Professor Rewi Newnham (Ngāpuhi) from Victoria University of Wellington studies ancient pollen for what it can tell us about our changing vegetation, and our changing climate.
His early experiences growing up in West Auckland on the boundary of the city and the Waitakeres first alerted him to the 'perennial power of pollen'.
This pushed him towards the study of fossilised pollen to reconstruct past vegetation, using this as a marker to measure environmental changes over time.
The study of these pollen records (or palynology) can also tell us about human and volcanic impacts on the natural environment, and he's interested in modern effects of pollen on human health (like hay fever).
Last November, he was elected as a fellow of The Royal Society in recognition of his work.