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Our people at Agriculture at Otago

Executive Management Committee 

Emeritus Professor Frank Griffin (Director)

Microbiology and immunology

Emeritus Professor Frank Griffin is the Director of the Ag@Otago research theme at the University of Otago, a new initiative drawing on the strengths in plant and animal production, food and health, and sustainability. With over 40 years experience in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology he is a consultant to many international committees and consortia, and a member of societies of immunology and microbiology in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. He has been Director of the Disease Research laboratory which has developed vaccines and laboratory techniques to diagnose yersiniosis, tuberculosis (TB) in deer and paratuberculosis (Johne’s disease) in cattle, deer and sheep. He was awarded the 1990 NZ Deer Industry Award and the ONZM in 2003 for his contribution to science in New Zealand. He was also awarded the Pickering Medal for Innovation in Technology by the NZ Royal Society in 2010 and elected as a Fellow of the NZ Royal Society in 2012. Professor Griffin’s current field of interest is how stress, host genetics and modern farming practices influence immunity and disease resistance in domestic livestock. His current research explores how host genetics influence resistance and susceptibility to infectious diseases.  Future research in the Disease Research Laboratory (DRL) will focus on parasites in domesticated ruminants, with the goal to use immunotherapies to transform Natural Infections into Vaccines.  Professor Griffin was awarded the Commercialisation Researcher Award at the Annual School of Biomedical Sciences Awards 2016.

Dr Anna Campbell

Industry representation

Anna specialises in using commercially focused science to improve agricultural food products.  She has a PhD in Biotechnology and has worked in science roles in Australia and New Zealand.  In her desire to become more commercially focused she joined AbacusBio nine years ago, a firm which bridges science and business, where she is now the Managing Director.  

Professor Hugh Campbell

Environmental management (on sabbatical leave 2016)

Hugh Campbell is the Chair of Sociology at the University of Otago specialising in the Sociology of Agriculture and Food. From 2000-2010 he was the Director of the Centre for Sustainability (CSAFE) leading research at the interface between social and environmental sciences in the pursuit of agricultural sustainability.  His main research interests focus on the consequences of agricultural liberalisation in New Zealand after the 1980s and that way in which new ‘alternative’ agricultural niches emerged during the 1990s and 2000s. He is particularly interested in the rise in new governance systems - including audits of environmental and sustainability performance - in agri-food systems including things like certified organic, GLOBAL-GAP, Fair Trade, Free Range and a range of industry-specific audit systems in Kiwifruit, Sheep/Beef and Wine.  His recent books consider key areas in the changing politics of food and farming: Rethinking Agricultural Policy Regimes: Food Security, Climate Change and the Future Resilience of Global Agriculture (2012, with Reidar Almas), Food Systems Failure: The Global Food Crisis and the Future of Agriculture (2012, with Chris Rosin and Paul Stock), Waste Matters: New Perspectives on Food and Society (2013, with David Evans and Anne Murcott), and Biological Economies: Experimentation and the Politics of Agri-Food Frontiers (2016, with Richard Le Heron, Michael Carolan and Nick Lewis). 

Associate Professor Richard Macknight

Agricultural productivity

Associate Professor Macknight is one of New Zealand’s leading plant molecular-geneticists. The focus of his research is to understand the genetics of important traits, such as flowering time and vitamin C regulation. This research makes extensive use of high-throughput sequence data and has lead, for example, in his laboratory discovering the genes that control onion flowering and bulb formation. His laboratory is also developing novel methods for DNA diagnostic and marker tests. Associate Professor Macknight has a has a joint appointment with Plant & Food Research Ltd and collaborates widely with scientists to translate genetic knowledge into crop plants for the benefit of New Zealand growers and consumers

Professor Indrawati Oey

Product value

Professor Indrawati Oey focuses on the development of processing strategies to add value to agricultural produce. She is interested in mechanisms and kinetics of enzymatic and chemical reactions to assure the safety and quality of products. Indra is a Professional member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), United States and a Fellow at the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology (NZIFST). She had been internationally elected as a member-at-large of the Executive Committee Board of Non-thermal Processing Division at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), United States (2012-2015). She was the Chair of Training and Development for European Project funded NovelQ project (2005-2008) and Secretary of the Otago/Southland Branch New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology (2012-2015). She is currently a Principal Investigator of the Riddet Institute CoRE.

