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Melanie Kah

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Senior Lecturer


I graduated with a MSc in Agronomy and Soil Sciences from the University of Nancy (ENSAIA, France), before completing my PhD on the fate of ionisable pesticides in soils at the University of York (UK). I was then recruited by the UK Food and Environmental Research Agency (FERA) where I assessed the exposure and hazard of a wide range of contaminants within projects commissioned by government and industry. In 2009, I joined the University of Vienna (Austria) where I developed projects looking at the interactions between contaminants and natural/engineered nanoparticles. I was invited as a Distinguished Visiting Scientist for a year at the CSIRO in Adelaide (Australia), before joining the School of Environment of the University of Auckland in 2019.

Research | Current

My research is focused on the release, fate, effects and remediation of contaminants in the environment. I have worked with the whole spectrum of substances that are released as a result of human activities including pesticides, polymers, PAHs, PFASs, pharmaceuticals, metals and nanoparticles.

Projects can involve desk-based, laboratory and field experiments, and aim at generating solid scientific bases to improve the management of our environment. I am particularly interested in elucidating the processes occurring at solid interfaces (e.g. sorption, degradation, uptake by organisms), and understand how they are influenced by environmental factors and the contaminant properties. My recent research on the ecological risk assessment of nanopesticides is a good illustration of the multidisciplinary approach applied in my group over the last years.

My updated publication list is available on Google scholar (here).

The first trans-Tasman workshop on PFAS took place in September 2019 at the University of Auckland. The results from our intersectorial and interdisciplinary discussions are summarised in this brief

Teaching | Current






Postgraduate supervision

Hons and Masters: We are looking for students who would like to be part of the following projects:

  • contaminants in urban storm water (in partnership with NIWA)
  • characterisation of organic nanoparticles loaded with pesticide
  • geochemical soil survey in the Auckland region (in partnership with GNS). More details are available here.
  • citizen science project around soil quality in urban areas (Soilsafe Aotearoa)
  • stakeholder perception around the application of technology in agriculture (nanotechnology in particular)

PhD: A number of funding sources are available to support PhD students. Please get in touch with Melanie to discuss your application.

  • If you are a NZ or Australian student with an excellent GPA (8+), you should be eligible for a scholarship from UoA.
  • If you are from outside NZ/Australia, have an oustanding academic record and good English skills, we can look into possibilities to support your scholarship application through UoA, your home country or international scholarship programs. Please check the list and eligibility here and then contact Melanie to see if we are able to support your application.
  • There is currently an exciting opportunity to join a project on the environmental fate of a novel pesticide nanocarrier made of Zein. It is suited for students with a good background in Chemistry (environmental, food and/or colloidal chemistry or related topic) and research skills (including research methods, writing, presentation, statistics). If you are interested and have the right profile, we would like to hear from you. Note that you will need to obtain a scholarship to cover for your fees and living expenses. Please send me your CV (2 page max), a description of your motivations and research interests, and your plan to obtain a scholarship (1 page max),

Areas of expertise

Contaminants; Exposure, hazard and risk assessment; sorption; degradation; ionisable compounds; biochar; soil; pesticide; PFAS; carbon nanotubes; remediation;

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Zhang, X., Xu, Z., Qian, X., Lin, D., Zeng, T., Filser, J., ... Kah, M. (2020). Assessing the Impacts of Cu(OH)2 Nanopesticide and Ionic Copper on the Soil Enzyme Activity and Bacterial Community. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 68 (11), 3372-3381. 10.1021/acs.jafc.9b06325
  • Navarro, D. A., Kah, M., Losic, D., Kookana, R. S., & McLaughlin, M. J. (2020). Mineralisation and release of 14C-graphene oxide (GO) in soils. Chemosphere, 23810.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.124558
  • Neves, J., Cardoso, D. N., Malheiro, C., Kah, M., Soares, A. M. V. M., Wrona, F. J., & Loureiro, S. (2019). Copper toxicity to Folsomia candida in different soils: a comparison between nano and conventional formulations. ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY, 16 (6), 419-429. 10.1071/EN19061
  • Fojtova, D., Vasickova, J., Grillo, R., Bilkova, Z., Simek, Z., Neuwirthova, N., ... Hofman, J. (2019). Nanoformulations can significantly affect pesticide degradation and uptake by earthworms and plants. ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY, 16 (6), 470-481. 10.1071/EN19057
  • Kah, M., Navarro, D., Kookana, R. S., Kirby, J. K., Santra, S., Ozcan, A., & Kabiri, S. (2019). Impact of (nano)formulations on the distribution and wash-off of copper pesticides and fertilisers applied on citrus leaves. ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY, 16 (6), 401-410. 10.1071/EN18279
  • Li, L., Xu, Z., Kah, M., Lin, D., & Filser, J. (2019). Nanopesticides: A Comprehensive Assessment of Environmental Risk Is Needed before Widespread Agricultural Application. Environmental science & technology, 53 (14), 7923-7924. 10.1021/acs.est.9b03146
  • Kah, M., Tufenkji, N., & White, J. C. (2019). Nano-enabled strategies to enhance crop nutrition and protection. Nature nanotechnology, 14 (6), 532-540. 10.1038/s41565-019-0439-5
  • Kah, M., Kookana, R. S., Gogos, A., & Bucheli, T. D. (2018). A critical evaluation of nanopesticides and nanofertilizers against their conventional analogues. Nature nanotechnology, 13 (8), 677-684. 10.1038/s41565-018-0131-1

Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 4, Room 471
New Zealand