Our theme is linked to the University's fourth global challenge, which focuses on sustainable physical, social and economic environments.
We are focused on the sustainability of our terrestrial, marine and freshwater environments, our climate, and human resilience.
We aim to champion research that pursues balanced land and water use, strong sustainable cities, communities and regions; sustainable urban futures and which supports strong environmental governance.
We look at new ways to respond to environmental and societal challenges and develop sustainable solutions.
Who we are
Seed funding projects
Modelling whitebait population dynamics
Four out of New Zealand’s six whitebait species are threatened or at risk of extinction. The government has proposed changes to fishing regulations in an attempt to arrest declines. This project, led by George Perry in the School of Environment, will model whitebait population dynamics to identify which management interventions will be most likely to reduce extinction risk, considering both government proposed regulatory changes and other more contentious options not considered by the government such as controlling trout populations.
PFAS monitoring in landfill leachate and wastewater
Poly- and per-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) represent a large family (4000+) of man-made chemicals that have been produced and used worldwide since the 1950s. Landfill leachate and wastewater treatment are expected to be one of the major point sources of PFAS contamination in NZ but supporting data is currently unavailable. This project, led by Melanie Kah in the School of Environment, will support the first monitoring campaign in NZ to address this important knowledge gap.
Using genetics to understand invasive species risk - establishing a global collection of common myna to identify invasion sources and inform control efforts.
Through repeated deliberate and accidental introductions, the common myna, a bird native to the Indian subcontinent, has established a firm reputation as an undesirable pest in many countries and is frequently the target of control and eradication measures. We have recently developed genomic resources for myna to support their investigations of the invasions in New Zealand and Australia. The project, led by Anna Santure and Annabel Whibley in the School of Biological Sciences, will establish a broader, active network of researchers and stakeholders to obtain a global collection of myna samples to infer the sources of these invasive populations, predict their future invasive capacity, and inform control programs.
Automated flow technology for personalised cancer vaccine synthesis
Our first seed funding project is being led by Dr Emma Davison (Chemical Sciences). The envisaged automated peptide flow synthesiser will optimise the efficiency of the manufacturing process, drastically reducing chemical and solvent waste.
Biofilm inhibition in drinking water distribution systems
This interdisciplinary research project, led by Dr Viji Sarojini, will investigate the potential of a recently developed system to deplete microbial biofilms commonly prevalent in water. These biofilms attach to the surfaces of drinking water pipes and then get released and degrade water quality. The team will test the efficacy and feasibility of their modular ultra-short antimicrobial peptide resin on these microbial biofilms.
Effects of health care on the environment
Dr Jon Sperry and Dr Viji Sarojini will lead this project, which aims to understand and estimate the effects health care has on environmental sustainability. They will engage a Bioscience Enterprise student to review relevant literature to identify and estimate the effects health care (in hospitals, surgeries, pharmacies) has on the environment and where sustainability research from the Faculty of Science could work to mitigate harmful effects.