Gerda is a chemical & materials engineer with more than 30 years’ experience working for a broad range of industries and organisations in New Zealand and Australia. This has included the areas of air quality, climate, fisheries, aquaculture, mining, renewable energy, water quality and even a stint on Easter Island assisting with archaeological site restoration.
Gerda gained her Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical & Materials Engineering in 1985, worked for Shell BP and Todd as a process design engineer on Maui A Platform and the on-shore production station. In 1990, she returned to Auckland University to complete a PhD in Aluminium Smelter Technology for ALCOA of Australia.
Gerda then joined the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) for nine years, working as a researcher then Principal Scientist in urban air quality/climate and as Regional Manager – Auckland. She left NIWA in 2004 to lead the team at Auckland Regional Council (ARC) on the implementation of the national environmental standards for air quality (the first such standards in New Zealand). Following the finalisation of the Auckland air quality management strategy, Gerda set up the Environmental Sustainability team and was responsible for developing the Auckland region’s responses to climate change and energy.
In 2008, Gerda and colleague Jayne Metcalfe founded Emission Impossible Ltd – a consultancy specialising in improved management of air quality and vehicle emissions. In 2012, she was the lead author of the Updated Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand (HAPINZ) study as well as the first national compliance strategy to meet the national environmental standards for air quality. Since 2008 Gerda has been an independent professional advisor to the NZ Transport Agency and Ministry of Transport, as well as advising various regional councils on air quality management and environmental sustainability. She has also been engaged as a Gateway reviewer for NZ Treasury reviewing major projects and programmes at key points in their lifecycles to assess the likelihood of successful delivery of their outcomes.
Gerda is a past President and Fellow of the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand (a leading professional body for air quality and climate change practitioners in Australasia) and was a foundation board member of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership NZ initiative, which was set up to promote clean low carbon vehicles and fuels in New Zealand. She is currently appointed to the Environment Protection Authority as a board member and has been on two decision making committees reviewing applications to undertake activities in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
In addition to publishing more than 400 technical reports, good practice guides, briefing papers, submissions and articles on air quality and environmental sustainability, Gerda also has numerous publications promoting science and engineering as career options. She has been actively involved in professional education and mentoring programmes for many years through the Motor Industry Training Organisation, the Resource Management Advisory Committee for UniTec, the Training Activities Executive for the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand, the Auckland City Science Fair, and numerous women in science / engineering events promoted by IPENZ and others. Gerda is currently on the Industry Advisory Board for the faculty of Chemical and Materials Engineering at Auckland University.