Promotion to Professor 2022

Congratulations to 15 Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington academic staff who have been promoted to professor this year.

A Professor holds a special position in the University, and the promotion to professor is based on evidence of outstanding performance and pre-eminence as a scholar of international standing in learning and teaching, research, external engagement, and leadership.

Read the citations below.

Professor Maria Bargh

Professor Maria Bargh is a world class scholar and a highly productive and impactful researcher whose work has been published in top tier outlets in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally. Her record demonstrates a sustained level of productivity over her career, with an impressive number of publications since her last promotion in 2020, spanning her interests in Māori political representation and constitutional change, environmental politics and policy, and the political economy. Professor Bargh has been highly successful at securing external research funding for her work, including her current Biological Heritage National Science Challenge Project ($3 m) as a well as smaller grants from MBIE and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga projects.

Professor Bargh’s research excellence was recognised by the Royal Society Te Apārangi with the Te Puāwaitanga Research Award in 2020, as well as by the University, with a Research Excellence Award in 2021. Professor Bargh is called upon to give expert advice to many different government agencies and committees, as well as political groups, and she was recently appointed by Cabinet to the role of Deputy Chair of the Independent Review of Electoral Law. She is sought after for media commentary and interviews and also undertakes service to her discipline through editorial board positions, the review of articles and positions on grant application assessment panels. Professor Bargh’s contributions in this area were recognised by the University Engagement Excellence Award in 2017.

She is an effective and committed teacher, successfully bringing her expertise in the fields of Māori politics and Māori resource management into the classroom, and she has led important curriculum development work in Te Kawa a Māui.

Professor Nancy Bertler

Professor Nancy Bertler is a nationally and internationally recognised research leader in Ice Core and Antarctic Research. As inaugural Director of MBIE’s Antarctic Science Platform she has worked skilfully and tirelessly to design and implement a world-class research programme involving 100 researchers from across NZ universities and Crown Research Institutes. This is a high-level strategic role that has developed NZ’s Antarctic science priorities and is now delivering on them. She has leveraged world-leading international collaborations and philanthropists to bring in an additional $20 m and has also developed strong and deep engagement with stakeholders through the development of the Science-Policy expert group.

Professor Bertler has built, and still leads, New Zealand’s National Ice Core Facility and research programme, and she led the highly successful international Antarctic Roosevelt Island Climate Experiment involving nine nations. She has pioneered coastal ice core research, which is key to providing a regional perspective on Antarctic climate evolution, and this work is now internationally recognised as a priority for understanding how Antarctica ice sheets are responding to global warming.

Professor Bertler’s leadership and research is nationally and internationally impactful. Her research track record is impressive, and she collaborates widely through partnerships and is on the cutting edge of interdisciplinary climate change science delivering policy-relevant impact. Professor Bertler’s research leadership and excellence has been recognised by the Rutherford Discovery Fellowship, the Blake Leadership Award, and as part of the leadership team of the 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Prize.

Professor Bertler has achieved significant successes in research excellence and research income and gained national and international recognition and respect in her multidisciplinary research field. She has demonstrated exceptional leadership.

Professor Todd Bridgman

Professor Todd Bridgman is an excellent teacher who has consistently displayed innovation in his teaching, leadership, and engagement. He is a multiple award-winning case writer and has an established international reputation. The excellence of Professor Bridgman’s teaching is built on a base of thoughtful, excellent research in the field of critical management studies. He has a strong and vibrant research programme and has published frequently in the topmost echelon of management journals. He has a good media presence and has been creative in the translation and communication of his research to a wider management audience. He has developed research leadership and an international profile in critical historical approaches to management studies and education.

His list of awards is impressive and represents sustained evidence of an excellent academic. He has held prestigious editor roles with A and A* ranked journals and is very respected and connected internationally. On top of excellent teaching and research, Professor Bridgman has also been a very competent leader within the School, the Faculty, and the University.

Additionally, Professor Bridgman has developed key relationships with managerial practitioner communities in the public sector, such as the New Zealand Defence Force Senior Staff College.

