29 March 2020
Dr Siouxsie Wiles is one of New Zealand’s most recognized and respected scientists. Born in England, she studied microbiology at the University of Edinburgh and gained a PhD in microbiology at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Oxford. Siouxsie worked at Imperial College London before being awarded a Sir Charles Hercus Fellowship from the Health Research Council of New Zealand in 2009 and moving to the University of Auckland where she heads up the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab.
Siouxsie’s research career has seen her study some of the deadliest and most infectious organisms on the planet, including those which cause tuberculosis and MRSA, having contributed significantly to the understanding of infectious diseases which are responsible for one in every three deaths worldwide. Using funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, her team used bioluminescence to develop screening techniques and vaccines to beat TB.
A member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, Siouxsie was named a Blake Leader by the Sir Peter Blake Trust in 2016 and won the Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize and the Royal Society Te Aparangi’s Callaghan Medal. She also won the NZ National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee Prize and the UK National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research Prize.
Outside the lab, Siouxsie regularly appears on radio and TV, working hard to smash the stereotypes people have about what scientists and leaders look like. She has been the leading spokesperson about many elements of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand.