Dr. Monica Gerth is the overall project leader of Te Kura o te Kauri. Monica is a Senior Lecturer in Microbiology at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research focuses on the microbiology of kauri dieback disease — with a particular interest in how the microbes navigate the environment and cause infection.
Monica’s family hails from the east coast of the USA, though her dad was in the army so they were never stationed in one place (or country) for very long. Since moving to Wellington, she has put down firm roots, and considers it her home now. In her spare time she is trying (but mostly struggling) to learn Te Reo Māori.
More information about her research group can be found at: https://molecules-and-microbes.org/
Dr. Wayne Patrick is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Victoria University of Wellington. His expertise is in the evolution and engineering of enzymes, and also in microbial evolution. He is nervously conducting experiments on whether – and how – the kauri dieback pathogen (Phytophthora agathidicida) might evolve resistance to antimicrobial agents.
In the Te Kura o te Kauri team, Wayne led the development of a virtual reality experience to convey a sense of scale. It's hard to believe, but a tree as enormous as Tāne Mahuta is threatened by spores that measure less than 0.01 millimetres across.
More information about Wayne's research group can be found at: https://molecules-and-microbes.org/
Dr. Amanda Black is a Principal Scientist at the BioProtection Research Centre at Lincoln University. She is from Whakatāne and has Iwi affiliations with Tūhoe, Whakatōhea, and Te Whanau a Apanui. Her research centers on soil chemistry, biogeochemistry and the inclusion of Māori perspectives and solutions in biosecurity and mainstream science. Specifically, her research explores the role of trace elements in soil nutrient cycling; what biological and chemical traits influence plant disease spread and survival across different landscapes; and the protection of culturally significant species such as kauri and pōhutukawa from biosecurity risks and threats. She is also the co director for Te Tira Whakamātaki - the Māori Biosecurity Network.
Associate Professor Cate Macinnis-Ng is a plant ecophysiologist interested in the effects of environmental conditions on plant growth, water use and survival. Cate is working on a number of projects with postgraduate students and postdocs to determine the effects of drought on native forests and to quantify water use patterns in different types of vegetation in a changing climate. Cate is a Rutherford Discovery Fellow, President of the New Zealand Ecological Society and Principle Investigator for Te Pūnaha Matatini (TPM, The Centre for Research Excellence in Complex Systems). Cate is working with TPM colleagues (including postdoc Tara McAllister) to build better pathways for co-developed research with tangata whenua. Cate has been researching the ecophysiology of kauri trees since 2011.