Our Science Board

Our Science Board is the statutory body responsible for making independent investment decisions for the Endeavour Fund and National Science Challenges.

Board's purpose and criteria

The Science Board’s investments enable New Zealand research organisations to conduct high-quality research that creates economic, social and environmental benefits for New Zealand.

The Board was established by the Minister of Science and Innovation under the Research, Science and Technology Act 2010 on 1 February 2011. The Minister is responsible for the appointment of the Board’s Chair and members.

The Minister also sets the criteria against which the Board makes funding decisions. The criteria are published in the New Zealand Gazette.

Science Board Members

Professor Aidan Byrne (Chair)

Professor Byrne is Provost at the University of Queensland and was previously the Chief Executive of the Australian Research Council. Professor Byrne completed a BSc and MSc degrees at the University of Auckland. He completed a PhD in Nuclear Physics at the Australian National University, where he later served as Director of College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and Dean of Science. Professor Byrne spent over 2 years in Bonn, Germany as a von Humboldt fellow and is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Physics.

Dr Liz Wedderburn

Dr Wedderburn is the Emeritus International Ambassador at AgResearch. Before this she was the Assistant Research Director responsible for international collaborations, adoption and practice change.

She has a PhD in ecology from Glasgow University and 40 years research and management experience in sustainable agriculture within pastoral based livestock systems. Dr Wedderburn’s science expertise is in pastoral ecology, sustainable livestock farming, collaborative processes, systems thinking and land. She is well connected with the international livestock agriculture community including South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa and Canada.

Dr Jessica Hutchings (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Huirapa, Gujurati)

Dr Hutchings (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Huirapa, Gujurati) is Co-Director of Tiaho Ltd and a Governance Group member of the National Science Challenge, Resilience to Natures Challenges. 

She has a PhD in Environmental Studies from Victoria University and a Bachelor of Resource Studies from Lincoln University. She has 25 years of experience in the development and implementation of Māori science strategy which includes building and leading Māori research teams and programs across a wide range of disciplines and science models. Dr Hutchings leads key kaupapa Māori research initiatives with clear community outreach objectives. She has a particular expertise of working at the interface of science and society and mātauranga Māori.

Professor Charles Eason

Professor Eason is a Professor at Lincoln University and Pou Whakahaere Pūtaiao (Chief Scientist) at Wakatū Incorporation. He is also an independent consultant who focuses on research strategy and delivery in areas of biomedical, natural products, primary sector, biosecurity and environmental research. From 2012 to 2021 Professor Eason served as the CEO at the Cawthron Institute.

Professor Eason completed a PhD from the University of Surrey in the UK, after which he specialised in the development of new cardiovascular pharmaceuticals. He was awarded Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2016, the Thomson Medal for research leadership in 2018, Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2019 for his services to science and wildlife conservation and Fellow of the Royal Society 2021. 

Ms Kirikowhai Mikaere (Te Arawa - Tūhourangi, Ngāti Whakaue)

Ms Mikaere is a leading Māori data and information specialist focused on harnessing information to empower iwi, hapū, whānau and community development. She is a consultant with over 20 years’ experience advising Ministers, government agencies, tribal, community and private sector organisations with practical statistical analysis and innovative place-based data solutions.

Ms Mikaere is currently the lead technical advisor to the National Iwi (Tribal) Chairs Forum – Data Leadership Group and holds governance and advisory positions across the private sector and government, including with her tribe (Chair – Tūhourangi Tribal Authority, Trustee – Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa), Māori Hauora provider Manaaki Ora Trust (Deputy Chair), the Statistics New Zealand 2023 Census Board (independent member), and is a member of the New Zealand Government Data Ethics Committee.

Professor Nicholas Long

Professor Long is Director of the Robinson Research Institute at Victoria University of Wellington. He completed his PhD in Physics at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles and joined IRL, the predecessor to the Robinson Research Institute, in 1994. 

His primary research is in high temperature superconductivity (HTS). He was the founder of the programme that developed HTS Roebel cables including the development of the manufacturing and characterisation processes. His current interests include the application of HTS to space technology.

In 2008 Professor Long and his team was awarded the Cooper medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand for research to develop a commercial process for the manufacture of superconductor Roebel cable.

Dr Laura Domigan

Dr Domigan is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Auckland. She received both her BSc (Hons) (2008), and PhD in Biochemistry (2012) from the University of Canterbury and was a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University (Massachusetts, USA).  

Dr Domigan’s research broadly focuses on the use of fundamental knowledge underlying protein structure and function, and the application of this to create new materials and devices for biomedical engineering. She is particularly interested in the development of protein biomaterials from sustainably sourced materials.

Dr Sereana Naepi

Dr Naepi is a Lecturer at the University of Auckland | Waipapa Taumata Rau and teaches in the Sociology program. She completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Auckland and her PhD at the University of British Columbia, Canada. 

She is an early career Pasifika researcher, and the founding associate-director of All My Relations, an Indigenous research centre at Thompson Rivers University (Canada). She also co-founded the Indigenous research development program called Knowledge Makers in Canada. 

Dr Naepi has experience in Pacific research methodologies and has both quantitative and qualitative research experience. She has also worked supporting Māori and Pasifika students in MAPAS and Tuākana Arts at the University of Auckland| Waipapa Taumata.

In 2019 she was a recipient of the Alan Blizzard Award for teaching in Canada and in 2021 was awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship to explore higher education, neoliberalism and equity in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Last updated: 04 April 2022