laura Biessy

Laura Biessy

Team Leader – Microalgae

Role at Cawthron

Laura is a marine scientist within Cawthron’s Coastal and Freshwater group and also works part time as an Industry Research Liaison for the NZ Food safety Science and Research Centre (NZFSSRC).

Laura is passionate about protecting and improving New Zealand’s environment and is interested in the use of molecular techniques to monitor and understand aquatic organisms and habitats. During her time at Cawthron Laura has worked in various roles, including in the food chemistry IANZ accredited laboratory, as a senior research technician for the Environmental Toxicology and Technologies team, and as a scientist researching seafood safety and toxic microalgae (with a specific focus on toxic cyanobacteria and marine dinoflagellates and their impact on aquatic species). Laura has expertise in the use of molecular techniques to monitor and understand aquatic organisms and habitats (high-throughput sequencing, qPCR, ddPCR and metagenomics) and is working on a range of research projects funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (e.g., Safe New Zealand Seafood Programme, Lakes380). Laura received one of the inaugural PhD scholarship from the NZFSSRC in 2017. Her projects aimed to investigate the source and transmissions of tetrodotoxin in New Zealand shellfish and marine food webs.

Technical skills, experience and interests

  • Molecular techniques for detecting and enumerating microorganisms (PCR, qPCR, ddPCR)
  • DNA sequencing
  • High-throughput sequencing
  • Biotoxin extractions and analysis
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • Shellfish anatomy and histology
  • Algae taxonomy & microscopy
  • Microscopy and algae culturing
  • Toxic microalgae (freshwater and marine)
  • Laboratory management

Achievements and affiliations

  • Toxins Travel Award for Junior Scientists
  • Queen Elizabeth II Technician’s study award
  • New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Center inaugural PhD scholarship
  • Explora’Sup Fund (France, 2013)
  • NZ Association of Women in Sciences (AWIS)


PhD (Biological Science, Ecology). University of Waikato, 2021
MSc (Environmental Toxicology). Joseph Fourier University, 2013
BSc (Biological Science). Joseph Fourier University, 2011

laura Biessy