Staff Intro – Roger McLenahgan – Senior Tutor in Soil Science

Roger McLenaghen – Senior Soil Science Tutor

Roger is a local lad through and through, born in Killinchy near Leeston, he grew up on a mixed cropping farm. After Lincoln High school Roger studied for his NZ certificate in Science and Chemistry at Christchurch polytechnic. When the job as a technician came up at Lincoln University in 1974, he jumped at it. The opportunity to get a job and to get into the work force was too good to miss, and it’s that good, he’s been here ever since. Coming off a farm, the role was one he could relate to. Progressing into a tutoring role in 1980, and now a senior tutor.

Roger, helping out the Lincoln University Soil Judging Team at the 2016 NZ Soil Judging Competition in Wanaka.

“Rog”, as he is known by the students, is a legend in the soils department. If you asked someone about their soil science experience at Lincoln Uni, I’m sure you’ll hear about Rog. He’s full of classic jokes and makes the soil science labs a great experience. He’ll tell you all about his favourite soil, “it’s like chocolate mousse dessert,” or how to cure a hangover by eating a tablespoon of clay.

Students quotes about Rog “The Man” Roger:

“The best thing about Lincoln so far is Rog.”

“Yea, I love Rog, he’s the Man!”

“42 is the answer.”

“Coffee time is compulsory and happens multiple times of day or night”

Roger’s passion for soil science and the students, working with them to help them achieve, is what keeps him going. “Finishing the year, having a break, you always look forward to the students coming back the next year.” Also working in the Soil Science Department, “It’s like a big family.” The people make it.

Outside of University, Roger is a key part of the local volunteer fire service. Also enjoying tennis, gardening and cooking.

Roger McL

Read more: Lincoln University Staff Profile

Students quotes from “Roger is the Man” Facebook page.

Z is for Podzol

“Podzol Soils occur in areas of high rainfall and are usually associated with forest trees with an acid litter. The soils occur mainly in materials from silica-rich rocks. They cover 13% of New Zealand.”

In the Labs for Lincoln Uni’s Level 1 Soil Science course this week we have been looking at different soil profiles, describing horizons and classifying them to the NZ Soil Classification. Podzol is one that the students get to and ponder for a while. It’s abundance of different horizons can be quite confusing at first, but after working through them, can be appreciated as a beautiful.

Podzols - Landcare Research
Photo Credit:

A Podzol generally has an Ah horizon, followed by a E, then all or one of; Bh, Bs, Bfm, making for a colourful soil description and something to get fresh soil science minds working. The E horizon is an eluviated horizon, where the weathering over thousands of years has leached any nutrients, organic matter, iron and aluminium oxides out of it making it a very pale horizon.

Read more on LandcareResearch’s ‘Describing Soils’ Webpage


Staff Intro – Judith van Dijk Soil Science Tutor

Judith van Dijk – Tutor of Environmental Physics, Soil and Earth Sciences.

Judith grew up in the Netherlands, studying, living and working for 8 years in Utrecht completing a Bachelors in Earth Science and a Masters in Physical Geography. The Research project component of her Master degree was carried out at Lincoln University with Associate Professor Peter Almond. A couple of years before Judith permanently moved to New Zealand in 2012.

Earth Science became Judith’s desired study path after seeing a display at a careers expo. One month before her university enrollment due date she changed from being enrolled for Med School to a degree in Earth Science. What a great decision! Earth Science lead on to Physical Geography and from there into Soil Science, to where she is today.

After being at Lincoln University for her Master’s research for 8 months, Judith knew she wanted to come back to New Zealand to live here, so when the tutoring role became available she jumped at it. Having tutored throughout her studies in the Netherlands she really felt like she would fit the role at Lincoln.


As a Tutor in Environmental Physics, Soil and Earth Sciences since early 2012, being in front of the class is what keeps Judith inspired in this role: “When I’m in front of the class, it’s fun, everything feels right and it just works. I love teaching and having the ability to teach applied science in a laboratory setting. I enjoy the practical approach and am always coming up with new ideas on teaching and blended learning, it’s exciting.”