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Agriculture at Otago researchers

Agriculture at Otago has an extensive range of researchers focused on improving farming profitability and sustainability.

To help you find the expertise you need we've listed our researchers alphabetically by name under each sub-theme. Each entry has a brief outline of their expertise and a link to more information.

Our Agriculture at Otago A-Z directory has the complete list of researchers if you're looking for a particular name.

Enhancing agricultural production

Associate Professor Greg Anderson

Neuroendocrinology and reproduction

Research projects investigate the ways which the brain’s reproductive control centres sense and respond to hormonal signals that indicate an animal's nutritional status, as well as the mechanisms by which stress and anxiety signals are generated in mammals. Using a variety of of transgenic animal models, we hope to elucidate the neural pathways by which hormones and neuropeptides regulate reproduction and stress responses, and how stress affects fertility.

Dr Benoit Auvray

Statistics

Dr Auvray is a statistician and quantitative geneticist specialising in researching and implementing genetic evaluation systems for farm animals, integrating individual performance, pedigree and genomic information.

Dr Olaf Bork

Point–of–care diagnostic and drug delivery system

Dr Bork is Head of the Bayer Centre for Dairy Animal Health / Pharmaceutical Science and Product Innovations.  His current research involves:

  • Drug delivery systems
  • Nano, micro, and macro encapsulation
  • Formulation technology
  • Point–of–care diagnostic

Dr Heather Brooks

Applied and clinical microbiology

Current research projects include:

  • Bioactivity of a hydrogel for use post-surgery
  • Necrotising enterocolitis in neonates and effects of a probiotic
  • Antimicrobial and wound healing activity of natural extracts and organometallic compounds
  • Quantitative PCR for detection of Shiga toxin producing bacteria

Dr Lynette Brownfield

Plant development

Dr Brownfield is using genetic and molecular approaches to characterize mutants that are defective in key stages of male gametophyte (pollen) development. Like in animals, sexual reproduction in flowering plants relies upon the production of male (sperm) and female (eggs) gametes and their fusion upon fertilization. Despite the importance of plant fertility for seed production and agricultural productivity, relatively little is known about the molecular processes underlying gamete development and function.

Professor Richard Cannon

Drug resistance in microbes

Professor Cannon is President of the New Zealand Microbiological Society the aim of which is to foster the generation and dissemination of knowledge of microbiology in New Zealand. He is also Director of the University of Otago Sir John Walsh Research Institute.  His main research interest is in oral yeast: how they colonise the oral cavity, how they cause disease, and ways of preventing them causing disease. He uses molecular approaches to determine how oral yeast adhere, what makes them pathogenic, how they become resistant to antifungal drugs, how drug resistance can be overcome and to screen for novel antifungal agents. Richard also uses baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as a tool to express and study proteins, including potential drug targets, from fungi (including phytopathogens) and nematodes that infect sheep and cattle.

Dr Shannon Clarke

Genomics

Senior Scientist, AgResearch involved in the development and implementation of genomic tools such as low and high density SNP arrays and genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) technology for the NZ livestock and aquaculture industries to enable genomic predictions for animal genetic improvement. Shannon is an active member of the International Sheep Genome Consortium, member of the International FAANG (Functional Annotation of the Animal Genome) Consortium and on the International Society for Animal Genetics Ruminant Genetics and Genomics committee.

Current research interests:

  • Development and implementation of genotyping by sequencing in a number of species, including sheep, deer, cattle, salmon and mussels.
  • Development and implementation of SNP chip array genotyping in the livestock industry
  • Functional annotation of the sheep genome with an emphasis on DNA methylation

Dr Michele Coleman

Research and Development

After completing her PhD at Edinburgh University on the PrP protein associated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, Michele came to Otago to complete a Marsden-funded postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Biochemistry. Since then she has held a number of positions in the Division of Health Sciences, culminating in her present role. Michele advises the Pro-Vice-Chancellor on all aspects of research strategy within the Division. This includes development of strategy, responses to government initiatives, and allocation of Divisional funding for research.

