After graduating from the University of Auckland, with a BA/BSc Conjoint and BSc Honours in Chemistry, I traveled the world for three years. During this time I visited many communities feeling the effects of poor nutrient management, and nutrient run-off. Farmers in developed nations such as New Zealand face the same challenges. Excess nutrient concentration is one of the key determinants of the health and quality of fresh water systems. Under the supervision of Dr Adam Hartland, Professor Louis Schipper, and Professor Bill Henderson, I am undertaking a PhD research project developing a Diffusive Gradients in Thin-Films (DGT) sensor that integrates colourimetry to measure nitrates/nitrites and phosphates in fresh water. The aim is to produce a tool that is easy to use, accurate, and very affordable.
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).
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.
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.
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. My studies are supported by a Waikato University Environmental Research Institute Scholarship.
My journey in Environmental Studies started in Iran, where I completed my MSc in Environmental Engineering at Iran University of Science and Technology. I have a strong interest in the fate and transport of contaminants in soils and aquifers. My PhD thesis is entitled “From soil to groundwater: assessing the leaching potential of cadmium across gradients of soil type and land-use”. In this study, I aim to deploy Diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT) solution probes in groundwater piezometers to monitor the concentration of Cd. This approach will be extended by measurement of the Cd isotope composition in order to characterise the Cd source(s) and biogeochemical processes affecting Cd mobilisation. I am supported by the Waikato University Doctoral Scholarship and supervised by Dr Adam Hartland and Prof. Louis Schipper. Aside from my academic interests, I enjoy exercising, camping, sport fishing and cooking!
MSc and Hons RESEARCHERS
I gained my BSc in Chemistry at The University of Waikato and am now undertaking a Masters project that allows me to apply this knowledge to another of my interests- environmental research. Trace metals are known to respond to environmental variables and thus they have been a focus of speleothem scientists for their possible use as climate proxies. Trace metal incorporation at the speleothem surface is understood to respond to a number of factors including temperature, the growth rate of calcite and characteristics of the drip solution. However despite a long history of research on trace element partitioning into calcite, many uncertainties remain regarding the controls on trace metal incorporation into speleothems. My Masters’ project will involve studying the dissociation of metal-ligand complexes during calcite-precipitation. This will help us to understand the effects of organic ligands in cave drip waters on trace metal incorporation into speleothem calcite, and thus help to establish the use of trace metals as robust and reliable proxies for paleoclimate reconstructions using speleothems.
My BSc (hons) dissertation will focus on the process of cave corrosion and how to measure this phenomenon in touristic caves. Cave corrosion rates are likely to be increased in touristic caves due to the higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations, but the importance of other aspects of cave microclimate (e.g. humidity) remains uncertain. Understanding cave corrosion is important for the preservation and longevity of features in touristic caves, such as stalagmites, stalactites and flowstones. My project is under the supervision of Dr Adam Hartland and in conjunction with Waitomo Group environmental officer, Carl Fisher.
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.
Phil Clunies-Ross, PhD Thesis: Glacial Suspended Particulate Material (SPM): Characterisation as an agent of nutrient and contaminant transport in freshwaters (Submitted December 2017).
Helena Iuele, PhD Thesis: In situ measurements of endocrine disrupting chemicals in environmental waters (Submitted May 2018).
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) (2015)
Caleb McSweeney, MSc Thesis: Rena copper sediment effects to Paua (Haliotis iris) (2015)
Chris Eager, MSc Thesis: Biogeochemical Characterisation of an Alum Dosed Stream:
Implications for Phosphate Cycling in Lake Rotoehu (2017)
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)
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.
Niklas Lehto, Lincoln University, April 2016.
Sebastian Breitenbach, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, September-October 2016.
Tihana Vujinovic, Lincoln University, June and October 2017.
Dharshika Welikala, Lincoln University, June 2017.
Mirona Chirienco, Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology, May-June 2017.
Andreas Holbach, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), October – December 2017
Ry Farley, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, October – December 2017
David Dominguez-Villar, Ruđer Bošković Institute, Zagreb, January- February 2018
Maximilian Hansen, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, April – May 2018
Slide show of some of the visitors and students in our group