College of Sciences staff

Dr Nicola Brown staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 84153

Dr Nicola Brown PhD, BTech(Hons)

Lecturer in Environmental Technology

School of Engineering and Advanced Technology

Lecturer in Project Based Learning

School of Engineering and Advanced Technology

I have two roles within the School of Engineering and Technology. I am employed part-time to conduct research in the Environmental Technology field and part-time as a Lecturer in Project Based Learning. Further details of my Environmental Technology research can be found under the 'Research Expertise' tab and the 'Supervision and Teaching' tab gives further detail on my teaching interests.

Professional

Contact details

  • Ph: 7692
    Location: RC2.11, Riddet Building
    Campus: Turitea

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy - Massey Univeristy (2009)
  • Bachelor of Technology with Honours - Massey University (2004)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Current Project: How do we trigger algae to be greedy for phosphorus? 

We have problems with too much phosphorus in our waterways but at the same time phosphorus is a nutrient that we are running out of. Currently large amounts of money are spent on removing phosphorus from wastewater without considering how we might be able to reuse this resource. 

Imagine if algae could be 'triggered' on demand to suck up large quantities of phosphorus from domestic, agricultural and industrial effluents. Algae can at times store phosphorus but there's a catch - we don't know how to reliably trigger this phenomenon. This research will for the first time determine the environmental, process and biological conditions which 'trigger' phosphorus storage at an individual algal cell scale.

There is an opportunity here to lay the scientific foundation needed to develop of a novel, relatively simple and sustainable, new environmental biotechnology using algae to remove phosphorus from our effluent and recover it for reuse.

This project is funded by the Marsden Fund. To see more about this project take a look at this episode of Global Radar (at about 19 minutes along)

 

Previous Projects: Recovering energy from waste

There are many high energy wastes which could be used to produce energy via anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion produces biogas high in methane which can then be used to produce heat and electricity using co-generation. This project involved surveying a range of wastes available and determining the right mix to use in the digesters. Anaerobic digesters use microorganisms to produce the biogas and they are quite sensitive to their environment so just the right mixture of ‘food’ is needed.

Another part of this project was to develop a new technology to allow anaerobic digestion of some of the more difficult waste products to digest. This involved laboratory studies and pilot scale work.

This project was funded by the Pre-Seed Accelerator Fund.

 

Final Year Student Research Projects

Take a look at these in the Yearbooks

 

2013

Matthew Sells – Phosphorus removal from wastewater using algae

Aidan Crimp – Developing a phosphorus filter

 

2012

Hannah Wells – Natural fibre filter for wastewater treatment

Jonathan Cottrell – Biogas production as a source of renewable energy

 

2011

Joel Dykstra – Recovering energy from crops

Eric Gurden – Wastewater treatment by a natural fibre filter

 

2010

Ryan Ennis – Improving energy recovery from organic wastes

Mohd Salihin Bin Mohd Saidi - Improving energy recovery from organic wastes

Thematics

Resource Development and Management

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Chemical Engineering (090400): Engineering (090000): Environmental Engineering (090700): Wastewater Treatment Processes (090409)

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 0 3
Team Member 1 0

Current Projects

Project Title: Establishing the engineering fundaments of a new algae based phosphorus removal process

According to a recent article in Nature, global phosphorus supply, on which New Zealand agriculture depends, could be exhausted in as little as 50 years time. Ironically, one of New Zealand¿s most serious environmental problems is that we have far too much phosphorus where we don¿t want it ¿ 63% of New Zealand¿s rivers have a phosphorus concentration above guideline levels. Imagine if algae could be `triggered¿ to suck up large quantities of phosphorus from domestic, agricultural and industrial effluents on demand. Massey University researchers have shown that algae can, at times, accumulate much more phosphorus than needed for growth. However, we currently don¿t understand what conditions are needed to reliably `trigger¿ this phenomenon or which algae are responsible.
Read Project Description Hide Project Description

Date Range: 2012 - 2016

Funding Body: Marsden Fund - Full

Project Team:

Completed Projects

Project Title: PSAF: Waste to Energy

Date Range: 2009 - 2011

Funding Bodies: Foundation for Research, Science & Technology; Palmerston North City Council

Project Team:

