The Covid-19 crisis has brought to the fore some of New Zealand's top science experts, some already well known, and some less so. Science reporter Jamie Morton lists seven of them.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield
We typically think of public servants as bland, square and more about policy than personality.
That makes the love affair the country has developed with the man they call The Curve Crusher all the more fascinating.
Even after becoming the nation's director-general of health in June 2018, Dr Ashley Bloomfield had been relatively unknown in the public eye.
The 54-year-old father of three came from the clinical frontline, spending much of the 1990s as a public health specialist.
The path to the top job included stints as the ministry's chief public health adviser and head of the Hutt Valley and Capital and Coast DHBs.
Then came Covid-19. Back in early February, Bloomfield was pushing the Government to expand the limited travel ban it had in place.
But it was the daily 1pm briefings that brought him into the limelight. Ordinary Kiwis were taken and reassured by Bloomfield's remarkable savoir-faire - something less surprising to colleagues who already knew him as measured, methodical and hyper-competent.
For many, admiration gave way to adoration, and Bloomfield found himself the unlikely subject of fawning TikTok videos, media stories and fan accounts on Twitter.
As former prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer wrote in an opinion piece in The Spinoff: "It is a long time since a public servant has become so well-known."
Professor Juliet Gerrard
Barely a year and a half into her tenure as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's chief science adviser, Professor Juliet Gerrard faced her biggest challenge yet.
The University of Auckland biochemist has been tasked with helping the PM keep up to date on the latest Covid-19 science – all as fresh studies roll in and new evidence emerges.
"My approach is to draw on as many science voices as possible," is how she explained her role to the Herald. "I'm not setting myself up as an expert but the pathway to experts."
The job has also been public-facing – and that hasn't always been easy.
"People do get very energised - that's the nicest way of putting it - and my inbox does fill up with some quite strident opinions."
Still, she said there was evidence to suggest Kiwis already had a high level of trust in experts before the crisis - and the Government had "huge social and cultural licence" to follow advice and act.
As an independent advisor herself, Gerrard has been happy to give her take on those steps, saying that while it would have been good to have had a centralised data management system in place, she generally agreed with praiseful international commentary about New Zealand.
"We still need to be vigilant, but it is hard to imagine that we could have been in a better position at this stage."
Professor Michael Baker
He is softly spoken yet outspoken. And Professor Michael Baker was also one of the first people in New Zealand to realise that the world had a coronavirus crisis on its hands.
The Otago University epidemiologist had just come back from Christmas break when he began receiving unusual reports of pneumonia out of China.
By January, it had become clear what was unfolding, and Baker was urging the Government to be more proactive.
That hasn't changed: he's now calling for "mass-masking" on crowded trains and buses, and a new dedicated agency.
A physician and one-time environmental activist, Baker has been a consistent and articulate voice for public health on everything from campylobacter contamination in chicken, to the threat that polluted rivers pose to our drinking water.
But he described the two-week period he spent trying to lobby policy staff and politicians to stop treating the coronavirus like the flu as the most "intense and surreal experience of my working life".
"It also became clear that we didn't have enough systems in place to stop the virus, so I began advocating for a lockdown to give us a chance at elimination."
On the day Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country was moving to level 4, he wept with joy.
Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles
She's New Zealand's greatest science communicator - and Covid-19 proved her time to really shine.
Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles' efforts to break down the complexities of Covid-19 have been stunning and relentless.
A microbiologist who specialises in infectious diseases, Wiles is set apart by her signature pink hair - something which she's said has led some to ask how she can be serious about science.
"The real question is," she told the Herald previously, "what has the colour of my hair got to do with my ability to do science? Absolutely nothing, of course."
She leads the University of Auckland's Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab, while also working on finding new antibiotics by screening 10,000 New Zealand fungi for possible medical use.
Along with teaching, Wiles has somehow found time to be the most accessible voice of science throughout the pandemic.
"Because I've been doing science communication ever since I came to New Zealand, in many respects I've been training for this role for the past 10 years - blogging and podcasting, making kids' TV shows and building a skillset to communicate complex things," she said.
