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Leadership Team

The GNS Science Leadership Team comprises the member of the Executive, the Heads of Department from the three science divisions, and the General Managers from the corporate divisions.
The co-chairs are Kevin Faure and Joe Manning. 

Natural Hazards Division

Geological Resources Division

Environment and Materials Division

External Relations & Commercialisation Division

Corporate Services Division

Ken Gledhill

GEOHAZARDS MONITORING, Natural Hazards Division.
Ken Gledhill.
Ken manages of the GeoHazards Monitoring Department which consists of more than 30 staff. The main focus of the department is the operation of the GeoNet project, but staff are also involved in other GNS Science projects. The GeoNet project is funded by the Earthquake Commission. Dr Gledhill, who has been with GNS Science for more than 20 years, has had a long involvement in the monitoring of geological hazards and the design and operating geophysical instruments, as well as the science of seismology. He is the co-designer of the EARSS digital seismograph which was used in the New Zealand National Seismograph Network until replaced by the new GeoNet instruments. He has worked in a consultancy role in the design of geophysical monitoring systems internationally. He is also a major contributor to investigations of the nature and state of stress of the crust and mantle beneath New Zealand . With Dr Martha Savage of Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) and VUW students, he has published widely in this area of research.

 GeoHazards Monitoring has a mainly operational focus, with expertise in the acquisition, digital transportation, processing and storage of large quantities of geophysical and geochemical data, as well as the sciences required to develop and maintain this capability. GeoNet is a modern geological hazard monitoring and data collection system for New Zealand , and the project is being undertaken by GNS Science on a not-for-profit basis for all New Zealanders. GeoNet is a connected network of data recording instruments, automated software applications and skilled staff to detect, analyse and respond to earthquakes, volcanic activity, large landslides, tsunami, and the slow deformation of the New Zealand landscape.

David Burbidge

TECTONOPHYSICS, Natural Hazards Division.
David Burbidge.
David Burbidge is a geophysicist specialising in earthquake and tsunami hazard assessment and became head of the Tectonophysics Department at GNS Science in 2014. After completing a PhD in geodynamic modelling from the Australian National University in 2001, David started work as a Research Geophysicist at Geoscience Australia (GA) before becoming the head of the Earthquake Hazard Section at GA in 2009. During this time he has developed extensive experience in earthquake and tsunami hazard assessments and plate modelling. Major projects he led or had a major contribution to during this period include the 2012 update to the national earthquake hazard map for Australia and the 2009 national near shore probabilistic tsunami hazard map for Australia.

The Tectonophysics Department comprises around 25 staff with expertise in seismology, geophysics, geodesy, crustal geodynamics, earthquake and volcano deformation modelling, hazard and risk assessment, and tsunami modelling. Scientists in the department work closely with the GeoNet Project, and are funded from natural hazards and plate tectonics research programmes, from Earthquake Commission and Marsden research grants, and from extensive consulting work.


RISK AND SOCIETY, Natural Hazards Division.
Hannah Brackley.
The Risk and Society Department comprises around 20 scientists with expertise in hazard and risk modelling, risk assessment, engineering seismology, earthquake engineering and social science; land-use planning for natural hazards, risk communication, emergency management, and community resilience building. We work with central and local government, CRIs, universities, research centres and commercial organisations on collaborative projects. Funding comes from MBIE, Earthquake Commission, QuakeCore and National Science Challenges, and from consulting work in NZ and overseas. 

Hannah has a technical background with 8 years of research experience in the areas of sedimentology, biogeochemistry and erosion-related carbon transfers. She joined GNS Science in 2005 in a business development role, then in 2009 was appointed Head of the Tectonophysics Department. In 2014 she joined the Natural Hazards Research Platform – initially as Manager of Policy and Strategy for 18 months, followed by 10 months as Interim Platform Manager. In October 2016 she was appointed Head of the Risk and Society Department.

