I recently had the pleasure of capturing portraits for the Royal Society Te Apārangi, showcasing more clever individuals in the field of science—a job I really enjoy. On this occasion, my focus was on photographing the recipients of the MBIE Science Whitinga Fellowships- aimed at assisting early career researchers.
First up I headed to Waikato to photograph two of the recipients, Dr Paul Brown and Dr Mahroni Owen.
Dr. Owen’s research revolves around the development of a mind-controlled machine—an innovative prosthetic hand that has the potential to significantly enhance the lives of individuals grappling with nervous disorders or amputations. Mahroni says that ‘ Māori and Pasifika are overrepresented in nervous system disorders and diabetes, which leads to lower limb amputation, and I specifically look within my own iwi and te ao Māori for opportunities to help.’
Dr Paul Browns research is based around statistical modelling.
“My Whitinga research is a space time model of certain crimes that are related to one another. With residential burglaries, for instance, there’s a lot of literature on what’s called the ‘near repeat victimisation phenomenon’. Basically, if one place gets hit in a burglary, it’s likely that it will soon be hit again, or surrounding houses and neighbourhoods will be.
These kind of models are used overseas, but can lead to problems with over surveillance of certain communities. I hope that the models we’re developing here can avoid the perpetuation of systemic biases, and are used for insights into crime patterns and developing different policing strategies that are more positive in the community”.
Next it was down to the Nelson region to photograph Dr Rebecca Campbell. Her research is about plant disease, particularly European canker in apple, Myrtle rust in Myrtaceae plants, and Xylella fastidiosa.
“My particular focus is the spread of the disease in a spatial area, combining fieldwork, lab work and modelling. You get a lot of understanding from following the process from the ground up – from data collection, to validating and building the models.
And lastly back to Wellington to photograph political scientist Dr Sam Crawley.
Here’s his take on his research project….’My research looks at whether people think climate change is more or less important relative to other things. So, whether issues like health care, education (for people with children), the economy, job security, and the cost of living are more immediate to people than climate change, and what this might mean when it’s time to vote.’
At a big shindig on the Wellington waterfront I photographed a few weeks ago the winners of this prestigious prize were announced. Prior to that evening I photographed three of these winners for the Royal Society ( it was supposed to be 5 but because of Covid I couldn’t shoot the other two-dang!)
2022 TE PUIAKI WHAKAPĀ PŪTAIAO SCIENCE COMMUNICATION PRIZE
The first was Dr Diane-Sika Paotonu who took out the Prime Ministers Science Communication Prize.
She was a leading voice during the Covid-19 pandemic explaining the technical aspects of immunology, vaccines, the SARS-CoV-2 virus and infectious diseases, Dianne contributed to more than 220 broadcast media stories and 1500 online and print media stories.
A Pacific immunology and biomedical scientist, Dianne is an Associate Professor of Biomedical & Health Sciences-Immunology, and Associate Dean, Pacific, at the University of Otago, Wellington.
2022 TE PUIAKI KAIWHAKAAKO PŪTAIAO SCIENCE TEACHER PRIZE
Any photography assignment where you visit the zoo and see Sunny the one eyed giraffe is a good one in my book!
And it’s obviously a place that has helped inspire students of Doug Walker who won the Prime Ministers Science Teachers Prize. Doug teaches at St Pats college here in Wellington and has collaborated with local partners like the zoo as well as Carter Observatory, NIWA and Te Papa to enhance learning experiences for his students and getting them interested in science.
2022 TE PUIAKI KAIPŪTAIAO ĀNAMATA FUTURE SCIENTIST PRIZE
And finally Benjy Smith won the Future Scientist Prize for research into mathematically modelling the behaviour of twisted elastic bands. This knowledge can be applied to many types of structural engineering.
Benjy was a Year 13 student at Onslow College when he finished his project and is now studying physics and computer science at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington this year and will no doubt go on to great things!
Thankfully no interstellar travel or MIQ was required for the shoot I did for this interactive NZ Festival Show created by Kip Chapman and Brad Knewstubb which is on now and getting great reviews.
The five talented actors beamed back to a studio in Wellington where I photographed them in a range of poses and various lighting set ups. It was a good opportunity, and fun, to use some creative lighting techniques that you generally don’t use on a lot of commercial work.
Calder Marshall comped the images together in the final image below and other images like the one you can currently see outside Te Papa.
It’s always fascinating to photograph scientists and to get a glimpse into the work that they undertake. These two shoots for Te Herenga Waka Victoria Universities magazine were no different.
The first is Dr Farah Lamiable-Ouladi and her team from Victoria Universities Ferrier Research Institute who are studying Krabbe Disease, ‘a devastating neurogenerative disorder that causes death within the first two years of life’.
And the second is for a story about the universities support of Maori and Pasifika students in STEM subjects (Science,Technology,Engineering,Mathematics)- featuring physics post grad students Tane Butler and Gabriel Bioletti .
No better place for a shoot of talented film composers (Plan 9 -aka David Donaldson, Janet Roddick and Steve Roche) than an unused swimming pool, church and a really nice studio filled with interesting looking instruments.
This shoot was for their new album entitled ‘The Bewilderness’ and available on Spotify and Bandcamp.
Wonderful to see this book I worked on throughout last year, ‘Ngā Kete Mātauranga’ launched this week and in bookstores now.
From Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland to Waihōpai/ Invercargill I travelled around Aotearoa and photographed twenty four Māori academics in locations that had a personal connection for each of them. It was a highly enjoyable project to work on and great to meet and photograph so many people with considerable mana and knowledge.
Professor Juliet A. Gerrard, the Prime Ministers Chief Science Advisor describes the book thus: ‘These deeply personal stories provide a portal into the te ao Māori world, which many outside it seek to understand, but struggle to find a frame in which to do so. The abstract concept of decolonising the tertiary workforce is brought to life and given meaning by these kōrero of strength, where the authors display courage and vision from within an environment so often hostile to Indigenous ways of knowing’.
The book is edited by Jacinta Ruru and Linda Waimare Nikora and published by Otago University Press with the assistance of the Royal Society Te Apārangi and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence.
A couple of fun days photographing down in Christchurh at several Kāinga Ora homes for people with disabilities. Myself and Sarah from Insight Design met some lovely residents as well as the absolutely wonderful and caring staff members as they went about their day.
…but NZ Rugby still looks like a good place to work and the trophy cabinets are still pretty full! This was a fun shoot for their Human Resources team showing the sort of work environment and friendly faces that potential employees could expect if they came to work at NZ Rugby.