Post Graduate Student Research

Current PhD students | Current Masters Students | Postgraduate Conference

The Research Strategic Vision of the Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management (WCFM) is to “integrate disciplinary water research to provide interdisciplinary solutions to freshwater management problems”. Water Resource Management PhD and Masters students conducting research relevant to the WCFM are supervised by WCFM members, and are included in the Waterways Centre's activities during their time at university.

A list of completed Water Resource Management PhD and Masters theses submitted at the University of Canterbury can be found here. A list of PhD and Masters theses submitted at Lincoln University can be found here.

WRM students conduct research on water management issues on a global and local basis. The map below illustrates the geographical reach of our past and present scholars. Click on a dot to find out more about each student or alumni, their research topic and a link to the thesis if it has been completed.

The Waterways Centre Postgraduate Conference is our flagship annual event, usually held in November. Masters and PhD students from a wide range of disciplines from both Lincoln University and the University of Canterbury present snap shots of their research-in-progress, either as a short talk or as a poster.

Please note: locations on this map are indicative only and do not identify individual landowners. Large dots represent multiple theses conducted roughly in the same location (e.g. laboratory-based research at the University of Canterbury). Scroll in for more information about individual theses.


Water Resource Management PhD Students

Amandine Bosserelle

Amandine's origins are in the south of France and her research interest lies in coastal groundwater systems. She studied water resources management at the University of Montpellier during a Master’s degree in geosciences, then came to New Zealand where she specialised in groundwater numerical modelling to characterise flow and transport processes. Since 2006 she has been working in hydrogeological studies in New Zealand, Australia and some Pacific Islands.

Her current research focuses on groundwater rise due to sea-revel rise and impacts on infrastructure systems in urban environments. Amandine used Christchurch City’s large shallow groundwater monitoring network to characterise the water table variations in the recent years and highlight the influences on water levels such as the drainage network, the local geomorphology and human activities. Her future plan is to develop models to assess the current and future variations of water levels at the water table with ageing or replaced infrastructure and SLR. Coastal hazards related to groundwater include salinization of the freshwater above and below the land surface and groundwater flooding. Amandine's PhD connects the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering and Waterways. Email Amandine.

Martin Nguyen

While studying a Master’s Degree in Applied Data Science at the University of Canterbury, Martin developed an interest in the versatility of artificial intelligence. In his final project working with GNS, he applied data science concepts to hazard analysis. In this project, he employed one of the generative models – Conditional Tabular Generative Adversarial Network (CTGAN) to enhance the performance of complex probabilistic seismic models. Martin is currently pursuing a PhD in Water Resource Management focussing on advancing a generalised uncertainty estimation method in flood inundation modelling by using machine learning approaches. Martin is honoured to be working with Matthew Wilson (UC) and Emily Lane from NIWA as a part of the MBIE Endeavour research programme, “Reducing flood inundation hazard and risk across Aotearoa/New Zealand”. This project not only offers him opportunities to improve his data handling competencies and explore advanced geospatial techniques, but also gives him a chance to employ what he has studied to contribute to the safety of the public.

Apart from his research, Martin was a professional swimmer and finswimmer when he was in Vietnam for nearly 8 years so you can find him in almost all the pools and maybe at the beach. He also enjoys other sports such as basketball and jogging. Email Martin

Tara Forstner

Tara Forstner's PhD esearch focus is on investigating methods for assessing the 'baseline' (pre-European) conditions of a groundwater-surface water system incorporating indigenous records of natural conditions. Impacts on water resources are often quantified based on an assumed pre-development groundwater-surface water condition, however, baseline conditions are often constrained by lack of data as they pre-date monitoring periods. Understanding the Pre-European groundwater-surface water conditions is a critical consideration when investigating impacts on water resources that affect indigenous populations.

This research aims to explore methods of untangling the potential stressors (eg. drainage developments, increased abstractions, etc) of European settlement in a highly developed catchment using numerical modelling techniques and the inclusion of indigenous knowledge to reconstruct baseline conditions. Not only will this project develop new science to underpin the management of integrated groundwater and surface water systems, but it will have flow on effects by providing a more comprehensive understanding of methods for pre-development baseline conditions in a water resource system. Email Tara.

Justin Rogers

Justin has a background in earth science (Wesleyan University, BA) and oceanography (U. of Rhode Island GSO, MSc) and before a 2016 move to Christchurch worked as a consultant with a specialist coastal and lake modelling group (Tetra Tech Canada). Past work has ranged from wave buoys to dye studies to the hydrodynamics of harbours, and continuing work includes the dispersion and risk of municipal wastewater. The opportunity to return to academic study of New Zealand’s iconic braided rivers was well-timed with the completion of a PGDip at Waterways and children starting school.