Professor Greg Cook

Pathogenic and environmental microbial physiology

Professor Cook's research is focused on developing bacterial metabolism and energetics as drug targets to combat bacterial pathogens and environmental microorganisms that contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. The goal of this research is to produce a new class of antibiotics—termed metabiotics, that specifically target the metabolism of microorganisms.
This research includes:

  • Bacteriology
  • Biochemistry
  • Protein purification and crystallography
  • PC3 laboratory experiments
  • Molecular biology
  • Genetics

Dr Belinda Cridge

Toxicology and animal welfare

Dr Cridge's research focuses on toxicology in animals, particularly production animals. She is interested in animals that have ingested a toxic substance or cases where animals may be being exposed to unknown toxins in the environment. Her group likes to work with primary producers to help solve the issues they face on the farm.

Toxicity of swede plants in dairy cattle is a current focus. With collaborators at the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences at Massey University she is investigating a range of potentially toxic compounds found in brassicas. This stemmed from concerns about phototoxicity and deaths in cattle in Southland in 2014. Her team is conducting a range of in vitro studies to determine the overall toxicity of the compounds as well as conducting preliminary mechanistic studies to find out why the toxicity happened and what could be done to prevent it.

Dr Cridge also has a strong interest in animal welfare for both research and production animals and is a member of ANZCCART (NZ) a committee of the Royal Society of NZ charged with educating and advocating for animal welfare in NZ.

Dr Cridge's experimental background is in mechanistic toxicology, finding out why things are toxic in different species, and liver toxicology. She works extensively with the drug metabolising enzymes (CYP450, UGT and ST) as well as transporter systems such as ABCG2 (BCRP). Her lab has skills in in vitro investigations as well as whole animal systems.

Professor Peter Dearden

Developmental genetics and genomics

Peter’s research interests are evolution and development, genome evolution, and how patterning processes change over evolutionary time to give us the diversity of morphology we see in organisms today.
Peter also works closely with the honeybee industry on honeybee genetics, and in the sheep industry to study the maternal influences on later sheep production traits. Peter is involved in the Bio-heritage National Science Challenge on novel wasp control methods and works with the BioProtection Research Centre on biocontrol of pasture pests.

Professor Julian Eaton-Rye

Photosynthesis

Our research concentrates on structure-function studies of Photosystem II in plants and cyanobacteria. Currently we're investigating protein-protein interactions that facilitate sustained water-splitting activity by Photosystem II in response to changing environmental conditions such as fluctuating light levels, temperature and pH. We are also interested in protein factors that are required for the assembly of Photosystem II.

Associate Professor Peter Fineran

Biological control of plant pathogens

Our research goal is to understand the interactions between mobile genetic elements, such as bacteriophages and plasmids, and their bacterial hosts. Our main interest is in phage resistance mechanisms.

Dr Steve Fleming

Microbiology and immunology

Research interests are applied and molecular immunology, viral pathogenesis, and molecular virology. Current research is in relation to virus host interactions, in particular accessory factors that parapoxviruses encode to subvert host defence mechanisms and to modify cell physiological processes.

Professor David Grattan

Neuromodulation of reproduction

Professor Grattan's research is in relation to regulation of body weight: brain adaptions to pregnancy, neuroendocrinology, hormones and the brain, and sex differences in brain function.

Associate Professor Paul Guy

Plant virology

Research interests include plant virology; plant pathology; grass endophytes, as well as community outreach.

Dr Matloob Husain

Microbiology and immunology

Research areas: molecular virology, viral pathogenesis and epidemiology. Research interest includes understanding the molecular basis of virus-host interactions. Viruses are obligate intracellular parasites that exploit host factors to complete an infection cycle and cause disease. Therefore, current research mainly focuses on the identification of novel host factors involved in the infection of influenza virus, an important human and avian pathogen. In future, keen to do research on bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV), which seriously affects more than half of New Zealand cattle.

Dr Marion Johnson

Animal productivity

Dr Marion Johnson's background is in sheep and cattle farming in NZ, UK and Zambia to a Masters in PhD in Veterinary Parasitology.  Her current research involves natural animal health, antiparasitic plants and diets for dairy goats.  Dr Johnson is also involved in sustainable and profitable environmental management (Indigenous Agroecology) through the Future Farming Centre

Dr Rajesh Katare

Cardiovascular disease, and diabetes

Dr Katare's research interests include molecular mechanisms involved in the development of cardiovascular complications in diabetes including the role of microRNAs in cardiovascular diseases and the development of novel genetic and stem cell therapies for the treatment of ischemic and non-ischemic cardiovascular complications.

