Dr Rebecca Lawton

Rebecca Lawton

Senior Research Fellow

Qualifications: BSc Hons (Otago), PhD (James Cook University)

About Rebecca

I am a marine ecologist with broad interests in applied environmental science. My research is centered on the growth and production of macroalgae (both freshwater and marine/seaweeds) and has two key focal areas. First, is the use of live macroalgae to bioremediate nutrient rich wastewaters from a range of sources including agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture, and municipal waste treatment. Second, is the aquaculture of seaweeds to produce biomass for macroalgal bioactives and bioproducts. I am interested in understanding the ecology of target species and how this can be applied to optimise productivity and biomass characteristics under different environmental conditions. Underpinning both streams of research is the development of innovative technologies and processes to enable commercial scale cultivation. A central theme of my research is the development of a circular economy. Macroalgae can provide the foundation of a circular economy model that can be applied to agricultural, municipal and industrial systems to bioremediate wastewaters and generate new products.

Papers Taught

Research Supervised


  • Jacob Nepper-Davidsen (in progress). Developing sustainable aquaculture of the kelp Ecklonia radiata in New Zealand.
  • Harizah Hariz (in progress). Filamentous algae nutrient scrubbers for agricultural runoff
  • Alisa Mihaila (in progress) The biology of Asparagopsis armata for closed life-cycle cultivation in New Zealand
  • Indira Novak (in progress)  Use of high rate filamentous algae ponds for rural waste water treatment

MSc (Research)

  • Beth Ross (in progress) Agarophyton – a potential novel target species for bioremediation of nutrient enriched coastal waters
  • Alisa Mihalia (2020). Investigating the anti-methanogenic properties of select
  • species of seaweed in New Zealand.


  • Indira Novak (2020). Nutrient dynamics, growth and bioremediation performance in the freshwater macroalga Oedogonium.

Recent Publications

  • Lawton, R. J., Glasson, C. R. K., Novis, P. M., Sutherland, J. E., & Magnusson, M. E. (2021). Productivity and municipal wastewater nutrient bioremediation performance of new filamentous green macroalgal cultivars. Journal of Applied Phycology. doi:10.1007/s10811-021-02595-w

  • Lawton, R. J., Sutherland, J. E., Glasson, C. R. K., & Magnusson, M. E. (2021). Selection of temperate Ulva species and cultivars for land-based cultivation and biomass applications. Algal Research, 56. doi:10.1016/j.algal.2021.102320

  • Kidgell, J. T., Carnachan, S. M., Magnusson, M., Lawton, R. J., Sims, I. M., Hinkley, S. F. R., . . . Glasson, C. R. K. (2021). Are all ulvans equal? A comparative assessment of the chemical and gelling properties of ulvan from blade and filamentous Ulva. Carbohydrate Polymers, 264. doi:10.1016/j.carbpol.2021.118010

  • Nepper-Davidsen, J., Magnusson, M., Glasson, C. R. K., Ross, P. M., & Lawton, R. J. (2021). Implications of genetic structure for aquaculture and cultivar translocation of the Kelp Ecklonia radiata in Northern New Zealand. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8. doi:10.3389/fmars.2021.749154

Find more research publications by Rebecca Lawton


Ecology; Environment; Environmental Science and Technology

Contact Details

Email: [email protected]
Room: SP:H.1.02
Phone: +64 7 578 5936
Cellphone: 022 017 8133