Dr Maureen O'Callaghan
Role: Leader, Reducing risks and threats across landscapes
Maureen is a Principal Scientist at AgResearch and an adjunct Associate Professor at Lincoln University. Her research interests include ecology of beneficial soil microorganisms – including microbes capable of control of pests and diseases; impacts of new technologies and land-use changes on microbial community structure and function; and harnessing plant-microbe interactions to increase plant growth and health. Much of her work has been focused on development of environmentally sensitive alternatives to synthetic pesticides and fertilisers. She has been active in the environmental assessment of agri-technologies and interventions used in biosecurity responses to pest invasions in New Zealand and has led several industry-funded projects seeking to improve nutrient use efficiency in pastures.
In her current role, Maureen leads a large multi-institute trans-discipline research programme which aims to develop prototype biopesticides for control of New Zealand’s most significant and intractable pests and diseases in the pastoral, horticultural and arable sectors. Co-innovation with key industry partners and stakeholders underpins the programme. Maureen is also a researcher in the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University, looking at disease suppression and invasion ecology in grassland ecosystems.