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Below is a list of key members of our research team. If you are interested in finding out more about the programme or specific activities feel free to make contact with specific people, or drop us a line using the generic contact form.


Anastasija Zaiko

Cawthron Institute, University of Auckland

Anastasija has broad expertise in aquatic ecology, and the development and assessment of molecular tools for monitoring and surveillance. Anastasija co-leads the Marine Biosecurity Toolbox and oversees the DETECT research theme to ensure effective integration of molecular approaches into the developing biosecurity toolbox.

Oli Floerl

Cawthron Institute

Oli’s research focuses on biofouling management, urban ecology and developing measures to limit the spread and impacts of marine pests. He is a co-Leader of the Marine Biosecurity Toolbox programme and has research and oversight roles in the PROTECT and MANAGE & RESPOND themes.


Charlotte Jarvis

Cawthron Institute

Charlotte is Support Team Leader for Cawthron’s Coastal & Freshwater Group, with a focus on bids, proposals and contract management and is devoting some of her time to support the Marine Biosecurity Toolbox programme team.


Grant Hopkins

Cawthron Institute

Grant’s research focuses on broad marine biosecurity issues. He leads the PROTECT theme, which looks to identify novel approaches to biofouling management on coastal infrastructure, working closely with our research partners, industry and stakeholders to develop prototype systems and put them through their paces in challenging real-world scenarios.

Patrick Cahill

Cawthron Institute

Patrick’s research relates primarily to the management of marine biofouling, including developing antifouling technologies and reactive control of invasive marine pests. He is applying these skills in the PROTECT theme to help develop eco-friendly approaches to keep port and marina infrastructure free from fouling.

Javier Atalah

Cawthron Institute

Javier is a marine ecologist with a broad range of expertise. The skills that he will contribute to this programme are marine invasion ecology, bio-control approaches for mitigating biosecurity risks, and data science.

Jas Pal Badyal

Durham University

Jas Pal is internationally recognised for his pioneering research on the design of functional surfaces for technological and societal applications, and will apply his knowledge of surface chemistry to the use of bubble streams.

Paul South

Cawthron Institute

Paul is a marine ecologist with a particular interest in the population and recruitment dynamics of marine communities in natural and aquaculture settings. Paul has a lead role in the ecological engineering theme of PROTECT, aimed at developing substrates for enhancing valued native species on coastal infrastructure.

Katie Dafforn

Macquarie University

Katie is an environmental scientist with interests in monitoring and managing human impacts in marine systems. Katie is collaborating in this project on the design of ecologically engineered surfaces for native species enhancement.

Marie Joo Le Guen


Marie Joo is a materials scientist currently leading Scion’s Additive Manufacturing team. Its role is to support a circular bioeconomy which includes preserving the environment. The Marine Biosecurity Toolbox programme is a wonderful opportunity to understand and help New Zealand endemic species using digital technologies.

Rob Whitton


Rob is a Mechanical Engineer with a background in renewable energy.  At Scion, he works in the Bioproducts and Manufacturing team where he designs equipment and produces 3D printed prototypes. Rob has been enjoying the 3D scanning the team have carried out so far around marine habitats, and is looking forward to getting his hands dirty (and feet wet) again, scanning more mussel beds with the programme partners.

Sumanth Ranganathan


Sumanth is a biochemical engineer with specialist skills in biorefinery, bioprocess development and editing of complex digital imagery. In this programme, Sumanth is in charge of the photogrammetric reconstruction of mussel reefs habitat layers and editing the meshes obtained from 3D scanning and photogrammetry for 3D printing and habitat model development.

Dayanitha Damodaran

Macquarie University & Cawthron Institute

Dayanitha is a PhD student based at Cawthron working in the PROTECT theme of the Biosecurity Toolbox. Her research investigates the habitat requirements of native New Zealand foundation species to inform and produce ecological engineered structures that promote native species on coastal infrastructure. Prior to starting her Ph.D., Dayanitha completed her BSc and MSc at Victoria University of Wellington, interned in Becker Lab in the United States, and worked as a junior fisheries scientist in the consultancy sector.


Xavier Pochon

Cawthron Institute, University of Auckland

Xavier is an expert in applying molecular techniques for environmental monitoring, design of molecular sampling devices and large-scale citizen science programmes. Xavier is leading the citizen science component of the programme and is working with other DETECT team members on designing and optimizing molecular tools for biosecurity applications.

Ulla von Ammon

Cawthron Institute

Following on from Ulla’s PhD research on developing novel molecular tools for biosecurity purposes, Ulla continues that work as a Post-doc in the DETECT team. In the programme, Ulla is focusing on developing a whole genome database of key invasive species and their native counterparts and contributing to optimization of sampling techniques for molecular surveillance.

Jo-Ann Stanton

University of Otago

Jo is an expert in High Throughput Sequencing technologies and molecular diagnostics. In the programme she is developing molecular tools for point-of-need applications (in situ detection of marine pests by non-expert users).

