Unlocking Curious Minds Contestable Fund Assessment Panel

An independent assessment panel appointed by MBIE will assess eligible 2020 Unlocking Curious Minds Contestable Fund proposals and will advise us on which proposals to fund.

Proposals are assessed against the assessment criteria set out in the 2020 Call for Proposals.

Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund 2020 Investment Round Call for Proposals [PDF, 1.7 MB]

If you are submitting a proposal for the 2020 Unlocking Curious Minds Contestable Fund investment round, check the assessment panel for any potential conflicts of interest.  If you identify a potential conflict, email us immediately with the following details so we can reassign assessors if necessary:

  • your application reference
  • your contact phone number
  • the assessor’s name or names
  • the reason for your concern.

Panel members

Panel member biographies

Professor Ken Hughey (Chair)

Chief Science Advisor, Department of Conservation
Professor of Environmental Management, Lincoln University
Adjunct Professor at the Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.

Ken has broad research interests in freshwater, tourism and climate change, tourism and disaster management, environmental perceptions monitoring, and introduced animal management. Ken has acted as Chair for the Unlocking Curious Minds panel for five years. He is seconded for 3 days per week to the Department of Conservation, normally working these in Wellington but sometimes for a day per week at a shared desk in the Christchurch office. He is on the Senior Leadership Team at DOC and his work covers a wide variety of activities.

Dr Ofa Dewes

Research Fellow, Department of Molecular Medicine & Pathology
Research Fellow, School of Nursing, University of Auckland

Dr Ofa Dewes is an Associate Investigator with the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, a national Centre of Research Excellence hosted by the University of Auckland.  She is interested in ethnic-specific research and evaluation studies among Pacific population groups across the life-span especially in the areas of people development, metabolic diseases, ageing well, and activating communities for better health and education outcomes. Ofa was born in Suva, Fiji, and is part-Rotuman, Tongan and Tuvaluan, with affiliation to Ngāti Porou.

Dr Te Taka Keegan

Waikato-Maniapoto; Ngāti Porou; Ngāti Whakaaue
Associate Dean Māori, HECS Division, Senior Lecturer, Computer Science, University of Waikato

Te Taka completed a PhD in 2007, titled Indigenous Language Usage in a Digital Library: He Hautoa Kia Ora Tonu Ai. He has worked on a number of projects involving the Māori language and technology. These include the Māori Niupepa Collection, Te Kete Ipurangi, the Microsoft keyboard, Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office in Māori, Moodle in Māori, Google Web Search in Māori, and the Māori macroniser. In 2009 Te Taka spent 6 months with Google in Mountain View as a visiting scientist assisting with the Google Translator Toolkit for Māori. Further work with Google led to Translate in Māori. In 2013 Te Taka was awarded the University of Waikato's Māori/Indigenous Excellence Award for Research. In 2017, Te Taka was awarded the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Tertiary Teaching Excellence. In 2019 Te Taka was awarded the University of Waikato's Excellence in Research Award.

Professor Nancy Longnecker

Professor of Science Communication, University of Otago

Professor Nancy Longnecker has experience as an agricultural research scientist, professional science communicator and science communication academic. Prof Longnecker and her science communication students have created exhibitions and displays that have been seen by well over fifty thousand visitors in New Zealand and Australia. Prof Longnecker has experience working with a broad range of people, including those within primary industries, indigenous peoples, museum visitors and school students.

Dr Angela Sharples

Principal, Murupara Area School

Dr Angela Sharples is an educational leader with experience working across the education sector from primary to tertiary levels. The Principal of Murupara Area School, she is also the winner of the 2011 Prime Minister's Science Teachers Prize. Dr Sharples is the Chairperson of New Zealand International Biology Olympiad (NZIBO), focused on developing excellence in Biology and promotion of STEM in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Dr Sharples holds a BSc, MSc (first class hons) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Environmental Science from University of Auckland.

Dr John Perrott

Senior Lecturer, Conservation Ecology and Mātauranga Māori, Auckland University of Technology

John is a lecturer with 20 years of experience in ecology and conservation biology. He has research and publication experience in birds, mammals, plants, invertebrates, reptiles, and wildlife disease.  He undertook his studies in ecology at Massey University, Palmerston North. John’s PhD was titled ‘The ecology of Aspergillus fumigates: wildlife health in modified environments’. John has interests in the use of educational technology systems for achieving greater Māori representation in the biological sciences. His current research interest is in Kākāpō aspergillosis, a fungal infection threatening New Zealand native birds.

Dr Dean Peterson

Adjunct Research Fellow, Victoria University of Wellington
Director Collections & Research, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Dr Peterson brings a strong background in science communication, with experience in the New Zealand’s science system and solid connections with technology businesses in New Zealand.  Since receiving his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Bradley University and Ph.D from Michigan State University with a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, Dean has had an impressive career spanning physical sciences, policy and science funding.

Ruth Guy

Ruth is a qualified secondary teacher and has been teaching for 25 years in various sectors of Science education with a strong connection with LEOTC (learning experiences outside of the classroom). She has developed science outreach programs, and on-line courses for various institutions. She has completed post graduate qualifications in Antarctic Studies and was lucky enough to spend 2 weeks on the white continent.

Professor Hamish Spencer

Departmental Science Advisor, Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Hamish Spencer is a Professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of Otago, where he has been since 1992. After completing his PhD at Harvard University, he was appointed lecturer in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at the University of Waikato. At Otago he teaches in the Genetics Programme. In 2009 Prof Spencer was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society Te Apārangi. Prof Spencer is an evolutionary geneticist, whose research ranges from mathematical population genetics to the use of evolutionary trees. In 2016 Prof Spencer was awarded the Royal Society Te Apārangi Callaghan Medal for an outstanding contribution to science communication and raising public awareness of the value of science to human progress.

Laura Black

Director, Methodist Mission Southern
Otago Participatory Science Platform Chair

Laura is the Director of Methodist Mission Southern and also the Otago Participatory Science Platform Chair. Methodist Mission Southern run a broad range of skill development and social justice programmes, notably the UCM funded ‘Science Works’ to increase students’ engagement with STEM careers in computing, manufacturing, agriculture, conservation, aviation, electronics, tourism and many more skilled career pathways. Laura has 25 years' management level experience in the NGO and private sectors and is a specialist in the use of outcomes data in social services.

Mark Grams

Lead Adviser, Early Learning & Student Achievement, Ministry of Education

Mark is a Lead Adviser in the Early Learning & Student Achievement group at the Ministry of Education. His team is responsible for supporting schools to deliver The New Zealand Curriculum. His responsibilities are focused on the science and technology learning areas, including the new digital technologies curriculum content. Previously, Mark was a secondary school teacher, and in recent years has completed a Master’s in Environmental Studies.