Student research

PhD grads med

Postgraduate Student Research Projects

Staff and associates of the centre currently contribute to elements of the Graduate Diploma in Emergency Services Management and MA, MPhil and PhDs in Psychology, Emergency Management and other related disciplines.  The list below only relates to Massey University student projects at the PhD level, however there are a number of students from other institutions with links to JCDR.

Abida Ellahi
Leveraging Web 2.0 Technologies for Crisis Communication: Enhancing Management Capabilities

Alan Kwok
Measuring social resilience to disasters at the neighbourhood level

Ashleigh Rushtan
But What About the Men? Investigating the Strengths of, and Challenges for Men Following the 2016 Kaikōura Earthquake.

Bruce Pepperell
Thriving under crises: Leadership challenges and opportunities during extreme events

Hayley Squance
Animal Welfare Emergency Management

Kate Akers
Understanding the need for, availability of, and interpretation of information by the public during large scale hazard events

Lesley Gray
Preparing for the Big One: disaster risk reduction and morbid obesity

Lisa Mclaren
The science of extreme citizen science

Marion Tan
Citizen-centred approach in the development of mobile phone applications for disaster management

Martin Garcia-Cartagena
Community Resilience Capital Framework: A critical assessment based on a Waimakariri case study

Miles Crawford
How Risk Informs Emergency Management: A study of the interface between risk modelling for tsunami inundation and emergency management p&p

Mina Adhikari
Modelling earthquake hazard preparedness during recovery in Nepal

Nancy Brown
Disaster Resilience within the Hotel Sector: A mixed method study

Nilani Rangika
Cross-Domain Data Fusion and Analytics of Social Media in Disaster Management

Sara Harrison
Exploring the potential for volunteered geographic information such as geo-located social media and participatory mapping to support impact based forecasting and warning systems

Syed Yasir Imtiaz
Development of framework of a to understand the types of damage data or impact information in a region

Recent Projects

Community Based Public Education Initiatives
This project reviewed a range of community-based public education projects in New Zealand and the USA. The study highlighted the key factors that lead to their success and discussed issues around programme evaluation. (see publication list for reports).

New Zealand Tsunami Warning Preparedness
An in-depth analysis of national and regional arrangements for tsunami warnings for the entire country was conducted. The study included a substantive review of best practice for effective end-to-end warning systems internationally (including effectiveness lessons from Japan). Analysis was compared to a GNS-developed practical model for effective all-hazard warning systems, consistent with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction’s conceptual model.
Recommendations were included for education methodologies to improve community resilience in tsunami warnings (GNS, MCDEM, NIWA, 2005).

Flood Hazard Awareness and Education Evaluation in Australia
This involved undertaking surveys, analysis and making recommendations on flooding impacts and warnings to evaluate public education of flood hazards (GNS, New South Wales State Emergency Services, Central Queensland University, 2005- 2006).

Social Impact assessment in Istanbul
Seismic retrofitting options for residential apartments in Istanbul were discussed and formulated with residents to gain buy-in and minimise the impacts. This was part of an earthquake engineering project funded by the World Bank (Beca-Prota, GNS Science, Middle East Technical University, Turkey, 2005).

Public Warning Notification and Community Resilience in the Auckland Region
This consisted of two projects: a review of warning notification arrangements giving recommendations for a range of priority options, and research into the indicators of community resilience to natural hazards leading to strategies to motivate improved resilience (GNS, Auckland Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group, Kestrel Group, University of Tasmania, 2005-2006).

Effective Warning Systems and Emergency Response at Mount Ruapehu
This comprised research into all of the components of effective warning systems and emergency response preparedness at Mount Ruapehu’s ski areas, and in response to lahars from Crater Lake (GNS Science, DoC, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, University of Tasmania, other response agencies, 2001-2006).

