IDReC Alumni

MAsako wada

  • EpiCentre / UniMelb
The title of Masako's thesis is “Enhancing an Evidence-Based Decision Making System for Foot-and-Mouth Disease.”. This PhD project is being supervised by Tim Carpenter (EpiCentre), Naomi Cogger (EpiCentre), and Mark Stevenson (University of Melbourne).

Eutteum Kim

  • EpiCentre
The title of Eutteum's thesis is “Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis for controlling trans-boundary livestock diseases.”. This PhD project is being supervised by Naomi Cogger (EpiCentre) and Tim Carpenter (EpiCentre).
EuTTuem research project was the development of tools to support decision making in the event of a Foot-And-Mouth Outbreak. The project applied multi-criteria decision making techniques and used the recent Korean Foot-and-Mouth outbreak as a proof of concept. 



Kandarp Patel

  •  EpiCentre / mEpiLab/ Agresearch

Kandarp's  thesis title is "Epidemiology of causes of abortion in farmed red deer in New Zealand" and his project his being supervised by Professor Peter Wilson (IVABS), Professor Cord Heuer (Epicentre), Dr. Laryssa Howe (IVABS) and Dr. Geoff Asher (AgResearch).  This research will investigate industry-wide unexplained suboptimum reproductive performance associated with fetal wastage in farmed red deer.

As part of the project the prevalence and incidence of abortion will be established. Seroprevalence and epidemiology of the identified pathogens will be studied along with farm management data to develop control strategies including vaccination. Cost-effective solutions by extension of new knowledge will help stakeholders solve the persistent, widespread reproductive inefficiency in farmed deer, enhancing deer farmer and industry profitability and returns.


 Emilie Vallee

  • EpiCentre / IVABS / mEpiLab

Emilie is working on the effects of leptospirosis on sheep and beef cattle production. Her supervisors are Peter Wilson (IVABS), Cord Heuer (EpiCentre), Julie Collins-Emerson and Jackie Benschop (mEpiLab). Emilie's doctoral thesis is entitled "Production effects due to leptospirosis and vaccine efficacy in sheep and beef cattle”.

Emilie is looking at leptospirosis in New Zealand sheep and beef cattle, its epidemiology, its effects on growth and reproduction and the associated costs for farmers. She is also evaluating the cost-effectiveness of vaccination as a control measure. Her work involved extensive field work and data collection in collaboration with volunteer farmers.


Juan Sanhueza

  • EpiCentre / mEpiLab
The title of Juan's thesis is “Public health impact of Leptospirosis”. This PhD project is being supervised by Cord Heuer (EpiCentre), Peter Wilson (IVABS), Jackie Benschop (mEpiLab) and Julie Collins-Emerson (mEpiLab). As part of Juan’s PhD project, veterinarians and farmers of beef cattle, sheep and deer participated in serological surveys that will provide estimates of Leptospira exposure in these populations and will allow the assessment of putative risk factors for exposure.


Since leptospirosis can range from a severe disease to a mild flu-like illness, the sero-prevalence of Leptospira in apparently healthy individuals and its association with recent episodes of flu-like illness will provide not only an insight on mild cases of leptospirosis in New Zealand but also will inform future estimations of the total cost of the disease in people.


Antoine Nohra

  • IVABS / mEpiLab

The title of Antoine’s doctoral thesis is “Molecular epidemiological studies of human campylobacteriosis in New Zealand between 2005 and 2014”. Antoine is being supervised by Alex Grinbery (IVABS), Nigel French, Anne Midwinter and Julie Collins-Emerson (mEpiLab). 

Antoine’s research will use molecular epidemiological approaches to assess long-term trends in source attribution of human campylobacteriosis in the Manawatu region in New Zealand, between 2005 and 2014. It will complement previous studies that analysed data from a limited period of time (2005 to 2008) in order to understand what has changed in the epidemiology of this disease after the interventions aimed at poultry. 


 Kyle Richardson

  •  mEpiLab / Landcare Research / AgResearch

 Kyle is working on a doctoral thesis entitled: Superspreading and supershedding: Using social networking to help determine the transmission of emerging and infectious disease. He is being supervised by Nigel French (mEpiLab), Dan Tompkins (Landcare Research) and Bryce Buddle (AgResearch).

