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.


Alisa Mihalia (in progress) Anti-methanogenic properties of New Zealand seaweed

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

Research Interests


Marshall, D.J., Lawton, R.J., Monro, K. and Paul, N.A. (2018) Biochemical evolution in response to intensive harvesting in a green alga: evolution of quantity and quality. Evolutionary Applications. DOI: 10.1111/eva.12632

Lawton, R.J., Cole, A.J., Roberts, D.A, Paul, N.A. and de Nys, R. (2017) The industrial ecology of freshwater macroalgae for biomass applications. Algal Research 24: 486-491

Lawton, R.J., Paul, N.A., Marshall, D.J. and Monro, K. (2017). Limited evolutionary responses to harvesting regime in the intensive production of algae. Journal of Applied Phycology 29: 1449-1459

Mata, L., Lawton, R.J., Magnusson, M., Andreakis, N., de Nys, R. and Paul, N.A. (2017) Within-species and temperature-related variation in the growth and natural products of the red alga Asparagopsis taxiformis. Journal of Applied Phycology 29: 1437-1447.

Philliips, J.A., Lawton, R.J., de Nys, R., Paul, N.A. and Carl, C. (2016) Ulva sapora, a new abundant tubular species of Ulva (Ulvales) from the tropical Pacific Ocean. Phycologia 55: 55-64.

Carl, C., Lawton, R.J., Paul, N.A. and de Nys, R. (2016). Reproductive output and productivity of filamentous tropical Ulva over time. Journal of Applied Phycology 28: 429-438.

Lawton, R. J., de Nys, R., Magnusson, M. and Paul, N. A. (2015). The influence of salinity on the biomass productivity, protein and lipid composition of freshwater macroalgae. Algal Research 12: 213–220.

Gosch, B.J., Lawton, R.J., Paul, N.A., de Nys R. and Magnusson, M. (2015a). Environmental effects on the growth and fatty acids in three isolates of Derbesia tenuissima (Bryodsidales, Chlorophyta). Algal Research 9: 82-93.

Lawton, R. J., Carl, C., de Nys, R. and Paul, N. A. (2015b). Heritable variation in growth and biomass productivity in the clonal freshwater macroalga Oedogonium. Algal Research 8:108-114.

Carl, C., de Nys, R., Lawton, R.J. and Paul, N.A. (2014) Methods for the induction of reproduction in a tropical species of filamentous Ulva. PLoS ONE 9: e97396.

Lawton R.J., de Nys R., Skinner, S. and Paul, N.A. (2014) Isolation and Identification of Oedogonium Species and Strains for Biomass Applications. PLoS ONE 9: e90223.

Lawton R.J., Mata L.F., de Nys R. and Paul N.A. (2013) Algal bioremediation of waste waters from land-based aquaculture using Ulva: selecting target species and strains. PLoS ONE 8: e77344.

Lawton R.J., de Nys R., Paul N.A. (2013) Selecting reliable and robust freshwater macroalgae for biomass applications. PLoS ONE 8: e64168.


Ecology; Environment; Environmental Science and Technology

Contact Details

Room: SP:H.1.02
Phone: +64 7 578 5936
Cellphone: 022 017 8133