Allison Miller’s Doctoral Thesis listed as Exceptional!

A thesis is of exceptional quality when the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the relevant Division agrees with the unanimous recommendation of all three examiners that the thesis is exceptional in 4 standards: research content, originality, quality of expression, and accuracy of presentation.

Every year 10% of all thesis are recognised to be exceptional, and this year Allison’s thesis was one of them!

So deserved, Allison, well done!!!

Allison Miller
Dr. Allison Miller


eDNA Outreach at the Otago Museum

On Friday 17th 2023, the University of Otago team (from Gemmell’s lab) alongside the Marine Biosecurity Toolbox had a booth at the ‘All the small things´ event hosted by the Otago Museum and led by Genomics Aotearoa. The event goal was to showcase the environmental DNA research happening at the University of Otago to incoming students, their families and the community.

Benjamín Durán-Vinet to the left, and Jackson Treece, to the right.

The DETECT team representatives ( Jo StantonJackson Treece and Benjamín Durán-Vinet) set up a portable isothermal amplification technique demonstration known as LAMP (Loop-mediated isothermal amplification) to portray a rapid, portable, simple and highly specific environmental DNA detection tool that could be used by non-scientific users. They also spoke about other potential eDNA detection tools, such a Recombinase Polymerase Amplification (RPA) and Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Short Repeats (CRISPR).

Marine Biosecurity Booth

The booth had several enthusiastic non-scientific volunteers that listened about the importance of eDNA and LAMP potential. They then went through a quick walkthrough of micropipetting to perform a LAMP reaction by themselves by adding 2 uL of sample into the mastermix. Moreover, only 30 minutes later, they were able to directly witness the output of their great work, which worked perfectly. Therein, showcasing its ease-to-use, portability, and accessibility for in-field applications. They were thrilled and happy to see their results and how the Marine Biosecurity Tool is developing new and better tools to keep our marine ecosystem safe.

Volunteer checking her results
Pipetting not as easy as it looks…

Gemmell Lab wins BMS Bake-Off Public Choice Prize

Gemmell Lab BMS Bake-Off competition cake: Vanilla sponge with chocolate frosting mountains with a blueberry jelly lake populated by a pink moulding chocolate Nessie among other eDNA traced elements.

This was the first time the Biomedical School of Sciences (BMS) held this competition, and we would like to think that we set a good standard for the following years!

A vanilla sponge smothered in dark chocolate ganache was the base for a mountain landscape and a blueberry jelly lake where lampreys, other fish, kelp and Sponge Bob shared their environment with Nessie and Lego Neil!

The cake was of course inspired by the lab’s work around eDNA, and the media hype Neil and Gert-Jan received during their Loch Ness adventure (see what was found during this adventure on our Supernatural History research page).


Blood-sucking fish in its own league

Otago Daily Times newspapers

PhD student Allison Miller recently released an article on the Otago Daily Times (ODT) together with Prof. Hamish Spencer about her favourite fish species, the one and only kanakana (piharau of northern iwi) Geotria australis, or pouched lamprey.

Check the ODT article to read all about the New Zealand lamprey!