conservation treaty grievances in Te Hiku o Te Ika and chairs the newly established Te Oneroa A Tohe (90 Mile Beach) management board. Haami was awarded the NZ Order of Merit for services to Māori.
Danette is currently Manager, Strategic Investments at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Danette has a background in marine science and has previously worked at FRST (Foundation for Research, Science and Technology), MoRST (Ministry of Research, Science and Technology), Te Papa, the Cawthron Institute and Plant & Food Research. She currently leads a team of investment managers who are responsible for managing the National Science Challenges, Strategic Science Investment Fund, NZ Food Safety Science and Research Centre and Regional Research Institutes.
Philippa leads Plant & Food Research’s Bioprotection Portfolio, which comprises around 150 staff conducting research to develop improved pest and disease management systems as well as research to strengthen the biosecurity system. Philippa has a long career in research dating back to 1989 when she joined the DSIR Entomology Division. Since that time she has moved from being an active researcher to her current role which she has held since 2009. She is a former President of the NZ Plant Protection Society, is on the Collaboration Council for the Better Border Biosecurity and is a Board member for the Bio-Protection Research Centre.
Nick is currently a member of the Science Leadership Group within the Ngā Koiora Tuku Iho - Biological Heritage Science Challenge, and as a Kaihautū in the Challenge, has a role to provide advice and facilitate Vision Mātauranga principles and concepts, Māori research priorities, and methodologies. In 2017, he joined Plant & Food Research and was recently appointed team leader of the Epidemiology and Disease Management team based at Mt Albert and Te Puke sites. Nick is a plant pathologist and subject matter expert on kauri dieback since 2006 when he was part of the original biodiscovery team, led by the late Ross Beever, which first described the contemporary concept of kauri dieback in New Zealand.