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Thesis topics and supervisors available in 2022

Supervisor and student

Find a thesis topic and supervisor. Staff members and their research interests and topic areas are listed below by campus.

Please note:
We strongly advise students to take early action to find a supervisor for their Research Project or Thesis.  You MUST take responsibility to arrange supervision for yourself prior to enrolment in any of the research courses. 
Your enrolment CANNOT be confirmed until supervision arrangements have been finalised and the Agreement to Supervise form has been signed by you and by your supervisor.
Your Study Link support from the government CANNOT be activated until your enrolment is confirmed. Until then, your enrolment will remain PENDING.

The link to the Agreement to Supervise form is Agreement to Supervise Postgraduate Research Form (355 KB)
(It should be completed electronically in Adobe Acrobat Reader at each stage.)

Here is important information on the availability of research supervisors:

Auckland campus

Dr Siautu Alefaio

Pacific-indigenous humanitarian psychology, Pacific-indigenous faith-based family violence prevention and intervention, Pacific-indigenous Matua care-practices, Pacific-indigenous disaster preparedness, risk resilience and management, humanitarian response, and overall psycho-social impact of climate change in Oceania.

Stuart Carr

'If you have spoken with Prof. Carr already, and have a provisional agreement, that's fine. In any other case, unavailable for new supervision in 2022.

More information in Stuart's Research Expertise entry

Richard Fletcher

I am interested in research methodology that primarily encompasses quantitative research, although I am more and more encouraging a mixed methods approach.  Areas of interest are psychometrics, sport psychology, wellbeing in informal carers.  Generally, I am open to discussions around most subjects being that I am a research methodologist.

Darrin Hodgetts

Unavailable for new supervision in 2022.

More information in Darrin's Research Expertise entry

Veronica Hopner

I am happy to supervise students who are interested in the intersections of Psychology with Security Studies, Human Security Psychology and Countering Violent Extremism. I am primarily a qualitative researcher.

More information in Veronica's Research Expertise entry

Julia Ioane

I am interested in supervising Honours, Masters and Doctoral students primarily in the following areas

  • Pasifika communities particularly in the Justice sector
  • Child offending
  • Youth and Adult offending
  • Diverse worldviews of psychology
  • Trauma
  • Intersectionality between Psychology and Law
  • Child and youth mental health
  • Psychological interventions and evaluations (in partnerships with agencies and government departments)

Heather Kempton

I supervise research in the area of mindfulness/meditation and spirituality and I have both quantitative and qualitative interests in the topic. I’m close to capacity in terms of supervision, but I may be able to supervise students who already have experience/background in mindfulness, Buddhist philosophy, or other spiritual topics (for example, I have previously supervised a student looking at Kundalini awakenings).

More information in Heather's Research Expertise entry.

Andrea Lamarre

I have reached supervision capacity for 2022. When I take on students, I am interested in supervising projects related to eating disorders, body image, embodiment, and weight stigma. I tend to approach these topics from a critical feminist & health psychology lens, looking at how eating distress and recoveries are lived, experienced, and represented in relation to broader societal understandings, messages, and representations of “health” and “well-being.” I am also able to supervise critical health psychology research that includes a focus on co-designed, lived experience-led health and healthcare research and treatment more generally. I typically use qualitative and arts-based (e.g. digital storytelling, photovoice, dance-based research, etc.) approaches in my work. I would be particularly keen to work with students who have an interest in trying out novel ways of working with participants to understand health, healthcare, and embodiment.

More information in Andrea's Research Expertise entry.

Michelle Lee

I'm able to take on students who are interested in doing I/O related topics from a macro lens perspective. My areas are in organizational culture, organizational climate and leadership style, particularly in the Asian setting. I've conducted research on hierarchical culture, psychosocial safety climate, safety climate, team climate, transformational leadership, transactional leadership, ethical leadership, toxic leadership and paternalistic leadership, specifically on the job demands-resources model and employee work outcomes. 

My approach is mostly quantitative and multilevel where we collect pockets of data (data in groups or organizations). Apart from the above topics, I'm also interested to look at new norms of work during and after this pandemic, identity and retirement transition, and other relevant I/O topics that are critical in today's time.

