Koi Tū affiliate member
A year in Sarawak’s rain forests as a school-leaver on the Volunteer Service Abroad programme, fostered an abiding interest in biodiversity, and particularly entomology, for Stephen. He completed an undergraduate degree at Otago University in Zoology followed by PhD in entomology at the University of Canterbury (Lincoln). Since then, while working for AgResearch, he led the programmes that resulted in the suppression of New Zealand’s exotic grassland pests using imported parasitoid wasps as biological control agents.
This area involved population ecology which has now moved into the area of rapid evolution in insect populations and the ability of pest species to acquire resistance to natural enemies as the result of selection pressure.
He was also involved in early attempts to develop technology to improve sea container biosecurity based on the detection of volatile organic compounds. He was AgResearch’s Chief Science Strategist 2004-2007 and the director of the Better Border Biosecurity collaboration 2010-2013.
While Stephen’s long-term interest has been research, he has to contributed in other ways to New Zealand’s science system. In the mid-1990s he was appointed as (part time) science adviser to the then Minister of Research, Science and Technology, the Rt Hon. Simon Upton. More recently he was the strategist (part-time) to the first Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman from 2009-2018. With some diversions, he now works fulltime on biocontrol science based both in AgResearch and at the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln.