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 sciblogs.co.nz and in 2020 she is a part-time teaching fellow in science communication with the Centre for Science in Society at Victoria University of Wellington.
Daniel Walker – Media Advisor
Daniel joined the SMC team in January 2020, after working for three years at Newstalk ZB, where he was the go-to reporter on science and tech stories – travelling to Whakatāne to cover the Whakaari / White Island eruption. He was also a newsreader and subeditor at the station and has interned at RNZ’s Checkpoint. Daniel’s passion for science communication was ignited when hosting Dear Science on 95bFM while at university. During study at AUT, he talked to a number of researchers for a long-form investigative article on young non-voters. While in primary school Daniel insisted on reading either an encyclopedia or a dictionary before bedtime.
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.
Frankie Vaughan – Media Advisor
BSc. (Neuroscience), MSc. (Human Nutrition)
Frankie joined the SMC team in March 2020, after four years of working in TV and radio with the BBC. Her Master’s thesis investigated the quality of reporting of nutritional science in the UK media, which led her to pursue a career in science communication. From quinoa to quidditch, she has reported on food, health, and exercise across the UK, and was host of the flagship food programme on BBC Radio Scotland in 2019. Frankie spent six months in Dunedin with her family at the age of 8, and has been plotting her return to New Zealand ever since.
Patrick Crewdson (Chair)
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
Michael 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
Dr 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’ 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
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.
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.
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
Peter Griffin – founding Director