2021 Festival 8-18 July

PreFest: Inspiring Scientist Zoom Series
Kids |Tweens |Teens

Zoom Series Update: Tuesday 29 June
Due to a high movie-making workload and issues relating to working in an ongoing pandemic, our last speaker in the Inspiring Scientist Zoom Series, London-based visual artist Pilar Seijo, is unable to present to schools tomorrow. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. 

Thank you to everyone who has tuned into the other speakers for this Zoom series. We have enjoyed bringing you inspiring scientist stories from around the world.


The NZ International Science Festival invites your school to be a part of our Inspiring Scientist Zoom series.

Register your school, receive the link, and beam in on the day to hear from a range of internationally-renowned scientists. Got a question? Send them to us and we will put them to our guests.

Our moderator for this series is Professor Christine Jasoni, a Neuroscientist at the University of Otago specialising in foetal brain development. Prof. Jasoni is a former Director of the University’s Brain Health Research Centre and is a Companion of the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

Siân Cleaver (DE) - 9 June

Siân Cleaver has been fascinated with space and the stars from a young age. After studying Physics and Astronomy at Durham University, she joined Airbus Defence and Space in the UK where she worked on designing and developing future European Space Agency (ESA) science and exploration missions. Siân currently serves as the Industrial Manager for the European Service Module - Europe’s contribution to NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

This module will provide the propulsion, power, water, oxygen and nitrogen required to return astronauts to the Moon in the coming years. Siân is passionate about inspiring the next generation – particularly young women – to take up careers in STEM, and is an active STEM ambassador. She was the Chair of the UK-based Women in Science and Engineering Young Professionals’ Board in 2017 and is an active Diversity and Inclusion champion within Airbus. In her free time, Siân enjoys gliding, astronomy, travel and scuba diving.

Dr. Karl (AU)

 - 15 June

Karl has degrees in Physics and Maths, Biomedical Engineering, Medicine and Surgery and has worked as a physicist, tutor, film-maker, car mechanic, labourer, and as a medical doctor at the Kids’ Hospital in Sydney.

 His enthusiasm for science is totally infectious and no one is better able to convey the excitement and wonder of it all than Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.

In 2002 he was honoured with the prestigious Ig Nobel prize awarded by Harvard University (USA) for his ground-breaking research into Belly Button Lint and why it is almost always blue.
 Karl has written (so far) 45 books, beginning with ‘Great Moments In Science’ in 1984, and includes such titles as ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So…’Bro’ (2006), which was launched, quite literally, via rocket at Sydney’s Bondi Beach (a world first).

In 2009 he wrote Never Mind The BULLocks…Here’s the Science’, developed a board game (‘Fact OR Fishy’), and his first music single, ‘Get Fact’. In August 2010 Karl’s 29th book, ‘Dinosaurs Aren’t Dead’, was released.

In November 2010, Karl’s 30th book, ‘Curious & Curiouser’, was released into the adult non-fiction market. Dr Karl released two kids’ activity books ‘Dr Karl’s Little Book of Dinos’ and ‘Dr Karl’s Little Books of Space’ in June 2017.

His latest book, with brilliant and funny illustrations, suitable for kids and adults alike, ‘Dr Karl’s Random Road Trip Through Science’ (2019) is also the first of his books to come with Augmented Reality! Watch Dr Karl pop up from the pages and introduce each chapter!

Thanks to the Australian High Commission NZ for making this talk possible.

Neil Gemmell (NZ) - 23 June
Neil recently gained global recognition for a modern-day investigation of one of the world’s most mysterious bodies of water, Loch Ness, using the latest eDNA (DNA in the environment) approaches.
The Loch Ness monster (Nessie), is one of Scotland’s most enduring tales. Alleged sightings have given birth to stories of a prehistoric creature living in the loch. Neil and his research team, analysed the environmental DNA — or genetic material shed by all life in Loch Ness — from around 250 samples of water collected from the lake and compared it to large databases of genetic sequences from known species. The scientists did not find evidence of DNA sequences similar to those predicted to come from a large extinct marine reptile. As a result, Neil is fairly certain that there is no "giant scaly reptile" swimming in the loch.
The team also explored the possibility of giant fish, (eg: catfish or sturgeon) being responsible for sightings, but that was a dead-end too. What they did find was a surprisingly large amount of eel DNA in the loch.
Neil Gemmell is a Sesquicentennial Distinguished Professor and holds the AgResearch Chair in Reproduction and Genomics at the University of Otago. His research blends ecology, population, conservation, and evolutionary biology with leading-edge genomic technologies. He has developed and applied new technologies to investigate the ecology and evolution of a variety of different species. A strong commitment to conservation has led Neil to develop new tools and research services for the conservation and biosecurity arenas.

Pilar Seijo (UK) - 30 June

Pilar is a London-based visual artist specialising in Visual effects for film and high end television. Her work includes Black Panther, Mission Impossible, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Bohemian Rhapsody, among other titles.

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