Neil Gemmell

University of Otago

Neil is a geneticist with interests in the development and deployment of new molecular tools for a variety of applications in biosecurity and conservation. He is working on fit-for-purpose molecular assay systems for rapid biosecurity surveillance.

Gert-Jan Jeunen

University of Otago

Gert-Jan is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow with research interest in spatial and temporal resolution aquatic environmental DNA (eDNA) in the marine environment and innovative methodologies for eDNA sampling and biodiversity detection. In the programme, Gert-Jan works on designing and validating primer sets for marine pests’ detection.

Ross Vennell

Cawthron Institute

Ross’ research focuses on physical  oceanographic modelling: using particle tracking to predict areas where eDNA from source populations can be detected. Modelling is used to design eDNA field sampling plans and to  predict where non-indigenous populations might be once the eDNA analysis is completed.

Jackson Treece

University of Otago

Jackson is a research technician with a background in clinical laboratory science and molecular biology. He has been working on point-of-need applications of molecular pest detection tools for use in a variety of settings.

Jonika Edgecombe

University of Otago

Jonika is a PhD student at the University of Otago, interested in developing eDNA-based point of need molecular detection techniques for biosecurity. Her project will be focused on optimizing such techniques for use by non-professionals in parallel with the development and implementation of a framework to empower citizen science.

Michelle Scriver

University of Auckland, Cawthron Institute

Michelle is a PhD student based at the Cawthron Institute working in the DETECT theme of the Marine Biosecurity Toolbox. Her research focuses on optimizing sampling approaches and design of molecular tools for marine biosecurity surveillance. This research will help to answer questions regarding environmental DNA/RNA (eDNA/eRNA) distribution in coastal waters and where, when, and how to sample eDNA/eRNA to increase efficiency of marine pest detection and surveillance.


Eric Treml

Deakin University

Eric specialises in network analysis, spatial and dynamic modelling, and seascape ecology. In this programme he has a lead role in the maritime transport model development and network-based pathway analysis to develop optimised prevention and incursion response strategies in the MANAGE & RESPOND research theme.

Ian Davidson

Cawthron Institute

Ian specializes on basic and applied research on marine biosecurity and the drivers and impacts of anthropogenic change in marine ecosystems. His role in the program is collaborating with the PROTECT and MANAGE & RESPOND teams, working on invasion prevention, transport pathways, and biosecurity management.

Simone Stevenson

Deakin University

Simone is a post-doc in the Marine Spatial Ecology and Conservation Lab, led by Eric Treml. Her research focuses on the development of quantitative tools for conservation decision-making, in particular indicators and models, as well as on international biodiversity policy. Her role in the program is to contribute to the development of the maritime transport model and analysis to further inform invasive species management decisions.

Kyle Hilliam

Deakin University & Cawthron Institute

Kyle is a PhD student at Deakin University, within the Marine Spatial Ecology and Conservation lab, led by Eric Treml.  His research focuses on New Zealand’s domestic recreational vessel network, natural dispersal of invasive species, optimal management for invasive networks and the invasion process, based upon expertise in invasive species ecology, numerical and quantitative approaches.

Jess Phipps

Deakin University

Jess is an Honours student based at Deakin University in Geelong with an interest in marine spatial ecology and conservation. She is currently in the final stages of her research project that is focussed on assessing the risk of non-indigenous species spread via marine vessels and how these risks may change under future climate change scenarios.

Cal Faubel

Deakin University & Cawthron Institute

Cal is an Honours student from the Marine Spatial Ecology and Conservation Lab, led by Eric Treml. His Honours thesis is quantifying network dynamics and associated biosecurity risk of domestic recreational vessel movements, with a particular focus on recent marine pest incursions at Great Barrier Island, an iconic high-value area in northern New Zealand. He is also looking at how specific life history traits impact spread.


Richard Yao


Richard is an environmental economist at Scion. His main research area is the assessment of the social, environmental and economic values provided by New Zealand’s natural resources. Richard leads the ECONOMICS AND DECISION SUPPORT theme, assessing the economic, environmental and social impacts of the innovative biosecurity protection measures being developed by the programme.

Melissa Welsh


Melissa is a resource economist based at Scion, with a background in modelling infectious diseases. Melissa is involved in the ECONOMICS & DECISION-SUPPORT research theme, to estimate the net benefits of the prevention and detection methods being developed, and also in MANAGE & RESPOND to develop mathematical models of invasive species spread.

Julio Botero


Julio recently joined Scion; he is a PhD candidate in Global Supply Chains and Trade at Lincoln University; Julio has a background in economics. Julio is part of the ECONOMICS & DECISION-SUPPORT and MANAGE & RESPOND teams. He is working on modelling and forecasting to estimate the benefits of the prevention and detection methods and the spread of invasive species.

