Position: Research Scientist, Field: Physical oceanography, marine physics, Organisation: NIWA.

Born in Dunedin, Dr Mike Williams has travelled the world for his research as a physical oceanographer, looking at why and how the ocean circulates. He has spent time researching off the coast of Chile, in Denmark, Australia and Antarctica. He is now based in Wellington where he is interested in understanding how ocean circulation around Antarctica affects both New Zealand’s climate and the world’s climate.

As a research scientist, he spends time measuring how icebergs move and how sea ice may affect the movement of water. He also spends time doing data analysis and running complex mathematical models. His Masters degree in mathematics has provided him with a lot of experience with numbers.

While studying at Otago University, I met people who showed me that maths is more diverse than solving equations on pieces of paper

Dr Mike Williams

When asked what he likes most about research, Mike answered, “I think the thing I like most about doing scientific research is the problem solving – it’s not so much that I want to know everything there is about icebergs or sea ice. I want to find out why we don’t know things about icebergs or sea ice.”

With his science background in polar oceanography and interest in the Southern Ocean and the ways ice can interact with the ocean, Dr Mike Williams was a good fit for the Deep South National Science Challenge. He was subsequently appointed director of the Deep South Science Leadership team in September 2016.

Mike has now traveled to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean over a dozen times by ice breaker, research vessel and aircraft on 10 different expeditions.

Useful link

The varied sights and sounds of Antarctic icebergs begin to reveal themselves in this Radio NZ podcast with NIWA scientist and Deep South National Science Challenge director, Dr Mike Williams: Voice of the iceberg 2.

Read about the Deep South Challenge and the work to build a New Zealand Earth Systems Model, in this New Zealand Geographic article: New Zealand's Next Top Model.

This article is based on information current in 2007 and updated in 2017.

    Published 20 July 2007, Updated 1 March 2017