Position: Associate Professor, Field: Space physics, Organisation: University of Otago.

Craig developed a fascination for space science from a very early age. He remembers watching TV news reports on the exploration of the Solar System and the launching of humans into Earth orbit. Reading science fiction books and delighting in both the science and the imaginative situations described in the stories further fuelled his fascination.

In his final years of secondary education at Onslow College in Wellington, Craig elected to study physics and came under the inspirational tutelage of John Hannah. This led Craig to take up undergraduate studies, majoring in physics, at the University of Otago. In his second year, he found the doors marked ‘Space Physics’, and this opened up a career path for him.

After completing a BSc (Hons) and PhD in physics while working in the Space Physics group, Craig took up a New Zealand Science and Technology Postdoctoral Fellowship to work at the British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK. He returned to New Zealand to work on a New Zealand Marsden Fund postdoctorate in 2000 and joined the staff of the University of Otago in late 2001. In 2011, when he received a University of Otago Excellence in Teaching Award, he noted that his interest in physics came from his inspirational high school teacher.

There are two main things that I get out of my work – trying to understand something that other people don’t know and interacting with really clever people from all over the world.

Craig’s main research interests are in lightning detection systems and the impact explosive events occurring in the upper regions of the Sun, such as CMEs, have on the space around the Earth. These fields allow him to work on challenging problems that allow for collaboration with physicists from all over the world. For example, he has radio receivers located in Antarctica and Canada, travels to Washington DC to take part in NASA reviewing panels and is the Royal Society of New Zealand representative to the Scientific Committee on Solar Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP) and the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA), both international bodies.

In his spare time, Craig still reads science fiction.

This article is based on information current in 2014.

    Published 29 April 2014