Justin’s PhD research involves observing and modelling the fine sediment dynamics of the Rangitata River and understanding the river’s morphological response to flow abstraction. The project is funded by DoC and supervised by Dr James Brasington of Waterways, Dr Jo Hoyle of NIWA and Dr Jono Tonkin at UC Biology. Observations will use a high-resolution LiDAR system to provide unprecedented view of the river’s form and composition, supplemented by photography and in-river surveying. Modelling at multiple scales will seek to understand the behaviour of ecologically problematic fine sediment in space and time. Email Justin

Alice Sai Louie

Alice has a background in Engineering Geology having previously worked for a Geotechnical Engineering consultancy. She has returned to the University of Canterbury, where she previously gained a Bachelor of Science majoring in Geology and Geography followed by a Professional Master of Engineering Geology, to research her true passion: groundwater. Alice also did a stint studying Hydrology and Water Resources remotely at IHE Delft, but due to covid lockdowns returned to Ōtautahi to continue her studies.

Alice’s current research focuses on surface water – groundwater interaction in braided rivers, with an aim to gain insight into how groundwater velocity vectors from alluvial river systems vary spatially and temporally. Her research will utilise heat as a tracer using novel Active-Distributed Temperature Sensing (A-DTS) methods. This study is part of an MBIE Endeavour Fund research programme on braided river research. Alice is thrilled to have an excellent supervisory team comprising: Leanne Morgan, David Dempsey, Eddie Banks (Flinders University) and Scott Wilson (Lincoln Agritech). 

In her spare time Alice enjoys spending time in the mountains, tramping, skiing and mountain biking and when not out adventuring enjoys gardening and reading. Email Alice


Irene Setiawan

Irene is a graduate of Lincoln University with a Bachelors in Agricultural Science and first class honours in Environmental Science. She is currently working towards a PhD in Water Resource Management. Irene has experience in assisting research projects and tutoring in Soil Science and Water Resource Management disciplines. Her research interests include sustainable groundwater management and building resilience to climate change. Her hobbies include cooking, tramping, and spending time with friends and family. Irene’s PhD is entitled “Riparian saltwater intrusion under sea level rise”. Her research draws on Christchurch as a case study and aims to address saltwater intrusion from tidal rivers into the adjacent shallow aquifers under sea level rise using field and groundwater modelling investigations. Her supervisory team includes Dr Leanne Morgan and Dr Crile Doscher. Email Irene.


Rachel Teen

Rachel Teen graduated from Lincoln University with a Masters in Water Resource Management. She has returned to University of Canterbury (BA Education) as a PhD candidate studying sustainability transitions toward water sensitive cities.

Rachel is investigating optimal factors and contexts for urban water management strategists to transition away from unsustainable and technocratic hydro-social arrangements. Interested in urban human-water dynamics, she is carrying out an Australasian cross-case comparison between water management strategists in Melbourne and Christchurch. This has involved understanding policy and regulation frameworks influencing both cities, researching their historic and contextual archives, undertaking narrative of practice and career story semi-structured interviews with past and present water management strategists, and applying a strategy as practice lens to the data. Rachel has held board positions in the tourism, education and impact assessment sectors, was project managing biodiversity restoration projects for Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere, and now tutors first year students in Geography and Science. Rachel's supervisors are Dr Ed Challies and Dr. Lin Roberts. Email Rachel

Water Resource Management Masters Students

Students currently undertaking their second year of a Water Resource Management Masters are:

  Thesis topic Supervisor(s)
Aimee Calkin Global survey of encroachment into the rorgotten land of braided rivers Dr Ann Brower (UC), Dr Shelley MacDonell (LU)
Karina Kelly

Assessment of stream restoration efforts on the recovery of ecosystem function metrics

Dr. James Brasington (UC), Dr Issie Barrett (LU)
James Manning Groundwater surface water interaction in a coastal lowland stream: Ōtūkaikino Creek, Ōtautahi/Christchurch Dr Travis Horton (UC), Dr Shelley MacDonell (LU)
Hugh Blake-Manson Digital water technologies for drinking water distribution systems Dr James Brasington (UC)
Sidinei Teixeira

Managed aquifer recharge’s efficiency in restoring degraded environments within the Hinds/Hekeao catchment

Dr Peter Almond (LU)
Izaura Sarmiento Monitoring assessment of stormwater runoff for metals, emerging contaminants, and pathogenic organisms in Christchurch Dr. Tom Cochrane, Dr Frances Charters (UC)
Chu Zhao How can ethnic Chinese be engaged effectively in the process of setting long-term visions for freshwater, a case study from Otautahi, Christchurch Dr Steve Ulrich (LU)