"That is really needed right now and my family make it possible for me to do it. I'm good at multi-tasking, but I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing if I had younger children or a partner who couldn't pick up the slack."
Professor Shaun Hendy
Three years ago, researchers at Te Punaha Matatini, then a freshly formed centre of research excellence, started looking at whether they'd be able to effectively map the spread of flu using cellphone data.
It was a hypothetical exercise, but one they didn't realise would help prepare them for a crisis that would bring their modelling expertise to the fore.
Its leader, prominent physicist Professor Shaun Hendy, and his colleagues were swiftly able to offer policymakers a look at what scenarios New Zealand might soon be facing.
The worst-case scenario at that point was a grim one, projecting that up to 80,000 Kiwis could die if strict measures weren't put in place and the virus was allowed to run rampant.
Fast-forward to April 9, by which time New Zealand's lockdown had headed off the outbreak – and Hendy's team showed that, instead of 29 new cases reported that day, there could have been 200, and 350 the week after.
Remarkably, Hendy was able to run this operation from the kitchen table of his Grey Lynn home throughout the lockdown: his desktop, laptop and iPad screens set up before him.
He was fortunate to have alongside him top researchers like Michael Plank, Rachelle Binny, Alex James, Nic Steyn and Audrey Lustig – but also years of experience as one of the country's leading science communicators.
A one-time protégé of the late Sir Paul Callaghan, Hendy has been a frequent face in the media and authored several books – one focused on the importance of scientists being able to speak out.
Dr Ayesha Verrall
Articulate, honest and open – they're all qualities that define another of the pandemic's most-visible epidemiologists, Otago University's Dr Ayesha Verrall.
The infectious diseases doctor was also one of the most vocal experts about New Zealand's ability to manage the pressures of Covid-19, particularly when it came to our feeble contact tracing capacity in the emergency's early stages.
On March 17, health authorities had identified 12 cases, out of 125 already in the country – and there was only capability to trace 10 active cases.
The next week, Otago University issued a media release in which Verrall called for an urgent and massive scale-up.
She also spoke out because she knew the public health units didn't have enough staff to stay ahead of a major outbreak, and had previously tried unsuccessfully to have that changed.
In April she carried out an audit for the Ministry of Health, which picked up most of her recommendations: among them, that New Zealand should be able to handle 1000 cases.
"Not everything is perfect but things are manageable now. I started out thinking there were problems with everything - the border, the testing and case-contact management, and the physical distancing. Now we're just talking about nuance with all of those things."
Asked about the publicity that had come with advocating improvement, she said there were times she'd felt she'd had enough attention and would rather had turned off her phone.
"But it felt very important to spend a lot of time explaining both contact tracing itself and the changes that needed to happen."
Sir David Skegg
The Herald's Derek Cheng called Sir David Skegg a "hurricane of fresh air" when he took our leadership to task over their handling of Covid-19.
The country's pre-eminent epidemiologist was a commanding presence before Parliament's Epidemic Response Committee in late March, bluntly telling officials it was make-or-break time.
"If we don't eliminate it in the next few weeks," he said, "the shutdown will continue for many months, or we will have a series of shutdowns that will paralyse our society for a year or 18 months, and it will never be the same again".
Sir David chastised them over everything from tracing and testing to border measures and strategy.
It wasn't just a case of speaking truth to power, but a refreshing change to careful government messaging that would convinced Kiwis that all was fine.
His arguments have resounded all the more strongly for the reason Sir David is an immensely respected figure in public health and in science more widely.
He's a former chair of the Health Research Council, the Science Board and the Public Health Commission, a former president of Royal Society Te Apārangi, a former Vice-Chancellor of Otago University, and a former consultant to the World Health Organisation.
He's never shied from being brutally forthright about New Zealand's public health failings.
"There is no longer a critical mass of public health expertise in the Ministry of Health," he wrote in his 2019 book, The Health of the People.
"The vacuum of leadership must be addressed without delay."