Rob Smilie

REGIONAL GEOLOGY, Natural Hazards Division.
Rob Smillie
The Regional Geology Department comprises 20 staff based at the Dunedin and Avalon offices. The Department acquires, manages and provides authoritative underpinning regional geoscience information and knowledge that is used by a variety of stakeholders to make New Zealand safer, more prosperous and cleaner. Through fieldwork and technology, the Department also makes New Zealand’s geological maps, taking a 150-year legacy into the 21st Century. To achieve this, staff apply their expert and diverse range of skills, including petrology, geochemistry, geochronology, geophysical interpretation, GIS and cartography, and 3D geological modelling. The Department is also custodian to a number of Nationally Significant Databases.

Rob is Head of Department for Regional Geology and is a geologist with a background in the mining and minerals exploration industry.  He has worked with a number of commercial and public-sector companies throughout New Zealand, Australia and SE Asia over a 25-year period in the search for new mineral resources. Rob also has an interest in Information Economics and the role this plays in the allocation of resources property rights. He received his MSc degree from Otago in 1989 and MBA degree from Victoria University in 2001.

Nico Fournier

VOLCANOLOGY, Natural Hazards Division.
Nico Fournier
Nico is a volcanologist specialising in geophysics and physical volcanology and heads the Volcanology Department at GNS Science. Prior to his coming to New Zealand in 2009, Nico conducted research and monitored volcanoes in Europe, Central and South America and the Eastern Caribbean. After a PhD in Volcanology in the UK and a short post-doctoral fellowship in France he held a research fellowship at the Seismic Research Centre in Trinidad, W.I. between 2004 and 2009. He was also director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory in 2008-2009 and was heavily involved in the response to the late 2008 - early 2009 eruptions at Soufriere Hills volcano. Nico is Associate Editor for Journal of Geophysical Research and Frontiers in Volcanology and is actively involved in the international research community. He has a wide range of research interests, from volcano-tectonics interactions to the physics of hydrothermal systems, most of them ultimately leading to improved volcano monitoring.

The Volcanology Department comprises around 18 staff who specialise in volcano surveillance and research. We monitor New Zealand's active volcanoes through the GeoNet project, funded by the Earthquake Commission. We work closely with other government departments, academic institutions and commercial organisations on collaborative research projects. Our scientific staff include volcano seismologists, geochemists, geodesists and volcanic geologists.

Nicola Litchfield

ACTIVE LANDSCAPES, Natural Hazards Division.
Nicola Litchfield.
The Active Landscapes Department comprises 23 staff, who specialise in engineering geology, geotechnical engineering, earthquake geology and geomorphology. Research focuses on understanding landslide, geomechanical, active fault, and landscape processes and the department houses two nationally significant databases, the New Zealand Landslide Database and the New Zealand Active Faults Database. We provide consulting services to a wide range of national and international government agencies and companies.

Nicola is an earthquake geologist / tectonic geomorphologist, who joined GNS Science in 2001 and became head of the Active Landscapes Department in 2014. She has extensive experience in active faulting, fluvial and marine terrace, and landscape evolution studies. She was leader of the MARGINS Source-to-Sink New Zealand research programme, and project manager of the Port Hills landslide life safety risk project. She has been involved in numerous national and international seismic hazard studies, including developing a global active fault database for the Global Earthquake Model project.

Rob Funnell

PETROLEUM GEOSCIENCE, Geological Resources Division.
Rob Funnell.
Rob heads the Petroleum Geoscience Department which consists of around 24 scientists and technical staff who collectively have expertise in sedimentology, petroleum geochemistry, sequence stratigraphy, geomodelling, borehole image log interpretation, carbon dioxide sequestration, seismic attribute analysis and basin modelling. This multi-disciplinary team are focussed on better understanding New Zealand’s sedimentary basins, increasing resource security and economic benefit from petroleum exploration, and leading research into petroleum systems and the potential future adoption of new energy technologies.

Rob is a geophysicist specialising in thermal modelling of sedimentary basins, the development of basin models to quantify petroleum prospectivity and risk, and storage aspects of carbon dioxide sequestration. He has led numerous consultancy projects and undertaken a range of programme, objective and project leadership roles within GNS and its predecessor organisations over the last 23 years. Rob has MSc degrees in physics from the University of Waikato and geophysics with DIC from the University of London.

