The Hill Laboratories Laboratory Technician Award was last night presented to University of Waikato Advanced Technical Officer Chris McBride at the 2014 KuDos Science Excellence Awards.
The award was given for his work on web-accessible water monitoring stations which provide real-time data for the management and restoration of lakes and are creating a stir internationally.
Chris has overseen these devices from design through to implementation as part of his role with the Lake Ecosystem Restoration New Zealand (LERNZ) group.
Solar powered monitoring buoys
The solar powered monitoring buoys on New Zealand lakes form an integral part of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), which monitors anthropogenic (human impact) effects on lakes worldwide.
“My role begins with using and developing hardware and software tools for collecting and analysing ‘big data’ on lakes. We process and apply the data for research aimed at managing and restoring water quality, as well as studying global patterns and long-term change through the GLEON network,” says Chris.
Buoys installed in China
In addition to installing buoys in the Rotorua Lakes and around New Zealand, he has also made several trips to China where he deployed a system to help monitor Taihu, a lake four times the size of Lake Taupo but only a few metres deep and with severe algae blooms.
Data from buoys is also highly useful for improving numerical models of water quality, and Chris has worked with the model DYRESM-CAEDYM to evaluate lake management options such as the Ohau Channel diversion wall and land-use change in the Rotorua Lakes.
From study to career
Chris completed a Master of Science at the University of Waikato in 2005. “I was offered a three month contract by Professor David Hamilton straight out of my MSc and here I am nine years later, still enjoying the work.”
Professor Hamilton is the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chair in Lakes Management and Restoration, and leads the Water Quality Group for LERNZ.
While working full-time, Chris is about to undertake a PhD, following on from his research to date.
The KuDos Awards were launched in 2007 to celebrate science in the region. The University of Waikato’s Professor Craig Cary won his category for the Environmental Science Award. In addition the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to University of Waikato Emeritus Professor Roy Daniel.Additional finalists from the University of Waikato this year included Associate Professor Nicola Starkey for the Gallagher Medical Science Award and Dudley Bell, who was a finalist alongside Chris McBride for the Hill Laboratories Laboratory Technician Award.