Dr Chrissen EC Gemmill

Senior Lecturer

Qualifications: BS University of California Irvine PhD University of Colorado

About Chrissen

Curator and MPI Operator Te Pā Whakahaumia o Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, the University of Waikato herbarium (WAIK),

Treasurer, New Zealand National Herbarium Network

Associate Editor, Systematic Botany

Taxonomic expert and member, New Caledonia Plant Red List Authority, and, Member IUCN Species Survival Committee

Research Associate, Missouri Botanical Garden, USA

Research Interests

I am a plant systematist and use a holistic approach to address interesting evolutionary questions. In particular, I am interested in revealing the biogeographical history of plants from Zealandia, the landmass on which New Zealand and New Caledonia rest, including Pittosporum, Vitex, Winteraceae, and Lauraceae; this work is conducted with an internal team of researchers, each bringing a unique aspect to our work.  We are also interested in the application of DNA-barcoding as applied to plant identifications, including herbarium specimens, field collection of juvenile or sterile individuals, and putatively introduced organisms. As such  my research also has implications for biosecurity, conservation, and restoration. Student research projects have been conducted on a wide variety of topics and add another dimension to my own interests. In addition to supervising PhD and MSc students, I have supervised undergraduates (SCIE303), Summer Research Scholarship students, and international intern students (USA, Spain, France).

Research Supervised


  • Dong, Bohao (in progress). Systematic Review of New Zealand Pittosporum (Pittosporaceae) [Chief Supervisor]
  • Bishop, Joanna (2014). The Role of Medicinal Plants in New Zealand's Settler Medicial Culteure, 1850s-1920s [Co-supervisor]
  • Overdyke, Elizabeth (2014). Thresholds for sustainable regeneration in urban restoration plantings in Hamilton City, New Zealand [Co-supervisor]
  • Beard, Catherine (2006). Factors limiting the distribution of mangroves Avicennia marina var. resinifera in New Zealand [Chief Supervisor]
  • Smith, Kirsty (2012) Invasion success and genetic variation: a comparison of two coastal invaders [Co-supervisor]
  • Jurgans, Joel (2010) Fungal biodiversity of extreme environments and their biochemical strategies of lignocellulosic utilization [Co-supervisor]
  • Stephens, Jonathon (2006) The factors responsible for varying levels ofUMF® in mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium) honey [Co-supervisor]
  • Clarkson, Beverly (2005) Restiad peat bog development, with emphasis on nutrition and mineral use efficiency of dominant species [Co-supervisor]
  • Thwaites, Joanne (2003) A rapid detection of sapstain in radiata pine [Co-supervisor]

MSc (Research)

