The IDEAS Festival is a not-for-profit event hosted by the Educational Charity IEX. 

we enjoy bringing change-makers to regional communities to share their stories

Melissa Marquez

Melissa Cristina Márquez is a marine biologist and wildlife educator who studies sharks, skates, rays, and chimaeras (Chondrichthyans).  She created The Fins United Initiative to provide access to free, scientifically accurate materials. A TEDx speaker and active science communicator, she also enjoys painting shark skin patterns, provides career guidance and has a Spanish-speaking podcast (ConCiencia Azul) here she discusses marine science issues.

Nathalie  Wierdak

Nathalie originates from Caracas and studied Anthropology at Universidad Central, Venezuela followed by a Masters Degree at City University, London. As a member of the science team she gets to visit rural communities across NZ delivering hands-on sessions that foster scientific thinking.

Nathalie’s goal is to create positive experiences for students and break down barriers that portray science as something difficult and out of reach.

Dr Jamie Steer

Jamie is an ecologist and science writer who is interested in exploring and challenging current attitudes to conservation in NZ. He has a PhD in Environmental Science and has published papers and articles on a wide range of topics from food storing birds to bioacoustics. Jamie has worked in roles throughout the environmental services industry and  is currently a Senior Biodiversity Advisor for Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Dr Meg Spriggs

Meg is passionate about improving the health of the ageing brain. In her research, She uses neuroimaging to search for changes in brain structure and function that may one day assist in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Meg is now undertaking a PhD with Brain Research New Zealand at the University of Auckland.

Prof David Hutchinson

David is a professor in the University of Otago’s Department of Physics. His research relates to theoretical quantum physics, specifically ultra-cold atomic gases and quantum systems.

As well as a BSc and PhD  David recently acquired a PGDip(Arts) in Philosophy from Otago. He is the President of the New Zealand Institute of Physics, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (NZ & UK) and a member of the Institute of Directors of NZ.

Dr Antony Suter

Antony studied medicine and travelled a lot before settling in Nelson with his family.
He juggles eyeballs (usually not literally) as an Ophthalmologist at Nelson Hospital and in private practice, helping people by operating on their eyes and caring for the various conditions which affect their eye comfort and vision.

Antony is an expert with light, lenses, lasers, tiny sharp knives, the smallest needles used in medicine, and fortunately, local anaesthetics.

Chris Clay

Chris is well known for having had more jobs than might be considered normal. These days he provides seriously cool experiences that help people consider education and it’s role in creating the future.

Named Microsoft’s International Innovative Educator, Chris now works in a range of areas including science, technology and how we might use education to create desirable futures. When he’s not doing this he’s building just about anything from cardboard and tickling his 2 kids. 

Jess Ducey

Jess is the Chief People Wrangler at PledgeMe, co-founder of ‘Women Who Get Sh*t Done’ and a freelance jack of several trades. After getting a master’s degree in security studies and spending a few years in international development, she found her calling in grassroots and local action​.

She spends her free time working with non-profits, patting other people’s dogs, ​eating cheese, ​knitting, and hatching elaborate schemes.

Simon Ferrari

Simon is technically a computer scientist, but describes himself as a technology and people enthusiast. He oversees the ICT delivery to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment and in recruitment.

As well as sitting on two tertiary advisory boards, Simon promotes ICT as a real career choice for school aged students who may not realise the variety and opportunity available in his industry.