Faculty of Science - Leading creativity and innovation in the sciences


Our stories


The women in the Faculty of Science are many, and we're diverse. We love what we do, and we love to tell people about it. You can read some of our stories below.

Professor Donna Rose Addis
Professor Donna Rose Addis

Professor – Psychology

"I use neuropsychological, neuroimaging and cognitive methods to investigate how we remember the past and imagine the future, the brain networks supporting these abilities, and how these abilities change with age, depression and disease.

"I love sharing knowledge and helping students develop a conceptual understanding of the field.   

"I’m intensely curious about the world so I love that I can investigate questions I find truly fascinating, like how the brain builds such complex autobiographies. I love that my research draws on both psychology and history to understand how the brain builds such complex autobiographies. My research activities are so varied – from examining transcripts of autobiographical interviews to complex multivariate analyses of functional MRI scans – which is challenging, exciting, and requires lots of creativity!"

Dr Kristal Cain
Dr Kristal Cain

Lecturer – Biological Sciences

"My research focuses on understanding how and why there is so much variation in how animals look and act. I’m particularly interested in understanding why the sexes are sometimes very different and sometimes very similar. 

"Life is about solving problems: what to eat, how many babies to have, picking out a mate. Animals have solved all of these problems in a million different ways, and some of their solutions might help us figure out how to live on a planet that is becoming increasingly hot, dry and crowded. 

"As a scientist, it's my job to ask questions. I love that my job is to learn more and share what I learn to help folks appreciate how special and valuable these creatures are."

Dr Tra Dinh
Dr Tra Dinh

Lecturer – Physics

"My research is in atmospheric science and includes atmospheric processes of various scales, from the physics of clouds, to the global circulation, energy and moisture budgets. I use theory and numerical tools, in combination with observations, to study the interactions among different atmospheric processes, and how such interactions determine the basic structure of the atmosphere. I've been involved in the implementation and development of numerical climate models. These are tools that we use to study the physics of the atmosphere, as well as for weather forecasts and climate predictions.

"Research in climate is important as climate change has direct environmental, social, and economic consequences.

"I love science because I love the process of trying to figure out how things work."

Professor Gill Dobbie
Professor Gill Dobbie

Professor - Computer Science

"I research algorithms that do two things: firstly, detect change in data streams and secondly, predict what is likely to happen in the future. Current algorithms work well for static data, but do not work on real-time or streaming data. The application of this work ranges from healthcare, to transport, to air quality. For detection, the challenges are to detect change as soon after it has occurred as possible, and as accurately as possible, balancing the trade-off between false alarms and missing some changes. For prediction, the challenge is the accuracy of the prediction.

"I'm passionate about my research because I have a perverse interest in patterns, data and numbers. The wide applicability of the work is also a driver.

"I question why things are the way they are. Science helps me to understand and reason about answers to questions."

Dr Margaret Dudley
Dr Margaret Dudley

Lecturer – Psychology

"I teach cultural competence and coordinate cultural input on the Clinical Psychology doctoral programme. I also teach neuropsychology at undergraduate level. I'm interested in cognition and the ageing brain, and I lead a large research project to develop a theory and diagnostic tool for dementia in Māori.

"I'm a strong advocate of increasing Māori workforce capacity in the mental health sector where Māori are disproportionately represented as mental health service users. I actively encourage Māori students to study Psychology.

"I love the pragmatic aspect of my work in that my contribution to the field can have real-life implications for Māori. I firmly believe the interface of science and mātauranga Māori is the way forward for a better world for Māori and therefore the nation as a whole."

Dr JJ Eldridge
Dr JJ Eldridge

Senior Lecturer – Physics

"I make computer models of binary stars and compare them to observations of the Universe, from our own Sun to galaxies at the edge of the observable Universe. I also teach Physics and astrophysics to undergraduates and postgraduates students.

"I've always been interested in space, due to watching and reading lots of science fiction when I was young (Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr Who...). Teaching and researching astrophysics is as close as I can get to exploring the Universe up close!

"I've always loved working out how things work. It's fantastic that we can take all physics, put it into a computer model and work out how stars, galaxies and the Universe works. It's even better that as a lecturer I get to share how the Universe works with students."

Dr Rachel Fewster
Dr Rachel Fewster

Associate Professor Rachel Fewster – Statistics

"I work in statistical ecology, which means I develop methods in statistics to answer questions in conservation, ecology and animal behaviour.

"A typical day's work might involve monitoring population numbers of an endangered species or developing software for community conservation volunteers to produce animated maps of the outcomes they've achieved.  

"I love the diversity of projects I'm able to work on as a statistician. I've worked with conservation data from all over the world, from the African savannah to the Amazonian rainforests, and from the tropical Pacific to the Antarctic ice shelves. I have the satisfaction of breaking new ground internationally, developing statistical methods that are used by thousands of researchers worldwide."

 

Dr Simone Linz
Dr Simone Linz

Senior Lecturer – Computer Science

"I'm developing new mathematical and computational tools to unravel complex evolutionary histories of life on Earth.

