Caroline Shorter (University of Otago)

Caroline Shorter

Senior Research Fellow, Department of Medicine

University of Otago

I have worked in research in New Zealand for 20 years, starting my career as a research assistant at Victoria University of Wellington working in a house dust mite laboratory, then moving to work at Wool Research of NZ, then AgResearch in Christchurch, where I worked on a variety of applied R&D projects. While my background was in biological research, I wanted to be involved in research that had a direct impact on people’s health. In 2006 I gained a Zonta scholarship to carry out my PhD in Medicine looking at respiratory health and indoor fungal exposures in children. In 2009 I moved back to Wellington and took up a position in the Department of Medicine, University of Otago as a Research Fellow, working in asthma and housing research.


Research interests

My research expertise centers on the effects of the indoor built environment on respiratory health, with a particular proficiency in fungal exposure (mould). Through my previous work at Victoria University of Wellington, Wool Research of NZ and AgResearch I have also gained extensive knowledge on the accumulation and aerosolization of indoor biocontaminants such as fungal spores and house dust mite allergens. I have also gained expertise in the impacts of upper respiratory tract infections on asthma, and otitis media on infant health, specifically exploring ways in which we might be able to reduce the impact of these infections on respiratory health through modifying our environment (eg heating, reduction of mould), and intervention (use of probiotics or anti-viral agents such as Carrageenan). I have recently been involved in efforts to monitor airborne levels of Sars-CoV-2.



28 February 2022

Ventilation is a key and relatively underutilised public health measure that can reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission. Last year we outlined the need for adequate ventilation in schools and highlighted the need for nationwide ventilation surveillance. In this blog we provide an overview of the results of carbon dioxide (CO2) monitoring carried out in a variety of schools at the start of the Omicron wave. These results highlight that excessive levels of CO2 can build up in classrooms – and that this can be prevented by window opening.


26 October 2021

Indoor environments increase the risk of transmission for the virus that causes Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) by containment and concentration of the airborne virus. However, to reduce such transmission, the particles that carry the virus can be diluted by bringing in as much outdoor air as possible. When good ventilation is not possible, air purifiers can be used as an additional preventative measure to reduce the number of virus-laden particles.