New students
Top (from left): Isaar and Haileigh. Bottom: Annie, Maisie and Indigo.

We are welcoming five new students to Ngā Rākau Taketake theme Risk Assessment & Ecosystem Impacts!

These students join a team of 30+ researchers who are contributing to the goal of understanding which species and ecosystems are most at risk from kauri dieback and myrtle rust, and what the impacts of these diseases are, so we can prioritise efforts and inform better management decisions. The kauri-related research projects these students are conducting will contribute to understanding and assessing the effect of Phytophthora agathidicida infection on kauri trees and ecosystem characteristics.

Here are a few words from each of the new recruits . . .

My name is Annie McElvein, and I was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. In 2019, I received my undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley with a major in environmental science and a minor in GIS. For my Master’s at the University of Auckland, I get to expand on my undergraduate education and complete a landscape level geospatial assessment to better visualise the linkages between kauri tree health and soil conditions. My hope is to make a meaningful contribution to kauri management and help conserve the unique biodiversity of Aotearoa. 

My name is Isaar Sharma, and I’m an undergraduate student at the University of Auckland. I have always been fascinated by the natural environment, specifically forests, and so I naturally wanted to study something encompassing those two things. For my Honour’s this year, I will be examining the effects of kauri dieback on the organic matter soil component of a kauri stand.  

Kia ora koutou katoa, ko Haileigh ahau. I’m from Wellington, where I did my undergrad in microbiology at Vic Uni. While at Vic, I got involved in kauri dieback research and have been kind of obsessed with kauri ever since. I then moved to Auckland and am working with Luitgard Schwendenmann and Maj Padamsee on an Honour’s project looking at the effect of phosphite treatment on mycorrhizal fungi colonies in the roots of kauri trees. 

Kia ora! My name is Maisie Hamilton Murray, and for my Master’s project I am studying the kauri phyllosphere. In particular, I am investigating the composition of the leachate and microbial community of kauri in the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park, and the effects of kauri dieback on these components of the forest. I formed a close connection to Aotearoa’s forests during my childhood in Waitākere, although it did take a few years for me to find ecology and environmental science; as well as my Bachelor of Science, I completed a Bachelor of Arts before undertaking my PGDipSci and then my Master’s degree. 

Kia ora, I’m Indigo Michael and I’m from Tāmaki Makaurau. My interest in science began as a teenager when I became passionate about how climate change is impacting my motherland islands, Tuvalu and Tokelau. My Master’s project at the University of Auckland will investigate the impact of Phytophthora agathadicida on soil bacterial communities around kauri trees. I will use 16S rRNA gene sequencing to explore whether there are differences in infected vs uninfected soil bacterial communities and determine whether these differences can be used to predict P. agathidicida infection. 

A big welcome to Isaar, Haileigh, Annie, Maisie, and Indigo! We look forward to learning more about kauri health through your research.  

Risk Assessment & Ecosystem Impacts is co-led by Simon Wegner and Luitgard Schwendenmann, with Nick Waipara serving as Māori advisor.

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