Academic staff

Dr Frank Burdon

Senior Lecturer

Dr. Francis J. Burdon is a Lecturer working in Te Aka Mātuatua - School of Science at the University of Waikato. Originally from Aotearoa New Zealand, F.J.B. conducted his Masters research at the University of Canterbury on aquatic-terrestrial linkages in forested South Island streams. He returned to the University of Canterbury in 2009 for his doctoral…
Associate Professor Ian Duggan

Deputy Team Leader of Ecology, Biology and Animal Behaviour

My primary interests are invasion biology and zooplankton ecology. In particular, I am interested in the exploration of biological invasion vectors and pathways responsible for transportation of species at global or finer scales. Such investigations are useful for prediction and prevention of invasions of nonindigenous species.
Professor Brendan Hicks

Adjunct Professor

Brendan is involved in freshwater ecology and holds BSc and MSc (Hons) degrees from the University of Auckland and a PhD in Fisheries from Oregon State University. His MSc studies were in mangrove ecology and his PhD studies focussed on the effects of forestry and rock type on salmonid recruitment and habitat use in the Oregon Coast Range.

Brendan’s bro…
Associate Professor Nick Ling

Associate Professor

Nicholas (Nick) Ling is associate professor in Biodiversity and Ecology at Te Aka Matuatua School of Science.
His principal interests are in the fields of animal ecopgysiology, ecotoxicology, and the ecology of invasive and enedemic freshwater fishes.
Associate Professor Deniz Özkundakci

Associate Professor

I am a freshwater ecologist with research interests that intersect the areas of freshwater ecology, aquatic biodiversity, and water quality with a strong focus on providing knowledge and solutions to assist environmental managers, kaitiaki, and stakeholders in reaching achievable restoration and management outcomes. I firmly believe that an evidence-base…

Research Associates and Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr Matthew Prentice

Postdoctoral Fellow Science

I am a limnologist with specific interests in nutrient cycling and the biology & ecology of problematic cyanobacteria in lakes. To address my research questions, I employ a multidisciplinary approach deriving output from both field & laboratory experiments and process-based models.

In my current role with The University of Waikato, as a lake hydrodynami…
Whitney Woelmer

Senior Research Officer

Whitney is Post-doctoral Researcher studying long-term changes in water quality in the Te Arawa lakes. She is a quantitative ecologist interested in understanding and predicting changes in freshwater ecosystems by coupling long-term and high-frequency data with statistical and process-based modeling approaches. Whitney passionate about conducting actiona…

Technical staff

Miss Katherine Rowe

Technical Team Leader - Field-Based Sciences

Kat is the general point of contact for all things field based. She leads a small team of field technician's who specialise in many areas of the School of Science. She provides technical assistance mainly within Marine and Freshwater but has been know to branch into other areas if given the chance!


Kaylee Campbell - PhD Candidate

I am a freshwater ecologist from South Africa with specific interests in lake systems, water quality and anthropogenic habitat disturbance. My Master’s thesis focused on the effects of long-term habitat and water quality changes on the aquatic invertebrate communities of two South African freshwater lakes. Through this, I developed a passion for the preservation of freshwater lakes and the biodiversity that they house while gaining a deep appreciation for their cultural significance and the ecosystem services they provide. I believe that management strategies should be coupled with community involvement and, as such, I am also passionate about science education


Thesis title: Internal nutrient loading dynamics of Lakes Rotorua and Okaro

James Dare - PhD Candidate

My name is James.  I’m a father, a martial artist, and a lover of all things aquatic.  I’m currently balancing life as a Water Quality Scientist at BOPRC with that of a part-time PhD student at University of Waikato.  My PhD project involves the use of cost-effective sensor technology coupled with machine learning techniques, event sampling, and isotope tracers to better understand the spatial and temporal dynamics of waterborne contaminants in the Waihī Estuary Catchment (near Maketū).  This knowledge will help catchment managers better understand when, and from where, contaminants are sourced and allow for more bespoke and effective mitigation measures.


