Team title in Gazpacho Bold

Our team's expertise includes imaging and tomography, plant vascular transport and physiology, plantation ecology and management, sap harvesting practices, and experience in technology commercialisation.

Research Team

Prof. Matt Watson


University of Canterbury

Matt is a chemical engineer with expertise in materials science and chemical engineering.

His research is focussed on chemical engineering applications of 3D printing, energy optimisation, decarbonisation of heavy industry, and domestic production of niche products.

In the Tree Syrup Aotearoa research programme, Matt is leading the team and focussing on the predictive sap flow model.

Assoc Prof. Mike Clearwater

BSc, MSc, PhD

University of Waikato

Mike is a plant physiologist with expertise in plant vascular transport, and carbon and water physiology.

His research focusses on the vascular functioning in plants — the efficiency with which plants transport water and other nutrients is directly correlated with their productivity.

In the Tree Syrup Aotearoa research programme, Mike is leading the non-imaging sap flow measurements used for model validation. He will interpret imaging results and guide sap flow model development from a plant physiology standpoint.

Prof. Daniel Holland


University of Canterbury

Daniel is a chemical engineer with expertise in a variety of imaging techniques, but particularly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and x-ray micro-tomography.

His research uses these advanced measurement techniques to see inside chemical engineering processes and understand their operation.

In the Tree Syrup Aotearoa research programme, Daniel is leading the research on MRI and advising on analyses with other imaging techniques.

Assoc. Prof. Justin Morgenroth


University of Canterbury

Justin is a geospatial data specialist with expertise in forest measurement, including remote sensing and forest growth/physiology.

His research is focussed on applying geospatial data, tools, and techniques to solving applied forestry problems, such as site-species matching, and species-specific responses to biotic and abiotic environmental conditions.

In the Tree Syrup Aotearoa research programme, Justin is leading research on plantation management, including the establishment, growth, and maintenance of native and exotic species on a variety of sites throughout New Zealand.

Assoc. Prof. Abby van den Berg


University of Vermont – Proctor Maple Research Center

Abby is a plant physiologist with expertise in plant physiological ecology and maple syrup chemistry.

Her research is focused in: 1) maple tree physiology as it is impacted by production practices and natural processes and factors, 2) increasing the productivity and profitability of maple syrup production, and 3) maple syrup chemistry and flavour.

In the Tree Syrup Aotearoa research programme, Abby is contributing expertise in maple tree physiology and the physiology of stem pressure and sap flow, as well as sap collection and syrup production practices in both traditional and plantation systems. She is assisting with development of the sap flow model, and management practices and tapping guidelines to ensure the long-term sustainability of maple and birch syrup production.

Matthew Rennie


University of Canterbury

Matt Rennie is a PhD candidate. His research seeks to understand the sap flow dynamics of Acer saccharum (Sugar maple) and Betula papyrifera (paper birch) with test sites across Canterbury, and the horticultural practices needed for the trees to exude sap, outside of North America. His goal is to determine the various climatic and horticultural drivers that influence sap flow and identify future areas for plantations.

James (Jamie) Robinson

BE (Hons), PhD

University of Canterbury

Jamie's research focuses on modelling granular flows, specifically investigating the continuum relationships that govern granular flows' unique stress and packing behaviour.

In the Tree Syrup Aotearoa research project, Jamie is working on image analysis, using images obtained from the ANSTO synchrotron to investigate the internal structure of maple trees.

Maui Duley

BSc, Post Graduate Degree, Graduate Certificate

Lincoln University

Maui is an Early Career Researcher in Ethnobotany and Plant Biology who is interested in weaving his work within the wider hapu and iwi. Much of his research focus is to better understand the functions and uses of plants in terms of their food utility, in hopes to increase mātauranga māori.

He has a BSc, Post Graduate Degree in Applied Science, Graduate Certificate in Resource Studies, and is undertaking Masters study on the potential for an indigenous New Zealand tree species to commercially produce edible syrup.