Professor Chris Bumby

Principal Scientist Dr Chris Bumby has an established research portfolio in materials engineering and applied physics—predominantly in applied superconductivity and materials aspects of steelmaking. Professor Bumby’s research is world class, including the establishment of a cutting-edge research programme in production of Green Steel (using hydrogen rather than coal to reduce iron ore) which has gained major support from political and industrial stakeholders. Professor Bumby has a proven track record of industrial engagement both in NZ and across the world. Through his strong international collaborations, Professor Bumby publishes in leading and high-ranking international journals with major impacts. Despite his very intensive research activities, he continues to make a strong contribution to supervision and teaching of research students.

Professor Bumby’s external reviewers stated that he has established an international reputation as a leader in the applied superconductivity research community.

Professor Bumby has demonstrated sustained hautūtanga / leadership and outstanding excellence across all areas of academic framework required for promotion to Professor.

Professor Lisa Clark

Professor Lisa Clark has a long-sustained research reputation in the field of algebra. Professor Clark is an excellent lecturer who is interested in innovations in teaching to improve students’ learning experience. She is an international leader in the area of the inquiry-based learning pedagogy in mathematics and has led reviews and restructures of mathematics courses at all levels. She is an effective and supportive supervisor and continues her postgraduate supervision.

The quality of Professor Clark’s research is outstanding and her publication record is excellent, as reflected in the high ranking of journals in which most of her publications appear. She was awarded the Kalman Prize (the top award from the New Zealand Math Society) and in 2022 she received the highly prestigious Aitken Lectureship. She received a full Marsden grant as an associate investigator in 2018 and a full Marsden grant as primary investigator in 2022.

Within her academic discipline, she has taken on leadership roles that provide evidence of her engagement, such as editorial positions, refereeing, and organising committees. She is consistently providing hautūtanga/leadership by undertaking service roles at different levels that advance the work of the School and Faculty and has actively supported increased participation and success of Māori, Pasifika, international staff and students, people with disabilities, and other equity groups.

Professor Nikki Hessell

Professor Nikki Hessell is a highly regarded scholar of British Romantic literature, indigenous studies and history of print culture. She has a strong research record, with her books and other publications appearing in top tier outlets in her field. Professor Hessell has been the recipient of two Marsden grants, including a Fast Start, which have underwritten a number of her publications, with these prestigious grants sitting alongside numerous other grants.

Professor Hessell’s reputation in her discipline has seen her invited to give several keynote addresses, both in New Zealand and overseas, and she has served, and continues to serve, on a number of editorial boards in key journals in her field. Professor Hessell has taken on a number of different leadership roles in the School, Faculty and University and she has been elected or seconded to various panels and committees within the University, including Academic Board, reflecting the high esteem in which she is held by colleagues. She demonstrates a particular commitment to equity and diversity and to a Te Tiriti-centred approach which is embedded in all aspects of her work as an academic.

Professor Hessell is a dedicated teacher and mentor who is committed to incorporating indigenous materials in her teaching. The effectiveness of her teaching is confirmed by her excellent teaching performance profile scores, as well as by her recognition with a pedagogical award from the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism.

Professor Sally Hill

Professor Sally Hill is a skilled, engaged, and dedicated teacher. She was awarded a Teaching Excellence Award by the University in 2014 and was subsequently nominated for the National Teaching Excellence Awards. Professor Hill’s teaching is innovative, inclusive, and student-centred. She is digitally innovative, developing successful online or blended courses, and she has led significant curricular change, including the development of cross-faculty and interdisciplinary offerings.

Professor Hill has a strong international reputation as a leading scholar of Italian cultural studies―she has published widely on the role of photography in Italian culture and modernity and on little-studied Italian filmmakers and writers, focusing more recently on the representation of disability in Italian cinema. Her work has been published in top outlets in her discipline and she collaborates with renowned international scholars from Italy, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Professor Hill is an outstanding and engaged leader in the University and in her disciplinary community. She was a very effective Head of School and is now an Associate Dean in the Wellington Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. She is a very effective mentor for junior staff members and research students, and she demonstrates a clear commitment to equity and diversity and models a commitment to the principles of Te Tiriti. Her contributions to hautūtanga / leadership are quite exceptional and she contributes to external engagement, both within her discipline and within the wider diplomatic, education, and cultural communities in Wellington and beyond.

