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Wellington, New Zealand!

  • Meow 9 Edward Street Wellington, Wellington, 6011 New Zealand (map)

From cancer biology and island ecology to questions of art and love, we'll explore the deeply human side of science. Join us for this very special performance and The Story Collider's first-ever New Zealand show!


This show is made possible by the generous support of the Science Communicators Association (SCANZ). Discount for SCANZ members, plus first 50 SCANZ members to arrive will get $5 off first drink at the bar. For more info or to join see:

Hosted by Erin Barker and Liz Neeley.



When Cather Simpson graduated from high-school in the USA, she was certain she was going to become a neurosurgeon. She was very, very wrong. In her first year at uni, she got discovered scientific research and got completely hooked. She is now a Professor of Physics and Chemical Sciences at the University of Auckland, where she runs a super-fun laser lab called the Photon Factory. The Photon Factory uses exotic pulsed lasers to enable all New Zealand scientists accomplish their goals, from improving products for industry to helping school students with science fair projects. Working with the Photon Factory’s 25+ extraordinary physicists, chemists and engineers, Cather gets to study everything from how molecules convert light into more useful forms of energy to how to sort sperm by sex for the dairy industry. When she’s not enjoying the pleasure and satisfaction from using lasers to solve the knotty problems presented by Mother Nature, she’s doing puzzles with her partner Tom and being “Schrodinger’s Mom” – simultaneously the world’s best and worst mother – to two lovely teenage boys.


Ed Yong is an award-winning science journalist who reports for The Atlantic, and his work has also appeared in National Geographic, the New Yorker, Wired, Nature, New Scientist, Scientific American, and many more. His first book, I CONTAIN MULTITUDES, was a New York Times bestseller, and has appeared on Bill Gates' blog, Mark Zuckerberg's bedside table, and Jeopardy! 


Keoni Mahelona - Aloha. O Keoni koʻu inoa. No Hawaiʻi au. I tēnei wā, noho au i Taipā. I'm a melting pot of diversity in so many ways - ethnicity, education, hobbies, sexuality, and possibly personality hahahahaha. I've had a seemingly random journey through engineering, business, and science that's somehow thrown me into media. Today I work at a Māori social enterprise whose mission is to promote and preserve te reo Māori o Muriwhenua, and we use science and innovation to create the tools we need to achieve our mission. My story is about my journey with science and technology as a Kanaka Māoli and how I ended up in the Far North of New Zealand. I hope my story will encourage other Māori and Pacific Islanders to pursue a future in STEM.  


Melanie McConnell has a life-long interest in cancer cell biology. She has studied pediatric, brain, breast, and skin cancers, all to better understand the intricate process of gene regulation. After establishing the Cancer Stem Cell programme at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, she joined the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research is aimed at reducing relapse and improving to life-saving cancer therapies by understanding how cancer cells survive chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation treatment. She’s currently focused on the role of mitochondria in therapy resistance. In her real life, she is married to Richard, is mum to two girls, and spends her time with them and the dog, making compost and tending to the weeds in her vege garden.


Sophie Fern fell in love biology and adventure at the same time, through family trips to the beach and the books of Arthur Ransome.  She holds a BScHons in marine biology from Bangor University and an MA in biology from Boston University.  In New Zealand she has had parallel careers in science teaching and science writing and has just started a PhD at Otago University on the effect of non-human charisma on conservation.  She would like to go to all of New Zealand’s offshore islands and, as there are about 600, she has 580 to go!


Ross Stevens directs the Industrial Design Programme at Victoria University of Wellington. Ross has been a practicing Industrial designer for over 30 years with projects ranging from military urinals to designer televisions. During his diverse career he has worked with some remarkably creative people including Philippe Starck in Paris and is currently the Industrial design program director at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) and co-owner/founder of Pureaudio. He has been focusing (some would say obsessed) with additive manufacturing for the past 15 years and specialises in multi-property dynamic 4D printing. Examples of his research can be seen here

Earlier Event: September 5
New York, NY - New Beginnings
Later Event: September 21
Toronto, Canada - Science Literacy Week