Christine Liang, at SIT, and Donna Peterson, a former Senior Waste Officer at WasteNet Southland, have collaborated to gather data on microplastics. This project has been built to include school children from Southland Enviroschools, ages ranging from primary, intermediate, and high school students. The Micro-Investigators are the school students who, as part of their education, are highlighting awareness of plastic pollution in local waterways and coastal areas. The project was recognised with an Environmental Action in Education Award at the 2021 Environment Southland Community Awards.


Our aim is to raise awareness about microplastics in waterways, to involve all sections of education and to make change for the sustainability and life of the waterways.


Christine Liang (she/her)

Christine is the programme manager of the SIT Environmental Management degree and graduate diploma and also teaches on these courses. She is passionate about citizen science and environmental education and she feels lucky that there are so many others in the community that share this drive to make the environment a better place through accessible education initiatives. Christine works with community members, schools, and SIT students to run Micro-Investigators through a tuākana-tēina (student-led) approach.

Paula López (she/her)

Paula (Chile) is the social media manager for the Micro-Investigators Facebook and Instagram accounts. Paula studied a Grad Dip in Environmental Management at SIT. She is an environmentalist and believes in the power of making a positive difference. She left 'home' seven years ago and has been living abroad ever since, giving her a huge amount of adaptability and resiliency to adverse circumstances, besides tolerance and empathy for others.

Stephanie Shaw (she/her)

Stephanie is the current student kaimahi for Micro-Investigators: she leads the awa field session and is involved in the rollout of Microplastics DIY Sampling Kits for the community. She is currently working with Enviroschools to help connect high schools with primary schools to collect microplastics data together. Stephanie is a first year Bachelor of Environmental Management student at SIT.

Rani Fernandez (she/her)

Rani is the programme manager of the SIT Certificate of Environmental Management courses and also a kaiako at SIT. Rani coordinates Micro-Investigators field sessions with local schools and links them to teaching in her certificate classes so her students get a chance to practice environmental communication. She is an enthusiastic nature lover who believes that it is our responsibility to make this environment a better place for the future generation.

Former Team Members

Claudia Gonnelli (she/her)

Claudia joined Micro-Investigators with the aim to improve programme implementation. Armed with her social science research background, she gathered feedback from stakeholders through surveys and interviews and used the responses to come up with strategies to make sure that Micro-Investigators is doing the best it can to improve environmental education and our local environment.

Sam Edwards (she/her)

Sam was the student kaimahi for Micro-Investigators in 2021. She led the awa field sessions, taking primary school students to their local rivers to collect microplastics samples and measure water quality parameters. Sam is a graduate of the Bachelor of Environmental Management at SIT. Sam was sponsored by Environment Southland to put together Microplastics DIY Sampling Kits for schools including how-to resources.

Jordan Mann (they/them)

Jordan (Ngāi Tahu / Kāi Tahu) was the social media manager for the Micro Investigators Facebook and Instagram accounts in 2021. Jordan was a student on the Bachelor of Environmental Management at SIT. They posted lots of tips to help people achieve a sustainable lifestyle as well as stories that shared community engagement with the Micro-Investigators programme.