Dr Wendy Williamson is a Senior Scientist with ESR’s Public Health Laboratory team.
With over 20 years’ experience as a scientist, Wendy recently moved into the Public Health Laboratory team to train as a Medical Laboratory Scientist. In this role Wendy tests for pathogens and environmental microbes in clinical, food and water samples.
“Currently much of my work is focused on identifying pathogens in food samples to help manage foodborne illnesses,” Wendy says.
Prior training as a Medical Laboratory Scientist, Wendy worked as an Environmental Microbiologist for ESR’s water programme. In this role she looked at the impacts that wastewater and its disposal may have on human health. She specialised in cyanobacteria, pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria, pathogenic enteric viruses and complex biofilm microbial communities in wastewater and groundwater.
Her work ran the gamut from risk assessment for small community wastewater systems, to designing surface water monitoring programmes for faecal contamination, to preparing guidelines and standards for drinking-water and recreational water.
“I also advised on soil-based issues, such as the disposal and reuse of organic wastes from agri-industrial wastes,” she says.
“While there are differences in the two roles, one thing that has remained the same is using our scientific knowledge to reduce or eliminate illness-causing microorganisms. Whether consulting with a regional council on wastewater management or working with the Ministry of Health on a public health risk management plan, it’s extremely rewarding to be involved in helping New Zealanders live healthier lives,” she says.
Wendy earned her PhD in microbiology at the University of Canterbury.