While most of my studies are within the Asian setting, I welcome cross-cultural studies on those topics, involving NZ employees and employees from other countries.

James Liu

My research is in the areas of social, cross-cultural, and political psychology. I do a lot of work in the area of social identity and intergroup relations, and am happy to supervise student research in this general area.

More specifically, I currently supervise research in the following areas:

  1. Collective remembering and the making of political culture, also known as history and identity (how social representations of history influence national psychology and intergroup relations),
  2. Digital Influence (the impact of mass media, especially the internet and social media, on psychological functioning & social relationships),
  3. Global Consciousness (how people can develop a prosocial orientation for others that goes beyond the limits of national and local identities),
  4. Action oriented work in any of these areas or their intersection (for instance, developing social media that supports growth in global consciousness),
  5. Cross-cultural psychology (I have collected lots of big datasets, and am happy to supervise students who are interested in doing research work using this data, and especially if they encompass one of the four areas described previously)

More information in James' Research Expertise entry.

Kathryn McGuigan

My research interests include critical health psychology including: health and space, understandings and use of medicines/medications, social construction of food, and gendered experiences of health and illness. I am primarily interested in qualitative projects.

Pikihuia Pomare

I am not available for supervision in 2022.

More information in Pikihuia's Research Expertise entry.

Matthew Shepherd

Kia ora, I am looking to supervise Honors, Masters and Doctoral students in the following areas:

  • Tamariki and Rangatahi (child and adolescent) mental health
  • Computerised therapies
  • Application of Clinical Psychology practice
  • Child and Adolescent therapies
  • Family therapy

Clifford Van Ommen

I am not available for supervision in 2022.

More information in Clifford's Research Expertise entry.

Matt Williams

I no longer have any space for additional supervision in 2022. I have described my research interests below for students interested in supervision from 2023 onwards.

Metapsychology and methodology. How frequent are numeric reporting errors in published articles? How useful is preregistration? Can completing survey questions about mental health itself cause distress?

Misinformation and conspiracy theories. Why do people develop (or reject) beliefs in conspiracy theories?

Climate change. What do members of the public believe about climate change, and why? How is climate change likely to affect human behaviour?

Most of my research is quantitative, and I am a strong supporter of open science practices (e.g., preregistration, open data, open materials). I lead the Reproducible Psychology at Albany lab, where students can network with one another in a supportive environment.

Whenever possible, I prefer to work with students who have successfully completed 175.303 The Practice of Psychological Research and 175.746 Psychological Research: Quantitative Data Analysis (or equivalent courses from other institutions).

More information in Matt Williams' Research Expertise entry

Amanda M. Young-Hauser 

I am a qualitative researcher drawing on narrative theory. I am available to supervise Honours and Masters students who are interested in social (in)justice, in particular poverty and inequality, the intersection of wage (minimum and living) and wellbeing, crime and punishment, intimate partner violence and restorative justice.  

More information in Amanda's Research Expertise entry

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Manawatu campus

Health And Ageing Research Team (HART)

The Health and Ageing Research Team has a range of researchers and topics undertaking research in either quantative or qualitative methodologies as listed below.

Quantitative analysis of existing survey data

Students who choose to study one of these topics are expected to have good quantitative analysis skills, having completed 175.746 (multivariate data analysis) or equivalent.  They will be expected to develop a theoretical basis for the research question and conduct sophisticated multivariate and/or longitudinal data analysis.

Dr Joanne Allen

Inequalities, population ageing and work in later life

  • Impact of workplace conditions on health related ability to work among older adults
  • Health-related ability to work among the older employed in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Impact of serious illness in mid-life on labour force participation
  • A longitudinal investigation identifying workplaces that offer training, and the impact of training on work-related outcomes among older adults

Professor Christine Stephens

  • Social networks, housing, and health of older people across time.
  • Chronic health conditions and loneliness (mediated and moderated by environmental variables and depression).
  • The effects of housing and neighbourhood characteristics on social participation among older people.
  • Social participation and quality of life among older people.
  • Effects of Covid 19 lock down on wellbeing.

More information in Joanne's Research Expertise entry

Professor Fiona Alpass

Caregiving and Wellbeing

  • Combining work and caregiving: the impact on health and wealth over time.

