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Paula Blackett

BIO: Paula Blackett is an environmental social scientist with NIWA and is essentially a specialist generalist because of her mixed academic background having dabbled in ecology (freshwater and marine), planning, coastal geomorphology, climate change adaptation, farm systems, innovation systems, program evaluation and human geography.   Her specialist area is the integration of the human dimension into research programs and projects in order to improve social and environmental outcomes across multiple environmental domains.  At present, much of her work is on climate change adaptation and how we can better understand and adapt to the social impacts and implications of a changing climate.  Overall, she has a strong preference for research practices and methodologies which are inclusive of people and communities, the things that they value and the reality of their situated decision making.

ABSTRACT: 
Our science in an increasingly complex world – my experiences as a researcher, punctuated by a little bit of reflection, washed down by some rampant speculation.  
The world around us is in constant change and our roles as scientists must adapt. The what and how of our work is shaped by new opportunities and challenges arising from changes in how science is perceived and understood and with whom we engage (e.g. iwi/hapu, stakeholders, government). Ultimately this has generated a (r)evolution in how we go about our work and generate meaningful science for multiple publics. We juggle detailed disciplinary research and teaching, large complex interdisciplinary programmes, contracted research, and resource management forums and disputes.  Whatever we do, where ever we do it, we are expected to have an impact, whether this is to contribute new knowledge, inform management choices or influence practices – often it is a combination of all three. Concurrently, the decisions and tensions within marine spaces are more visibly contested than in previous generations.  I will provide a commentary on the evolving role of marine science through the lens of my experiences as a social scientist (who was previously an ecologist).  This will be with a view to exploring the challenges and opportunities we face in grappling with complex problems in socio-ecological systems.    
  
Talk Time: Wednesday 4 July 9.00am – 9.30am


Karin Bryan

BIO: Karin Bryan is professor of coastal processes at the University of Waikato. She studies hydrodynamics and sediment movement in nearshore and estuarine environments. Her recent focus is on climatic drivers and their interplay with complex morphologies that characterise New Zealand’s coast, and the role of coastal vegetation in mediating changes. Her research underpins sound management of flooding and erosion hazards, port development and the stability of coastal ecosytems. She leads a Marsden project on mangrove forest stability, and MBIE project on preparing guidelines for managing surfing resources. She is vice-speaker for the German Research Federation graduate school INTERCOAST, Fulbright fellow, and last year’s co-winner of the Kudos Environmental Sciences award.  Karin has been at the university since 2001. Prior to that she was a coastal scientist at NIWA after completing her PhD in physical oceanography at Dalhousie University in 1997.
 
ABSTRACT: Tides, surge, sealevel rise and the role of coastal vegetation
As the rate of sea-level rise around New Zealand reaches the 2mm/year mark, low-lying coastal land, built by sediment infilling since the last glaciation, is becoming particularly vulnerable to inundation. Hence, we are rapidly approaching a trigger point where marine scientists need to think more critically about how our risk of coastal flooding might change and how we can communicate these changes to effect adaptation.  Recent studies show that the complex natural environments that characterise our coastal zones can dissipate energy, forming a natural barrier (or ‘eco-defence’) to flooding. Coastal vegetation such as mangroves, with their dense above ground composition of stems, roots and leaves, are particularly well-adapted to this task.  Yet the degree to which such regulatory services can be provided by ecosystem-defences largely depends on the size of vegetation zones relatively to the spatial scale of the hydrodynamic events. Channelization and fragmentation of coastal forests can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of these barriers. Simultaneously, coastal vegetation can build new land by sediment trapping and below-ground biomass production. These processes provide ecosystem defences with a resilience that potentially allows them to withstand or recover from extreme events and to adapt to ongoing sea-level rise. Quantifying these protective services while providing probabilistic estimates of risk remains one of the key challenges for marine scientists in the coming decades.
  
Talk Time: Wednesday 4 July 9.30am – 10.00am
Melissa Foley

BIO: Melissa Foley is a senior scientist with Auckland Council. Her research focuses on understanding how connectivity across habitats, particularly at the land-sea interface, influences ecosystem structure and functioning in coastal habitats. She is also interested in understanding how connectivity is altered by natural and human-caused disturbances, such as wildfire, dam removal, coastal development, and climate change. She has also worked at the science-policy interface in NZ and the US on issues such as ecological thresholds, cumulative effects, ocean acidification, and ecosystem-based management, and marine spatial planning. Melissa has conducted research in New Zealand since 1999, starting with rocky intertidal reefs around the South Island. For the last four years, she has been involved in the Sustainable Seas Science Challenge to address issues around cumulative effects. Melissa earned her BS from Oregon State University and her PhD from the University of California Santa Cruz.  

ABSTRACT: Can collaborative, transdisciplinary science save marine ecosystems?
As human population continues to grow, the world’s ocean and coastal habitats are being used more heavily than ever and the strain on these systems is showing. Many of the environmental issues we are facing today have been important for decades. However, the accelerating rate of change in marine ecosystems has resulted in more focussed attention on coastal and marine issues. If we want these systems to continue to function and provide valuable ecosystem services, we need to get creative about how we solve these issues in an era of dwindling budgets, time, and resources. We also need to ensure the science we are doing is being used to inform resource management and policy in NZ and around the world. The solutions to the big issues facing marine ecosystems—including climate change, cumulative effects, and ecological thresholds—are multifaceted and complex and solving them requires working across multiple disciplines. Our ability to work together, to communicate effectively, and to implement novel solutions will determine our success in ensuring the presence and viability of marine ecosystems into the future.
  
Talk Time: Thursday 5 July 9.00am – 9.30am


Gabby O'Connor

BIO: Gabby O’Connor is an artist, transdisciplinary researcher, Antarctican, science communicator, educator and PhD candidate. Her work operates across multiple disciplines and audiences– between contemporary art, science communication and community action and looks at different entry points to conversations to marine science connected to a changing climate. She frequently collaborates with scientists, other artists, communicators, audiences and primary school-aged students. This strategy acts as an access-point for diverse communities to be part of the conversation around science with art as the delivery system.
Auckland University and NIWA and Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge (MBIE)

ABSTRACT: 
The Unseen: Connecting complex marine science to communities; Why is there an artist in the room?
Communicating research to all audiences is emerging as a cornerstone for 21st century science.   Here we discuss the value of using transdisciplinary art perspectives to enable unique communication strategies for engaging communities in science discussion. Art can remove the silos, hierarchies and rules for which ideas or knowledge are prioritised, putting all participants on the same democratic platform to engage with science. Here, I highlight The Unseen, an art-science collaborative research project that uses art as a delivery system to explore risk and uncertainty in the marine environment in the Sustainable Seas research area including Nelson/Tasman/Marlborough. The Unseen provides an alternate pathway that activates these communities through collaborative workshops connecting school children and scientists. This approach trades on connecting high quality science to art and an experience that comes to the communities. A key aspect is the development of an intergenerational strategy to community engagement that connects stakeholders to marine science research occurring locally.  The work spans collaborative science, education, co-production and art practice.  The result is an accelerated realisation of science communication outcomes by making connections between art, science and understanding. Through the guise of these two perceived opposite disciplines, space opens for more interconnected and creative thinking about the world around us and its possible futures.
  
Talk Time: Thursday 5 July 9.30am - 10.00am


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