Sir Ian Axford, the 1995 New Zealander of the Year, is director of the prestigious Max-Planck Institute of Aeronomy.

One of the last people in New Zealand to be knighted under the old honours system, Sir Ian was also the 1995 New Zealander of the Year, in recognition of his distinguished international career in the field of space science.A world leader in his field, and arguably one of this country's finest exports, Sir Ian's career 'took off ' with the 1960s 'space race' between the USA and the USSR (although today he is a leading advocate of international co-operation in space). During this time, he was a professor at two leading American universities; Cornell University, in New York, and then at the San Diego campus of the University of California.

Since 1974, the New Zealander has been the Director of the Max-Planck-Institut für Aeronomie, in Germany - a position that has placed him at the forefront of near-Earth and Solar System research. He was closely involved with the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 planetary explorers, and the Comet Halley space-probe. Current projects include the Ulysses galaxy explorer, and the plan to drop a space-lander on a comet in the year 2011. Sir Ian has not only enlightened thousands of colleagues with his prolific, often ground-breaking research over the last 30 years, but he is also Committed to the growth and popularisation of science.

He is currently Chair of the Marsden Fund, which assists important scientific research in NZ, and is the Auckland Institute of Technology's 1997 visiting fellow.

It is Sir Ian's desire to make science more understandable, and more interesting for the public, and to encourage children and students to pursue career goals in the ever-expanding world of science.