Senior scientist Dr Louise Weaver is a member of ESR’s Water, Waste and Social Systems Group.
She has been involved on a number of groundwater research projects that support both the Our Land and Water and the New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenges.
Her groundwater research is focused on identifying how land use, such as farming and waste disposal, affects groundwater quality. Her work frequently assists local councils and communities in developing strategies to reduce or eliminate contaminants in their water systems.
Louise is also part of a small team developing a microbial early warning system (MEWS) that can be used to assess groundwater health and indicate any potential contaminants and their cause.
“When completed, the MEWS has the potential for councils and communities to have access to an inexpensive and effective tool for assessing the health of their water systems,” she says.
After leaving university, Louise worked as a drinking-water microbiologist and then an environmental microbiologist before going on to earn her doctorate at the University of Portsmouth, UK. She went on to serve in two postdoctorate roles at the University of Southampton.
After completing her second postdoctorate role she began to look for her next professional challenge and applied for a role at ESR.
“When I was selected for the position what really excited me was the opportunity to be involved with research that has practical applications and the potential to really make a difference in people’s lives,” she says.
For example, she is working with a team to develop low-cost ways for communities to remove pathogens from drinking-water. The work could have implications for small, rural communities in New Zealand and may also benefit many of our Pacific neighbours.
She says working within ESR also offers an opportunity to contribute her expertise to wider initiatives.
“Right now I am part of a team within our group that’s being funded by the Ministry of Health to analyse how to optimise response to microbial disease outbreaks. The research will lead to a set of guidelines to help health authorities, councils and businesses put good processes in place to respond effectively in the event of an outbreak.”