Older Workers

  • Flexible work opportunities and job satisfaction
  • Attitudes, motivations and workability
  • Senior entrepreneurs

More information in Fiona's Research Expertise entry

Dr Juliana Mansvelt

Place and Wellbeing

  • Geographical and place based differences in relation to loneliness, quality of life and wellbeing.

Leisure and Retirement

  • Changes in leisure experiences (recreational activities, life engagement, voluntary work) after retirement.       

Dr Polly Yeung

Aging and Disability

  • Using the ICF-based Framework to develop a model of Functional Components and Contextual Factors.
  • The relationship between visual impairment, mobility, loneliness, social/community engagement and quality of life

Dr Andy Towers

Drug and Alcohol Consumption

  • Factors predicting change in alcohol consumption in older New Zealanders.
  • The relationship between alcohol consumption, health, and healthcare utilisation in older New Zealanders.  
  • Drug use in older adults (medication use, illicit drug use)
  • International comparisons of older adults drinking patterns

Mr Brendan Stevenson (unavailable)

Students who choose to study one of these topics are expected to have good quantitative analysis skills, having completed 175.746 (multivariate data analysis) or equivalent.  They will be expected to develop a theoretical basis for the research question and conduct sophisticated multivariate and/or longitudinal data analysis. This team can provide access to a large sample of older Māori who have provided data on a range of aspects of general health and wellbeing, as well as an extensive set of Māori-specific identity, cultural-participation, marae roles, language, and whānau. The HART team are able to provide assistance in the development of research questions, analytical strategy, and writing supervision around these data.

Qualitative Research Topics

Students interested in pursuing these topics must have a sound background and interest in qualitative methodologies. They will be expected to develop a sophisticated methodological basis for their research question and may choose one of the following topics which are listed with potential supervisors.

Professor Christine Stephens

  • Loneliness and barriers to participation among older people.
  • Neighbourhood quality and wellbeing.
  • Covid lockdown experiences (existing data).

Dr Juliana Mansvelt

Ageing in Place

  • The role of mundane commodities, objects, and commodity practices in shaping experiences and meanings of ageing in place (including through shifts in dwelling circumstance).
  • Experiences of dwelling in rural and other places

Leisure/Consumption

  • Contribution, productivity and pleasure in daily activities (including shopping).

Technology

  • The uptake and use of ICT technologies by older people

Don Baken

I supervise topics that have an applied health focus with a particular emphasis on cancer, heart disease, respiratory conditions, and diabetes. I’m also interest in research around children with life long and life limiting health conditions.

Corinne Bareham-Waldock

I am interested in understanding how the brain supports consciousness and spatial attention function, with a particular interest in impaired consciousness (Disorders of Consciousness) and impaired attention (unilateral spatial neglect). I have the following specific projects for honours and masters students:

  1. Development and validation of neuroimaging tools to measure states of consciousness
  2. Feasibility of bedside neuroimaging to assess consciousness state of Māori patients with a Disorder of Consciousness in Aotearoa (Qualitative)
  3. Investigation of changes in attention function during healthy transitions in consciousness (sleep onset)

More information in Corinne's Research Expertise entry

Leigh Coombes

Full supervision load in 2021.

Aaron Drummond

I am a cognitive psychologist undertaking research in the area of media and communication psychology. I have a broad range of interests in this area, ranging from how various forms of interactive and passive media use influence people’s thoughts and emotions to the most effective methods for communicating information to others. I use both correlational and experimental methods coupled with a range of cognitive and behavioural measures in my research.

Currently I am undertaking research into the psychological effects of violent and non-violent videogames on cognition and behaviour, the effects of reinforcement structures in interactive media, and effective methods for the communication of science to the public.  I am happy to supervise students in these areas, or in media and communication psychology projects more broadly.

Ross Flett

Available for Honours and Masters supervision in 2022.  Will talk about most topics (not infants or kids research, not qualitative).  Unlikely to take on PhD/DClinPsych unless I am dazzled by your confidence,  commitment, persuasiveness.  Have a look at my Google Scholar profile to see some of the areas I’ve dabbled in (I don’t claim to be an expert on any of them).   Hold off on reaching out to me until November 15.  Depending on supervision numbers I may run some aspects of the supervision process in the Stream environment.

