NZAGRC Science Leadership Team

The role of NZAGRC Science Leadership Team (SLT) is to play a key part in the development, implementation and monitoring of all of the Centre’s science programmes and strategies.  It consists of respected New Zealand-based researchers with excellent science credentials accompanied by strong leadership, communication, strategic and inter-personal skills with expertise in those areas of science covered in the NZAGRC Strategy and Science Plan.

Membership is agreed by the Steering Group and includes the NZAGRC Principal Investigators in addition to the NZAGRC Director and NZAGRC Operations Manager.  

Dr Graeme Attwood  AgResearch  
Dr Cecile DeKlein   AgResearch 
Professor Hong Di  Lincoln University 
Dr Robyn Dynes  AgResearch  
Dr Peter Janssen  AgResearch  
Dr David Whitehead   Manaaki Whenua


Science leadership & capability building 

The NZAGRC is committed to providing opportunities for researchers to be trained and work with leading experts in New Zealand.  Some students go on to continue their studies or enter a postdoctoral position under guidance from NZAGRC science leaders, other enter into industry based positions.

The NZAGRC supports more than 50 researchers and students by providing funding via its core research programme or via its student scholarships programme.

Below are profiles of our scientists and past students. 

Principal Investigator - Dr Graeme Attwood

Dr Graeme Attwood, who is a Principal Investigator in the NZAGRC, completed a PhD in Australia and a post-doc in the USA before coming home to New Zealand to further his career.

Graeme completed BSc and MSc degrees at the University of Waikato and a PhD on genetics of rumen bacteria at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. He conducted post-doctoral work at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, USA, studying cellulases from fibre-degrading rumen bacteria before returning to New Zealand in 1993 to take up a position in Rumen Microbiology with AgResearch.

Graeme formed the Rumen Microbial Genomics team in 2002, which has used genomic and metagenomics approaches to characterise enzyme systems used by rumen microbes to breakdown forage material and to also to investigate rumen methanogens to identify specific gene targets for the reduction of ruminant methane.

He is currently a Principal Scientist in the Animal Science group at the Grasslands campus of AgResearch based in Palmerston North, along with his role as a Principal Investigator for the NZAGRC.

His work in methane (CH4) mitigation aims to reduce methane emissions directly by identifying targets in methanogens to enable development of inhibitors and vaccines, and indirectly through diets and changes in animal phenotype.

He currently leads three methane-related research projects targeting ruminant methane emissions -- a Global Partnership in Livestock Emissions Research (GPLER4) project investigating hydrogen and methyl-compound formation in the rumen as an intervention to reduce the supply of these substrates to methanogens; and two European Research Area Gas (ERA-GAS) funded projects looking at developing a rumen microbial marker gene assay to estimate methane emissions from animals, and testing lactic acid bacteria as potential control agents for ruminal methane.

Outside work, Graeme’s main interests include fly fishing for trout and salmon on rivers and lakes, sea fishing around our coasts and tramping with his wife around all parts of NZ.

He also runs red deer on a lifestyle block which takes up most of his other time, when he is not following rugby or cricket.

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