Professor Iain Lamont

Microbial molecular biology

Research interests include pathogenicity of Pseudomonas bacteria, that cause very problematic infections in a wide range of plant and animal species.

Current research areas include:

  • How do the bacteria survive and thrive during infection?
  • Can we improve on current metal- and antibiotic-based therapies?
  • Use of comparative genomics to better understand how bacteria evolve during infections

Dr Beckie Laurie

Genomics and bioinformatics

Dr Laurie investigates the regulation of flowering time. She is currently the Otago Genomics Facility Manager overseeing operations and service provision.

Dr Michael Lee

Animal genetics and breeding

Michael's background in science is in animal breeding, particularly sheep, and he has worked in plant breeding/biotech in Sweden and genomics in NZ. After retraining in economics Michael worked in health economics in the UK, animal breeding (quantitative genetics; genomic selection and economic evaluation) largely in beef cattle, as well as animal genomics. Michael's current research based at the Dept of Mathematics and Statistics is in genomic predictions and animal genetic improvement, in particular, maternal traits for sheep.

Dr Mark Lokman

Aquaculture and reproduction

Mark's research interests centre around the control of reproduction in fish, both at basic and applied science levels:

  • Artificial reproductive technologies in fish
  • Growth and reproduction of aquaculture species in New Zealand
  • Endocrine regulation of metamorphosis
  • Control of previtellogenic oocyte growth

Dr Arlene McDowell

Biopharmaceutical science

Research interests include drug delivery for veterinary species and the application of pharmaceutical formulation for wildlife applications. Also assessment and formulation of antioxidant phytochemicals.

Dr John McEwan

Animal genetics and genomics

Principal scientist, at AgResearch and Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand is involved in animal genetics and genomics research. Previous and current work includes sequencing genomes and building genotyping platforms including SNP chips and genotyping by sequencing methodologies. Trait specialties are host genetics of methane emissions, disease and meat traits.

Current research involves:

  • A project to breed animals with lower methane emission profiles
  • Creation of low density ovine SNP chips
  • Developing genotyping by sequencing platforms in a variety of species
  • Developing genomic predictions in sheep for meat quality

Professor Alison Mercer

Brain Health Research Centre, and Zoology

Professor Mercer studies the brain and behaviour of honey bees. Her research interests include developmental genetics, biogenic amines and neuronal development, olfaction, and learning and memory.

Current research projects are looking at the characterization of dopamine receptors in the brain of the honey bee, queen retinue pheromone and the royal manipulation of worker bee brain; the behaviour, development and modulation of the olfactory pathways in the brain of the honey bee.

Professor Andy Mercer

Host-virus biology and therapeutics

Professor Mercer is unraveling, combatting and exploiting new knowledge of viral virulence and pathogenicity. His team's programme of work integrates two core themes: combating viruses and exploiting viruses for beneficial purposes.

Associate Professor Russell Poulter

Comparative genomics, plant pests

A long-term interest has been in the genetics of imperfect fungi (i.e. fungi without a known sexual cycle); retrotransposons present in fungi and, by extension, to retroelements in general.

We investigate five major groups of LTR retrotransposons:

  • Potential uses of retroelements in biotechnology
  • Their application to the analysis of fungal pathogenicity
  • Analysis of mobile elements such as DNA transposons (including tyrosine recombinase-encoding elements and Helitrons)
  • Retroelements in other fungi, especially the basidiomycete pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans
  • Retrotransposons of vertebrates

Other interests range from transgenic yeast technology as applied to the wine industry to the application of genetic analyses to horticulture; and a gene conferring resistance to powdery mildew in Lathyrus, the sweet pea.

Professor Clive Ronson

Plant / microbe interactions N2 fixation

Professor Ronson researches plant-microbe interactions, horizontal gene transfer, symbiotic nitrogen fixation, bacterial genetics and genomics.

Current research is as a microbial geneticist with primary research interests in how microbes and plants recognise each other and develop a nitrogen-fixing symbiosis, and in microbial evolution by horizontal gene transfer and adaptive mutation.