Research Outputs

Journal

Brown, N. (2017). Updating Assessment Styles: Website Development rather than Report Writing for Project Based Learning Courses. Advances in Engineering Education.
[Journal article]Authored by: Brown, N.
Brown, N., Güttler, J., & Shilton, A. (2016). Overcoming the challenges of full scale anaerobic co-digestion of casein whey. Renewable Energy. 96, 425-432
[Journal article]Authored by: Brown, N., Shilton, A.
Brown, N., & Shilton, A. (2014). Luxury uptake of phosphorus by microalgae in waste stabilisation ponds: Current understanding and future direction. Reviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology. 13(3), 321-328
[Journal article]Authored by: Brown, N., Shilton, A.
Powell, N., Broughton, A., Pratt, C., & Shilton, A. (2013). Effect of whey storage on biogas produced by co-digestion of sewage sludge and whey. Environmental Technology (United Kingdom). 34(19), 2743-2748
[Journal article]Authored by: Brown, N., Shilton, A.
Powell, N., Broughton, A., Pratt, C., & Shilton, A. (2013). Effect of whey storage on biogas produced by co-digestion of sewage sludge and whey. Environmental Technology (United Kingdom).
[Journal article]Authored by: Brown, N., Shilton, A.
Shilton, A., Powell, N., Broughton, A., Pratt, C., Pratt, S., & Pepper, C. (2013). Enhanced biogas production using cow manure to stabilize co-digestion of whey and primary sludge. Environmental Technology (United Kingdom). 34(17), 2491-2496
[Journal article]Authored by: Brown, N., Shilton, A.
Shilton, AN., Powell, N., & Guieysse, B. (2012). Plant based phosphorus recovery from wastewater via algae and macrophytes. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 23(6), 884-889
[Journal article]Authored by: Brown, N., Shilton, A.
Shilton, A., Powell, N., & Guieysse, B. (2012). Plant based phosphorus recovery from wastewater via algae and macrophytes. Current Opinion in Biotechnology.
[Journal article]Authored by: Brown, N., Guieysse, B., Shilton, A.
Powell, N., Shilton, A., Pratt, S., & Chisti, Y. (2011). Phosphate release from waste stabilisation pond sludge: Significance and fate of polyphosphate. Water Science and Technology. 63(8), 1689-1694
[Journal article]Authored by: Brown, N., Chisti, M., Shilton, A.
Powell, N., Shilton, A., Pratt, S., & Chisti, Y. (2011). Luxury uptake of phosphorus by microalgae in full-scale waste stabilisation ponds. Water Science and Technology. 63(4), 704-709
[Journal article]Authored by: Brown, N., Chisti, M., Shilton, A.
Powell, N., Shilton, A., Chisti, Y., & Pratt, S. (2009). Towards a luxury uptake process via microalgae - Defining the polyphosphate dynamics. Water Research. 43(17), 4207-4213
[Journal article]Authored by: Brown, N., Chisti, M., Shilton, A.
Powell, N., Shilton, AN., Pratt, S., & Chisti, Y. (2008). Factors influencing luxury uptake of phosphorus by microalgae in waste stabilization ponds. Environmental Science and Technology. 42(16), 5958-5962
[Journal article]Authored by: Brown, N., Chisti, M., Shilton, A.
Shilton, AN., Mara, DD., Craggs, R., & Powell, N. (2008). Solar-powered aeration and disinfection, anaerobic co-digestion, biological CO<inf>2</inf> scrubbing and biofuel production: The energy and carbon management opportunities of waste stabilisation ponds. Water Science and Technology. 58(1), 253-258
[Journal article]Authored by: Brown, N., Shilton, A.

Book

Powell, N., Shilton, AN., Pratt, S., & Chisti, Y. (2006). Luxury uptake of phosphorus by microalgae in waste stabilisation ponds. In R. Stuetz, & L. Teik Thye (Eds.) Young Researchers 2006. (pp. 249 - 256). London, UK: IWA Publishing
[Chapter]Authored by: Brown, N., Shilton, A.

Thesis

Powell, N. (2009). Biological phosphorus removal by microalgae in waste stabilsation ponds. (Doctoral Thesis, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)
[Doctoral Thesis]Authored by: Brown, N.

Report

Powell, N., & Shilton, AN. (2011). Leach bed technology: Energy recovery from solid wastes/feedstocks.
[Commissioned Report]Authored by: Brown, N., Shilton, A.
Powell, N., & Shilton, AN.Leach Bed Technology: Energy Recovery from Solids/Feedstocks.
[Commissioned Report]Authored by: Brown, N.

