He’s been to every desert on the planet including Antarctica and to the highest point on earth that still supports life. He’s worked with Nasa for ten years and that work took him to the deserts to study life in dry, unforgiving environments as a proxy for Mars. The closest thing to Mars is Antarctica, where he conducts most of his work now, so he looks at where things grow in Antarctica and uses that information to inform Nasa engineers. The engineers use this information to programme where the probes on Mars go as they search for former life there. Steve Pointing is a professor of Applied Ecology and studies the way nature is impacted by human activity and climate change.
Having originally studied at Portsmouth University and done his PhD there on marine microbiology, Professor Pointing then spent the next 16 years at Hong Kong University researching extreme environments before coming to AUT in 2013. While in Hong Kong he received an outstanding teaching award from an international panel. He’s taken up the post of Director of AUT’s Institute for Applied Ecology NZ (formerly the Institute of Earth and Oceanic Sciences).
Nowadays his research focuses on climate change and how some organisms are better able to cope with climate change. He’s currently working on a conservation project in Antarctica and mapping the biodiversity hotposts there. The NZ Government is interested in this work which will inform NZ conservation guidelines. Deserts are his passion and he’s also researching the global linkages between deserts around the world and their impacts on global eco-systems and world health. He hopes future research will look at global patterns in biodiversity and how microbes have travelled and co-evolved with humans.
Professor Pointing is a core member of the International Centre for Terrestrial Antartctic Research and of the Genomics Research Institute in South Africa.
Professor Steve Pointing’s extended academic profile
Last updated: 10-Jun-2016 1.03pm
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