Dr Stephen Sowerby

Biotechnology and bioengineering

Research focus is on diagnostic technology.

Dr Tina Summerfield

Botany

Research interests are cyanobacterial diversity, genetics and ecophysiology, the potential of cyanobacteria as a renewable energy source and cyanobacterial symbioses.

Professor Vernon Ward

Molecular virology and vaccine vectors

Research includes viral pathogenesis, molecular virology, applied immunology and host pathogen interactions.

Current research includes viruses that are well known for their ability to cause disease, but the diversity of virus structure and replication offers many opportunities to exploit virus particles, their structure and their replication for beneficial purposes as well as both the study of pathogenic viruses and the exploitation of virus properties for beneficial purposes.

Dr Lyn Wise

Microbiology

Researches virology, skin infections, angiogenesis, inflammation, wound healing, therapeutics.

Interests are centered around three overlapping themes:

  • How do microbes manipulate the tissue around them?
  • What does this tell us about our own physiology?
  • Can we exploit this knowledge to develop new drugs for treating infections and other pathologies?

Currently researching the functional characterisation of the viral family of vascular endothelial growth factors and a range of anti-inflammatory factors encoded by the parapoxviruses. She focuses on microbial manipulation of the inflammation, vascular and wound healing responses in the skin, and the use of bio-therapeutics for skin wounds, infections and inflammatory disorders.

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Adding value to primary industry products

Dr Azam Ali

Biomaterials science and engineering

Research includes:

  • Extraction and characterisation of novel biomaterials (eg proteins, peptides, polysaccharides, biologic tissues/collagen etc) and bioactives derived from dairy, animals, plants and marine sources
  • Understanding materials structure-functions and properties
  • Designing / developing advanced and smart (including nanostructure) materials or biomaterials and medical devices/technology
  • Functional packaging including edible food packaging, (5) formulation / coatings, and microencapsulation and controlled/sustained released technology for health, food (human and animal) and AgriTech applications
  • Formulation / coatings, and microencapsulation and controlled / sustained released technology for health, food (human and animal) and AgriTech applications

Associate Professor John Birch

Food flavours

Research interests are:

  • Chemistry of fats and oils (physicochemical properties of fats and oils, measurement of stability of frying oils, antioxidant status, functional properties)
  • Flavour science (odiferous branched chain fatty acids in mutton flavour, aroma volatiles and flavour analysis in food systems)
  • Bioactives (functional food derivatives)
  • Biofuels (biodiesel and biogas from tallow, biodiesel from algae)
  • Food analysis (proximate analysis of foods and food products, food composition)

Project interests are:

  • Physicochemical properties of fats and oils
  • Measurement of stability of frying oils, antioxidant status
  • Functional properties

Professor Phil Bremer

Microbial control in food processing

Research expertise involves food microbiology; assessing foods microbiological characteristics and shelf-life:

  • Enhancing food safety, shelf-life and quality
  • Determining sources of micro-organisms to foods
  • Development and the assessment of the effectiveness of traditional (thermal processing, washing, marinades, packaging) and emerging (pulse electric field, high pressure processing) microbial control processing regimes.
  • Development of effective cleaning and sanitising regimes

Associate Professor David Burritt

Botany

Current research projects include:

  • Understanding the impacts of plant nutrition on the storage potential of kiwifruit
  • Cryopreservation of horticultural germplasm
  • Identification of biomarkers of animal health for the cultured shellfish industry
  • The use of pulsed electric field processing (P.E.F.) as a quality enhancement tool for the food and wine industries

Dr Alan Carne

Protein fractionation and bioactives

Dr Carne is involved with various protein-based research projects including:

  • Utilisation of natural product protein-containing materials that are by-products or waste products of processing, such as milk cheese whey, meat and blood waste, oilseed cake residue
  • Production of bioactive peptides from protein-containing by-product / waste product materials, using proteases of non-gut origin
  • Characterisation of milk protein fractions from different species
  • Meat tenderising
  • Characterisation of carotenoid and polyhydroxynaphthoquinone pigments from sea urchin and their binding interactions with proteins
  • Encapsulation of health-promoting molecules

Dr Michele Coleman

Research and Development

After completing her PhD at Edinburgh University on the PrP protein associated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, Michele came to Otago to complete a Marsden-funded postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Biochemistry. Since then she has held a number of positions in the Division of Health Sciences, culminating in her present role. Michele advises the Pro-Vice-Chancellor on all aspects of research strategy within the Division. This includes development of strategy, responses to government initiatives, and allocation of Divisional funding for research.

