Professor Steve Pointing

Steve Pointing

Director, Institute for Applied Ecology New Zealand

Phone: (+64) 09 921 9818


Postal Address:

Institute for Applied Ecology New Zealand

School of Applied Sciences

Auckland University of Technology

Private Bag 92006

Auckland 1142

New Zealand

Address for blogs:

Check out my blog here

Follow me on Twitter @stevepointing

Links to relevant web pages:

Institute for Applied Ecology New Zealand Website -


BSc, MSc, PhD (Ports), MBA (Leics)

Memberships and Affiliations:

Member of the Royal Society of New Zealand


I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Great Britain, with undergraduate focus in biochemistry and postgraduate study in microbiology.  As a doctoral student I was awarded the prestigious Sainsbury Scholarship which allowed me to conduct research at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. My research addressed marine fungal and bacterial colonization of historic wooden shipwrecks. After gaining my doctorate I lived and worked in Hong Kong until 2012, conducting research on the microbial ecology of extreme environments. I have built a strong relationship with the US space agency NASA, with whom I collaborate on projects related to microbial survival in extreme hot, cold and polar deserts. My current research focuses on environmental issues with regional and global relevance, including New Zealand's strategic commitment to Antarctica.


Media Engagement

I am very active in the New Zealand media, I host a weekly science show called “Dear Science” on 95.0bFM radio ( I am also a regular contributor to morning television on the TV3 national network (“Science Chat” presenter on the Firstline breakfast show (, and a science commentator on The Paul Henry Show which is simultaneously broadcast on TV3 and RadioLive (


I have presented science-themed content at the following recent events:


I have contributed content to several science stories in the leading national newspaper the NZ Herald ( and on Radio New Zealand (

Teaching Areas:

One of my goals in teaching and learning is to engage students in the many ways that microbial processes are integral to understanding the function of animals, plants and entire ecosystems. This can be applied to improving our understanding of response to anthropogenic pollution, environmental change, agricultural and biotechnology systems.


Research Areas:

  • Aerosol microbiology and microbial biogeography
  • Astrobiology
  • Drought, drylands and desertification
  • Microbial ecology of terrestrial Antarctica


Some recent publications: (for full publication list and citation metrics please see Google Scholar).

Chan Y, Van Nostrand J, Zhou J, Pointing SB and Farrell RL (2013) Functional ecology of an Antarctic dry valley. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110, 8890–8895.

Pointing SB and Belnap J. (2012) Microbial colonization and controls in dryland systems. Nature Reviews Microbiology 10, 551–562.

Woo A, Brar M, Chan Y, Lau MCY, Leung FCC, Scott JA, Vrijmoed LLP, Zawar-Reza P and Pointing SB (2013) Temporal variation in microbial populations and microbially-derived allergens along a gradient of urbanization. Atmospheric Environment 74, 291–300.


Last updated: 10-Dec-2015 4.45pm

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.