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Falling Walls Lab New Zealand Jury

Meet the Jury Members making the selection of the 2018 Winner of Falling Walls Lab New Zealand.

Professor Kathryn McPherson (Jury Chair)

Chief Executive, Health Research Council of New Zealand

Kathryn McPhersonProfessor McPherson has been the Chief Executive of Health research Council of New Zealand since 2015. She is an experienced public health researcher and has worked in the research field for over 20 years to improve the health of people with disabling conditions. Professor McPherson is author or co-author of more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles. Prior to being CE, she also served two terms on the HRC’s Public Health Research Committee. She is Chair of the 2018 PBRF Health Panel.

Professor McPherson holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. She has clinical experience in nursing midwifery and community health, and an academic background in psychology and rehabilitation. In addition to having held appointments at AUT University, the University of Otago, the University of Auckland, and Victoria University of Wellington, Professor McPherson has held Visiting Professor roles at a number of international universities.

Dr Kirsten Edgar

Future Insights Manager – Advanced Materials, Callaghan Innovation

Dr Kirsten EdgarKirsten joined Callaghan Innovation in 2014 and has a role at the interface between business and science/technology.  She works closely with New Zealand’s leading scientists and engineers, business leaders, and industry associations to help connect companies to the technology resources they need to develop new products.  Key elements of this role include technology foresighting and thought leadership, particularly around the implications of disruptive materials-based technologies within the New Zealand setting.  Kirsten holds a PhD in chemistry from Victoria University of Wellington.


Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi

Director - Pasifika, Massey University

Ass Prof Malakai KolomatamgiAssociate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi was born in Tonga but grew up in Auckland. Studying at the University of Auckland his thesis was entitled Constitutionalism, Culture and Democracy:  Tongan Politics Between 1991 and 1996.  His research interests include democratisation, democratic theory and practice, international political economy, Pacific politics and economic development and the universality of ideas. He has published in the area of democratisation, particularly in developing regions and the Pacific.

Associate Professor Koloamatangi was appointed Director of Pasifika at Massey University in 2013 where he encourages more Pasifika people to take part in university life and promotes research based on Pacific Island values, ethics and priorities.

Professor Phil Lester

Insect Ecology, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington

Prof Phil LesterProfessor Lester works at Victoria University of Wellington, where his research is in population dynamics and ecology of social insects. Invasive ants and social wasps in the Pacific region are a particular focus. He currently sits on the editorial board of the journals Biological InvasionsMyrmecological News and Integrative Zoology.  Professor Lester is the President of the Royal Society Te Aprangi (Wellington Branch) and has been the recipient of both a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship and a Royal Society Te Apārangi James Cook Fellowship. Having previously been Head of School for the School of Biological Sciences, and a prior President of the Entomological Society of New Zealand.

Veronika Meduna

New Zealand Editor for The Conversation

Veronika Meduna 2Veronika Meduna is the New Zealand editor for The Conversation, a not-for-profit media organisation working with academics to provide evidence-based news and current affairs analysis. She is an award-winning science/environment writer and broadcaster, with experience across all multi-media publishing platforms. Before joining The Conversation, she produced and hosted a weekly science programme for New Zealand’s public broadcaster RNZ, for which she won several journalism awards, including the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union’s prize for best documentary.

She has written several books on science, most recently Towards a Warming World, published by Bridget Williams Books, and Science on Ice: Discovering the Secrets of Antarctica, published by Auckland University Press and, in an international edition, by Yale University Press. This book was a finalist in the 2013 Science Book awards.

Veronika contributes to other broadcasters and publications in New Zealand and internationally, including the NZ Listener, NZ Geographic, New Scientist and Deutsche Welle. 

Monique Surges

CEO German-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Inc 

Monique SurgesAfter working in Germany within the Fashion & Pharmaceutical Industry and in Santo Domingo Monique returned to New Zealand in 1993 to assist in growing The German-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Inc. The German-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Inc (GNZCC) is uniquely positioned to help both New Zealand and German businesses and individuals through an increasingly competitive global market environment. Partially funded by the German Ministry of Economics, the GNZCC aims to assist companies in both New Zealand and Germany 'do business together'. 


Jury assessment of presentations

The Jury will assess the presentations based on the following criteria:

  • Breakthrough factor – Does the idea have originality and potential for innovation?
  • Relevance/Scope of impact – Who does the project address? What is the potential impact and scope of the idea?
  • Structure/Performance: Is the presentation well structured, is the idea behind your work clear? Does the candidate deliver a proof of concept?



More information on the scoring and the weighting of each criteria is available here.