Erskine Fellows

Dr Yvette Dickinson is hosted by Professor Euan Mason of the School of Forestry this semester.

Yvette’s area of expertise is silviculture, the growing and cultivation of forests, and she is looking forward to co-teaching FORE307 Plantation Silviculture with Professor Euan Mason during her visits to UC.
She is passionate about the sustainable management of all our forest resources, including our native forests and exotic plantations; and, her research applies forest ecology knowledge to managing forests for a wide variety of values, including aesthetics, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, mitigating fire hazard, conservation, and timber production. She is currently a Silvicultural Scientist for Scion (Forest Research Institute) in Rotorua, having returned from overseas last year.
Yvette is a UC alumna, having graduated from UC with a BForSc (Hons) (2004), and a MSc Environmental Science (2009). After graduating, Yvette worked for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry as a Forestry Officer for a short period of time before heading overseas to earn a PhD in Forest Resources (2011) from Penn State University in the USA. She worked for several years in the United States before returning to New Zealand, teaching on the faculty at Colorado State University and earning tenure at Michigan Technological University. She brings with her experience and knowledge of managing forests across North America.
“It is great to be back on campus, and have the opportunity to give back to my alma mater. As a student I greatly appreciated the fresh perspectives that the Erskine Fellows shared, and I hope that I can do the same.”

Dr Shelley MacDonell                is hosted by Dr Heather Purdie

of the School of Earth and Environment.

Shelley is a Lead Researcher at Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas (CEAZA) in Chile, where she leads a research group covering glaciology, climate change, hydrology, and water resources. The group primarily works in the semiarid Andes and Antarctica. Their work has also been used to advise public policy in areas such as glacier protection, water resources and climate change in Chile.

Shelley is a University of Otago alumna, holding a BSc(Hons) in Geography (2004) and a PhD in Geography (2009). She originally arrived back to NZ in early March 2020 to undertake an Erskine Fellowship at UC, however, she and her husband got caught in the NZ lockdown and have been working remotely from her mother’s house in the Manawatū ever since.

“We took the opportunity to come back to UC this year for a variety of reasons. Firstly to fulfil the commitment we ran out on last year! Also, I really enjoyed working within the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and so also jumped at the chance to come back to work with the great team here. It’s also a great feeling to be back in the lecture theatre after a year of zoom meetings and presentations!”

Shelley is currently teaching into two courses this semester, GEOG201: Environmental Processes: Principles and Applications, and ANTA102: Antarctic Studies.

The Erskine opportunity also brings benefits to her ongoing research programmes. Together with Dr Heather Purdie they have recently been funded by the Chilean science agency to begin a large scale research project focused on the impacts of climate change in semiarid Chile.

“I lead the line focused on understanding mountain processes, and physically being together with Heather gives us the benefit of envisaging similarities and differences between mountain environments in both countries, and paired experiments we can engage in.”

Shelley says “I cannot speak highly enough of the Erskine programme. Not only does it bring together an interesting group of academics to provide students with a different perspective, but it also enables spontaneous opportunities to emerge, such as new research ideas and connections.”