'I enjoy working with people and communicating scientific research to decision makers...'
Studying towards a PhD in Biological Sciences
Katie has long held an interest in New Zealand’s waterways, having completed environmental management studies at Lincoln University, and worked previously as a Freshwater Policy Analyst in Auckland Council. Recognizing the need for more and improved science in managing New Zealand’s freshwaters, she decided to pursue a PhD in Biological Sciences.
The opportunity to work with UC’s Freshwater Ecology Research Group and the Canterbury Waterway Rehabilitation Experiment (CAREX) provides Katie with the platform and support to connect her science with the real world.
‘I enjoy the quality of facilities and lab space, and the applied nature, seeing things in practice in the real world,’ she says.
CAREX seeks to find solutions to problems facing agricultural waterways.
‘Aquatic plants provide important functions in stream ecosystems, however, excessive growth in agricultural landscapes can have negative impacts,’ she says. ‘When agricultural waterways become choked during summer, management typically involves mechanical clearance using a bank-side digger. This practice can over steepen banks, damage in-stream habitat and hinder aquatic ecosystem function.
‘As part of CAREX, my PhD is focused on the growth of aquatic plants in agricultural waterways, particularly looking at factors affecting plant growth and development and the effectiveness of alternative control options other than mechanical clearance.
‘We are working with land owners and local communities to deliver solutions. The findings will be significant for informing future management of plants in agricultural waterways,’ she says.
Being at UC has made this work possible, and her PhD topic has earned Katie a number of scholarships to support this endeavour – including a MacKenzie Charitable Foundation PhD Scholarship, an IPENZ Rivers Group Student Research Grant, a Dan Watkins Scholarship in Weed Science, and a Canterbury Branch NZFGW Trust Award.
Katie looks forward to her research benefitting stakeholders, with a passion for working with others. In her spare time, Katie is an active member of GirlGuiding NZ volunteering as a unit leader and the national girl opportunities portfolio holder, with Spirit of New Zealand as a watch assistant, and as a Co-Editor for the New Zealand Natural Sciences Journal through UC. As such, her future career plans will see her carry on supporting others in the science field.
‘I enjoy working with people and communicating scientific research to decision makers and the general public. I aim to use the relationships I have built up through my studies to work with rural landowners to make on the ground changes in their everyday operations to improve on farm sustainability.’