Hello and welcome to my page.
I love teaching all aspects of astronomy and space sciences but especially to help beginners, teachers and students to get started in this wonderful subject.
My favourite learning is that we are literally made of stardust. This is the most profound and amazing connection we have with each other.
My career path
I am an astrobiologist. I first trained as horticultural engineer then studied environmental management, biosecurity, international security and planetary protection. I have been a keen amateur astronomer for my entire life, and have been stargazing for more than twenty years.
I am very passionate about understanding the big picture of how to take care of our planet and ourselves. I want my species to survive and thrive, to become a space faring civilisation. I am also very excited about a future that we can co-create for the better. Space exploration, as I see it, is first and foremost about us, humans. It is about our courage to overcome our limitations and fears, about being curious and kind, and understand how to move humanity forward. It is our collective intelligence and participation that is changing the world and I believe everyone can make a difference for that.
Science is the language of the future that we all have to end up speaking it because it explains how everything works. This is why I am so keen about promoting science. The miracle is life itself.
What I currently do
I’m a co-Director of Milky-Way.Kiwi, Executive Director for the New Zealand Astrobiology Network and Senior Science Communicator for Space Place at Carter Observatory in Wellington.
I’m a founding board member of Kiwispace and the New Zealand Mars Society. I also volunteer for the World Space Week Association. I am in the executive committee of SCANZ.
Astronomy and space outreach
I’ve been doing astronomy outreach since the turn of the millennium. By 2002 I was a guest writer of the UNESCO-endorsed Science and Technology magazine in Romania where I wrote my first article on “What is life”, which marked the beginning of my astrobiology career. I arrived in New Zealand in 2005 and worked as a planetarian at Carter Observatory. In 2007, l led the production of a Polynesian Navigation festival for Carter Observatory, and in 2009 for the Society for Maori Astronomy and Tourism (SMART).
In 2009, the International Year of Astronomy, I designed, interviewed astrophotographers across New Zealand and put together New Zealand’s first astrophotography magazine Milky Way Kiwi. This is now www.milky-way.kiwi, this online platform.
I’m a Martian
I’m the first New Zealander to lead an analog mission and train for living on Mars at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. This got me an invite to be a speaker at TEDx Christchurch in 2013. I was very lucky to share the Mars experiences with thousands of students in Wellington and greater area, thanks to the amazing Susan Weekes at Futureintech. This lead to other Mars analog missions in New Zealand and abroad, as well as astrobiology school projects we delivered in New Zealand.
The Mars missions inspired my subsequent work on space science communication: KiwiMars2012, Tasmars 2013, World Space Week Mars Mission 2013, Spaceward Bound New Zealand 2015 and Spaceward Bound New Zealand for Youth 2016. In 2018, we organised a one-week Mars immersive project for schools, Synergies in Space. Right now, we are preparing the first permanent Mars Exhibition in New Zealand, which will be hosted by Stonehenge Aotearoa.
As one of my favourite activities to do is talk about space, I love to let people know how much learning about the Universe and our place in it inspires me every day. For all these talks and events I’ve been organising, I got to be a finalist on the NEXT Magazine Woman of the Year award 2019, finalist of the Wellingtonian of the Year award 2015, and got awarded the International Year of Astronomy 2009 certificate of appreciation.
Watch here my talk at TEDx Christchurch in 2013.