About us.

Learn more about our programme.

 

Soilsafe Aotearoa offers a range of different ways to get involved and share experiences about soil and gardens.

Soilsafe Aotearoa is a community science programme in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland. Join in and have your home garden soil tested for lead and other metals, free of charge.

Soilsafe Aotearoa is a programme for understanding our soils.

Working with communities to co-produce knowledge on local soils.

Soilsafe Aotearoa is exploring how the communities of Aotearoa value their soil. We seek to work with different community groups such as schools, marae, and community gardens. You can come to us with any ideas you have for projects, education, or even artistic ideas to communicate the countless values associated with soil. Get in touch here!

 

Being based at The University of Auckland means that Soilsafe Aotearoa provides an excellent platform for students and soil enthusiasts alike to investigate their areas of interest in soil and social science. We already have several student projects running through Soilsafe Aotearoa, with the capacity to facilitate many more.

 

Providing a platform for students and gardeners to explore soil.

Meet the team at Soilsafe Aotearoa.

Soilsafe Aotearoa is run by a team in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland. We are from diverse academic disciplines (environmental and social science, and education), and backgrounds, and bring diverse skillsets to the programme. We make contributions of scientific significance, educational value, and create positive change for communities and individuals.

Dr Melanie Kah and Dr Emma Sharp co-lead Soilsafe Aotearoa. Dr Adam Martin and Dr Rose Turnbull greatly contributed to the launch and running of Soilsafe Aotearoa between 2021 and 2023. 

Dr Melanie Kah

Dr Melanie Kah

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Melanie (she/her) trained in Soil Science and Agronomy. Her research looks at the occurrence and fate of contaminants in the environment. She is particularly interested in understanding the chemistry side of things, how different contaminants behave in different environment and whether this can be related to what people are exposed to. Melanie is a keen beginner gardener.

Somayeh Aghili

Somayeh Aghili

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Somayeh (she/her) is based in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Auckland. She is supporting Soilsafe as our primary pXRF soil screener.

Dr Emma Sharp

Dr Emma Sharp

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 Emma’s (she/her) background is in geography, biology, environmental science and Māori studies. Her research interests are in food and soil politics, values (social, environmental and economic), and community engagement in science and the environment. Emma also co-leads Soilsafe Kids. She enjoys spending time in the outdoors with her family – her two small children, Finn and Isla, are budding gardeners!

Teo Eugenio

Teo Eugenio

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 Teo (he/him) took his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is currently working on getting his Master of Science degree in Environmental Management at the University of Auckland, and his research focuses on how and why people participate in citizen science. Teo also worked on the Soilsafe Kids programme in 2023. Although he doesn’t have a garden of his own, he enjoys taking care of his flatmates’ houseplants.

Meet our Collaborators and Alumni

We’ve had the pleasure of working with many fantastic collaborators and postgraduate students from a variety of agencies, and academic and career pathways.

Adam Martin

Adam Martin

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Adam (he/him) was part of the original team to launch Soilsafe, and he is a specialist in the chemistry of the deep Earth, volcanoes and of soil. His research interests follow how metals pass from deep in the Earth into the rock, soil and water we interact with every day and how this changes our environment and effects human health.  Adam enjoys spending time in the hills and trying to coax seedlings to grow in his native garden at home.

Rose Turnbull

Rose Turnbull

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Rose (she/her) was part of the original team to launch Soilsafe and a Senior Geologist at GNS Science until 2024. Rose’s research in the soil space (she’s a hard-rock geologist!) have largely involved undertaking national, regional and urban soil geochemical surveys throughout Aotearoa. She is particularly interested in identifying and tracing human impacts on soil chemistry, and the potential long-term effects of soil contamination on human health. Rose spends all her spare time with her young family exploring the outdoors, and cooking food grown from her garden.

Sophia Tsang

Sophia Tsang

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Sophia (she/her) co-led Soilsafe Kids whilst working as a Community Engagement Specialist at GNS Science. Her work focused on non-traditional outreach methods, bringing research into the pre-tertiary classroom, and learning about how lava flows affect cities. She loves to teach and mentor and has experience volunteering in preschools all the way through teaching post-graduates. She now works at Monash University in Melbourne. 

Georgia McLellan

Georgia McLellan

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Georgia’s (she/her) academic training is in Economics and Human Geography, she completed her Masters on Māori Economies and Māori Food Sovereignty in 2019. She has supported Soilsafe Aotearoa’s work with communities, whilst undertaking a PhD on Māori economies.  

Cody Lim

Cody Lim

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After Cody (he/him) graduated with a geography degree from Singapore, he undertook his Master of Environmental Science in Auckland in 2021, working on the geochemical signature of Auckland, alongside Soilsafe Aotearoa. Complementing his research he supported Soilsafe Kids’ engagement work, teaching school groups about soil. 

Nick Strawbridge

Nick Strawbridge

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Nick (he/him) has a background in communication studies, media, and marketing and we credit him as the original designer of Soilsafe Aotearoa’s ‘look’! He completed his Master of Science in Environmental Science in 2022 piloting a study on the uptake of metals by vegetables of significance to Aotearoa New Zealand.  

Lauren Baal

Lauren Baal

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 Lauren (she/her) has a background in media and film studies, and completed a Masters in Geography in 2023, also supporting Soilsafe’s art exhibits, and education work. She has an interest in food systems, regulation and governance, and sustainability.  

Declan Fisher

Declan Fisher

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Declan (he/him) has a background in zoology and completed his Master of Science in Environmental Science at the University of Auckland in 2023, working on Dustsafe Aotearoa. He has now joined PDP working in environmental consultancy.   

Fionn Porter

Fionn Porter

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Fionn (they/them) was a summer research student with Soilsafe in 2021 whilst completing their undergraduate studies in Environmental
Management and Indigenous Development at the University of Otago. They supported our social science work on soil values.

Sistien Sari

Sistien Sari

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Sistien (she/her) holds a degree in geological engineering from Indonesia. She obtained a Master of Environmental Science from the University of Auckland in 2024. During her study, she collaborated with Soilsafe Aotearoa and GNS Science to analyse Wellington’s soil, focusing on the impact of land use on carbon, nitrogen, and trace element concentrations in urban settings. Her expertise and interests revolve around environmental contamination, geochemistry, and volcanology. 

Georgi Jovner

Georgi Jovner

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Georgi (she/ her) worked with Soilsafe Aotearoa as a Research Assistant in 2022 whilst completing her undergraduate degree in Geography, Anthropology and Ancient History at the University of Auckland. 

Eugenie Haring

Eugenie Haring

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Eugenie Haring (she/her) graduated from Colorado College with a bachelor’s degree in Geology and joined us for a 10 week post-grad research/work experience in the spring 2024. She prepared and analyzed soil and egg samples for the Eggsafe pilot project and assisted with the Soilsafe Kids workshops. She is interested in agricultural science and community engagement in food systems.

Friends and Supporters.

We are grateful for collaborations with, and support from, the following community organisations, funders and institutions who have helped us along the way.