Professor Richard Levy

Professor Richard Levy is a renowned, highly regarded national and international research leader. He has brought significant value to the University through his leadership roles at GNS Science, facilitating partnerships in climate change and hazards, his leadership within the Antarctic Science Platform, and his broader national and international collaborations and partnerships.

His leadership has been recognised nationally with his receipt of the prestigious 2022 Blake Leaders Award, and as part of the team awarded the 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Prize. . He is one of New Zealand’s most effective science communicators and has deep relationships with government stakeholders, ministers of the crown, and Iwi stakeholders. He has attracted, with his colleagues, more than $50 m in research funding supporting hundreds of NZ researchers and is co-leader on a new pending (through to impact round) $13 m MBIE Endeavour proposal (Our Changing Coast).

Professor Levy’s deep stakeholder relationships and scientific partnerships and strategic vision, not only at the national level, but also international initiatives, are directly addressing the governments priorities around climate change adaptation.

Professor Karl Lofgren

Professor Karl Lofgren is an established, productive, and innovative researcher within his broad research field of public management and government. He is a bold academic taking on new empirical issues among the challenges facing public management, politics, democracy, and wider society using multiple theoretical perspectives in his analysis. He is regularly invited to give presentations at New Zealand and international conferences and meetings on his own research and is an active keynote speaker by invitation at numerous international and local conferences.

Professor Lofgren has been an ongoing and very valued contributor to the Australia and New Zealand School of Government’s teaching and research programmes. He has adopted a leadership role in both teaching and research, in the School of Government’s e/Digital Government programme. This has included very significant contributions to the teaching of related courses, contributions to conferences, presentations overseas, and engagements across the public sector. He is also the School of Government’s representative at the University’s broader e/Digital Government leadership forums.

He seeks out external research income opportunities or externally funded consultancies and has supervised PhD students to completion. He has demonstrated excellence in teaching, research, public engagement, and academic leadership, and has shown exemplary collegial behaviour and support across all School of Government activities as well as those of the wider Faculty and University.

Professor Robert McKay

Professor Robert (Rob) McKay is an award-winning, internationally renowned Earth scientist with world-class expertise in Antarctic paleoclimatology especially from using geological drill cores from Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. He has been the Director of the Antarctic Research Centre (ARC) since 2019 and has achieved significant successes in research excellence, research income, leadership, and gained national and international recognition and respect in his multidisciplinary research field. He is an international academic of high standing and distinction based on sustained, high-quality research, and academic leadership.

Professor McKay’s contribution to scientific ocean drilling was recognised by the American Geophysical Unions Asahiko Taira Prize. His scientific trajectory since completing his PhD has been stellar. His research publications are highly cited, and many are in the world’s top multidisciplinary science journals. He was a major contributor and member of the five-person VUW Melting Ice Rising Seas leadership team that received the 2019 Prime Minister’s Prize. He has generated significant revenue through the prestigious Rutherford Discovery Fellowship, Marsden’s and MBIE grants, supporting a large cohort of PhD students and research fellows.

He has great strategic vision and has enhanced and grown the international reputation of the ARC though maintaining and developing strong partnerships with New Zealand CRIs, government agencies, and international partners. His leadership places the ARC firmly on the world stage as the leading Antarctic climate research group. He takes on and excels in complex leadership roles, while doing excellent world class research and teaching, building strategic partnerships, and generating research revenue.

Professor Joanna Mossop

Professor Joanna Mossop is an internationally recognised authority in her fields of Law of the Sea and International Environmental Law. This has resulted in fellowships and prestigious visiting positions, such as at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom, many conference invitations around the world and involvement as an expert in international work, including the significant Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction Treaty. Her research necessitates her close collaboration with external bodies of extremely high importance and status nationally and internationally. An achievement which ought to be especially noted is her New Zealand government nomination to the list of arbitrators and conciliators under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2019. Only four people can be nominated by each country, and the others are former government legal advisers.

Professor Mossop is a dedicated teacher who excels in learning and teaching and has shown commitment to continuing improvement, as well as innovation with a view to engaging students. She is consistently proactive and is engaged in teaching across undergraduate and postgraduate areas. She won a Teaching Excellence Award in 2018 and in 2021 she was the recipient of a Marsden grant as a co-principal investigator and has also attracted large amounts of research funding. She has won an impressive list of awards and fellowships.