Greg Bignall

GEOTHERMAL SCIENCES, Geological Resources Division.
Greg Bignall.
Greg Bignall joined GNS Science in 2004, after a three-year research/faculty appointment at Tohoku University (Japan), where he held a key role in the JSPS-NEDO funded Japanese HDR research programme for Enhanced Geothermal Systems. He has a PhD (Geothermal Geology) from The University of Auckland (1995) and previously worked for Kingston Morrison Ltd. (now Sinclair Knight Merz).

At GNS Science, he is Head of the Geothermal Sciences Department, and is currently Programme Leader for GNS's Geothermal Research Programme. Greg has more than 80 major/reviewed publications and more than 180 technical reports for commercial clients, particularly related to geothermal exploration, resource assessments and well services, for clients in New Zealand, and also in Indonesia, Japan, Chile and elsewhere. His research interests focus on fluid-mineral interactions, fluid inclusion studies, permeability controls and evolution of active geothermal systems. He was recipient of Royal Society of New Zealand “Presidents’ Award” 2011; for “research based technology enhancing renewable geothermal energy used in New Zealand”

Lucia Roncaglia

PALEONTOLOGY, Geological Resources Division.
Lucia Roncaglia.
Lucia Roncaglia received her MSc in Geology and PhD in Paleontology from Modena University, Italy in 1991 and 1995 respectively. She has about 20 years of experience achieved by working in New Zealand (GNS Science), Denmark (Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, and DONG Energy Ltd) and Italy (ENI). Her main expertise is in the study of stratigraphy and depositional environments of Late Cretaceous to Recent sediments through the analysis of marine palynology and she is the senior author of several scientific publications. Also, she is trained Operations geologist and coordinated well operations in the Danish sector of the North Sea from 2005.

Lucia joined GNS Science in 2006. Currently, she is leading a team of about 20 scientists and technical staff who specialise in stratigraphy and paleoenvironmental studies. The department includes the largest group of paleontologists in the Southern Hemisphere and houses the National Paleontology Collection. It provides services to the petroleum industry and has much sought-after capability in forensic palynology. Government funded research focuses on petroleum exploration, climate change and geohazards.

Vaughan Stagpoole

MARINE GEOSCIENCE, Geological Resources Division.
Vaughan Stagpoole.
The geologists, geophysicists and geochemists of the Marine Geoscience Department have led voyages to study the structure, evolution, and resources of the Southwest Pacific, Ross Sea and other oceans for over 20 years. Large parts of New Zealand’s ocean territory are relatively unknown, and exploration of these areas is an important component of the department's science, which also provides unique constraints for understanding the tectonic processes that control the distribution of onshore hazards and resources. Studies of active hydrothermal systems offshore give insights into the thermal and fluid flow history of the plate boundary as well as the processes of mineral deposit formation.

The Marine Geoscience Department staff help lead New Zealand’s UNCLOS Continental Shelf Project, and their research increases the knowledge of this marine territory so that government policy can guide the use of the ocean rather than react to it. Dr Vaughan Stagpoole is the Marine Geoscience Department manager at GNS Science in Lower Hutt. He is a geophysicist specialling in basin modelling and research on the formation and development of sedimentary basins. Recently he has been involved in the assessment of the petroleum prospectivity of New Zealand's frontier sedimentary basins and has been part of the technical team providing advice to New Zealand’s Continental Shelf Project. Vaughan has been at GNS Science since 1992. He received his PhD from Victoria University of Wellington in 1998 and since then has worked in the Geological Resources Division at GNS Science.

Mike Sim

ISOTOPE BIOGEOSCIENCES, Environment and Materials Division.
Mike Sim.
Mike is Head of Department for Isotope Biogeosciences, which includes the Rafter Radiocarbon Lab, the GNS Science Stable Isotope Lab, the Cosmogenic Isotope & Radiochemistry Labs, and the National Ice Core Research Laboratory. Key equipment in the department includes five stable isotope instruments and the world's first compact accelerator mass spectrometer for routine radiocarbon measurement with an extended capability for Be-10 and Al-26. The department has 24 staff working in wider environmental research using isotopes to answer questions. Mike is also the Business Development Manager for Isotope Biogeosciences and manages the commercial services offered by these labs.

