Natural History team

Find out about the people that make up our Natural History team and their roles at Te Papa.

Phil Edgar, MA

Head of Natural History

Phil Edgar

Phil leads the Natural History team of collection, curatorial, and research staff. Phil’s background at Te Papa is in opening up access to collections through museum collection information systems, data management, digitisation, online collections, and biodiversity informatics.    

Alan Tennyson, MSc

Curator Vertebrates

Alan on a steep gravel bank, he has a pickaxe in his hand

Alan’s research covers most vertebrate animal groups but his particular expertise is in fossil and living birds. His current research focuses on the history and origins of New Zealand’s animals and the conservation of seabirds in the South Pacific.  

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Andrew Stewart

Assistant Curator

A man in a room of shelves holding a jar with a fish in it

Andrew has had a fascination and love of fishes since he was very small. His particular areas of specialisation are the deep-water fishes and Southern Ocean (Antarctic) fishes, but he can cover the full range of species.  
 

Antony Kusabs, BRS

Kaitiaki Taonga Collection Manager

Man standing in between shelves with two taxidermied shags in front of him

Antony holds a Bachelor in Resource Studies from Lincoln University. After earlier years dominated by botanical fieldwork and ecological consulting, he has become an expert in natural history collection management at Te Papa, specialising in botany. He manages the Te Papa Physical Containment Facility (for biosecurity) which includes the Te Papa Herbarium (WELT). His work tasks include disaster management, storage management, administering research loan activity, administering and databasing incoming acquisitions, exhibition support, hosting researchers and tours, scientific field work (currently for the Myosotis research programme), plant collecting and identification. He is the current Chair for the Managers of Australasian Herbarium Collection Managers (MAHC), a sub-committee of Council for Heads of Australasian Herbaria.  

Twitter   |   ORCID   |   iNaturalist   |   Instagram    

Ashleigh Immers, BSc

Technician

A woman standing on a rock with sunglasses on her head

Ashleigh is a Natural History technician and works primarily within the invertebrates and botany teams. She has always been fascinated by natural history and as a child she dreamt of working in a museum. She gained her BSc in Geology at the University of Canterbury, and has six years of practical laboratory experience working as a stable isotope mass spectrometer technician. Her role is focused on registering specimens from the collection into the database so that they are accessible for research as well as for public interest on Te Papa’s Collections Online.      

Bridget Hatton, BSc

Technician

Bridget works in collection management mainly in Botany in the Te Papa Herbarium. She assists the botany researchers and processes many of the new acquisitions of dried plant specimens.      

Carl Struthers, MSc

Researcher and Technical Officer

Close up of a man on a beach looking at the camera

Carl has been Research and Technical Officer at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa since 2005. Carl is currently researching the taxonomy and phylogeny of the Seaperches, morid cod, and Flagfins in New Zealand and the South Pacific. His work also includes photography, digital imaging and radiography of fish specimens in support of ongoing research projects. As Te Papa’s Dive Officer, Carl is responsible for the underwater dive programme and its safe implementation. He is an experienced field worker, participating in many fish collecting expedition using scuba in coastal waters and blue-water expeditions to remote locations, both within and outside New Zealand waters (e.g., Kermadec, Auckland and Three Kings Islands). Carl was co-author of the award winning The Fishes of New Zealand.  

ORCID   |   ResearchGate   |   Google Scholar   

Carlos Lehnebach, PhD

Curator Botany

Carlos lies on the ground with his magnifying equipment on his head, surrounded by trees, with a big grin on his face

Carlos is a botanist who studies the diversity, evolution and conservation of New Zealand flowering plants. His main groups of interest are terrestrial and epiphytic orchids, alpine plants, and plants shared with other land masses in the Southern Hemisphere. His current projects aim at describing the New Zealand orchid flora and developing methods to assist the conservation of rare and threatened plants.  

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Catherine Tate

Technician

Catherine is a technician who supports the vertebrate team primarily as a skeleton preparator; work that also involves caring for the museum’s dermestid beetle colony, as well as registering and data basing specimens into the collection.      

Clive Roberts, PhD

Research Fellow

Clive Roberts

Clive is an experienced field worker who has led numerous expeditions sampling New Zealand fish faunas, with teams of scientists using scuba in coastal waters and commercial and research vessels offshore in the deep sea. In 2003 he was science leader of the NORFANZ voyage on GRV Tangaroa. He has published a large number of scientific papers and popular science articles and is particularly interested in the taxonomy, diversity and biogeography of fishes of the Pacific Ocean. Clive was co-author of New Zealand Fish: A Complete Guide, The Rockpool Fishes of New Zealand, and The Fishes of New Zealand.

ResearchGate      

Colin Miskelly, PhD

Curator Vertebrates

Dr Colin Miskelly

Colin is an ornithologist with broad interests, including conservation ecology, biogeography, and the history of science. An expert in bird identification, his research drove the creation of the website NZ Birds Online. Colin’s current research interests include Auckland Islands ornithology, Fiordland seabirds, vagrant birds, and New Zealand snipe relationships and conservation status.  

ResearchGate     

Felix Marx, PhD

Curator Vertebrates

Man poses for a photo beside the skull of a whale

Felix is a palaeontologist and biologist with an interest in all things marine mammal: whales, dolphins, and seals. He specialises in the evolution of baleen whales, but has worked on a broad variety of topics, from macroevolution to feeding ecology, biogeography, and behaviour. Together with colleagues from Belgium and the USA, he published Cetacean Paleobiology, a comprehensive textbook on the evolution of whales and dolphins.  

