Students and Visitors


Grace-Lynn Chong, PhD candidate


I love the great outdoors and I spend most of my time tramping or going for walks. It is therefore a privilege for me to study something that I find much joy, in being one with the environment. On a more serious note, I am investigating the seasonal cycling of fresh water lakes and different trophic status effects on the bioaccumulation of monomethylmercury in trout in the Rotorua lakes. Monomethylmercury is the more toxic component of mercury and poses as a health hazard thus, there is a need for such data. I am being supervised by Associate Professor Nicholas Ling, Dr. Adam Hartland and Professor Brendan Hicks (University of Waikato). 

Tarn Drylie, PhD candidate


Since gaining a BSc Hon in Marine Biology at the University of Liverpool (UK), understanding the effects of human activities on the marine environment has fascinated me, and I am passionate about finding ways to protect it. My PhD research at the University of Waikato aims to establish the impact of two major stressors on estuarine ecological functioning: acidification from organic matter over-enrichment and elevated turbidity from increased sediment loading. I will investigate the potential for natural mechanisms to counteract or alleviate these pressures thereby maintaining ecosystem functioning. The buffering of sediment pH by calcium carbonate deposits will be studied with respect to acidification, and the functional role and importance of emerged estuarine sediments in buffering against turbidity through increased autotrophic production.

I am supported by a scholarship from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and supervised by Associate Professor Conrad Pilditch, Dr Adam Hartland, Dr Drew Lohrer (NIWA) and Dr Hazel Needham.

Phil Clunies-Ross, PhD candidate

Phil Clunies-Ross

I am passionate about our natural environment and this drives both my professional and personal interests. I spend the majority of my spare time white-water kayaking, tramping and generally getting amongst it out there.  In my working hours, I pursue my interests in characterising, quantifying and tracking the behaviour of environmental pollutants.

I am now investigating the role of glacial sediments in the transport of environmental contaminants for my PhD research. I have been conducting this investigation in the glaciated catchments of Canterbury, New Zealand. These areas are subject to increasing levels of pollution, primarily from agricultural intensification. They are also fed by a number of the country’s most prominent glaciers, all of which are in rapid retreat.

The data I generate will assist in predicting how glacier-fed rivers and lakes respond to these pressures. I am supervised by Professor Jenny Webster-Brown (Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management, Lincoln and Canterbury Universities), Dr Sally Gaw (Chemistry Department, University of Canterbury) and Dr Adam Hartland (School of Science, University of Waikato). I am supported by the UC Doctoral and the Meadow Mushrooms environmental research scholarships.

Helena Iuele, PhD candidate


Endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) have the ability to be mitochondria stress-toxicants, and they are connected to human and non-human fauna reproductive illness and metabolic disorders. The aim of my PhD project is to investigate the presence of bisphenolic plastics and synthetic hormones, known to be some of the most persistent and potent EDCs in term of estrogenic activity, in fresh water systems in New Zealand and evaluate their effect, in term of stress, on native species.

My studies are supported by the “Waikato University Doctoral Scholarship” and I am supervised by Associate Professor Nicholas Ling, Dr Adam Hartland and Dr Ryan Martinus.

John Mering, PhD candidate


For my Ph.D. at the University of Waikato, I am collecting C, O, and H stable isotope data to enhance understanding of fluid flow in epithermal ore bodies and modern geothermal analogs in New Zealand. Prior to enrolling at Waikato, I completed a M.Sc. in geochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles. At UCLA, I utilized carbonate clumped isotopes to reconstruct hydroclimate at Lake Bonneville, the largest lacustrine system in North America during the LGM. I received my Bachelor’s degree in geology at Pomona College in Claremont, CA. I have also worked as a geohydrologist in the groundwater industry in California. My areas of interest include stable isotope geochemistry, hydrothermal systems research, and environmental chemistry. I am also interested in teaching. At UCLA, I served as an instructor for two courses, and received a departmental Excellence in Teaching Award in 2013. I am originally from Boise, Idaho, USA.

Andrew Pearson, PhD candidate

Andrew Pearson

I have an interest in environmental change, having previously gained an MSc in Environment & Climate Change from the University of Liverpool (UK). In my PhD research (commencing May, 2015) under the supervision of Dr Adam Hartland, Dr Beth Fox and Dr Shaun Barker (University of Waikato), and Marcus Vandergoes (GNS Science), I will be aiming to use geochemical proxies within speleothems and lake sediments to reconstruct changes in the terrestrial carbon cycle through time.

Huma Saeed, PhD candidate

2016-05-17 11.11.25

My PhD project focuses on the interaction between iron nanoparticles and phosphorus in lake systems with high internal loadings of iron. The objective is to understand how iron influences the bioavailability of P to autotrophs.  



Theodore Alfred N.K Kpodonu, PhD Thesis: Temporal variability in the water quality of a deep, temperate, oligotrophic lake (submitted May 2016). Current position: Water quality scientist, Research Foundation of The City University of New York.

Julien Huteau, PhD Thesis: Fate & effects of estuarine contaminants as tracked by stable isotopes in Tauranga Harbour, New Zealand (submitted September 2015).

Mahdiyeh Salmanzadeh, PhD Thesis: Cadmium accumulation in agricultural soils (Submitted March 2017). Current position: Lecturer, Waikato Institute of Technology.


Te Puea Dempsey, MSc Thesis: Toitu Te Moananui a Toi –
The Effects of the MV Rena on the Water Quality, Chemistry and Zooplankton of Otaiti (Astrolabe Reef)

Caleb McSweeney, MSc Thesis: Rena copper sediment effects to Paua (Haliotis iris)

Summer research project students

Ben Scarlet (2014), Jain Abraham (2015), Amy Shen (2016), Alexander Truong (2017)

Undergraduate Research Students

Jackson White (2016), Katie O’Reilly (2017)


Dharshika Welikala, Lincoln University, June 2017.

Tihana Vujinovic, Lincoln University, June 2017.

Mirona Chirienco, Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology, May-June 2017.

Chaoyong Hu, China University of Geosciences, February – August 2016.

Niklas Lehto, Lincoln University, April 2016.

Martin Andersen, UNSW Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre. November-December 2014.

John Hellstrom, University of Melbourne, November 2015.

Chaoyong Hu, China University of Geosciences, January-July 2016.

Sebastian Breitenbach, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, September-October 2016.

Slide show of some of the visitors and undergrad students we’ve hosted recently

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