Night of Ideas 2019 - Presentation of guest and key speakers
Michelle Dickinson, aka “Nanogirl”
With a background in fracture mechanics, Michelle Dickinson is formally trained in breaking engineering components, but is passionate about devoting her life to breaking stereotypes through her science and media work on National TV and radio. Michelle has worked exclusively with billionaires and brilliant minds, offering her input and helping to design technologies for a sustainable future. A kitesurfer, casual rock climber and martial artist, Michelle works hard to inspire females to push the boundaries in both science and sports and to encourage sustainable living through engineering design. As well as being the founder and Director of Nanogirl Labs Ltd, Michelle has also authored two books, No 8 Recharged and The Kitchen Science Cookbook.
Michelle has been the recipient of a number of prestigious awards: Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (2015), Women of Influence Award for science and innovation (2016), the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award (2015), the Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize (2014) and the New Zealand Association of Scientists Science Communicators Award (2014).
As the Director of the Agency for the Development of Kanak Culture and of the Tjibaou cultural centre in Nouméa, New Caledonia, Emmanuel Tjibaou has been dedicating himself for a few years in developing a plural artistic and cultural dialogue. In 2018, through the documentary In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Spirits, he questions History as well as his own story, also including that of his father, Jean-Marie Tjibaou, the leader of the separatist movement.
Karin Serres is a French writer. From children’s books to stage plays, she enjoys exploring the various facets of storytelling. She is the 2019 laureate of the Randell Cottage Writer’s Residence and will stay in New Zealand for five months. Many of her books, such as Birdless World (2013) and her latest fantasy novel, Happa no ko: people of leaves (published last October) question the future of humankind and our relationship with nature.
Emanuele Coccia is a philosopher and Associate professor at the Higher School of Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris. Some of his works, such as Sensible Life (2010) or The Good in Things (2014), reflect on human condition. In his latest essay, The Life of Plants (2018), he initiates an innovative reflection on plants, which are, according to him, often neglected in the history of human thought: how do they shape our world, and what can we learn from them? Emanuele Coccia thus invites us to partake in a “philosophy of ecology".
Daniel Neely has been working for almost a decade at the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office. As the Manager of Community Resilience and Regional Group Recovery Manager, he helps Kiwis become better prepared for emergencies such as earthquakes, tsunamis or big storms. He works in partnership with communities in order to improve disaster resilience. He also knows a good croissant when he sees one.
Danielle Shanahan is Zealandia’s Manager of Conservation, Research, Learning and Experience.
Her training in Biology and Wildlife Management allowed her to combine science and outdoor experience. She traveled the world investigating conservation issues, from Myanmar to Mongolia, but it is at the heart of Zealandia urban ecosanctuary that she chose to explore the extraordinary relationship between humans and nature.
Duncan Steel is a space researcher who has worked in the UK, USA, Canada, Sweden, Australia and NZ, including for NASA and the European Space Agency. He is the author of four popular-level books, many research papers, over a thousand articles in newspapers and magazines, and has appeared in hundreds of TV documentaries and radio programmes. Minor planet 4713 Steel is named for him, as is a lunar-roving robot in one of Arthur C. Clarke’s science-fiction novels. He now works at NZ’s Centre for Space Science Technology.
Paul Stanley Ward
Through his involvement in Polhill Protectors, Paul Stanley Ward has made it his personal mission to facilitate the return of Aotearoa’s avian originals to the city: by freeing gardens and reserves of introduced pests and by educating people on how to do it.
That is why, as the developer of Wild Eyes, he provides native wildlife experience to Kiwi kids to help them reconnect to their land, similar to his own outdoor education as a ’bird nerd’ child.
His latest project, Capital Kiwi, aims at restoring the iconic bird to Wellington’s back doorstep.
Ralph Sims is Professor Emeritus of Sustainable Energy at Massey University. He also is a long-time contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as a consultant for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN on climate mitigation, food and rural development. His sustainability projects and reports revolve around climate change impacts and renewable energy policies.
Taciano Milfont is an Associate Professor at Victoria University of Wellington as well as the co-director of its Centre for Applied Cross-Cultural Research (CACR). Both his training in psychology and his academic background led him to consider the social implications of sustainability. His current research concentrates on individual differences to sustainability and on the impact of social dominance on human-environment interactions.
Maia is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāpuhi and Te Rarawa descent. She is a Director of boutique law firm, Whāia Legal, specialising in resource management and environmental law, public law and policy, Māori governance, civil litigation and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Prior to joining Whāia Legal, Maia worked for the Office of Tribal Attorney of the largest federally recognised tribe in California, the Yurok Tribe. She was also an Associate at Kāhui Legal, the firm that worked on the Whanganui River settlement, affording legal personality to the river. Maia has a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy from Stanford Law School.