Lisa Emerson

Professor Lisa Emerson, Massey University is an award-winning tertiary teacher and an experienced lead researcher in the area of information and academic literacies. Lisa is leading a three-year TLRI project which researches information literacy and the library in senior secondary and tertiary teaching.

The information literacy crisis – exploring a way forward.

While 2020 may be remembered as the year the world stood still, immobilised by a global pandemic, it may also be characterised as the year the information crisis - which had been emerging for some time – came into clear focus. Conspiracy theories have become mainstream, anti-science groups are jeopardising the pandemic recovery, and millions of people are refusing to accept factual information supported by evidence in the results of a super power’s election, threatening democratic processes and  the political stability of the entire world. In the light of this crisis, it has never been more important that our education system produces information literate citizens who are able to critically engage with the digital world. As educators and information literacy leaders, this is a good time to take stock of what we’re doing: what’s working? What’s not? In this presentation, Professor Lisa Emerson explores the findings of a three-year project investigating information literacy in schools and tertiary institutions. She reflects, in particular, on the effectiveness of librarian-teacher partnerships and the gap in literacy expectations between secondary and tertiary education, and introduces a range of new information literacy tools developed by her research.


Toby Morris is an Auckland based illustrator, comic artist and writer. He is the Creative Director of The Spinoff and the author of the non-fiction comic series The Side Eye. He has published several books including Te Tiriti O Waitangi: a graphic novel explaining the history of the Treaty of Waitangi. He is a three time winner of 'Best Artwork' at the New Zealand media awards, and winner of 'Cartoonist of the Year' for 2019.

In 2020 he began a collaboration with Dr Siouxsie Wiles communicating scientific ideas around the Covid-19 pandemic. Several of their graphics, like 'Flatten the Curve' and 'Reduce the Spread' were shared around the world and adapted for use by international governments. That work lead to The World Health Organisation (WHO) hiring Toby and The Spinoff team to deliver content in support of the global effort to combat the pandemic, which they continue to do.

Going viral

In March 2020, University of Auckland microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles and Spinoff cartoonist Toby Morris joined forces to make the science of COVID-19 clear and understandable. Releasing their work under a Creative Commons licence, their graphics have been translated into multiple languages and adapted by institutions, organisations, and governments as part of their official pandemic communications. Described as “the poetry of the pandemic”, their work has been seen by millions and led to the WHO contracting Toby and the Spinoff to help with their communication work. In this session, Toby and Siouxsie will talk about their partnership and what they’ve learned about communicating complex science during a pandemic.   

Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles, University of Auckland. Dr Siouxsie Wiles is a microbiologist and Associate Professor at the University of Auckland. Siouxsie heads up the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab where she and her team make bacteria glow in the dark to understand how infectious microbes make us sick and to find new medicines. She is also passionate about demystifying science, often collaborating with artists and animators to do this. In 2017 she published her first book, ‘Antibiotic resistance: the end of modern medicine?’ and in 2019 was appointed a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to microbiology and science communication. During COVID-19 Siouxsie joined forces with Spinoff cartoonist Toby Morris to make the science of the pandemic clear and understandable. Releasing their work under a Creative Commons licence, their graphics have been translated into multiple languages and have been adapted by various governments and organisations as part of their official pandemic communications.

Academic publishing and open access from a scientist’s perspective

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world just how important rapid sharing and access to high quality scientific research is. In her presentation, microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles will talk about how the current academic publishing model actively works against the best interests of humanity and just how important open access to findings has been for her role communicating the science of COVID-19 to the public and policy makers.