Bernard Phiri

Doctor of Philosophy, (Agri-Horticulture)
Study Completed: 2015
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Estimating the public health risk associated with drinking water in New Zealand

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Diarrhoeal diseases are among the most common causes of illness in humans globally. Drinking water is one of the pathways through which these diseases are transmitted. Mr Phiri’s research investigated ways of reducing the occurrence of waterborne illness. To achieve this, he applied a variety of analytical tools and skills which included optimization of laboratory procedures, management/manipulation of large amounts of data, mathematical modelling and geospatial analysis. He identified factors that can be used to reduce drinking water source contamination and demonstrated that novel molecular techniques (metagenomics) can be used to directly detect multiple types of diarrhoea-causing organisms in a single test. This has the potential to greatly improve drinking water quality testing because current standard methods do not necessarily detect diarrhoea-causing organisms but use proxies that indicate possible contamination. Adopting metagenomic testing could lead to the development of better water treatment methods thus ensuring enhanced drinking water safety.

Distinguished Professor Nigel French
Professor Mark Stevenson
Dr Debbie Prattley
Distinguished Professor Paul Rainey
Professor Patrick Biggs