Assistant Research Fellow Nerida Downes

Product development research

In her role with the Product Development Research Centre Nerida is involved with product development and product quality testing on a range of food products including dairy, seafood, nutriceuticals and cosmeticeuticals. Nerida carries out wet chemistry and instrumental analysis of samples. Analytical methods used for sample testing include chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques.

Mrs Cara Duffy

Marketing and Communications

Cara Duffy is the Divisional Marketing/Communications Co-ordinator for Sciences liaising in marketing and engaging with communities and working closely with the University’s marketing and schools liaison teams. Mrs Newburn organises a number of public events, websites, camps for senior secondary students, posters and resources for schools - conveying stories about people and their research

Dr Graham Eyres

Food flavours

Research includes identification of aroma compounds in complex food samples and essential oils:

  • Oral breakdown of food during mastication and impact on flavour release and sensory perception
  • Dynamic flavour release and perception during consumption
  • Sensory interactions between taste and aroma and the effect on overall flavour perception
  • Hop aroma compounds, flavour generation during fermentation, and the impact on beer flavour

Dr Monica Gerth

Plant pathogens

Dr. Gerth’s research primarily focuses on how microbial pathogens use chemotaxis to locate and infect their host plants:

  • Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa) - a pathogen of kiwifruit
  • Phytophthora agathidicida (e.g. kauri dieback)

Dr Robin Hamlin

Decision-making, and human consumption

Dr Hamlin has experience in a wide variety of management positions in the agricultural and banking industries, both in the United Kingdom and United States. He currently lectures in food marketing and product management, with a heavy emphasis on practical approaches to problems.

Dr Victoria Jameson

Research and enterprise

Dr Jameson provides advice and assist researchers in identifying new funding opportunities and developing business relationships with companies in the areas of health sciences across the Division of Health Sciences.She joined Research and Enterprise in July 2012.

She completed her PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Otago in developing mitochondrial targeted therapeutics and investigating their effects on mitochondrial and cardiac function. She has since managed Partnering for Innovation, a Tertiary Education Commission funded project that aimed to identify and encourage the development of early stage commercial research across the University. More recently she has been the Research Manager with the Centre for Bioengineering and Nanomedicine and Programme Coordinator within the Centre for Entrepreneurship.

Professor Raechel Laing

Clothing and textiles

Professor Laing's expertise lies in the structure, function and performance of fibres, fabrics, and finished products, especially the interactions these have with the human body. Her research includes investigations on wool and other animal fibres, and leather.
She is Acting Director of the Centre for Materials Science and Technology and Director of the Clothing and Textiles Centre, University of Otago. She has wide industrial and commercial collaborations.

Dr Janice Lord

Botany

Janice Lord is a Senior Lecturer in the Botany Department and Curator of the Otago Regional Herbarium. Her research interests include plant breeding system evolution, pollination biology, seed ecology and plant-animal interactions.

Current projects include:

  • Effect of floral traits on pollinator preferences
  • Use of native floral resources by honey bees and bumble bees
  • Pollinator services provided by native bees and flies
  • Pollination and seed production of clover in high country landscapes

Dr Michelle McConnell

Bioactives from food

Current research interests are bioactive components from naturally occurring sources such as bovine and ovine milks and industry waste streams and their anti-microbial and immunomodulatory effects.

Dr Miranda Mirosa

Food Science

Research includes food waste (ethics, metrics, policy, behaviours, innovation):

  • Consumer behaviour and food choice
  • Sustainable food consumption
  • Cross-cultural research on food preferences
  • Asian consumers' food preferences
  • Impact of food choice on consumers' health and wellness
  • Interdisciplinary research

Associate Professor Nigel Perry

Chemistry

Natural products chemistry:

  • Discovering new compounds in foods and in native plants, by isolation directed by biological assays, with structure identification by combined NMR spectroscopy and molecular modelling
  • Biosynthesis in plants and ecological roles of natural products
  • Synthetic organic chemistry
  • Biomolecules to understand the relationship between structure and biological activity, and to produce more active and selective compounds
  • Analytical chemistry: using NMR, LC, GC, MS and Raman microscopy, to locate and quantify plant metabolites, food bioactives and flavour chemicals

Dr Dorothy Saville

Pharmacy

Dr Saville researches improving oral bioavailability of drugs with poor aqueous solubility (an amorphous form or a metastable polymorph may be used) and have a risk of either crystallising (amorphous) or changing to a more stable polymorph with loss of oral bioavailability. She also focuses on factors influencing the stability of the amorphous form or the metastable polymorphic form.