  • Carter, Sophie (2017). Molecular Systematics of the New Caledonian Cryptocaryeae (Lauraceae) [Chief supervisor]
  • Coffin, Abraham (2016). A Taxonomic Review of Corybas rivularis (Orchidaceae) - Inferred from Molecular and Morphological Analyses. [Chief supervisor]
  • Squire, Talissa (2016). Systematics of New Zealand Pimelea (Thymelaeaceae). [Chief supervisor]
  • Parker, Cassandra (2015). Identifying host species of Dactylanthus taylorii using DNA barcoding [Chief supervisor]
  • Wright, Sarah (2015). The conservation biology of Pittosporum obcordatum: conservation genetics and habitat specificity. [University of Canterbury, Co-supervisor]
  • Withers, A. Tehani (2014). Foraging behaviours of translocated takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri) at two contrasting sites, New Zealand [Chief supervisor]
  • Grierson, Ella (2014). The development and genetic variation of Sophora prostrata – A New Zealand divaricating shrub [Chief supervisor]
  • Brown, Matthew (2013). The diet and nutritional ecology of the Auckland tree wētā Hemideina thoracica [Chief supervisor]
  • Pratt, Steven (2013). Evolution of the genera Vitex (Lamiaceae) and Zygogynum (Winteraceae) on New Caledonia. [Chief supervisor]
  • Clarkson, Fiona (2011). Population genetics and autecology of the endemic shrub epiphyte Pittosporum cornifolium [Chief supervisor]
  • Minnee, Elena (2011). An evaluation of tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum) as an alternative to perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) for use on dairy farms in the Waikato [Chief supervisor]
  • Weavers, Graeme (2010). Ecological, genetic and cultural status of Solanum aviculare, poroporo (Solanaceae) [Chief supervisor]
  • Fiona McIntosh (Wilcox) Fiona (2001), Weed invasion into lowland podocarp-dominated forest fragments in the Waikato: the effects of community composition, fencing time and soil properties with a specific focus on Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) [Co-supervisor]
  • Carrodus, Susan (2009). Identification of hybridisation in Pittosporum using chloroplast DNA, allozymes and cross-pollination experiments [Chief supervisor]
  • Kelly, Sarah (2009). A phylogeographic investigation of the introduction and dispersal of the invasive species Didymosphenia geminata in New Zealand [Chief supervisor]
  • Nickel, Jennifer (2009). Population genetics of New Zealand seahorses [Co-supervisor]
  • Chubb,  Tanya (2008). Hybridization and phylogeography of the New Zealand House Mouse [Chief supervisor]
  • Fraser, Ann (2008) Populations ecology of Thelymitra matthewsii Cheeseman Orchidaceae, in northern New Zealand [Chief supervisor]
  • Crawford, Naomi (2006) Species delimitations of the Pacific genus Pritchardia (Arecaceae) as estimated by molecular markers [Chief supervisor]
  • Jones, Tracey (2004) Population Genetics of Zostera capricorni (a seagrass) as estimated by RAPDs [Chief supervisor]
  • Stephens, Lisa (2004) Isozyme and morphological variation of New Zealand’s endangered Celmisia “Mangaweka” (Asteraceae) and related taxa [Chief supervisor]
  • Harfoot, Rhodri (2003) Development of microsatellite markers for Antarctic Bryum Hedw. species [Chief supervisor]
  • Hathaway, Louise (2001) Phylogenetic relationships of the New Zealand Pittosporum inferred from ITS sequences of nrDNA [Chief supervisor]
  • Jamieson, Paul (2001) Taxonomic identification of the New Zealand house mouse [Co-supervisor]
  • Hunger, Sarah (2000) Population genetics and systematics of Antarctic Bryum species [Chief supervisor]
  • Swanson, John-David (1998) Molecular tools for the forestry industry in New Zealand [Chief supervisor]
  • MSc

  • Dong, Bohao (2019). Phylogenetic analysis of New Calendonian Vitex collina sensu lato (Lamiaceae) [Chief supervisor]
  • Tak, Sanjay (2019). DNA barcoding: an economic way to identify plant hosts of threatened plant parasites [Chief supervisor]

Teaching Commitments



Biodiversity, Conservation, DNA-barcoding, Evolution, Systematics

Recent Publications

  • Myron, K. J., Clarkson, B., & Gemmill, C. E. C. (2020). Biological flora of New Zealand 16: Pittosporum kirkii Hook.f. ex Kirk, Kirk’s kōhūhū, thick-leaved kohukohu. New Zealand Journal of Botany, 25 pages. doi:10.1080/0028825x.2020.1770303

  • Dupuis, J. R., Pillon, Y., Sakishima, T., Gemmill, C. E. C., Chamala, S., Barbazuk, W. B., . . . Stacy, E. A. (2019). Targeted amplicon sequencing of 40 nuclear genes supports a single introduction and rapid radiation of Hawaiian Metrosideros (Myrtaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution. doi:10.1007/s00606-019-01615-0

  • Carter, S. N., Miller, S. D., Meyer, S. J., & Gemmill, C. E. C. (2018). A new species of Pittosporum described from the Poor Knights Islands, Northland, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Systematic Botany, 43(2), 633-643. doi:10.1600/036364418X697355

  • Brown, M. B. G. J., Gemmill, C. E. C., Miller, S., & Wehi, P. M. (2018). Diet selectivity in a terrestrial forest invertebrate, the Auckland tree wētā, across three habitat zones. Ecology and Evolution, 8(5), 2495-2503. doi:10.1002/ece3.3763 Open Access version:

View All research publications by Chrissen Gemmill

Contact Details

Room: CD.1.01
Phone: +64 7 838 4053