ORCID   |   ResearchGate   |   Google Scholar  

Heidi Meudt, PhD

Researcher

Heidi Meudt

Heidi is a Researcher in Botany whose collections-based research focuses on the evolution and classification of native New Zealand flowering plants, especially forget-me-nots (Myosotis). She uses morphology, pollen, DNA and other data to understand how many species there are, how they can be identified, and where they are found. Her research aims to update the taxonomy and conservation status of all native forget-me-nots. Heidi also studies native foxgloves (Ourisia), plantains (Plantago), and hebes (Veronica) throughout the southern hemisphere.
 
ORCID   |   ResearchGate   |   Google Scholar  |   Curious Minds    

Jeremy Barker, MAppSc

Research Technician

A closeup of a bearded man standing in front of jars of fish

Jeremy is a marine biologist working in the Fish team. His work focuses on collection care and development of the fish collection as well as providing technical research support, such as taking X-rays of fishes to aid taxonomic descriptions. He helped produce The Fishes of New Zealand and is working on developing the Checklist of New Zealand Fishes.
 

Jess Calcutt, MSc

Technician

Jess is a collections technician and works across all departments in the Natural History team. Her role is highly varied and largely comprised of processing and registering specimens in preparation for their integration into the collection, as well as the digitization of historic data, general collection care and research. Jess holds a BSc in Palaeobiology from Macquarie University, Sydney, and an MSc in Conservation Biology from Victoria University of Wellington.      

Julia Kasper, PhD

Lead Curator Invertebrates

Julia kneeling in the grass, she has a net by her side

Julia is an entomologist specialised in flies. She studies the taxonomy and distribution of lower Diptera in New Zealand with a strong focus on biosecurity. Her background is in medical and forensic entomology and odour-host recognition of flies using chemical ecological methods. Julia has a strong interest in outreach especially on topics such as medical entomology and freshwater macro-invertebrates.  

Twitter   |   ORCID   |   ResearchGate   |   Google Scholar   |   Mosquito Census   

Lara Shepherd, PhD

Researcher

Lara Shepherd

Lara is an evolutionary biologist who uses genetic and genomic techniques to study the evolution of New Zealand’s flora and fauna. She also has an interest in applying these techniques to examine cultural objects.  

Twitter   |   ORCID   |   ResearchGate   |   Google Scholar  

Leon Perrie, PhD

Curator Botany

Man in a Hawaiian shirt looking at plants and smiling

Caption

Leon Perrie looking at plants on the Atafu atoll, Tokelau, 2017. Photo by Michael O'Neill. Te Papa (106130)

Leon’s research focuses on New Zealand’s ferns: their numbers, locations and identification. He has used DNA analyses to address this work and such questions as how ferns are related to one another and to species overseas.  He is currently working on accounts for the online eFlora of New Zealand. He also works on Pacific ferns, and has studied other plant groups, particularly Pseudopanax (lancewoods and five fingers).  

ORCID   |   ResearchGate   |   Google Scholar   |   iNaturalist   |   NZ Ferns  

Patrick Brownsey, PhD

Research Fellow

Patrick Brownsey

Pat's special interest is in New Zealand ferns and lycophytes. He is currently a Research Fellow, working with Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research to publish the online eFlora of New Zealand. He also works on Pacific and Australian ferns.  

ORCID   |   Google Scholar   

Phil Sirvid, PhD

Assistant Curator

A man sitting in front of wooden drawers

Phil has a broad general knowledge of New Zealand entomology but specialises in the arachnids, particularly spiders and harvestmen. He has published on the taxonomy, systematics and evolutionary history of New Zealand spiders as well as on medical entomology and arachnid conservation.  

ORCID   |   ResearchGate   

Rick Webber, MSc

Curator Invertebrates

Rick Webber

Rick is a marine biologist specialising in Crustacea. His research is mostly on the identity of crabs, lobsters and shrimps, and especially the larvae of crabs. Currently he is researching the crabs and shrimps of Pacific islands, and the tiny larvae of pea crabs, the little crabs that live in mussels. He is also working with colleagues on a new species of land hoppers, the crustaceans that live on land, and on the identities of other small marine crustaceans.      

Rodrigo Salvador, PhD

Curator Invertebrates

Rodrigo Salvador

Rodrigo is a biologist and palaeontologist specialising in gastropods, particularly land snails and slugs. He is interested in describing the world’s land snails and in understanding their evolutionary relationships, fossil record, and biogeographic history. Rodrigo is also interested in sci comm mixing science and geek culture; he is one of the founders of the Journal of Geek Studies.  

Twitter   |   ORCID   |   ResearchGate   |   Google Scholar   |   Rodrigo’s website        

Salme Kortet, MSc

Research Technician

Salme has been a technician at Te Papa since 2012. She holds an MSc from the University of Helsinki and has managed collections databases for over twenty years. She has worked on museum collections around the world, including those of the Finnish Museum of Natural History, the Dowse Art Museum, and the National Library of New Zealand. She is currently responsible for ensuring that details of the National Fish Collection – comprising voucher specimens, tissue samples, radiographs, and scientific literature – are all verified, catalogued, and entered into our database.    

Thomas Schultz, BSc

Kaitiaki Taonga Collection Manager

Tom received his BSc in Marine Biology from Victoria University. He works primarily in the vertebrate collections. Collection care activities include processing, accessioning and storing new acquisitions, facilitating access to the collections for researchers, and exhibition installation and maintenance.  He also manages the training and compliance for work in the large collections stored in alcohol and the facility that processes biosecurity risk material.  
 

 

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