Working in the Soils Department at Lincoln University, the reliability of morning tea-time is a highlight of each day. “There’s always going to be someone there, you’ll never end up alone, and the conversations can cover literally anything.” Another highlight is the way the department works as a team and how everyone is always helping each other out.

Squash, tramping, sewing, gardening, cycling and chain-sawing are a few of the things Judith does outside of work, not forgetting good beer and good food of course.



Staff Intro – Senior Lecturer Carol Smith

Main Research Areas: Paleoclimate. Land-reclamation. Pedology.

Carol is originally from the UK, growing up in South-East England, before moving to New Zealand in 1993. She completed a BSc. (Hons) in geographical science at Portsmouth, followed by a MSc in pedology and soil survey at Reading and then a PhD in soil science at Aberdeen.

Paleoclimate – a climate prevalent at a particular time in the geological past.

Pedology – the study of soils in their natural environment. The scientific study of soils and their weathering profiles.

It was her undergraduate focus on geomorphology, pedology, combined with micro-morphology while at Reading, that got her into the area of research she follows today. “The paleoclimate record in soils and landscapes is relevant to our understanding of the extent of past climate change; it offers a point of reference to computer models of future climate”. Carol is also passionate about land rehabilitation and the opportunities that using recycled organic materials can have on improving soil quality.

“Looking at New Zealand’s past climate through soils is very exciting.”

Carol Smith at Soil Judging Comp 2016

Carol started at Lincoln University as a tutor alongside the legendary Phil Tokin in 1993. Following a move to Sydney in 1997 with her young family and a stint in the private sector as an environmental consultant, she returned to Lincoln in 2005 as a lecturer in soil science. She was appointed to her present role as HoD in 2017. Carol’s inspiration in this role is being able to work with people and help them do their job to the best of their ability; whether that is through teaching, research or university management.

“It’s all about the people – the staff and students in the Soil Department; we all work together as a good team. We are small enough to know each other and we also have a few adventures along the way.”

In her down time Carol makes the most of the outdoors, seeking a balance between a busy work week and active relaxation on the weekends, when she can be found hitting the Port Hills on her bike. Skiing and tramping are also favourites when the seasons allow, as well as catching up with her two young adult children (when they’re not asking for money or to borrow the car). “Exploring NZ, all those hidden, beautiful corners.”

Find out more: Carol Smith Lincoln University Staff Profile

Carol Smith Blog Photo_B&W

Geomorphology Field Trip – Understanding how the landscape works to manage it sustainably.

The practical aspect of soil science at Lincoln University. A sneak peek into the SOSC223 Geomorphology Field Trip.

“Geomorphology helps us to understand how the landscape works, then you can manage it sustainably.”


Field trip to Kaitorete Spit (or Kaitorete “barrier”), Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere) and Te Wairewa (Lake Forsyth). Using geomorphology to understand the formation and management of the landscape, as well as the landscapes use as a resource.


Carol Smith discussing the geomorphology of the barrier formation at Birdlings Flat.

Top Left: Monica Giona Bucci (PhD Student), Judith van Dijk (Tutor) and Carol Smith (Senior Lecturer). Bottom Left: Judith illustrating how the spit and barrier were formed, using a very descriptive sand drawing. Right: Carol Smith discussing the inter-dune depression.



Want to work with Antarctica New Zealand?

Antarctica New Zealand have just opened up applications for a Science Programme Support role to assist the Science Team for the next year. The role is based at Antarctica New Zealand in Christchurch and is primarily to assist with reviewing Antarctic logistics support requests, science reporting and metadata management.

The ideal candidate will have a postgraduate science degree, Antarctic field research experience, excellent communication skills, and report writing and data management experience.

Here’s a link to more info about the role and how to apply:

Science Programme Support Role – Antarctica New Zealand