Current projects include the stability of amorphous drug upon milling and the formulation of amorphous suspensions. The effect of storage conditions on release from enteric coated tablets is under study as well as research to determine whether some of the known inhibitory compounds are found in NZ fruits.

Dr Miriam Sharpe

Biochemistry

Dr Sharpe studies the structure and function of proteins; revealing the structure of proteins in order to find out how they work, and to uncover more about their biology.

Current interests are bioluminescence—proteins that catalyse the production of light, especially in the Japanese firefly squid (Watasenia scintillans), the New Zealand glowworm (Arachnocampa luminosa), and dinoflagellate marine plankton.

Dr Pat Silcock

Food processing platforms

Researches two main themes: food quality, and microbially-induced flavour generation. Dr Silcock is interested in using consumers to define the quality of food and also the relationship between quality, sensory characteristics, manufacturing process and food composition and structure.

The microbially induced flavour generation theme examines the role of bacteria, yeast and mould on volatile generation in fermented foods (beer, wine, coffee etc) and during food spoilage. Both themes involve the use of volatile characterisation and sensory methodologies to understand changes in the flavour perception of the foods.

Associate Professor Cheryl Wilson

Clothing and textiles

Research interests:

  • Interactions with the human body
  • Properties and variables affecting performance eg UV, thermal, water transmission, manufacturing, finishes
  • Effectiveness and use such as a means of insulation, protection etc.
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Sustainable and profitable environmental management

Professor Richard Barker

Statistics

Research involves Bayesian inference for hierarchical models:

  • Statistical theory, methods and analysis for applications in the biological sciences
  • Statistics in  ecology, sport science and exercise physiology
  • Climate change
  • Theory and analysis of mark-recapture and radio-telemetry data

Emeritus Professor Colin Campbell-Hunt

Centre for Sustainability (CSAFE)

With a 40 year career, research and teaching has never strayed far from questions of competition between firms and the ways in which firms might possibly sustain an advantage over their competitors. 

Professor Campbell-Hunt is interested in the application of complex systems theory to organisations, which gives a perspective on the enormous challenges presented to New Zealand and the world by climate change.  Alongside this he is committed to carrying on the work of his late wife, Diane, and her dedication to the conservation of New Zealand’s threatened species and ecologies.

Dr Michele Coleman

Research and Development

After completing her PhD at Edinburgh University on the PrP protein associated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, Michele came to Otago to complete a Marsden-funded postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Biochemistry. Since then she has held a number of positions in the Division of Health Sciences, culminating in her present role. Michele advises the Pro-Vice-Chancellor on all aspects of research strategy within the Division. This includes development of strategy, responses to government initiatives, and allocation of Divisional funding for research

Associate Professor Gerry Closs

Fish ecology

Research interests are early life history of freshwater fish:

  • Impacts of introduced fish species
  • Ecology of native freshwater fish
  • Movement and activity in freshwater fish
  • Habitat selection in freshwater fish
  • Food webs in lakes and streams
  • Analysis of otolith microstructure and chemistry
  • Using trace element analysis to track migration

Dr Ivan Diaz-Rainey

Finance, energy and dairying  

Dr Diaz-Rainey is a finance researcher who has conducted research, policy and consultancy work for a number of organisations, including the OECD, E.ON UK (UK power and gas supplier), and the European Capital Markets Institute. He has a research expertise in commodity markets, especially energy and carbon market. He is also interested in agricultural commodity markets, especially financialisation of the dairy sector. In the latter case, he is particularly interested in how farmers manage increased market exposures in the context financialisation, intensification and climate change, and how the associated risk may propagate to the rest of the economy and the financial system.

