Science Leadership Team

The Science Leadership Team is responsible for scoping, leading and advancing the development of The Deep South Challenge.

Dr Mike Williams stands outside, hills in the background

Dr Mike Williams (NIWA)


Mike’s research interests are in New Zealand's Deep South region, and are centred on ice-ocean interaction both in sea ice, and under Antarctica’s ice shelves. He is also interested in the changing climate in the Southern Ocean and New Zealand’s Subantarctic. Prior to starting at NIWA in 2001, Mike completed a PhD in oceanography at the University of Tasmania, and was an Assistant Research Professor at the University of Copenhagen, where he worked on coastal ocean circulation off Chile and tracking icebergs across the North Atlantic.

Phone: +64 4 386 0389

Lucy Jacob stands in field clouds and hills in background

Lucy Jacob (NIWA)

Challenge Manager

Lucy facilitates the smooth running of the Challenge across all programmes and partners.  She originates from the UK and has a background in marine science and psychology. Her career has focused on marine protected area design and development in coral island groups, with an emphasis on incorporating resilience principles and socioeconomic dynamics to management.  Lucy also has a keen interest in climate science and adaptation.  She has experience in socioeconomic research and participatory community workshops and has been a representative on various local government led working groups, including on climate change.  Prior to moving to New Zealand, she developed and managed international projects in the Pacific region with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

Phone: +64 4 382-1616

Dr Olaf Morgenstern stands on snow topped mountain

Dr Olaf Morgenstern (NIWA)

Earth System Modeling and Prediction

Olaf holds a PhD in meteorology and has worked in the UK and Germany on the development of atmospheric chemistry and chemistry-climate models. He has led chemistry-climate modelling at NIWA since 2009 and has been a Programme Leader since 2012. In addition, Olaf is a Principal Investigator of the core Capability and Clouds & Aerosols projects and the contestable Stratospheric Ozone project. The aim of the Capability project is to make available, support, and coordinate the development of the New Zealand Earth System Model (NZESM). The Clouds & Aerosols project is targeting the representation of Southern-Ocean clouds and aerosols, and the Stratospheric Chemistry project will improve the representation of stratospheric chemistry, particularly of the ozone layer, in the NZESM.


Phone: +64 4 386-0928

Sandy Morrison

Associate Professor Sandy Morrison (Waikato University) | Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Rārua ki te Tau Ihu, Ngāti Tama ki te Waipounamu

Vision Mātauranga

Sandy is tribally grounded, globally informed and whānau tested against the everyday realities in which whānau exist. From 2004-08, Sandy served as President of the Asia South Pacific Association for Adult and Basic Education (ASPBAE), the largest non-government organisation on adult education in the world. Sandy was also inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame by the University of Oklahoma. Her current position as the Assistant Dean (Academic) for the University of Waikato’s Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies allows her to continue to challenge the thinkers of tomorrow and concentrate on her research interests around Treaties, Adult Education and Indigenous Development. Sandy leads the Te Tai Uka a Pia (Iwi relationships with the Southern and Antarctic Oceans) project in the Vision Mātauranga programme, and is also part of the Culture and Climate Change project of the Engagement programme.

Phone: + 64 7 838 4737

Photograph of Dr. Wendy Saunders

Dr. Wendy Saunders (GNS Science)


Wendy is a social scientist specialising in land use planning and natural hazards – whether geological or weather-related, and including hazards that are exacerbated by climate change. Wendy has worked for many years at GNS Science, where a core part of her work is engaging with communities, councils and others, to improve the way natural hazards are incorporated into planning for land use. In 2013, Wendy was a World Social Science Fellow in Risk Interpretation and Action, and in 2017 she won a New Zealand Planning Institute award for best practice, in relation to an online hazard planning toolkit she developed for councils. She is also a member of the Mātauranga Māori and Governance programmes in the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges National Science Challenge. 

Deep South Challenge Engagement Team - Read more

Photograph of Dr Andrew Tait

Dr. Andrew Tait (NIWA)

Impacts & Implications

Andrew is a principal climate scientist at the National Climate Centre. He leads and manages multi-year, multi-organisation research contracts and interacts with internal and external modellers and assessors of climate data and related impacts. Andrew analyses and interprets climate data in response to commercial requests for information, oversees the provision of relevant up-to-date climate information on the NIWA webpages, and acts as a NCC liaison with the media. He also fosters and promotes effective end-user communication of climate science and its applications. 

Phone: +64 4 386 0562

Photograph of Adrian McDonald

Assoc Prof. Adrian McDonald (University of Canterbury)

Processes and Observations

Adrian is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Canterbury. His current research work focuses broadly on understanding the physical processes that underpin the working of the climate system. In particular, he concentrates on processes that are important in the polar regions and the influence of these processes on the rest of the Southern hemisphere. Adrian has strong connections in the polar research community built up during over 10 years leading fieldwork in Antarctica. For the Deep South, Adrian is currently a Principal Investigator of the Clouds & Aerosols project and the contestable Satellite Simulator project. In the Clouds & Aerosols project he is making targeted observations to help the representation of Southern-Ocean clouds and aerosols in the NZESM. The satellite simulator project aims to facilitate comparisons of satellite data and model output from the NZESM via the use of software simulation tools.

Phone: +64 (3) 364 2281

Latest news and updates

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Communicating Climate: report released!

It’s hard to believe the time that has passed since participants met in Wellington to share ideas and experiences about communicating climate change. For the Challenge engagement team, it feels like yesterday. We're pleased to be able to bring those of you who couldn't be there a vibrant report of the event, which was captured in live illustration, photography, audio, by scribe and later, in evaluations.

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"Changing with our Climate": May 2019 conference programme now available

From Monday 6 May to Wednesday 8 May, we're holding our conference at the Maritime Room on Auckland's waterfront.

Anne-Marie Rowe

Some doors close while others open: Challenge team update

We have some big announcements about the Deep South Challenge team. We're saying "Hello and welcome!" to our new Challenge Manager, Anne-Marie Rowe. We're also saying a sad farewell to our Impacts and Implications Programme Leader, Andrew Tait (at the same as offering him our congratulations for the huge role he's stepping into as NIWA's Chief Scientist - Climate, Atmosphere & Hazards). Andrew's decision means we are now also seeking applications to this role. Please read on for more information.