Recently Awarded Doctorates


Tipler, Karlene (PhD, Emergency Management, 2017)

"Emergency preparedness and response in New Zealand schools"

International disaster risk reduction efforts prioritise school safety. Providing a safe learning environment for students and ensuring their continued access to education after an emergency has a positive influence on student, family, and community resilience. Karlene investigated emergency preparedness and response activities in New Zealand schools, identifying key practices that support efforts to keep students safe during emergencies. She employed a multiphase mixed methods research design to conduct three separate but linked studies that investigated: emergency preparedness in schools; emergency management requirements and expectations of schools; and emergency response in schools. Differences in preparedness levels were identified, due in part to generic and ambiguous legislation, suggesting some schools are under-prepared to respond to future emergencies. Lessons learned from emergencies experienced facilitated the development of a six-stage model of an effective school-based emergency response. The research findings have implications for enhancing school emergency management efforts in New Zealand and internationally.


Huggins, Tom (PhD, Psychology, 2016)

"Optimising visual solutions for complex strategic scenarios"

Attempts to pre-emptively improve post-disaster outcomes need to reflect an improved understanding of adaptations in the way collaborating researchers and practitioners make decisions together. Mr Huggins proposed that a visual logic model diagram, using boxes and arrows linking activities and downstream objectives, could support effective decisions regarding pre-emptive community resilience interventions. His research comprised of three phases. Firstly he used Q-methodology to identify strong patterns of opinions among relevant collaborators concerning diagram construction. The second phase involved building the diagram before analysing contributors' accounts of diagram development. Lastly, he experimentally tested whether the diagram produced could stimulate higher quality decisions, compared with a conventional chart of key performance metrics. His research findings indicate that certain diagram formats help support collaborative efforts to improve community resilience particularly when a visual outcomes model forms a component of efficient thinking dynamics shared within a network of decision making agents.

McBride, Sara (PhD, English and Media Studies, 2016)

"The Canterbury Tales: An insider's lessons and reflections from the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence to inform better public communication models"

Mooney, Maureen (PhD, Psychology, 2016)

"Getting through: Children and youth post-disaster effective coping and adaption in the context of the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-2012"

Children are distressed by disasters yet the majority eventually have adaptive outcomes. However, our understanding of how children respond and adapt effectively to disasters is incomplete. Ms Mooney aimed to understand how children cope effectively with disaster, and to identify resources and processes that promote children's effective coping and adaptation. Five, nine and fifteen year-olds, as well as parents, teachers, and principals of five Christchurch schools were interviewed. Children and caregivers from two schools in Wellington served as a comparison group. Several Christchurch children were re-interviewed three years after the initial earthquake to understand how coping may evolve. Multiple inter-connected coping strategies and resources in the children, and in their immediate contexts of family and community were identified that were fundamental to their post-disaster adaptation. Children adapting effectively used diverse coping strategies in a culturally appropriate and flexible manner. Key recommendations were made for effective interventions for children and caregivers.


Fraser, Stuart (PhD, Emergency Management, 2014)

"Informing the development of tsunami vertical evacuation strategies in New Zealand"

New Zealand is at risk of large tsunami generated by earthquakes located short distances offshore. In such an event there may only be minutes to tens of minutes to evacuate before the tsunami arrives. There has been much progress in tsunami risk reduction in the last decade but there is a need to improve evacuation options in places that are a long way from high ground. Vertical evacuation to the upper storeys of tall buildings can provide refuge in such places. Mr Fraser investigated the use of vertical evacuation in the 2011 Great East Japan tsunami to inform the discussion of similar strategies in New Zealand. His study of tsunami evacuation behaviour and simulation of evacuation dynamics demonstrate the potential benefits of vertical evacuation in Napier, Hawke's Bay. His findings inform tsunami evacuation planning to reduce tsunami risk in New Zealand.

