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Lisa Ward

DSC00355Lisa has been a member of the Haunted Auckland team since November 2014.

Born and raised in England, I left home at 18 to do a degree in Applied Biology (Liverpool Polytechnic) and completed a PhD in plant pathology at the University of Edinburgh, then worked as a Post-Doctoral Scientist at Montana State University Bozeman, USA. My work at CSL involved research and development of molecular diagnostics for viruses and virus vectors of agricultural crops.

In 2006, I was offered a job at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Plant Health and Environment Laboratory (PHEL) in New Zealand and have been with them since. Starting as a Senior Scientist in the Virology and Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) team, and now the Manager of the team. I currently have over 30 publications in peer reviewed journals (includes a couple of book chapters), In addition, I recently became a Senior Editor for the Journal of Plant Disease.

I grew up in a household with religious parents was taken to events where I witnessed the healing of the sick and casting out of demons etc. Looking back now it seems like a lifetime ago and I feel quite cynical about much of what I was exposed to, and in many respects indoctrinated. However, I think the experiences I had growing up coupled with my scientific nature (which was apparent to me at a very early age) has led me to always query whether there is more to life than what we can currently perceive with our limited senses and understanding. As a biologist, I know that biological systems are so incredibly complex that we still don’t really understand much of what happens in the world around us. If we can’t easily understand the natural world, I often question how much harder it is then to understand things outside of this. To me it isn’t a question of ‘could something exist beyond our comprehension?’ it’s ‘how could there not be things that exist beyond our comprehension?’

From my teenage years I became really interested in UFOs and aliens etc. As I’ve gotten older (and more grounded!), I’ve seen my views change on the existence of aliens. I’m quite interested in cryptozoology, including Bigfoot, Yowie’s etc. and whether they do actually exist. Despite some people’s best efforts, again there is still a distinct lack of evidence. New species of mammals are occasionally still found. In the world of microbiology in which I work, we’re continually finding new species (my team has found many new to science viruses and a liberibacter). So there is still a lot left to discover; my jury is still out on this one.

I’m also very interested and an avid reader of medieval history. Having grown up in the UK and being surrounded by places or buildings where I know there has been a lot of history, I believe with all of the human life (which would include happiness, sadness, fear, violence, tragedy) that has gone through these places over hundreds of years, I can believe there may be residual energy still there, or spirits that are attached to places or objects.

I’m really enjoying being with the team and the advantage of being in the team rather than by yourself is that you can learn from the other team members. Many of the team have been investigating for many years and they can draw on their knowledge and experience to explain and debunk some things other less experience people may take at face value as being paranormal. I know in science not to take things at face value, I can see this very much applies to paranormal investigation.

Lisa investigates at Mangawhai