Mike Packer, Senior Research Scientist – Algal Biotechnology

Mike Packer

Senior Research Scientist – Algal Biotechnology

Role at Cawthron

Mike is a senior research scientist in the aquaculture group specialising in algal biotechnology. Mike also manages the Cawthron Aquaculture Park’s algal production unit and is the president of the Australia New Zealand Marine Biotechnology Society. His research applies the latest techniques to understand and develop products from algae, his work has been cited over 2500 times in the scientific literature and his projects are interdisciplinary. They include ones on high-value products such as bioactives, functional foods and cosmeceuticals through to commodities like feed, polymers, materials and bioenergy.

Mike is particularly interested in raising the profile of the link between consumption and human environmental impact and developing ways that algae can contribute to decreasing this.

Technical skills, experience and interests

  • Algae (including seaweeds) biology, physiology and cell biology
  • High-value and commodity products from algae
  • Algal and cyanobacterial production and harvesting systems
  • Redox biochemistry and bioenergetics
  • Photobioreactor technology
  • Biological hydrogen production, biomass to bioenergy
  • Photosynthetic microbial fuel cells
  • Renewables, bioremediation and integrated value-chain design

Professional affiliations

  • President of the Australia New Zealand Marine Biotechnology Society
  • MBIE College of Assessors
  • Honorary Research Associate at the University of Waikato and Victoria University of Wellington
  • Guest lead-editor of the New Zealand Journal of Botany
  • Inaugural member of the Oxygen Group (Ministry of Research, Science and Technology’s Think Tank Group)


  • PhD (Biochemistry). Otago University, 1997
  • MSc (Marine Science). Otago University, 1991
  • BSc (Biochemistry). Otago University, 1988
Mike Packer, Senior Research Scientist – Algal Biotechnology