Position: Professor, Field: Marine ecology, Organisation: University of Waikato

Professor Chris Battershill leads Coastal Science at the University of Waikato. His main interests are coastal marine ecology, aquaculture, biodiscovery, taxonomy of marine invertebrates, conservation science and environmental toxicology.

As Professor of Coastal Science, he is charged with growing research and education in all fields associated with coastal science research. This includes conservation and environmental research and also research into innovations that may enhance New Zealand’s economy in sustainable ways. Aquaculture and biodiscovery are two themes that go hand in hand with sustainable development of coastal resources. Chris values the preservation of our nation’s biodiversity so that future generations can have opportunities to learn about and appreciate our marine life and to harvest it for food and explore human health uses (biodiscovery) in an ecologically sustainable manner.

Chris began his career by completing a BSc and then an MSc Hons in oil pollution ecotoxicity. He then worked for the Taranaki Catchment Commission as a toxicologist in petrochemical development. Chris went back to university to further his studies. He received a scholarship for his PhD research on sponges and chemical ecology (from a drug company). He then got a postdoctoral position with chemists looking for New Zealand anti-cancer chemicals within marine organisms. Chris had similar jobs in Australia and also spent some time with the Department of Conservation. He ended up leading Australia’s largest tropical research team focused on marine biodiversity. He then came back to New Zealand to his current position. He wanted to bring home some of what he learned about biodiscovery, life at the bottom of the sea and aquaculture.

Chris had started out with an interest in medicine, but couldn’t get away from his first choice as a marine biologist. He ended up doing both in a fantastic combination.

Chris also enjoys fishing, surfing, diving, squash, mountain biking, house renovation, working in the garden, music and going to a decent concert – anything from The Stranglers and Tom Waits to Gin Wigmore and Stella.

Discovery is addictive. Finding solutions to important problems while at the same time feeding a thirst to understand how our planet works and additionally enjoying the whole process is what a job should be. Science offers that.

This article is based on information current in 2012.

    Published 11 January 2012