BEANZ Membership

All professional educators who have an interest in Biology Education in New Zealand are encouraged to become members of BEANZ.

Membership of BEANZ is via membership of NZASE. A supplementary subscription is payable for NZASE members to become a member of BEANZ.


Sharyn Varcoe – Senior Vice President

Involved in education since 2003, Sharyn passionately believes that professional development of educators is one of the keys to improved outcomes for all learners. This has led to her involvement in BEANZ, initially as Canterbury regional representative and co-chair of the BioLive2013 conference and latter as president.

She is currently Deputy Principal at Oxford Area School, a rural Years 1 to 15 school in North Canterbury. In her spare time she can usually be found making the most of the amazing environs of Canterbury with her partner and grown-up children.

Chantal Hillier – President (Regional Rep Liason)

Chantal joined BEANZ in 2018, since then she’s been working closely with BEANZ executive, regional representatives and facilitators, on a range of projects, to build the capacity of our subject association as a Network of Expertise. Having worked on a range of other executives over the years, Chantal brings valuable expertise to the Biology Educators in Aotearoa New Zealand. She also has prior experience in Primary Industry including hard commodities, extraction and Computer Science. Chantal is interested in all things science; with a special interest in Microbiology and Medicine. Having a broad background, she’s often looking to utilise cross curriculum links, STEM, meaningful progressions and pathways and data analysis to support learning outcomes for students. Chantal is grateful for the support and mentorship that Biology educators have given her, and hopes that she can give back in a meaningful way through her work on the executive.

Libby Caygill – Secretary

Libby has worked as a Developmental Biologist in labs in the USA and UK. After a 13 year career in research, gaining experience teaching at a tertiary level, she chose to make secondary teaching the focus of her future career. She is passionate about increasing public understanding of science and has a lot of fun making Genetics and Molecular Biology accessible to her own students. She is currently teaching at Cashmere High School in Christchurch.

Kenneth Loh – Exam Coordinator

Kenneth is a full time Bio/Science teacher at Ormiston Senior College in Auckland where he has been in charge of developing the Senior Biology curriculum since the realignment years in 2012. As a longtime fan of the assessment resources that BEANZ develops each year, he decided to join the exam writing team in 2016. In 2018 we managed to rope Kenneth into becoming our Examination Co-coordinator. He is now responsible for overseeing the production of the BEANZ exams each year. Kenneth has always enjoyed being involved with assessment and resource development, and hopes to give back to the Biology community, in this way.

Holly Wilson – Newsletter

Ian Reeves – Curriculum Development

Ian worked in his early career as a research biologist and outdoor educator before transitioning into education about 9 years ago. He is always looking for ways to bring current research into the classroom and finding opportunities to get students into the field and experience real life biology. He enjoys finding innovative ways to approach curriculum and assessment that focus on building students skills and capabilities.

Originally from Canada, Ian moved here over ten years ago and has fallen in love with the country. He spends a lot of his free time exploring with his partner and two little kiwis. He is currently the head of Science at Papanui High School in Christchurch.

Dr Nic Rawlence – Tertiary Representative

Dr Nic Rawlence is the director of the Otago Palaeogenetics Laboratory. His research projects include:

Impact of humans and climate change on New Zealand’s terrestrial, coastal and marine fauna

Evolution and phylogeography of New Zealand’s extinct avian fauna

Southern hemisphere biogeography

Fisheries induced evolution

Peter Sutton – Treasurer

Ben Himme – Website Coordinator

Ben is a full-time Biology teacher at Napier Girls High. In his spare time he develops  his own website for Science & Biology Teachers – (voted Interface Magazines Best Digital Resource 2015).  Ben is passionate about teaching Biology and was awarded a runner-up prize in the 2014 Warehouse Stationary NZ’s Most Inspiring Teachers competition. Ben is currently working on digital infrastructure for NZASE to improve the registration process to which BEANZ is tied. Ben chairs the Hawkes Bay Science and Technology Fair and enjoy riding Vespas / collecting Lego in his spare time.