Staff & Advisory Group


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).

Daniel Walker – Media Advisor
BCS (Journalism)

Daniel joined the SMC team in January 2020 just in time to help coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. He had previously been the go-to reporter on science and tech stories for three years at Newstalk ZB – including travelling to Whakatāne to cover the Whakaari / White Island eruption. Daniel’s passion for science communication was ignited when hosting Dear Science on Auckland University’s student radio station 95bFM. During his journalism education at AUT, he talked to a number of researchers for a long-form investigative article on young non-voters. In primary school, Daniel insisted on taking either an encyclopedia or a dictionary with him to read before bed.


Claire Kaplan – Media Advisor
B.A. (Spanish), Master’s (Social Studies of Science)

Claire joined the SMC team in January 2020. She brings with her four years of community newsroom experience at the Advocate South newspaper in Te Anau, Southland, where she won Best Junior News Journalist (2018) at the New Zealand Community Newspaper Association Awards. Before that, she worked in several editorial roles at a textbook publisher and educational solutions provider in Boston, U.S.A. She completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Spain. She is passionate about headline puns, the Oxford comma, and using semicolons over em-dashes.


Louise Thornley – Media Advisor
PG Dip (Public Health), MA Applied (Social Work)

Louise joined the SMC team in March 2021. Freelance journalism and a part-time role with Radio New Zealand has kept her busy for the past two years. Earlier work centred on public-health research, including four years at the University of Otago and consulting for a decade. From post-quake Christchurch to desert towns in South Australia and atolls in Tokelau, this work took her to many diverse communities. Her interest in communicating science grew from seeking ways to share research with the wider public, leading her to study post-grad science communication.



Science Media Centre Advisory Board

Terms of reference (2022)

Richard Sutherland (Acting Chair)
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.



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.


Shaun Awatere (Ngāti Porou)
Kaihaūtu Māori Research Impact Leader, Maori Development, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research

Shaun Awatere’s work involves improving the incorporation of Māori values into economic decision-making for collective assets that will enable Māori organisations to make more kaupapa Māori attuned decisions. He is currently engaged in research and policy to help prepare iwi/hapū Māori for climate change mitigation and adaptation planning. Shaun and a team of Nga Pae o Te Māramatanga researchers have recently summarised the latest research and guidance surrounding observed and projected climate change impacts on whānau/hapū/iwi and Māori business in Aotearoa-New Zealand.


Dr Gill Jolly
Natural Hazards and Risk Theme Leader, 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 Natural Hazards and Risk Theme Leader at GNS Science and sits on the PMCSA’s Chief Science Advisor Forum.


Dr Jenny Webster-Brown
Director – Our Land and Water National Science Challenge

Jenny Webster-Brown is a water quality scientist and geochemist.  Her research interests include the impacts of land use and mineral/energy extraction on our natural freshwater systems,  Antarctic meltwater chemistry and modelling contaminant behaviour.  She has worked for DSIR Chemistry Division,  ESR and the University of Auckland,  and was the inaugural Director of the Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management and professor of Water Resource Management at the universities of Canterbury & Lincoln, from 2010-2019.  She was appointed as the new Director of the National Science Challenge in May 2020. Jenny is new to the Advisory Board in 2021.


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.



Alison Harley
National desk editor – Newshub

Alison Harley is an experienced Assignment Editor with a demonstrated history of working in the broadcast media industry since 1988.




Previous SMC board members and advisors

Patrick Crewdson, Stuff (immediate past chair)
Dr Andrea Byrom, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research
Mark Jennings, Newsroom
Tarek Bazley, TVNZ (past chair)
Professor David Bibby, Victoria University of Wellington
Virginia Larson, editor, North & South
Gavin Ellis, media senior lecturer, University of Auckland (past chair)
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 (past chair)
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 (founding chair)

Previous Staff

Peter Griffin – founding Director
Dr Sarah-Jane O’Connor
Frankie Vaughan
Tessa Evans
Rachel Thomas
John Kerr
Laura Goodall
Aimee Whitcroft
Amanda Johnson
Kent Atkinson