Alaric McCarthy

Cawthron Institute

Alaric is a socio-ecological scientist who works at the interface between social science (behaviour change, understanding values, capacity building) and biophysical sciences (fisheries, biosecurity). Here he seeks to understand the factors that influence marine biosecurity-related behaviour of coastal users in order to develop tools for change.

Malcolm Smeaton

Cawthron Institute

Malcolm’s skillset is in oceanography, fluid mechanics and mathematics. He undertakes fluid modelling for the PROTECT theme and assist with the development of apps and interactive tools in the ECONOMICS & DECISION-SUPPORT research theme.

Vision Mātauranga

Te Rerekohu Tuterangiwhiu

Cawthron Institute

Te Rerekohu is currently a Kaiārahi Rangahau Kaimōana at Cawthron Institute in Nelson and holds formal qualifications in Mātauranga Māori, Teaching, Marine Biology and Aquaculture. He is involved in several projects at Cawthron that span Shellfish and Finfish Aquaculture, Aquatic Animal Health, Biosecurity and Seafood Safety, and he believes there is a place for te reo o ngā hapū and a wider Te Ao Māori to be heard in these kaupapa.

Juliane Chetham


Juliane Chetham of Patuharakeke Te Iwi Trust Taiao/ Resource Management Unit has many years of experience working with hapū and iwi in the resource management and customary fisheries space.

Along with Dave Milner, their role in the programme is to co-design a Mātauranga Māori platform to embed manaakitanga and kaitaiakitanga values into the research. They will utilise Mātauranga Māori in a case study within their rohe to assist with selection of target species surveillance methodologies, and to co-develop a planning and implementation pathway for rangatahi/tai tamariki engagement in marine biosecurity.

Dave Milner


Dave Milner of Patuharakeke Te Iwi Trust Taiao/ Resource Management Unit has many years of experience working with hapū and iwi in the resource management and customary fisheries space.

Along with Juliane Chetham, their role in the programme is to co-design a Mātauranga Māori platform to embed manaakitanga and kaitaiakitanga values into the research. They will utilise Mātauranga Māori in a case study within their rohe to assist with selection of target species surveillance methodologies, and to co-develop a planning and implementation pathway for rangatahi/tai tamariki engagement in marine biosecurity.


Sam Happy

Auckland Council

Sam developed and leads Auckland Council’s marine biosecurity programme, and has over 13 years’ experience in natural environment management. Sam works with other regions and agencies on a variety of collaborative initiatives including policy development and marine biosecurity related research and development. She is Auckland Council’s representative on the Advisory and Implementation Group and her role in the progamme is to provide partner support and input to research and development, and in-kind support and workstream connections.

Kaeden Leonard

Northland Regional Council

Kaeden is a marine biosecurity specialist at Northland Regional Council with more than 10 years’ expertise in marine invasion ecology/biogeography and both ex-situ and in-situ experimental design. Northland Regional Council are end-user partners in this programme, and whose current marine biosecurity programme focuses on active targeted marine pest surveillance and incursion management across Northland’s ten harbors and coastline.

Liam Falconer

Marlborough District Council

Liam’s interest in being involved with the programme is to provide input in the development of monitoring and pathway tools to ensure that the tools that fit-for-purpose and can be used and operated by the field teams that undertake pest surveillance.

Abraham Growcott


Abraham’s role involves improving early detection capability of marine pests so that management of them is likely to be more successful. Early detection is achieved through educating the public, investment in targeted marine surveillance programmes and development of new technologies. This research programme is very exciting as it will develop new tools that we can use to prevent, detect, and manage marine pests. Abraham’s goal is to connect expertise within Biosecurity New Zealand to specific programmes so that any outcomes will deliver maximum benefits to New Zealanders.

Eugene Georgiades


Eugene delivers biosecurity science and risk advice across the Ministry for Primary Industries’ marine sector to underpin decision making. Eugene’s role in the programme is to provide scientific advice and oversight, and to facilitate involvement of MPI’s technical experts. This programme represents an opportunity to establish communities of practice based on sound knowledge, which is critical to the success of New Zealand’s marine biosecurity system.

Natalie Tregidga

Nelson College for Girls

Natalie is Co-Head of Science Learning Area at Nelson College for Girls. We are currently working with Cawthron to design a junior teaching and learning programme to be used in the early stages of this study at our college. This will be further embedded into our programmes as technology in the project develops.

Johnnie Fraser

Nelson College

Johnnie is the Head of Science at Nelson College. He has been teaching Junior Science and Biology for 15 years and is still fascinated by the natural world. He relishes opening students’ eyes to the wonders around them and tells them how lucky they are to live in a country like Aotearoa New Zealand, where the local flora and fauna is so accessible and so awesome. In 2016 he completed the Science Teachers Leadership Program through the RSNZ at Cawthron Institute. The links forged through the program have enabled him to be involved in the Biosecurity Toolbox Project. He is excited about engaging students in an authentic hands-on real-world project focusing on marine biosecurity.

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