Conference

Tunnicliffe, M., Brown, N., & Shekar, A. (2017). Rapid Learning Cycles for Project-based Learning. , 28th Australasian Association for Engineering Education
[Conference Abstract]Authored by: Brown, N., Shekar, A., Tunnicliffe, M.
Brown, N., & Tunnicliffe, M. (2017). Staff competencies/capabilities required and challenges faced when delivering project based learning courses. , 28th Australasian Association for Engineering Education
[Conference Abstract]Authored by: Brown, N., Tunnicliffe, M.
Brown, N., & Tunnicliffe, M. (2017). Evaluation of a redesigned Engineering degree founded on project based learning. , 28th Australasian Association for Engineering Education
[Conference Abstract]Authored by: Brown, N., Tunnicliffe, M.
Sells, M., Shilton, A., & Brown, N. (2016). Triggering luxury uptake of phosphorus in waste stabilization pond microalgae. , 11th IWA Specialist Group Conference in Wastewater Pond Technologies
[Conference Abstract]Authored by: Brown, N., Sells, M., Shilton, A.
Crimp, A., Brown, N., & Shilton, A.(2015, June). Luxury uptake of phosphorus widespread in full-scale waste stabilisation ponds. .
[Conference]Authored by: Brown, N., Shilton, A.
Brown, N., Davies, CE., & Davies, R. (2015). Project learning opportunities with biodiesel. , APCChE Congress
[Conference Abstract]Authored by: Brown, N., Davies, C.
Davies, C., Brown, N., Brown, C., & Davies, RYG. (2015). Project learning opportunities with biodiesel. Proceedings Asia Pacific Confederation of Chemical Engineering Congress 2015 Congress incorporating Chemeca 2015. (pp. 433 - 443). Melbourne, Australia: Asia Pacific Confederation of Chemical Engineering Congress 2015 incorporating Chemeca 2015
[Conference Paper in Published Proceedings]Authored by: Brown, N., Davies, C., Davies, R.
Gray-Stuart, EM., Davies, CE., Brown, C., Brown, N., & Grinding, C. (2015). Grinding characteristics and energy consumption of two bench top grinders. In Asia Pacific Confederation of Chemical Engineering Congress 2015 (APCChE 2015) Incorporating CHEMECA 2015(pp. 685 - 690). , APCChE Congress: Engineers Australia
[Conference Abstract]Authored by: Brown, N., Davies, C., Gray-Stuart, E.
Powell, N., & Shilton, AN.Luxury uptake of phosphorus via microalgae - current understanding and future direction. : International conference on Environmental (Bio)Technologies
[Conference Paper in Published Proceedings]Authored by: Brown, N., Shilton, A.
Powell, N., Shilton, AN., Pratt, S., Chisti, MY., & Grigg, NP. (2006). Factors effecting biological phosphorus removal in waste stabilisation ponds: A statistical analysis. 7th IWA Specialist Conference on Waste Stabilization Ponds: Proceedings.
[Conference Paper in Published Proceedings]Authored by: Brown, N., Chisti, M., Grigg, N., Shilton, A.
Powell, N., Shilton, AN., Pratt, S., & Chisti, MY. (2006). Luxury uptake of phosphorus by microalgae in wastestabilisation ponds. In R. Stuetz, & L. Teik Thye (Eds.) Young Researchers 2006: Proceedings of the 3rd IWA Young Researchers Conference. (pp. 249 - 256).
[Conference Paper in Published Proceedings]Authored by: Brown, N., Chisti, M., Shilton, A.
Shilton, AN., Chisti, Y., Rehm, BH., Powell, N., & Pratt, S. (2005). Polyphosphate harvesting from waste stabilisation ponds. In S. Pratt, & CED. Eds (Eds.) The Fifth Asia Pacific Conference on Sustainable Energy and Environmental Technologies: Proceedings. (pp. 237 - 241). Palmerston North, NZ
[Conference Paper in Published Proceedings]Authored by: Brown, N., Chisti, M., Shilton, A.
Powell, N., Shilton, AN., Pratt, S., & Chisti, YY. (2005). Phosphorus removal in waste stabilisation ponds. Poster session presented at the meeting of Macdiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards. Auckland, NZ
[Conference Poster]Authored by: Brown, N., Chisti, M., Shilton, A.
Powell, N., Shilton, AN., Pratt, S., Chisti, Y., Bilby, SC., & Pepper, C. (2005). Upgrading waste stabilisation ponds for phosphorus removal. EnvironNZ05: Water Matters: Conference Proceedings ( incorporating NZ Water & Wastes Association 47th Annual Conference and Expo, ASTT Annual Conference and No Dig Live). (pp. 1 - 8). Wellington, NZ
[Conference Paper in Published Proceedings]Authored by: Brown, N., Chisti, M., Shilton, A.
Lau, J., Margerison, JK., Hedley, MJ., Horne, DJ., Hanly, JA., Powell, N., . . . Shilton, AN. (2013). Behaviour of New Zealand pasture-based cows offered access to free stalls fitted with sand or waterbeds, compared with cows at pasture. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production. Vol. 73 (pp. 186 - 188).
[Conference Paper in Published Proceedings]Authored by: Brown, N., Shilton, A.

Other

Powell, N. (2011, August). Standoff Facility Update. In P21 Project team.
[Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brown, N.
Shilton, AN., & Powell, N. (2011). Extracting value from waste organics - a 'heads up' on a paragigm shift. Presented at WasteMINZ Workshop.
[Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brown, N.
Powell, N. (2010, December). Developing a new phosphorus removal process. In School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Massey University.
[Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brown, N.

Supervision and Teaching

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
CoSupervisor 1 0

Teaching

In the last few years the Engineering degree has been redesigned and a key part of the new degree are project based papers. This is where students learn to apply their skills they have learnt and at the same time develop project management, team work and other skills which are needed by professional engineers.

One of my areas of interest is to try and determine what effect this new approach to teaching is having on our graduates.

Current Doctoral Supervision

CoSupervisor of:

  • Matt Sells - PhD
    Triggering microalgae to undergo luxury uptake of phosphorus in waste stabilization ponds

Media and Links

Media

  • 27 Mar 2013 - Television
    Global Radar
  • 21 Nov 2013 - Radio
    Algae, phosphorus and effluent
    Our Changing World, Radio NZ

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