Mike holds a BSc(Chem) from Victoria University of Wellington and joined GNS Science in 2009 following a 25-year career in oil, petrochemical, and energy companies in New Zealand and overseas, plus a period at MED (now MBIE) advising Government .

Joe Manning

MATERIALS AND AIR, Environment and Materials Division.
Joe Manning.
Joe Manning leads the Materials and Air Department. The Materials and Air Department has a range of specialist capabilities in nano-materials analysis and fabrication. It has a history of developing novel nanostructured materials for applications in electronics and manufacturing industries through the use of its sensor and coatings technologies. The Department operates a range of techniques that enable manufacturers to develop materials - usually metal - with superior physical, magnetic, electrical, and optical properties. This gives improved lifetime performance and greater utility. Industries where this technology can apply include medicine, agriculture, energy production, food processing, high-value manufacturing, transport and construction. The Department also provides an extensive research programme on air quality, assessing the sources of air particulate pollution for Regional Councils in New Zealand as well as agencies throughout South East Asia.

Stewart Cameron

HYDROGEOLOGY, Environment and Materials Division.
Stewart Cameron.
Stewart Cameron is Head of Department for Hydrogeology.
The Hydrogeology Department includes scientists with expertise in physical and chemical hydrogeology, isotopic sciences, geophysics, computer modelling and data management. Our research and consultancy projects include mapping the recharge zones of major groundwater resources, determination of groundwater age and security of supply, measurement and computer modelling of the direction and rate of groundwater flow and relationships with surface waters, characterisation of water quality, and development and modelling of novel systems for water and wastewater treatment.

Rob Johnston

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, External Relations & Commercialisation
Rob Johnston
BSc, Dip ORS, Dip Tchng
Rob’s portfolio includes managing the Company’s commercial operations and intellectual property issues. Rob joined GNS Science in 2004. He has extensive experience in managing information systems, corporate functions and processing operations in New Zealand companies. This includes senior positions with Tasman Forestry and with Public Trust.


Ian Graham

RESEARCH, External Relations & Commercialisation
Ian Graham
PhD, Victoria University of Wellington
Ian is responsible for maintaining an overview of Government-funded research across the organisation. He monitors the quality and delivery of contracted and core-funded research, seeks ways to maintain viable research revenue streams, and ensures that lines of communication with Government funding bodies, other Crown Research Institutes and universities are open and constructive. Ian is an isotope geochemist with applied expertise in volcanology, mineralisation, climate change, and basement geohistory.

Bevan Hunter

MAORI STRATEGY, External Relations & Commercialisation
Bevan Hunter
Bevan Joined GNS in November of 2015 and was appointed to the position of General Manager Maori relationships and commercialisation.  He has worked for the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Fisheries (now Ministry of Primary Industries) where he worked in Maori relationships. Bevan is of Ngati Porou descent and comes to GNS from the Environmental Protection Authority where he worked in the Maori Policy and Operations team (Kaupapa Kura Taiao).  Bevan has a passion for working with iwi is the Deputy Chairman for Te Runanga o Ngati Porou ki Hauraki.  Bevan has an Honours degree in Applied Science and a Diploma in Te Reo Maori.

STRATEGY, External Relations & Commercialisation

Stacey Perrett

Stacey Perrett
Stacey Perrett joined GNS in 2015 as General Manager of the Information Services Team. The Information Services team provides Software Development, IT support and Infrastructure, Records Management and Library services to GNS staff and external stakeholders. Stacey has a background of 20 years in IT with a range of organisations such as Deloitte, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Opus and SKM. The most recent roles being NZ IT Manager at Opus International Consultants and CIO at the NZ Commerce Commission.

Brent Denham

FINANCE MANAGER, Corporate Services
Brent Denham
Brent joined GNS in late 2007. Brent has experience in internal and external audit, business advisory services and as a Finance Manager in both commercial and government sectors in New Zealand and Europe.