Wanaka’s Alpine Lakes Research and Education Centre, the brainchild of the late Dr Maggie Lawton, who died in 2017, and Dr Marc Schallenberg, of the University of Otago, is close to opening its doors to researchers from around the country. The centre was able to establish a base of operations in June last year when it signed a lease with the Otago Regional Council for an unused building at its Riverbank Rd site. Alpine Lakes Research and Education Centre (Alrec) project manager Katie Hart is one month into her role and is busy making connections with tertiary institutions and scientists around the country.
She will be using her background in fundraising, marketing and project management to help get the centre operating.
One of her first priorities is deciding how to allocate a grant of $75,000 from the Central Lakes Trust that is earmarked for laboratory equipment as well as $15,000 for educational materials and displays.
‘‘So that really means that we’ve got the kick-start funding to be able to get the lab going.’’
Ms Hart was speaking to scientists and institutions to find out what equipment would be most useful to be part of the laboratory in Wanaka.
‘‘Because we can’t buy absolutely everything, and we don’t want to buy things that wouldn’t be potentially useful for people.’’
Some equipment including microscopes and glassware had already been donated, and some examples of equipment that might be useful included refrigerators, pH meters, microscopes, drying ovens and flow meters.
Ms Hart expected researchers would also bring their own equipment, ‘‘but there might be some basics that would be needed here to make it a functioning lab’’.
There might also be field equipment that could be useful, Ms Hart said.
Future ideas could include having a boat to help conduct research.
‘‘We are at the beginning of our journey, and we do have a vision of what Alrec could be over time.’’ As well as establishing the lab, they were working on how the centre would include the community in future projects.
Having community groups and school groups do citizen science from the centre was one of the future aims.
‘‘Another part of our planning is working with community members who can help us to shape the strategy around how we work with young people.’’