Rob Major

Georgia Thomson Laing

Molecular Ecologist


Role at Cawthron

Georgia is a Molecular Ecologist working in our Molecular and Algal Ecology group. Her primary focus is using environmental DNA (eDNA) to better understand freshwater environments, particularly lakes. Georgia uses eDNA to gain insights into how key taonga species (e.g., tuna, kōkopu and kākahi) and biological communities (e.g., bacteria and algae) in lakes respond to external stressors such as land-use intensification and climate-induced extreme weather events. Her PhD used historical eDNA from lake sediments to understand the impact of human land-use on native fish populations in lakes. Georgia now works on various ecological projects, developing and applying molecular tools to characterise biological communities in diverse ways, such as assessing biodiversity and detecting rare native or invasive species. She also has a background in fish physiology, studying the hormonal changes associated with the reproductive cycle of tuna from Aotearoa New Zealand.

Georgia also has a keen interest in toxic cyanobacteria, contributing to projects investigating the ecology of benthic cyanobacteria and evaluating handheld fluorometric methods for monitoring planktonic cyanobacteria in lakes. She is passionate about freshwater science, management and restoration, and is dedicated to advancing these fields in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Technical Skills, Experience and Interests

  • Species-specific molecular detection tools (e.g., droplet digital PCR, quantitative PCR)
  • High-throughput sequencing, DNA metabarcoding
  • Bioinformatics
  • Rapid measurement of cyanobacteria using fluorometry
  • Science outreach education


  • PhD in Environmental Science (Victoria University of Wellington)
  • MSc in Zoology (University of Otago)
  • BSc (Hons) in Zoology (University of Otago)

Professional Affiliations

  • SedaDNA Society
  • Southern environmental DNA Society
  • New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society

    Rob Major