"Traditionally, evolutionary trees have been used to represent ancestral relationships. Recent work has shown that graphs with underlying cycles, called evolutionary networks, are better suited to analyse evolutionary histories among species. I'm interested in the development of mathematical frameworks and algorithms to reconstruct and analyse such networks.

"The reconstruction of evolutionary networks has practical applications not only in evolutionary biology, but also in other areas including cancer research, linguistics and epidemiology.

"I love solving problems with colleagues. The moments of joy, when months of work suddenly fall into place, are pretty amazing!"

Cindy Morrison
Cindy Morrison

Cindy Morrison – Exercise Sciences

"I work as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist at the University of Auckland Health and Performance Clinic. The clinic provides specialised exercise prescription and education for people living with chronic health conditions. It's the primary teaching and research facility for students enrolled in the clinical exercise physiology programme offered by the Department of Exercise Sciences.

"I help to teach clinical skills for the postgraduate courses, and mentor and supervise the students working in the clinic.

"I enjoy the balance of a clinical and teaching role, getting to work with clinical clients – empowering and educating them on the importance of leading a healthy active lifestyle, as well as fostering a positive learning environment for students to improve their clinical skills and knowledge." 

Dr Teri O'Meara
Dr Teri O'Meara

Research Fellow – Marine Science

"I study interactions between humans and coastal ecosystems. I focus on how 'big picture' ecosystem function is affected by multiple stressors like nutrient pollution, increased temperature, sea level rise, and sediment pollution.

"By studying multiple stressors, we can help communities with few resources direct any available funding and efforts in the most effective and efficient way to combat climate change impacts on local habitats.

"I love what I do! I have the opportunity to help vulnerable habitats and the communities they support stay happy and healthy. It's very rewarding."

Professor Hinke Osinga
Professor Hinke Osinga

Professor – Mathematics

"My specialty is dynamical systems theory – the mathematical analysis and prediction of behaviour that changes with time. I am an expert in developing and employing numerical methods for computing global objects known as invariant manifolds that are indicators of critical change or tipping points. The main applications of my research are in neuroscience and earthquake engineering. 

"What I find most intriguing about mathematics is that the same mathematical equations can pop up in many different areas of applications, while the tools to analyse these equations are the same.

"I love science because I have a passion for exploring the unknown and also for the creativity that is necessary to develop the mathematical tools that aid this exploration."

Dr Chrissie Painting
Dr Chrissie Painting

Research Fellow – Biological Sciences

"I’m a behavioural ecologist with a particular interest in figuring out what drives diversity in exaggerated traits, such as weapons and ornaments. I work on arthropods, including the charismatic New Zealand giraffe weevil and a group of creepy looking but harmless New Zealand harvestmen.

"Understanding why animals are so diverse in form and function is a fundamental challenge for biologists. I’m contributing to this by working on a group of non-model species that I believe can help our understanding of animal diversity.

"I love that I work on creatures that haven't been studied before, meaning that I get to start from scratch to figure out their mating system. It's challenging, but it leads to exciting new discoveries. I also love that my job is so varied, ranging from expeditions to the field, to focused periods of writing and planning new ideas."

Karisa Pearson
Karisa Pearson

Senior Technician – Leigh Marine Laboratory

"I'm the Laboratory Technician for the Institute of Marine Science at the Leigh Campus. I help students and researchers to get high quality results from our lab to answer their research questions. I ensure that the experiments they run in our lab are done as safely and efficiently as possible.

"I do this to ensure that the people who are making discoveries and decisions about the best possible future for our oceans have the best quality data to work with.

"I love working in such an amazing place, meeting so many different people who are doing fascinating research on many different aspects of our marine ecosystems. I feel like I am making a positive contribution to the skills and techniques that our future scientists need."

Dr Yu-Cheng Tu
Dr Yu-Cheng Tu

Professional Teaching Fellow – Computer Science

"I work for the Auckland ICT Graduate School, hosted by the Department of Computer Science. I'm involved in the curriculum development and course delivery of the Postgraduate Certificate in Information Technology.

"I enjoy teaching students about programming. It's rewarding to see students, who have no prior knowledge about computer science, to enjoy programming and be able to develop applications within a short period of time.

"I love teaching, because I have the opportunity to let students learn from my knowledge and experience, but I can learn from them as well! Computer Science is challenging and always changing – it allows me to explore and learn new things every day."

Dr Yalu Wen
Dr Yalu Wen

Lecturer – Statistics

"My research interests lie in statistical genetics. I'm interested in developing and evaluating new statistical models to predict disease risk using multi-level high-dimensional data, and I'm also interested in the development and application of new statistical methods for association analysis.

"Other than lifestyles, I believe genetic susceptibilities should be related to many common complex diseases, such as cancers and Type 2 diabetes. If we can fully understand the disease mechanisms from the molecular level, we may be able to identify the therapeutic targets and thus deliver the right treatment to the right person. To understand the disease mechanisms from high-dimensional data requires advanced analytical and modelling techniques. 

"I really enjoy building and validating models to help medical scientists understand disease etiology, and I think modelling is very important in many areas."