The main focus of Kyle's research is to determine the social networks among brushtail possums within a natural environment and how these influence the spread of infectious disease. By distinguishing between social and anti-social individuals within a given population Kyle hopes to gain a better understand the roles different animals play in the transmission of emerging and infectious disease.

 Ali Karkaba

  Ali Karkaba

  •  IVABS / mEpiLab / EpiCentre

 Ali is collecting the first data in New Zealand on multidrug-resistant bacteria in companion animal populations with particular focus on the "superbugs" like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Gram negaitve bacteria (such as E. coli) that produce extended-spectrum beta-lactamase enzymes. He is collecting isolates that are causing clinical diseases in cats and dogs, and those that are being carried by healthy pets. Future population genetics stduies will compare the animal isolates with those causing human infections in New Zealand.

 Ali's PhD supervisors are Alex Grinberg, Eve Pleydell and Kate Hill from IVABS, and Jackie Benschop from Epicentre.


 Kruno Bojanic

  •  IVABS / mEpiLab

The title of Kruno's doctoral thesis is: Campylobacter spp. in dogs and cats and their significance to Public Health in New Zealand. His supervisors are Els Acke from IVABS, and Anne Midwinter and Patrick Biggs from mEpiLab. 

While C. jejuni and C. coli are the species most commonly associated with disease in people, other, less common Campylobacter species (such as C. upsaliensis and C. helveticus) are considered to be emerging human pathogens. However, the prevalence of these less common species in pets and people in New Zealand is not currently known. Kruno is studying the abilities of the commonly utilised diagnostic tests to detect these emerging pathogens in pets and people, and comparing their pathogenic potential to that of C. jejuni.


 Julanda Al Mawly

  •  IVABS / mEpiLab

Julanda's doctoral thesis is entitled: The epidemiology of the major enteropathogens of newborn calves on New Zealand dairy farms. He is being supervised by Alex Grinberg, Nigel French and Debbie Prattley.

Julanda is investigating the epidemiological features of neonatal calf diarrhoea on New Zealand dairy farms in order to provide a science-based platform that can inform best practice for the control of calf diarrhoea using the vaccines, chemotherapeutics and other resources that are available.

 Rima Shresthra

 Rima Shresthra

  • mEpiLab / IVABS

Rima is studying the molecular epidemiology of water-borne zoonoses in New Zealand under the supervision of Nigel French and Patrick Biggs in mEpiLab and Eve Pleydell and Alex Grinberg from IVABS.

Rima's doctoral research is focussed on the transmission dynamics of the zoonotic bacterial and protozoal pathogens: Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium and Giardia. She is particularly interested in the potential transmission of these pathogens from livestock to human through contaminated drinking water or via accidental ingestion of water during recreational activities.


Barbara Binney


Barbara completed her doctoral studies in Campylobacter jejuni in 2015

Her supervisor's were Nigel French and Patrick Biggs from mEpiLab at Massey, as well as Phil Carter (a molecular scientist from the Enteric Reference Laboratory at the Environmental and Science Research Institute), and Barbara Holland (a phylogeneticist from the University of Tasmania).

Barbara is studying the evolution in New Zealand of Campylobacter jejuni using a variety of methodologies, both lab based and mathematical. Campylobacter jejun is an important cause of gastrointestinal disease world-wide that is associated with a wide range of host species, such as wild birds, and domestic animals. Barabara is studying a collection of Campylobacter jejuni strains that are associated with some New Zealand birds and water.


Ben Phiri

Ben completed his doctoral studies in Molecular Epidemiology in 2015. His PhD was entitield "Estimating the public health risk associated with drinking water in New Zealand."

His supervisor's were Nigel French and Patrick Biggs (mEpiLab), Mark Stevenson (EpiCentre) and Paul Rainey (Institute of Natural Sciences).

Ben's research was funded by AWC and involves the use of metagenomics to investigate the quality of drinking water on campgrounds operated by the Department of Conservation. Other aspects of his doctoral studies include the application of mathematical modelling to investigate the effect of river flow on reported cases of enteritis in drink water zones throughout New Zealand.


Patricia Jaros

Patricia completed her doctoral studies in 2014.

Her PhD research has focused on the molecular epidemiology of an important human pathogen known as STEC O157 (Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli serotype O157:H7).  Having been awarded a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the Allan Wilson Centre, Patricia continues her research on STEC O157 in a postdoctoral position within the group.