Tuohy, Robyn (PhD, Psychology, 2014)

“The influence of personal and socio-cultural contexts on older adults’ preparedness for a disaster”

Older adults are especially vulnerable in a disaster and experience significant negative outcomes. There has been limited research about disaster preparedness from the perspective of independent older adults. Mrs Tuohy interviewed older adults in Wellington and Christchurch to explore their understandings of preparing for a disaster. She found that older adults considered disaster preparedness to be a personal responsibility. In addition, their levels of preparedness were influenced by health related needs and the availability of social support. Limited opportunities to develop and maintain preparedness increased their vulnerability to a disaster. Older adults also associated preparedness with managing age related decline, which was fundamental to managing their ability to remain independent in the community. These findings have implications for assisting older adults to prepare for a disaster, and suggest that a co-ordinated multidisciplinary planning and policy approach between health, welfare, and emergency management organisations would substantially benefit older adults in disasters.


Becker, Julia Susan (PhD, Psychology, 2012)

"Increasing household preparedness for earthquakes: Understanding how individuals make meaning of earthquake information and how this relates to preparedness"

One way to reduce the impact of an earthquake is to encourage people to prepare at home. Household preparedness includes gathering together survival items, retrofitting the house, making an emergency plan, or participating in community preparedness activities. Unfortunately, despite earthquake education campaigns advising the importance of household preparedness, only low numbers of people choose to prepare for earthquakes. To find out why this is still the case, Ms Becker investigated the kinds of earthquake information individuals receive, how people interpret that information within their worldly context, and how this relates to actually undertaking preparedness actions. She found that in making decisions about whether or not to prepare for earthquakes, people draw upon a variety of types of information including passive information, interactive information and personal experience. She also found that additional factors such as emotions or social situations have a bearing on people’s decision-making. Future earthquake education campaigns should be developed to incorporate a wider range of information types and account for broader contextual influences.

de Terte, Ian (PhD, Psychology, 2012)

“Psychological resilience in the face of occupational trauma: An evaluation of a multidimensional model”

Mr de Terte’s research investigated a five-part model of psychological resilience in relation to exposure to potentially traumatic events, using a sample of police officers. The five-part model looked at an individual’s thoughts, feelings, behaviours, physical activities, and environment. There has been limited research that has evaluated psychological resilience from a multidimensional viewpoint. This study found that the components of the model that showed some utility were optimism, adaptive coping, adaptive health practices, and social support. The psychological resilience model initially proposed has been reconceptualised as a three-part model, but requires further empirical and theoretical development.

Primary Supervisor: A/Pro Christine Stephens
Associate Supervisor: Prof David Johnston

Saunders, Wendy (PhD, Resourcing and Environmental Planning, 2012)

“Innovative land use planning for natural hazard risk reduction in New Zealand”

Land use planning is a key tool in New Zealand for reducing the risk of natural hazards, however many land use decisions still put people and property at risk. This research contributes to the planning field by providing land use planners with an innovative, risk-based framework that can assist decision making around land use where there is a risk of natural hazards. The risk-based framework presented provides a significantly new approach to natural hazard management, where the consequences of an event are the primary concern, rather than likelihood; and it allows for levels of risk to be defined. The result is a framework that can be adapted to local risks communities may face, and defines ‘acceptable’ levels of risk that allows for risk-based planning to occur. This in turn will reduce the future risks and consequences from natural hazard events.

Taylor, Heather (PhD, Emergency Management, 2012)

"Children's Experiences of Flooding in Surakarta, Indonesia"

Ms. Taylor’s research presents a rich contextual discussion of the social effects of flooding on children in Central Java, Indonesia. The knowledge generated furthers understanding of how the experiences and responses of children in disasters are shaped, and the factors which make children more resilient and less vulnerable to the challenges experienced in disasters. Research in the Indo-Javanese context revealed that in disaster situations where children are involved, the cultural and social contexts and the geographic and circumstantial contexts matter. While these aspects are relevant for both children and adults in disasters, this research, by identifying how children actively participate in their society, identified the unique and important contribution children make to disaster readiness, response and recovery. The findings contribute to understanding how the sustained resilience of the community is enhanced by involving children in disaster risk reduction activities.

Primary Supervisor: Prof David Johnston
Associate Supervisor: Dr Timothy Davies, A/Pro Robin Peace, Prof Stuart Carr

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