Thesis title: Elucidating catchment contaminant signatures and pathways in the Waihī Estuary Catchment using cost-effective sensor technology and hydrological tracers

Aria Kerebs - Master's Student

Kia Ora! My name is Aria Kerebs and I am studying a Master of Science (Research)with Ecology and Biodiversity as a main subject at the University of Waikato. Following the completion of my Bachelors at the end of 2023 I found I wanted to continue studying, and knew that my greatest interest was in the field of freshwater ecology. My thesis will be centered around the theme of plastic pollution within the stormwater system around Lake Rotorua, and how this problem might be mitigated. I look forward to what this project will bring!

Thesis title: Plastic pollution management within and around Lake Rotorua

Olivier Raven - PhD Candidate

Olivier Raven is interested in a wide range of aquatic ecology aspects. His research focuses on restoring freshwater habitats using artificial reefs to benefit kōura in the Rotorua Te Arawa lakes. He wants to find the best way to restore kōura numbers as kōura are ecologically important as keystone species and culturally important as taonga species. When they can restore kōura populations, the implementations can be used in other lakes all around Aotearoa.

Thesis title: Restoring freshwater habitats for future resilience: Trialling artificial reefs in the Rotorua Te Arawa lakes

Iola Reis Lopes Da Rosa - PhD Candidate

Iola Rosa’s research focuses on the mechanisms of distribution of phytoplankton communities in lakes and in the seasonal biomass variation of phytoplankton and zooplankton communities. She is interested in how the physical and chemical features of the lakes and interaction with zooplankton can affect the functional groups distribution in lakes. It is expected that once these mechanisms are explained it will be possible to improve a computational model capable of predicting phytoplankton composition in scenarios of climate change in New Zealand lakes.

Thesis title: A functional trait-based approach to predict phytoplankton community composition in the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes under climate change.

Zaira Rohan

Kia ora! I’m Zaira Rohan and I’m currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Environmental Science. I graduated with my Bachelor of Science from Waikato University in 2022. I’ve worked as a Water Quality Lab Technician at Hill Laboratories and as a Freshwater Farm Plan intern at the Waikato Regional Council. Through these experiences, I developed a keen interest in freshwater ecosystems, particularly focusing on the effects of various land management practices and environmental changes on water quality. I’m thrilled about this opportunity to undertake a master's project centred on freshwater environments, recognising their critical importance to the health and sustainability of human, animal and plant life. 

Thesis Title: The long-term drivers of water quality in the Rotorua Te Awara lakes

Chris McBride - PhD Candidate

Hikawai Te Nahu - Master's Student

Sarah Tetzlaff - Master's Student


Mat Allan - Lake Scientist, Waikato Regional Council

Mat’s research interests are primarily remote sensing of water quality and temperature, and the integration of multiple sources of monitored and modelled data to gain a better understanding of lake ecosystem function and trophic state. Mat is currently investigating water quality in 38 state of environment monitoring sites within shallow lakes, and Lake Taupo. Mat is also part of the LERNZ lake ecosystem modelling platform team.


Tadhg Moore - Senior Lake Scientist, LimnoTrack

Tadhg is a senior lake scientist working with LimnoTrack in Hamilton, New Zealand. He is interested in lake modelling, climate change impacts on lakes and environmental education. He develops programmatic tools for building process-based models for lakes. He is currently developing a platform synthesising in-situ lake data, remote sensing and using these as inputs for modelling over 1,000 lakes across New Zealand. This is part of the LERNZmp (LERNZ modelling platform) project.

Moritz Lehmann - Adjunct Senior Research Fellow – The University of Waikato, Senior Oceanographer – Starboard Maritime Intelligence

Moritz is an oceanographer and remote sensing scientist with a PhD from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. He relocated with his family to Aotearoa New Zealand in 2014 and conducted research on satellite monitoring technology at the University of Waikato and Xerra Earth Observation Institute. Moritz central research interest is in refining methods of remote sensing for aquatic ecosystem research and climate change.

Christopher McBride - Senior Research Officer; Director, LimnoTrack