Wananga landing Wananga landing

NASA delegation and Minister Verrall meet UC researchers

17 March 2023

Visiting NASA staff and Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall were welcomed to the University of Canterbury campus.


The UC student-led aerospace club Spaceport America Cup team photographed with NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy and Administrator Bill Nelson, UC Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) Professor Ian Wright, UC Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey and the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, and Minister of Health Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall.

Environmental projects, Indigenous cultures and values, international partnerships, and student engagement were at the centre of the delegation’s visit to Aotearoa New Zealand with particular interest in climate change and partnerships between Aotearoa New Zealand and NASA on climate research.

UC Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey spoke about the University’s resilience and ability to respond and innovate in the face of challenges, and our connection to our community through our relationship with mana whenua Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Ōtautahi Christchurch. Professor De la Rey went on to say, “the investment of new digital innovation is well poised to take partnerships forward and look forward to the opportunities of how we can work together.”

UC’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) Professor Ian Wright spoke of the capacity of our students with UC postgraduate student Leah Albrow being awarded the NASA JPL with NZ Space Scholarship, and Jennifer Berry being the first New Zealand university and non-US undergraduate recipient of the USRA Distinguished Undergraduate Award. He highlighted UC’s engagement with NASA and Rocket Lab and the relevance of UC students in the field of space.

Building on the university’s 150 years of engagement with local, regional and global communities, UC postgraduate students and academics spoke of the collaborations and partnerships they have with NASA and the way the work done in space helps to support UC research. Senior Lecturer Michele Bannister and her team spoke about interstellar objects and work on the DART mission. Associate Professor Michelle LaRue highlighted the importance of space in research in Antarctica and the importance of satellite imagery to help understand predation and environmental impacts and predict what this means for the future. The first global survey of Earth’s surface water and how it flows is underway, Director of Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management James Brasington said. Senior Lecturer Sarah Kessans closed by speaking about her microgravity research and protein crystallisation on the Axiom Space station.

Minister Verrall and the NASA delegation had an opportunity to view a demonstration of adaptive optics used in NASA CAPSTONE mission tracking by Associate Professor Steve Weddell and the team. Before meeting the fully UC student-led aerospace club Spaceport America Cup team.

A robust discussion on how UC research can contribute to NASA’s objectives continued throughout the visit.

Media contact
  • Email
  • Phone: (03) 369 3631 or 027 503 0168
What to read next
Privacy Preferences

By clicking "Accept All Cookies", you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.