Dr Dave Eyers

Computer science

Recent research has examined security enforcement and data dissemination mechanisms within wide-area distributed systems. In particular, work with event-based middleware, role-based access control, decentralised information flow control, and trying to develop connections between these technologies. Research is of growing importance to cloud and grid computing as large-scale public services (such as electronic health record repositories) must manage sensitive data in a secure manner.

Ms Lesley Gray

Primary Health Care and General Practice

Lesley is particularly interested in health risk behaviours—why we do what we do— how health professionals might positively influence health behaviour – and how the environment in which we live and work impacts health risk. She has a Masters in Public Health from Glasgow University and Masters in Interprofessional Collaboration with longstanding interest in the interface between primary health care, social welfare and public health. Lesley owns a small farm and appreciates, first hand, some of the health risks associated with farming.

Dr Victoria Jameson

Research and enterprise

Dr Jameson provides advice and assist researchers in identifying new funding opportunities and developing business relationships with companies in the areas of health sciences across the Division of Health Sciences.

She joined Research and Enterprise in July 2012. She completed her PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Otago in developing mitochondrial targeted therapeutics and investigating their effects on mitochondrial and cardiac function. She has since managed Partnering for Innovation, a Tertiary Education Commission funded project that aimed to identify and encourage the development of early stage commercial research across the University. More recently she has been the Research Manager with the Centre for Bioengineering and Nanomedicine and Programme Coordinator within the Centre for Entrepreneurship.


Dr Sarah Mager

Glaciers

Research interests are in hydrology, particularly water yields and water chemistry of headwater catchments in Southern New Zealand.

Dr Ramakrishnan Mani

Physiotherapy

Research interests include pain sciences, motor control, injury prevention, and physical activity.

Dr Christoph Matthaei

Fish ecology, and biostatistics

Research interests are:

  • Disturbance ecology in running water ecosystems
  • Experimental design and statistical data analysis
  • Effects of human land use activities on running water ecosystems, especially impacts agriculture and multiple stressors
  • Water abstraction and other flow regime changes (environmental flow ecology)
  • River restoration
  • Estuary ecology
  • Pond ecology and life history strategies of aquatic insects
  • Ecology of shallow lake shores

Dr Sergio Morales

Environmental microbial ecology

Dr Morales studies environmental microbiology, microbial biotechnology and microbial ecology, bacterial and viral genetics.

The current research goal is to understand how microbes survive in the environment and how their presence affects ecosystem processes like primary productivity and nutrient turnover. By understanding how microorganisms adapt and respond to environmental cues we can harness some of their power, and predict how ecosystems will react to environmental changes.

Dr Matthew Parry

Statistics

Main interests are in statistical modelling and theoretical statistics in plant epidemiology and on sensors for agritech applications. The crucial ingredient in both cases is serious modelling of the underlying physical and biological processes. Inference is then carried via MCMC (Markov Chain Monte Carlo) and particle filter techniques.

Dr Parry is also working on scoring rules which are principled ways of assessing probabilistic statements, eg. forecasting. Scoring rules have important practical application as well as leading into some very nice mathematics.

Dr Marc Schallenberg

Fish biology in freshwater lakes

Researches assessment of anthropogenic impacts on lake ecosystems:

  • Structure and functioning of planktonic communities along environmental gradients
  • Aquatic microbial ecology
  • Palaeolimnological reconstruction of historic environments

Dr Janet Stephenson

Indigenous resource management

Dr Stephenson is the Director of the Centre for Sustainability, a research centre specialising in interdisciplinary research in agriculture, food, energy and environment issues. Her existing research is mainly in energy but she has a growing interest in energy use and generation in the agricultural sector.

Professor Tim Stokes

Health service research and delivery

Professor Stokes has an interest in health care quality improvement research with a focus on development and use of clinical practice guidelines and performance measures. He has a long working association with the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and understanding and promoting how research findings become embedded in routine health care in clinical, organisational, and policy contexts. He has conducted a number of systematic reviews in this area and is co-investigator on several ongoing UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded studies that aim to promote the development of more rigorous NICE guidance and to better implement clinical guideline recommendations in primary care.   A second research interest is practitioner–patient relations in primary care, including continuity of care, personal care, and 'difficult' doctor–patient relationships.