Lake Roxburgh, Central Otago. Photo courtesy of Cynthia Winkworth

Theme Researchers

Spanning all four University of Otago Divisions and a Crown Research Institute, Catchments Otago offers a diverse wealth of research experience with which to help communities tackle their catchment and freshwater challenges. 

Michael Baker

Department of Public Health

Michael is a public health physician and professor of public health. He has a longstanding interest in infectious diseases and environmental health, including the effects of farming practices, climate change and housing conditions. He is Director of the University’s Health, Environment & Infection Research Unit (HEIRU) and Co-Director of He Kainga Oranga (Housing and Health Research Programme). Michael’s work over the past 25 years has included surveillance, investigation and research on many of New Zealand’s most important infectious diseases threats. He is helping to lead the Health Research Council funded research programme on the Havelock North campylobacter outbreak.

Barbara Barratt


Barbara is an entomologist focusing on biocontrol and biosecurity. She is both a Principle Scientist at AgResearch and an Honorary Professor in the Department of Botany. 

Carolyn Burns

Department of Zoology

Carolyn's research focus is on the effects of land use and climate change on physical, chemical and biological processes in Otago's lakes, reservoirs, ponds and wetlands from subalpine to sea level. She is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Zoology.  

anna carr

Department of Tourism

Anna researches cultural tourism, community development & wilderness recreation management. She is a Senior Lecturer in Tourism. 

Sally Carson

Department of Marine Science

Sally’s expertise is in the area of informal science education and development of educational resources. Her research interests include new approaches to public participation in scientific research (eg. citizen science). Sally is the Director of the NZ Marine Studies Centre, in the Department of Marine Science. 


Department of Geography

Nicolas' research centres on aspects of meteorology and climatology and has focused on the interactions of the atmosphere with snow and ice surfaces in the high and mid-latitudes. He is a Senior Lecturer in Geography. 

Peter Dillingham

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Peter is an ecological statistician who’s research focusses on assessing human-environment interactions. He develops quantitative methods to help manage at-risk populations, monitor our changing environment, or make better predictions from experiments. He is a Senior Lecturer in Statistics.

lisa ellis

Department of Philosophy

Lisa’s research is in environmental philosophy, political theory, and policy.  Current topics of interest include species conservation policy and democratic politics, structural dynamics of the politics of extinction prevention, understanding the human costs of biodiversity loss, and most recently, the ethics of high-carbon transport regimes.  She is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the programme in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. 


Department of Computer Science

David focuses on optimising data systems to increase efficiency, data capture, analysis and archiving of data, like that of time series and spatial data. He uses sensor networks to collect data efficiently and optimise large scale data storage and analysis. He is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science. 

claire freeman

Department of Geography

Claire's interests involve planning for the natural environment; specifically in relation to biodiversity and conservation planning, open space planning, the role of domestic gardens in urban biodiversity planning, sustainable settlements that focus on community planning and planning for the natural urban environment. She is a Professor of Geography. 

Stephanie Godfrey

Department of Zoology

Stephanie’s research focuses on the ecology of diseases in animal populations, and understanding the factors that drive disease transmission. In particular, she has focused on understanding how behaviour, and contacts between individuals, shape the transmission of infections through animal populations using social network models. She is interested in how human disturbances (e.g. urbanisation) may disrupt the transmission of diseases, and the implications of this for ‘spill-over’ events. She is a Lecturer in Zoology.

Christina Hulbe

School of Surveying

Christina's interest is in how and why ice sheets change over time. In many cases, there is a big mismatch between the relatively short time spans over which people have been observing polar ice and the much longer time scales for processes at work in those systems, so placing contemporary change in the right glaciological context, something that can be helped along using physics-based computational models. She is a Professor in Surveying.

Travis Ingram

Department of Zoology

Travis is an evolutionary ecologist with a focus on freshwater fish and invertebrates. He is interested in food web interactions, individual variability, speciation, and adaptation to new habitats. Current research address interactions between native and introduced fish, the ecological consequences of within-species diversity, and the evolutionary processes involved in landlocking of migratory fish. He is a Senior Lecturer in Zoology.

