Science Leadership Team

Science Leadership Team

The Science Leadership Team is responsible for the Challenge's strategic direction, science quality, activities and management.

Julie Hall – Challenge Director

Julie has extensive experience in biological oceanography, leading large multidisciplinary research projects, and in the management of people and projects. Her scientific background is in food web dynamics in both marine and freshwater ecosystems with a special interest in microbial foodwebs.

As the international chair of the Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER) project she was responsible for leading the development and implementation of the multidisciplinary Science Plan that addressed the interaction of marine biogeochemistry and ecosystems and their response to global change. This is a wide ranging project which includes experimental and observational studies and modelling of natural and social systems.

In addition, her involvement in a range of projects associated with the Global Ocean Observing System has given her a broad knowledge of marine observation systems, data management and the integration of observations and models. Julie also has extensive project and people management experience, and has been a Regional Manager for NIWA Wellington for the past 7 years.

John Wright - Challenge Manager

John has extensive people, project and programme management experience, both in IT and science-based projects. He has led large teams ranging in scale from 10 to 100 people over multi-year programmes of work. As an independent consultant, he has successfully executed a range of project management assignments comprising planning, execution and audit work. His academic background is in pure and applied mathematics, gaining an MSc from Auckland University.

Carolyn Lundquist - Science Programme Leader: Our Seas

Carolyn is currently Principal Scientist, Marine Ecology Research Group, NIWA and Senior Lecturer, Institute of Marine Science, Joint Graduate School in Coastal and Marine Science, University of Auckland. Carolyn has recently led the large multidisciplinary, multi-organisational Marine Futures project which was focused on the development of socio-ecological participatory processes of the management of marine ecosystems.

Through the leadership of this project she gained an excellent understanding of research into stakeholder engagement and socio–ecological research. Carolyn also has expertise in marine protected area design, benthic ecosystems, connectivity between marine invertebrate populations and habitats to advise commercial, recreational and traditional fishery management, estuarine restoration including shellfish and seagrass restoration and mangrove management. She has extensive scientific networks both within New Zealand and internationally through her involvement in the leadership of an IPBES stakeholders group on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Judi Hewitt - Science Programme Leader: Valuable Seas

Judi is currently Programme Leader Our Changing Oceans, Coasts and Oceans Centre, NIWA, and Professor Marine Biology (docent), University of Helsinki, Finland.

Judi is a statistical marine ecologist who has worked extensively in estuarine and coastal systems and has recently been involved in projects assessing ecosystem health and ecosystems services. She also has expertise in assessing species, functional trait and habitat diversity, analysis of spatial and temporal variation in populations and communities, design and implementation of ecological monitoring programmes, and ecological risk assessment.

Most recently Judi has been involved in projects assessing ecosystem health and ecosystem services.

Judi has extensive experience in multidisciplinary research and interactions with stakeholders having completed many projects for commercial clients, and has worked with stakeholder panels for research projects she regularly leads.

Linda Faulkner - Science Programme Leader: Tangaroa

Linda is of Ngati Rangi and Whanganui descent from the southern central plateau region and the Whanganui River. She has worked for many years in the environmental management sector and has spent much of her career seeking to facilitate recognition and application of mātauranga Māori to mainstream environments.

Linda is currently the Director of Tutaiao Ltd., a private consultancy focusing on people, policy and planning. In her previous position she was General Manager Māori at the EPA, where she gained extensive experience in the area of environmental and cultural risk assessment and management. 

Linda has also served on several MBIE research investment panels and worked for Te Papa supporting the developing policy and process that ensured implementation of effective bicultural partnership.

David Schiel - Science Programme Leader: Dynamic Seas

David is Distinguished Professor, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

David has expertise in ecosystem function and biodiversity of marine systems, rocky shore and estuarine ecology, fisheries, aquaculture, population genetics, oceanography, fish ecology and the impact of human and natural stressors on coastal ecosystems.

David has extensive experience in successful leadership of collaborative multidisciplinary research projects across multiple institutions and has worked with a wide variety of stakeholders including the fishing and aquaculture industries.

As one of the lead scientists on the Rena Oil Spill Recovery programme, he dealt with often contentious public meetings, heightened passions about marine impacts, and community needs for participation.

During the Rena project David also worked extensively with Māori groups across the Bay of Plenty ensuring their intimate relationship to the sea, its mauri, and kaitiakitanga were critical factors in response management. He was also a Coastal Commissioner for Northland during the final stages of developing the coastal plan involving aquaculture. 

Chris Cornelisen - Science Programme Leader: Managed Seas

Chris Cornelisen leads the coastal sciences group at the Cawthron Institute and has over 20 years research experience in physical biology, land-sea interactions, and source-tracking contaminants in the marine environment. Earlier in his career, Chris addressed marine resource management issues as a U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fellow and spent several years as a marine educator.

More recently, Chris and the teams he leads have been developing integrated frameworks for coastal monitoring and forecasting tools for aquaculture. He is also helping advance remote sensing methods and the design and deployment of ocean observing platforms.

Chris works extensively with Industry and resource managers at the coal face of resource management issues; this provides him with a big picture understanding of the challenges around growing the marine economy. Chris is passionate about the role science has to play in society, and envisions New Zealand becoming the world exemplar of ocean stewardship and sustainable use of marine resources.

James Whetu – Leader: Vision Mātauranga

James has a professional background in resource management planning with a Bachelor of Tourism, majoring in Resource, Impacts and Environmental Planning, he is currently working towards completing his Masters in Resource and Environmental Planning.

For the past 5 years he has worked in the area of incorporating mātauranga Māori into planning processes to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes and outputs for Māori and wider communities. This experience and knowledge has positioned him well to work with research institutes, policy makers, and tangata whenua to find pragmatic, whilst also innovative, approaches to recognise and provide for mātauranga Maori in a local context and to deliver the aspirations sought in MBIE's Vision Mātauranga policy framework.

Latest news and updates

Tipping Points hosts interdisciplinary workshop

15 PhD students and postdocs from across New Zealand came together to discuss estuarine science and share ideas, as they developed sampling plans for the national Tipping Points experiment.

Plenary at AMSA 2017

Director Julie Hall gave the plenary address on 4 July at the Australian Marine Sciences Association conference in Darwin.

Sediment and seabed species

Experiments have begun investigating the effect of sedimentation from human activities on offshore seabed species.