Staff & Board


Dacia Herbulock – Director
BA Hons (East Asian Studies), Diploma (Te Reo Māori)

Dacia Herbulock joined the SMC at its launch in 2008, bringing extensive experience in radio, film, documentary and television news in the US, China and New Zealand. Over the past decade, she has designed and led initiatives to broaden New Zealand’s network of media savvy experts, improve journalists’ understanding of complex science issues and make relevant information accessible to media when science is in the headlines. She is an Adjunct Research Fellow with the Science and Society group at Victoria University of Wellington and serves on the Executive Committee of the Science Communicators Association (SCANZ).

Dr Sarah-Jane O’Connor – Senior Media Advisor
BSc Hons (Ecology), PhD (Ecology), Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism

Before joining the Science Media Centre in July 2016, Sarah-Jane worked in both science and media. After finishing a PhD in ecology at the University of Canterbury, she retrained in journalism before working for Fairfax Media for two years. As a reporter with The Press, she covered a range of topics including science, health and environment based first in Christchurch then as a sole charge reporter on the West Coast. Her PhD was an ecological and genetic study of the seed dispersal of matai, with a focus on which birds and mammals dispersed or predated seeds in fragmented forests on Canterbury’s Port Hills. Sarah-Jane also edits

Rachel Thomas – Media Advisor
BMA (Communication), NatDip (Journalism)

Rachel joined the Science Media Centre in 2018 after six years as a print and online journalist. After picking up a degree and diploma at Wintec, Rachel served as sole news reporter for small community papers, before heading to the Waikato Times. There, she focused on science and environment reporting which earned her a finalist nomination for the Canon Media Awards in 2016. She then spent two years with The Dominion Post and Stuff, where she was science reporter, then senior health reporter. In 2017 she was awarded an nib health scholarship which allowed her to travel to Berkeley, Philadelphia and Washington DC and publish an investigation on the impact of sugar taxes in the US.

Tessa Evans – Media Advisor
BSc (Chemistry), MSc (Chemistry)

Tessa joined the SMC in October 2016, coming from Australia where she had been presenting forensic science workshops to high school students. A Kiwi by birth, Tessa majored in chemistry at Victoria University of Wellington before heading to Australia to complete her MSc in chemistry at the University of Melbourne. While her research focused on the wettability of coal dust, Tessa has also done some work for an aquatic ecology group looking at blue carbon ecosystems. Along the way, Tessa has also delved into science media, interning at Australian website The Conversation and serving as editor-in-chief of the online science magazine Lateral.

Science Media Centre Advisory Board

Patrick Crewdson (Chair)
Editor-in-chief, Stuff

Patrick is the editor-in-chief of Stuff. He started in journalism in 2002 as editor of the Otago University student newspaper, Critic-Te Arohi, and has worked as an education reporter, political reporter, web editor, and the Head of News for The Dominion Post. He has been the editor of Stuff since 2014. In the 2019 Voyager Media Awards Patrick won editorial executive of the year and the prestigious Wolfson Fellowship, which allows a senior journalist to study a topic of their choice at Cambridge University.

Professor Michael Baker

Professor of Public Health, University of Otago Wellington

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 3.28.42 pmMichael Baker is a public health physician and professor at the University of Otago, Wellington. His research interests include the health effects of household crowding, home injuries, homelessness, seasonality of disease, climate change, pandemic influenza and how it can be contained, infectious disease epidemiology, and emerging infectious diseases. In 2013 Michael was awarded the HRC Liley Medal for his contribution to the health and medical sciences.


Dr Andrea Byrom
Senior Scientist, Landcare Research

andrea byromDr Byrom is a senior scientist at Landcare Research and Director of the BioHeritage National Science Challenge. Her research interests lie in the ecology of multiple invasive mammal species in New Zealand and their interactive effects on native flora and fauna in tandem with other drivers of global change such as climate and land use change. She has also worked on similar issues in Australia and Africa. Andrea completed an honours degree at the University of Otago on the genetics of freshwater copepods before moving to Canada and completing a PhD at the University of British Columbia, where she investigated the ecology of Arctic ground squirrels.

Mark Jennings
Co-editor, Newsroom

Mark Jennings’ career in journalism extends back to the late 1970s and, until the founding of Newsroom, was primarily anchored in broadcast news. After 10 years in front of the camera in Australia from 1979-89, Mark returned to New Zealand and began a 27-year career with MediaWorks. In 1995, Mark became Director of News and has mentored successive generations of acclaimed and respected journalists, and was responsible for launching Newshub across TV Three and Radio Live.


Professor Jacinta Ruru (Raukawa, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Maniapoto)
Co-director, Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, University of Otago

Professor Ruru is co-director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence, and law professor at the University of Otago. Her research focuses on exploring indigenous peoples’ legal rights to own, manage and govern lands and waters including national parks in Aotearoa New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Australia and Scandinavian countries. Jacinta is recipient of the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Excellence in Tertiary Teaching. She completed her PhD in Canada.


Dr Gill Jolly
General Manager – Strategy, GNS Science

Gill Jolly is a volcanologist whose work began in the UK, where she completed her PhD on the physical properties of lavas at Lancaster University. She worked for the British Geological Survey and the Montserrat Volcano Observatory before joining GNS Science in 2006. She has since led volcanology and geohazards teams through New Zealand eruptions and earthquakes, including the response to the November 2016 M7.8 Kaikōura quake. Gill is currently the General Manager – Strategy at GNS Science and sits on the PMCSA’s Chief Science Advisor Forum.

Jenny Suo
Reporter/Presenter – TVNZ

Jenny Suo is a reporter and presenter for TVNZ 1News. She began her career in journalism a decade ago, and has worked in both TVNZ and Mediaworks newsrooms.  In 2014, she spent a year in the U.S working as a freelance journalist. She has a passion for telling stories in the science, technology and environment field and is often found in research facilities or in the bush tracking rare native species.


Richard Sutherland
Head of News – RNZ

Richard is the Head of News at RNZ.  Prior to that he was the Head of Broadcast for Newshub.  He started his career with Independent Radio News in Wellington in 1991. He’s also worked at TVNZ and Sky News Australia.


Previous SMC board members and advisors

Tarek Bazley, TVNZ
Professor David Bibby, Victoria University of Wellington
Virginia Larson, editor, North & South
Gavin Ellis, media senior lecturer, University of Auckland
Lesley Deverall, editor Newstalk ZB, NZME.
Will Hine, reporter, TVNZ One News
Renee Graham, newsplanner and reporter, TVNZ One News
Alistair Dunn, NIWA fisheries scientist
Rick Christie, independent director
Professor Jean Fleming, Centre for Science Communication
Hon. Margaret Austin CNZM, Royal Society of New Zealand
Clive Lind, Fairfax New Zealand
Anthony Scott, Science New Zealand
Vincent Heeringa, Tangible Media

Previous Staff

Peter Griffin – founding Director
John Kerr
Laura Goodall
Aimee Whitcroft
Amanda Johnson
Kent Atkinson