Jenny Jandt

Department of Zoology

Jenny's research focuses on the behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology of social insects (e.g., wasps, bees, and ants). Specifically, she studies social behaviour and development within and across colonies, and explores how populations may vary (in terms of aggression or activity) across environmental gradients. She is also assisting the Kakanui Community Catchment Project in the investigation of parasitoid and pollinator diversity across habitats with different levels of disturbance. She is a Lecturer in Zoology.


Department of Geography

Daniel works on climatology and hydrology, with particular interests in how large-scale climate variation drives changes in land-surface water availability, including the potential impacts of climate change on water resources. He is a Senior Lecturer in Geography. 

Simone Langhans

Department of Zoology

Simone is a freshwater ecologist with expertise in freshwater restoration, decision support theory and conservation planning. In her research she combines these topics to investigate - often in multi-disciplinary teams and together with stakeholders - alternative ways of solving complex environmental decision problems. Her current research interest is in collaborative freshwater management and the integration of cultural community values. Simone is a Marie-Skłodowska Curie Fellow affiliated with the University of Otago and the Basque Centre for Climate Change in Bilbao, Spain.

Matt Larcombe

Department of Botany

Matt’s research investigates how ecology and phylogenetic relationships interact to shape patterns of species diversity. He has also managed threatened species recovery plans through the design and implementation of long term demographic monitoring, seed-banking, habitat restoration, and community engagement.  He is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Botany. 


Department of Botany

Janice's researches how plant pollination and fruit dispersal systems have been influenced by the unique set of animals in New Zealand, pollination syndromes and breeding systems in alpine and subantarctic plants, the role of flower colour in pollinator attraction and the impact of climate change on alpine plants and their pollinators. She is a Senior Lecturer of Botany. 

Brent lovelock

Department of Tourism

Brent's background is in natural resource management and protected area tourism and recreation, with his main research interest in the application of sustainable tourism in its broadest sense, environmentally, socially and politically, by examining collaborative planning processes for sustainable tourism development. He is an Associate Professor in Tourism. 

James Maclaurin

James is a member of the Department of Philosophy and Associate Dean (Research) in the Division of Humanities. He specialises in philosophical issues in the life sciences and in philosophical methodology. He is the author with Kim Sterelny of What is Biodiversity? (2008, University of Chicago Press). 


Department of Geography

Sarah's research employs tracers to understand hydrological, geomorphological and glaciological processes, like hydrological pathways and exchanges that occur at the catchment level in catchments across the South Island of New Zealand. She uses a range of dissolved ions to characterise the climatic and geomorphological influences on water chemistry in upland catchments, particularly for informing spatial and temporal variations in hydrogeochemistry. She is a Lecturer in Geography. 

Alan Mark

Department of Botany

Alan works on the ecology, conservation and environmental management of indigenous vegetation, especially of tussock grassland, forest, lakeshore, wetland and alpine ecosystems, and has played a key role in the conservation status of New Zealand's indigenous grasslands. Sir Alan Mark is an Emeritus Professor of Botany. 

Candace Martin

Department of Geology

Candice uses isotopic and trace element analysis to study the transport of sediment and water quality in rivers, estuaries and near-shore marine environments, with specific projects locating the sources of nutrients and pollutants in Australian and New Zealand water bodies. She is a Senior Lecturer in Geology. 


Department of Marketing

Damien's research flows from his interest in understanding human decision making, and impacts areas including strategy, policy and branding in international business; pricing, distribution and brand management; and business communications. His expertise includes advanced quantitative research methods and techniques applied to customer analytics, including experimental design and analysis of choice and best/worst scaling tasks, data mining, web analytics, text mining and primary market research. He is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing. 

Christoph Matthaei

Department of Zoology

Christoph is an aquatic ecologist whose research focuses on disturbance ecology and multiple stressors in running waters. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Zoology.

Antoni Moore

School of Surveying

Antoni researches in the areas of spatial analysis, modelling, geographic visualisation and cartography for a number of application areas, including zoology, botany and ecology. He is a Senior Lecturer in Geographical Information Science.


