Current members

Louis Schipper

Louis Schipper is an environmental biogeochemist with research interests in long-term changes in soil organic matter, nitrogen cycling with a focus on denitrification and nitrogen immobilisation, impacts of land use change, carbon fluxes and nutrient cycling in agricultural and indigenous ecosystems, including wetlands and soil microbial ecology. He has a strong focus on the temperature dependence of the biosphere and particularly on soil biology. He teaches soil science at undergraduate and graduate levels. Louis has frequently given interviews on national radio about soil science and biogeochemistry and been involved with a number of videos or TV appearance on soil health and greenhouse gases. Google scholar papers

Dave Campbell

Dave Campbell’s research interests span across the zone of soil, vegetation and atmosphere and concern interactions involving exchanges of energy, water, CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Dave was one of the early adopters of the eddy covariance technique in NZ and gets some weird pleasure out of making complex instrument systems work. His research spans from NZ indigenous wetlands where he and his students work on ecosystem functioning (water and carbon) and restoration; to agricultural greenhouse research in intensively managed dairy farm systems. Peat has been a bit of a theme – from the vast intact Kopuatai bog to drained and intensively farmed peat soils. Currently Dave has research contracts with Landcare Research (peatland functioning and restoration); NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (contributes to research with Louis and the wider WaiBER team); and has recently gained ERA-GAS funding as a member of the PEATWISE Nordic/NZ consortium (sustainable peat agriculture and GHG’s). Hear Dave talk about why he enjoys his job here. Google scholar papers

Tanya O'Neill
Tanya O’Neill

Tanya O’Neill is a senior lecturer at Waikato University contributing to soil and environmental science courses in the 100, 200, and 300 level undergraduate space, an MSc soil course ‘Land and soil: resources and risks’, and supervises undergraduate and postgraduate students. Tanya completed her PhD on the human impacts on Antarctic soils with Megan Balks and is highly active in research in these fascinating environments. Tanya is also investigating changes in soil carbon stocks of NZ soils. Tanya has had nine trips to Antarctica: including two for my PhD on human impacts on the soil environment, one to the Antarctic Peninsula as a field assistant with the Spanish Antarctic Programme, three downloading a network of soil climate stations, and her first trip, to run a marathon on the continent.

She currently involved in a multidisciplinary project characterising the environment around Scott Base, Antarctica, as a baseline against which any environmental effects of base redevelopment can be measured.  She has been awarded a Marsden fast start to investigate whether penguin mounds serve as natural archives of anthropogenic contamination in remote Antarctic environments, and is interested in doing complementary work in NZ bird colonies.  When not working, Tanya like to travel, and spend a lot of time outside, cycling, hiking, scuba-diving, and fishing. Website: https://tanyaoneill.org/  Google scholar papers.

Aaron Wall and Ben Troughton

Aaron Wall is the research associate for the carbon sequestration project and is pictured with Ben Troughton whose farm we are currently working on. We have established four 6 ha blocks where we are will determining full carbon budgets. Currently two are planted in ryegrass/clover mix and one with a mix of other pasture species planted (with greater root biomass) in an attempt to increase soil carbon. Aaron speaks about some of our work on diverse pastures swards here. Aaron is concurrently undertaking a PhD examining the carbon balance of production (maize) and its subsequent consumption within dairy farms. Google scholar papers

Dori Torres-Rojas

Dori Torres-Rojas joined the WaiBER and WEG group as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. I completed my PhD in Soil Science at Cornell University and I have a background in Engineering. My PhD research focused on the study of thermal and biological transformations of organic N in plant residue and their effect on the persistence of pyrogenic C in terrestrial ecosystems. This work sparked my interest in understanding the mechanistic interactions that govern N removal, retention, and sequestration in agricultural and natural ecosystems. As a Research Fellow, I will be working on increasing bioreactor nitrate removal rates by activating media surface and controlling redox conditions to promote denitrification. I look forward to collaborating and learning from an incredible group of scientists while applying my expertise in soil biogeochemistry and engineering to the design of more efficient bioreactors. I am a geek at heart and I love the challenge of understanding mechanistic processes but also finding a practical solution to real world problems. Google scholar papers

rich and dave
Rich Binton, Dave and the QCL

Richard Bindon has a talent for mechanical and electronic design and has contributed to recent builds of our Aerodyne quantum cascade laser eddy covariance systems (for measuring fluxes of N2O and CH4), enabling these delicate instruments to run smoothly in challenging field environments. He and Dave worked together on designing and building the all-important weatherproof and temperature-controlled enclosures with their unique subsoil air cooling systems. Rich’s careful approach to design of mechanical and electronic systems always results in professional, functional and beautiful gear.

Reza Moghaddam
Reza Moghaddam

Reza Moghaddam. The core of my PhD project is “carbon dosing of denitrifying woodchip bioreactors”. I will be mainly investigating whether and to what extent, the dosing of denitrifying bioreactors with an added soluble source of carbon, particularly methanol, could stimulate nitrogen removal from agricultural runoff. The project also encompasses assessing the leaching risk of the added methanol either in field and mesocosm scale bioreactors. My supervisors are Louis Schipper, Dori Torres-Rojas and Adam Hartland.


Leeza Speranskaya: I am an MSc (Research) student working with supervisor, Dave Campbell, to expand on current knowledge of peatland hydrological processes, with a particular focus on evaporation. One of my research aims will be to quantify interception loss for the dominant vegetation type at Kopuatai bog
– Empodisma robustum – to better understand evaporation partitioning under wet and dry canopy conditions. I will also be examining a 10-year eddy covariance evaporation dataset to identify patterns and key variables influencing evaporation.


Megan Reaves. My obsession with penguins started during my masters degree at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. I used stable isotope analyses (δ13C, δ15N, and δ34S) on Adélie penguin chick bone collagen to reflect foraging behavior of Adélie penguins over the span of >48,000 calendar years BP to today in the Ross Sea region. I also investigated whether isotopic signatures of the Ross Sea, McMurdo Sound, and Terra Nova Bay polynyas could be reflected by the Adélie penguin’s foraging behavior. After completing my masters degree I was deemed the “International Penguin Extraordinaire” and continued this role by pursuing a PhD in Environmental Sciences at the University of Waikato.

For my PhD project I am studying the presence of pollutants (e.g. mercury, lead, DDT, PAHs, and microplastics) in Adélie penguin nests under Dr. Tanya O’Neill. The aim of this project is to determine if Adélie penguins transfer and preserve contaminants from anthropogenic events (e.g. the Industrial Revolution, Great Acceleration, peak DDT, and microplastic incursion) in terrestrial Antarctica.

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