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GNS Science Staff Excellence Awards - 23/11/2016

GNS Science celebrated excellence and high achievement across a range of fields this week with the presentation of its 2016 Staff Excellence Awards.

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The Dinosaur Footprints team with GNS Science Board member, Dr John Sharpe (right). Photo: Margaret Low

The awards are presented annually to celebrate staff for conspicuous achievements and outstanding contributions to the organisation. Staff are nominated by their peers and a group of senior staff select the category winners.

Categories are Excellence in Science, Making a Difference, Commercial Services, Support Services, and Science Communication. There were 30 nominations across all five categories.

Geodesist and radar imagery specialist Ian Hamling (left) won the Excellence in Science category.  Ian's expertise in Satellite Radar Interferometry (InSAR) has made a huge impact on GNS Science's geological hazard investigations.

This has included deformation associated with earthquakes, volcanic processes and anthropogenic activities. Ian's work addresses fundamental research challenges concerning the effect of magma and faulting on the deformation of New Zealand’s crust.

This year he published work showing the deformation in the Matata region in Bay of Plenty is related to inflation of a previously unknown magma chamber, which probably caused of large swarms of earthquakes that have been observed there. In the three years he has been in New Zealand, he has produced a high output of research in top-notch science journals.

Graphic specialist Darren D'Cruz (right) won the Excellence in Support category. Darren's work covers every area of GNS’s activities, from promoting the company to visually communicating science.

His skill level in visual communication is unique in GNS Science. As well as turning out clever and stunning visuals that communicate exceptionally well, Darren goes well beyond ‘business as usual’ in his day to day work.

A team of scientists who designed and built a travelling exhibition won the Excellence in Science Communication category (Image, top).

Called ‘Dinosaur Footprints – A Story of Discovery’, the exhibition toured New Zealand for the past two years and has been seen by over 250,000 people. It tells the story of how dinosaurs once roamed New Zealand and a few of them left their footprints on the Nelson coast 70 million years ago. It is the first evidence that dinosaurs once lived in the South Island.

As well as raising public awareness of science and paleontology in particular, the exhibition has gained good exposure for both GNS Science and exhibition sponsor NZ Oil and Gas. The team who brought it all together are Greg Browne, Hamish

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Richard Sykes (left) & Daniel Mohhoff (right), GNS Science.

Campbell, Marianna Terezow, Lucia Roncaglia, John Simes, and Jude Benson of Benson & Associates. 

The Excellence in Commercial Services category went to petroleum geochemists Richard Sykes and Daniel Mohnhoff (left). The award recognises the leadership and scientific expertise of Richard in completing a geochemistry project for a petroleum exploration company operating overseas.

Richard developed the proposal, negotiated the contract, and led the technical component of the project. It involved co-ordinating analysis from three laboratories, interpreting the results, and compiling a 100-page report. The project was on time, on budget and received significant praise from the client.

The project exemplifies the high quality and technical expertise that characterises many of the consultancy projects that Richard and his team have delivered over the past decade.

The Excellence in Science Communications Award was won by science outreach specialist Julian Thomson (bottom, right).  Julian’s forte

is making excellent videos and other communication material covering a wide range of GNS Science activities.

His recent videos about the magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake have been picked up widely by international media. One of them, on the Papatea Fault that ruptured and raised some coastal areas in Marlborough by up to 2m, has been viewed nearly 400,000 times (Link to GNS Science YouTube)

Julian not only gives GNS Science a voice to the public, but also works effectively to educate future generations of scientists and citizens alike. He does a remarkable job of presenting science that is friendly and approachable without being “dumbed down.”