Department of Geography

Ralf's research is to understand the environmental drivers of the spatial distribution of life in relation to biogeography and climate change. His work involves developing and mapping ecologically relevant climate change indices at a range of spatial scales and how spatial patterns of plant biodiversity and community structure, in particular in fragmented environments, came about through past changes in climatic conditions and what might happen to these patterns in the future. He is a Lecturer in Geography. 


Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Environmental Toxicology projects in the Rosengren lab involve low cost water purification solutions. Specifically, the lab is investigating the ability of various fruit and vegetable peels to remove common heavy metal contaminates from drinking water. The exact conditions required to remove a range of heavy metals will be determined so that an affordable water purification system can be developed. This project is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Candace Martin from the Department of Geology. 


Faculty of Law

Jacinta's research focus has been on exploring Indigenous peoples' legal rights to own, manage and govern land and water, including national parks and minerals in Aotearoa New Zealand through Environmental Law and Māori, Law and landscapes, and Law and geography. She is a Professor of Law. 


Department of Zoology

Marc is interested in how lakes, wetlands and estuaries respond to changes in climate, activities in the catchment, and species invasions. He studies how lakes have changed in the past by analysing lake sediment cores to learn about historical changes to catchments, water quality, hydrology and the ecology of lake systems. Marc is the current President of the New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society and a Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology.


School of Surveying

Pascal's interests are in remote sensing and photogrammetry, specifically monitoring of the cryosphere with a focus on snowpack variability and the behaviour of temperate glaciers. He performs land cover mapping from aerial and satellite imagery, like the monitoring of snow cover dynamics and optical properties in the Pisa range, as well as in the whole Clutha catchment. Pascal is a Senior Lecturer in Surveying. 

Janet Stephenson

Centre for Sustainability

Janet undertakes collaborative, interdisciplinary research involving indigenous resource management, the interconnections between people and their local environments, and the role of individuals and communities in the transition to a sustainable energy future. She is the Director of the Centre for Sustainability. 

claudine stirling

Department of Chemistry

Claudine’s research uses trace elements and their isotopes to investigate the mobilty and fate of metals in the environment. This includes bioactive and redox-sensitive metals, which provide useful proxies of changes in the ocean-atmosphere system through time, providing boundary conditions for scenarios of future climate change. Claudine is also Director of the Centre for Trace Element Analysis, which houses ICP-MS instrumentation for concentration and isotopic analysis of metals. 

Mick Strack

School of Surveying

Mick’s teaching and research interests revolve around land law, property rights, resource management and planning, with a particular focus on rivers and the coast. He is a senior lecturer at the School of Surveying.

Yolanda van Heezik

Department of Zoology

Yolanda's research examines birds and other wildlife in urban areas, biodiversity of gardens, resident attitudes and knowledge about biodiversity, and most recently, children’s connection with nature across three NZ cities. She is currently exploring how ageing affects nature in our lives and is an Associate Professor in Zoology. 

sara walton

Department of Management

Sara's research includes examining ecopreneurial businesses in New Zealand, social enterprise and for-benefit organisations, business responses to climate change, understanding natural resource based conflicts and analysing triple bottom line (TBL) company reports and constructions of sustainability. She is a Senior Lecturer in Management. 

Nicola wheen

Faculty of Law

Nicola’s main research interest is New Zealand environmental law. She has worked with the Humane Society (International), the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, the Whale and Dolphin Trust and the Environmental Defence Society on specific projects, and co-drafted the Marine Animals Protection Law Reform Bill. She is an Associate Professor in Law. 

Peter Whigham

Department of Information Science

Peter has a background in computational modelling, specifically with spatial and temporal data describing ecological systems, like decision support systems for catchment management and characterising system dynamics and non-stationarity in ecological systems. He is an Associate Professor in Information Science.  


Department of Botany

Cynthia's research employs a combination of experimental and survey-based approaches to investigate land-use impacts on freshwater microbiology, specifically for public health concerns, and the development of antibiotic resistance reservoirs. She is a Research Fellow in the Department of Botany. 

mara wolkenhauer

Research and Enterprise

Mara's research has focused on an indigenous invertebrate fishery and more recently waterway health issues and water quality policies. She is a Research Enterprise Manager for Environment, Energy and Primary Industries research.