Patricia’s postdoctoral project aims to find out more about the STEC O157 strains present in New Zealand, using genomic-level analyses of more than 100 isolates originating from cattle and humans.  Her project addresses questions such as where in the world STEC O157 are likely to have come from to New Zealand, and when; and whether cattle, or another cryptic host, are the most important source of human STEC infections in New Zealand.


 Zoe Grange

Zoe Patricia completed her doctoral studies in 2014.

Zoe was funded by the Allan Wilson Centre to study the role of translocation and avian populations in the transmission of common pathogens and commensals in island ecosystems. She has a range of supervisors from different disciplines at Massey and Victoria Universities: Brett Gartrell (Wildbase, IVABS), Nigel French (mEpiLab, IVABS), Laryssa Howe (IVABS) and Nicola Nelson (Victoria University).

Zoe was investigating the effects that translocation of TakahÄ (endangered flightless birds) between reserves has had on the biogeographical spread of common pathogens and commensal organisms. Zoe was also investigating the role of reservoir species in island ecosystems, exploring potential transmission of pathogens from existing populations to translocated individuals. You can find out more about Zoe's work in the Research Highlights.


Fang Fang

Fang Fang completed her doctoral studies in 2014. Her PhD was entitield "Leptospirosis diagnostics and exposure at the human and animal interface".

Fang Fang was supervised by Jackie Benschop and Julie Collins-Emerson (mEpiLab), Peter Wilson (IVABS), and Cord Heuer (EpiCentre). 

The focus of Fang’s research is to investigate leptospirosis at the human-animal interface in New Zealand, and attempt to understand some key questions about diagnosis and occupational risks. This work involves an evaluation of the laboratory diagnostic tests for leptospirosis, including standard/conventional tests and molecular techniques, in animals (sheep and cattle) and humans. Other aspects of this work include examining the shedding/renal colonization rates and sero-prevalence of Leptospira spp. in slaughtered animals to raise awareness of the potential risk of getting leptospirosis in meat workers.

Shoukai Yu 

Shoukai completed her doctoral studies in Statistical Genetics in 2013. Her PhD was entitield "The evolution of Campylobacter".

Shoukai was supervised by Nigel French and Patrick Biggs from mEpiLab, IDReC; Paul Fearnhead (Professor of Statistics at Lancaster University, UK) and Barbara Holland (from the Theoretical Phylogenetics Group, University of Tasmania).

Shoukai nvestigated some fundamental questions regarding how fast the bacteria evolve, the geographical isolation effect on the evolution of the bacteria, and the evolutionary mechanism of Campylobacter. The study highlighted the importance of recombination relative to mutation, and provided evidence that the geographical isolation effect on the evolution of Campylobacter exists over short time-scales, but that this effect diminishes over longer time-scales. More information on Shoukai's work is available in the Research Highlights.

Hamid Irshad

Hamid completed his doctoral studies in February 2013.His PhD thesis was entitled: "The epidemiology of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157 and non-O157 STEC in bobby calves in the North Island of New Zealand." His main supervisor was Nigel French from mEpiLab. Hamid so impressed his doctoral examiners that they nominated his thesis for the Dean's List of Exceptional Doctoral Theses.

 A summary of Hamid's PhD studies:
Strains of Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) have emerged as important food borne pathogens, and cattle and sheep are important reservoirs of these bacteria. Therefore, STECs are of public health concern and they also pose a threat to international trade. Despite this, very little information is available about the epidemiology of STEC in New Zealand. Hamid's is studying the epidemiology of STEC in bobby calves in the North Island of New Zealand; the information obtained from this research will be helpful in devising national and regional control strategies for STEC in bobby calves.

Tilman Davies

Tilman completed his PhD entitled: "Spatial and Spatiotemporal Point Process Modelling in Epidemiology" in 2012, under the supervision of Professor Martin Hazelton from the Institute for Fundamental Sciences.

During his doctoral studies, Tilman studied the appraisal and refinement of certain point process methodologies with a view to improved modelling of epidemiological problems. He improved the techniques for estimating the spatial risk of infection by incorporating variable smoothing in the estimates; investigated the class of models known as ‘log-Gaussian Cox processes,' (LGCP) capable of tracking the evolution of the spatiotemporal disease intensities; and in the process helped to develop 2 R packages. More information about Tilman's work is available under the Research Highlights section of this website: Research Highilight: Tilman Davies

Tilman is now lecturing in statistics at the University of Otago.