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CSST appoints NASA scientist as Director of Research

CSST appoints award-winning NASA scientist as Director of Research

The Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST) is delighted to announce that Delwyn Moller, PhD has been appointed as Director of Research. Delwyn was born and raised in the Waikato, studied at the University of Auckland and went on to design and implement technology for NASA space missions. She will be moving to Central Otago from Los Angeles, CA with her husband and two children.

Dr Delwyn Moller, carrying a corner reflector into the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, USA for radar calibration during a NASA airborne snow measurement campaign.

Steve Cotter, CSST CEO, believes Delwyn’s contribution will be invaluable to CSST and to New Zealand as a whole. “We are excited to welcome Delwyn and her family back to New Zealand, and to CSST. Delwyn’s experience and approach will be vital in establishing an agile, yet long-term research strategy for CSST - one that will help translate Earth observation data into valuable learnings for New Zealand industry, government, businesses and researchers.”

Throughout her career, Delwyn has developed innovative state-of-the-art remote sensing systems for measuring critical aspects of the Earth’s surface to support science, research and applied sciences with applications ranging from mapping ocean currents, ice-surface topography, surface water hydrology, snow depth mapping and soil moisture retrieval.

Delwyn earned her Bachelor’s and Master's degree from the University of Auckland and completed her PhD at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst in the United States. She started her career working on system design, fielding and data analysis for oceanic remote sensing, which led her to a role at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) focusing on system engineering for satellite and suborbital radars. Since 2008 Delwyn has been working for Remote Sensing Solutions (RSS) as a principal systems engineer focused on next-generation sensors and products for Earth observation.

Delwyn says her values and the way she likes to work aligns well with CSST. “Primarily my professional work has been for NASA, with a strong focus on academic collaboration and networking. As such, I share and embrace the core values of CSST as a research-focused, non-partisan organisation with the principle that data and information be as openly available as possible.”

In recent years a large emphasis of Delwyn’s work has been collaborating with both science and end-user communities to expand the utilisation and interpretation of remote sensing data. This requires understanding the underlying problems, infrastructure and culture of an end-user community and how to translate and share the information in a way that is meaningful and useful to that community. This approach aligns well with how CSST sees the future of Earth observation and the space industry in New Zealand.

Like other shortlisted candidates for roles at CSST, Delwyn completed a group interview with the full CSST team, presenting on the work she has done and how she could contribute to the organisation’s goals.

“The team’s response was unanimous,” Steve recalls. “Delwyn is the right person for the Director of Research role because of the leadership role she has had in development of new remote sensing and Earth observation technologies. Her depth and breadth of experience in this field and her open and collaborative approach are exactly what the space industry in New Zealand needs. We are delighted she accepted the role and look forward to working alongside her.”

In addition to her high calibre professional background, Delwyn has also been a volunteer emergency medical technician and is a qualified helicopter pilot, former tornado chaser and a brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu.

CSST is a regional research institute based in Alexandra, Central Otago. The organisation was established in May 2017 and is one of the first regional research institutes to get off the ground in New Zealand.

CSST is building an agile company that can handle the entire Earth observation data life-cycle, from system design, data capture, analysis and synthesis, data management, dissemination, through to training and support.

The organisation is committed to creating a culture and research strategy that will attract expat Kiwis with expertise in the areas of Earth observation and remote sensing back to our shores and working to support regional New Zealand.

CSST is also committed to building a strong presence in the international research community, collaborating with international, local and expat Kiwi researchers.

CSST is a limited liability company owned by a charitable trust. The Trust’s mandate is to benefit regional industries across New Zealand and to educate those industries about the benefits of using Earth observation data in their operations and research and development activities.


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