ActInSpace NZ is over for 2018 – stay tuned to find out more about how the winning team from Christchurch does in the international finals, and about the next global ActInSpace event in 2020.

Our judges are:
Professor Ian Wright
Victoria MacLennan
Seyed Miri
Michelle Dickinson
Peter McComb

Bios below:

We are excited to announce that our first confirmed judge for ActInSpace NZ is Professor Ian Wright, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Canterbury:

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Professor Ian Wright has been the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at University of Canterbury since August 2016. Ian has a significant personal research career, coupled with extensive experience in research and technological leadership and management, having previously worked at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in Wellington, New Zealand. His personal research has included study on submarine arc volcanism, submarine hydrothermal venting, carbon capture and storage, and seafloor methane emissions. At NIWA he was the Centre Leader for Coasts and Oceans, and then spent eight years at the National Oceanography Centre / University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.

His time in the UK included four years as Director of Science and Technology at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), and a member of the UK Natural Environment Research Council Science Board. During his time at NOC, he led groups including all facets of marine science, including global scaled ocean modelling, underwater autonomous vehicle development, and chemical micro-sensor development, and satellite oceanography – the latter group were working on developing and sustaining cost-effective satellite observations of the global and coastal ocean so as to deliver state-of- the-art operational oceanography and environmental monitoring, and were collaborating with Astrium, European Space Agency, Airbus Defence, and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, on developing new sensors and algorithm validation for surface ocean parameters.

With his return to New Zealand in 2016, Professor Wright is responsible for research and innovation, and teaching programmes across the entire University of Canterbury, and sits on a number of New Zealand National Science Challenges governance groups, and on the boards of Brain Research New Zealand and the Medical Technologies Centres of Research Excellence, and the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation, and New Zealand Brain Research Institute. He oversees the UC’s Research and Innovation Office, and is involved with a number of nascent space, remote sensing, and aeronautic projects that are focussed around the Canterbury region and working with UC.

Our second judge is Victoria MacLennan, Managing Director of OptimalBI:

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Victoria is passionate about many things – growing great companies, raising digital literacy, growing the economy of New Zealand and equality. 

Her day job is Managing Director of data and information specialists OptimalBI one of the OptimalHQ group of companies she co-owns. Victoria invests in Digital Technology businesses and supports a number of businesses through advisory and governance roles.

Victoria’s community contributions include co-Chair of NZRise a community of NZ owned digital and technology companies, Chair of the Digital Skills Forum a cross government and industry initiative focusing on the future of work, and Chair of Code Club Aotearoa a fabulous charity established to give every kiwi kid the opportunity to learn to code.

She is a member of the Digital Inclusion and Digital Economy, Ministerial Advisory Group.

Often found laughing, Victoria loves what she does “We live in a great country so helping every New Zealander reach their potential in life is something we can all aspire to achieve”. 

Victoria MacLennan is on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Our third judge is Seyed Miri, Applications and Solutions Manager Australia Pacific, Intelligence-TMDI for Airbus Defence and Space:

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Seyed is specialised in remote sensing and GIS and has worked in Earth Observation and Geospatial business sector during past 18 years in NZ and Australia holding remote sensing lead positions in various companies.

He has been actively involved in several key national scale climate change/forestry/economic analysis related initiatives and projects that satellite data were used as one of the key inputs in the region. He joined Airbus in 2013 and is currently based in Melbourne and managing business development activities in various territories in Australia and NZ.

As an “Applications and Solutions” Manager his key interests are developing and adopting new solutions and services for Airbus Intelligence business in ANZ region using optical and radar satellite data.

Our fourth judge is Michelle Dickinson, also known as Nanogirl!

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Dr Michelle Dickinson is a nanotechnologist on a mission to increase the diversity in the science and tech fields.

As founder of Nanogirl Labs, Michelle manages STEM outreach programs across five countries in five different languages.  She is also an honorary academic in the Engineering Faculty at The University of Auckland.

Author of The Kitchen Science Cookbook and co-author of No 8. Recharged, Michelle is passionate about growing New Zealand innovation and helping others to turn their ideas into a commercial reality.

Winner of The Prime Ministers Prize for Science Communication and awarded a New Zealand Order Of Merit, Michelle’s work in science communication has been recognised and celebrated. 

As fracture mechanics engineer, Michelle is formally trained in breaking materials but she is now dedicating her life to breaking stereotypes. 

Our fifth and final judge is Peter McComb


Dr Peter McComb is a physical oceanographer and the founder / manager of MetOcean Solutions. He is a Trustee of The Space Science Technology Trust, which is the majority shareholder of CSST, and a keen supporter of using earth observation in new and interesting ways.  

Register for ActInSpace.