Mahu Whenua , Central Otago. Photo courtesy of Christoph Matthaei

Our Researchers

Spanning multiple departments across the University of Otago, researchers specifically working within Mahu Whenua boundaries have diverse backgrounds and experiences. 

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. 

Gerry Closs

Department of Zoology

Gerry is an empirical estuarine and freshwater ecologist focusing on fish and invertebrates, whose research has included the life history, behaviour, and migration of native and introduced fishes. He has advised governmental and community groups, ministerial appointments to Special Tribunals on applications for Water Conservation Orders, and is an Associate Professor of Zoology.

Kath dickinson

Department of Botany

Kath is a plant ecologist with interests in plant-animal interactions especially in relation to biodiversity conservation. She seeks to understand the influences of plant composition (native and introduced), plant species abundance and vegetation structure on plant and animal communities. Her research covers natural to urban habitats, from mountains to coast in temperate to tropical environments. She has held Royal Society of New Zealand and ministerial appointments on national and local advisory organisations, and has a long history of working with community groups in New Zealand and elsewhere. She is a Professor 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. 

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 Zoology

Phil's research focus is on the restoration of native species, particularly through the use of conservation translocation, including reintroduction. He is a member of the IUCN's Reintroduction Specialist Group, scientific advisor to a number of species recovery programmes in New Zealand and overseas, a Professor in Zoology, and Director of the Postgraduate Wildlife Management Programme at the University of Otago.  


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. 

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.