Professor of Marine Ecology and Aquaculture
School of Science
Professor Andrea Alfaro is one of only two aquanauts in New Zealand, and arrived in New Zealand from the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, USA, in 1998.
She has spent six days in an underwater habitat in a coral reef off the coast of Florida, feeling like a fish in an aquarium under intense scrutiny by the many marine species circling around her.
Today, Professor Alfaro’s research involves working closely with New Zealand’s aquaculture industry, investigating sustainable methods of mussel cultivation and the complex interactions between the organism and its natural environment. Her research also focuses on reproduction, larval rearing, growth enhancement, and the health and nutrition of a variety of commercial shellfish, such as mussels, paua, scallops, oysters and geoducks.
Professor Alfaro has a strong team-orientated philosophy which she applies to her research, mentoring and teaching at AUT to help her students decipher the complex puzzles that nature sets up, and eventually, to transform New Zealand’s seafood industry.
Working with industry to successfully integrate academic research with applied outputs is key to ensuring her students have a 360 degree learning journey. She recently secured a Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment research grant with Nelson’s Cawthron Institute, which led to the establishment of a unique shellfish culture programme, and allowed her students to work hand-in-hand with industry on commercial projects.
Professor Alfaro is also editor of several international journals, including Associate Editor of the New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, a role she sees as crucial in ensuring New Zealand marine ecology and aquaculture research is represented on an international stage. She was previously the chairperson of the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s mussel section, and led a group of world experts in mussel ecology in creating guidelines for more sustainable mussel cultivation worldwide.
Professor Andrea Alfaro’s extended academic profile