Professor Mossop has been willing to take on responsibility that is at a senior level, such as the Director of Postgraduate Studies and now the Associate Dean (Research) roles. She has held many leadership/hautūtanga positions within the School and Faculty, often requiring her to work across the University.

Professor Rebecca Priestley

Professor Rebecca Priestley has established her research reputation in the fields of science history and science communication in New Zealand. She was co-founder of the Centre for Science in Society, which is now a thriving research and teaching centre. Professor Priestley has been awarded two Prime Minister’s Science Prizes and has been extremely successful in attracting external research funding. Her books, academic research, and public engagement are regarded highly by academics and the wider public. Her work has national significance as attested by the significant number of awards and award nominations her books have attracted. She also has international recognition, and her creative nonfiction writing has appeared in leading publications in the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia.

Professor Priestley has demonstrated outstanding leadership in learning and teaching, including integrating mātauranga Māori across her teaching programme. As with her research and teaching, Professor Priestley’s external engagement is wide-reaching and varied. She is actively engaged with her academic and professional science history, science communication and writing communities, undertaking academic reviews, editorial roles, and assessing book manuscripts.

Professor Priestley was made a Companion of the Royal Society New Zealand Te Apārangi in 2018, an honour that recognises outstanding leadership or eminent contributions to promoting and advancing science, technology, or the humanities.

Professor Sarah Ross

Professor Sarah Ross is a renowned scholar of Renaissance Literature and early modern women’s writing and has established herself nationally and internationally as a pre-eminent scholar in her field. She has a strong and sustained research record with her work appearing in the very best outlets in her field. Her research has been recognised by a University Research Excellence Award in 2019. Professor Ross has been successful in securing external funding via two Marsden grants, a Fast Start in 2006 and a Standard grant in 2016, and she has been Associate Investigator on a number of ARC grants. She is an excellent teacher and was awarded the Best Teaching Edition for her volume Women Poets of the English Civil War from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender.

Professor Ross has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to mentoring emerging and early-career academics as they move through their degrees and beyond. She has taken on a number of leadership/hautūtanga roles, including as Chair of the School’s Postgraduate Committee, as a panel member for qualification reviews, and more recently she has taken on the role of Director of the newly instituted Communication degrees.

Professor Ross’ external engagement is of exceptional quality―she has been a key figure on the journal Parergon, raising its profile and ranking, and serves on a number of editorial boards in highly ranked journals in her field. She makes important contributions to external engagement within her disciplinary community.

Professor Paul Teesdale-Spittle

Professor Paul Teesdale-Spittleteaches at all levels and demonstrates sustained commitment, care, and respect for students. He contributes to the School through teaching innovation and leadership within the School and Faculty. He has led multiple programmes into implementation and he has led multiple programme reviews. He is an industrious member of the School of Biological Science’s Teaching and Learning Committee. His leadership extends beyond the University into international teaching relationships with other countries. He has had excellent success at securing external research funding and he has supervised a large number of postgraduate students.

His external engagement is very good; he is a subject specialist for the largest chemistry conference in the Pacific region, Pacifichem, and is a strong contributor to the research environment reviewing national and international grant applications.

Professor Heiko Wittmer

Professor Heiko Wittmer is an internationally recognised researcher in the field of complex multi-species biological systems with a focus on predation and decline of rare species. He has contributed strongly and collegially to teaching in the School, demonstrating sustained commitment, care, and respect for students. He has a small but productive postgraduate research group and has attracted a significant amount of external funding from highly competitive sources as a research leader. His grant success also demonstrates the strong international research collaborations he has developed, particularly in the United States and Canada. This grant success, both large and small, has led to excellent postgraduate student funding support for projects.

He was awarded the Wildlife Publications Award – Outstanding Article by the largest international society for practitioners and researchers in wildlife ecology, the Wildlife Society, in 2017. Professor Wittmer has contributed to the international research environment extremely strongly and the impact of his research is felt both nationally and internationally. Professor Wittmer also facilitates engagement of non-scientific audiences through his expert commentary in the media.