Group Leader

Senior Lecturer
School of Biological Sciences

PhD Students

Justyna Giejsztowt profile-picture photograph

Justyna Giejsztowt

New Zealand | Blog | Contact Justyna

In 2013 I completed my Master's Degree in Applied Ecology. My thesis investigated links between population genetics, phylogeography and ecological niche in an alpine plant. The work was supervised by Andreas Tribsch at the Paris Lodron University in Salzburg, Austria. This Erasmus Mundus programme was funded by the European Union, and took me to study at five different universities in European countries.

I began my PhD in 2015. My work focuses on the interactive effects of climate change and invasive species pressure on alpine plant communities. Working with Julie Deslippe, at Victoria University of Wellington, and Aimee Classen, at the University of Copenhagen, my ecological studies  take place in the unique landscape of Tongariro National Park in New Zealand. This alpine ecosystem, like many others, is under immense pressure from both climate warming and invasive species.  My studies probe how aspects of this ecosystem will behave in the future: plant-pollinator networks, mycorrhizal symbioses and species' distributions on the landscape.

Maedeh Jafari Rad profile-picture photograph

Maedeh Jafari Rad

Iran | Contact Maedah

I am Iranian and I did my undergraduate and MSc degrees at Shahed University in Tehran, where I focused on plant biotechnology. I then developed an interest in plant interactions with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, AMF. My PhD focuses on the effects of plant arrival order and succession on the assembly and composition of plant-AMF communities. My PhD, utilises my skills in molecular biology and develops my knowledge of ecological theory, including network analyses. My project contributes to a Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden-funded project lead by Dr Julie Deslippe.

Natascha Lewe profile-picture photograph

Natascha Lewe

Germany | Contact Natascha

I studied both biology and chemistry at the Technical University Berlin, and worked for about 10 years as a teacher in secondary schools in Germany. After studying toward a MSc in Ecology & Biodiversity at Victoria University of Wellington for one year, I transferred to a PhD programme under the supervision of Dr. Julie Deslippe.

The aim of my thesis, “The role of root exudates and rhizosphere microbial communities in determining plant realized niche“ is to elucidate the interactions between plants and microbial communities of the soil. Root exudates consists of a complex mixtures of hundreds of components and they play a crucial role in these interactions. My aim is to use targeted and non-targeted analytical approaches to profile the microbial community and the molecular networks of root exudates to illuminate the functional interplay among plants and soil microbes.

Master's Students

Garth Fabbro profile-picture photograph

Garth Fabbro

New Zealand | Contact Garth

I completed my BSc in Ecology and Biodiversity at Victoria University of Wellington, and am now in my second year of a MSc supervised by Dr Julie Deslippe. I am interested in ecological interactions between plant species and how these interactions affect the structure and distribution of plant communities. My MSc research investigates how facilitative interactions between wetland plants are partitioned between the above- and below-ground environments. I assess the relative intensity of above- and below-ground facilitation by controlling for above and below ground facilitative interactions and measuring survival and growth of two podocarp tree species, Kahikatea and Totara. My takes place at Wairio wetlands, on the eastern shore of Lake Wairarapa.


Alex Coles

2016 |

Stevie Waring

2016 | The factors that influence the reestablishment of Podocarpus totara (totara) and Dacrycarpus dacrydioides (kahikatea) in a freshwater New Zealand wetland.