Note that it is not always possible for you to do your research on a topic that is your “passion”.  We simply can't be all things to all students.  So it is important that you acknowledge the need to be flexible in the process of arriving at a workable topic.

More information in Ross' Research Expertise entry

Dianne Gardner

I am interested in a range of topics related to industrial/organisational psychology, especially wellbeing at work. This can include the positive and negative outcomes of work demands, work-life balance, coping, resilience/ cognitive hardiness, the role of individual and organisational factors in work-related wellbeing, learning from errors, and the effective management of hazards at work. My overall approach is that of positive psychology: the focus on human strengths and resources in the workplace.

More information in Dianne's Research Expertise entry

Jocelyn Handy

I am interested in supervising students researching organisational or health related issues using qualitative methodologies. I am currently interested in precarious labour and developing environmental sustainability in organisations.

Stephen Hill

My current research interest is in distributed and collaborative cognition (with a particular focus on memory). This work examines how people strategically use their environments and work with others when remembering, planning, and thinking about things. This work has potential application to areas such as ageing and cognition, occupational expertise, cognitive development, and eyewitness memory, in addition to basic research in cognitive psychology.

I have a couple of ready-to-go projects available for research students (particularly for Honours or Masters). Some of our work is lab-based on the Manawatū campus but there are opportunities to do studies in other ways if you are based elsewhere.

Barbara Kennedy

Unavailable in 2021.

Christine Kenney

I specialise in Qualitative research and supervise/co-supervise PhD and Masters students primarily in the, School of Psychology/Joint Centre for Disaster Research.

Topics of research interest include:

  1. Kaupapa Māori/Māori centred research in disasters, sustainability and resilience
  2. Indigenous Peoples and Disasters  
  3. Sociology of Disasters
  4. Disasters and Public Health
  5. Gender and Disasters
  6. Humanitarian concerns, Human Rights and Disasters

More information in Christine's Research Expertise entry

Ute Kreplin

Unavailable in 2021.

Nicole Lindsay

I welcome enquiries from students interested in spirituality, death, near-death experiences, exceptional human experiences, and consciousness.  I also have an interest in environmental psychology.  I am happy to supervise quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method research projects, but my experience and interest is primarily qualitative.

More information in Nicole's Research Expertise entry

Mandy Morgan

Unavailable for new supervision in 2022.
My available places for supervision this coming year have already been filled.

More information in Mandy's Research expertise entry

Tracy Morison

Unavailable for new supervision in 2021.

Michael Philipp

I primarily supervise research in the area of social cognition – investigating the mental processes underlying our social perceptions and social judgements. This year I am looking to supervising projects that investigate how we perceive minds (for an example, see Gray, Gray, & Wegner, 2007, Science). Projects of particular interest to me include investigating cues that affect how we perceive other minds and how different perceptions of mind affect our moral commitments to nonhuman animals.

Honours and Masters students should begin planning their projects with me well before starting the research semester – your specific topic and methodology will develop from our discussions. 

My supervision focuses on professional development and growth. I provide structured guidance throughout the research process, and I expect students I supervise to attend regular lab meetings throughout the year. I am a strong proponent of open, transparent research practices (including preregistration and replication), and I expect these practices in the research I supervise.

Kirsty Ross

Unavailable for new supervision in 2022.

More information in Kirsty's Research Expertise entry

Chris Stephens

Studies using existing longitudinal data with a large population sample (Quantitative). There is a range of possible topics in these data that I would be interested in supervising. For example:

  1. Social networks, housing, and health of older people across time.
  2. Chronic health conditions and loneliness (mediated and moderated by environmental variables and depression).
  3. The effects of housing and neighbourhood characteristics on social participation among older people.
  4. Social participation and quality of life among older people.
  5. Effects of Covid 19 lock down on wellbeing.

Studies involving data collection (qualitative or quantitative) supported by local organisations and councils. For example:

  1. Loneliness and barriers to participation among older people (survey).
  2. Neighbourhood quality and wellbeing (interviews).
  3. Covid lockdown experiences (existing data)

More information in Christine's Research Expertise entry

Natasha Tassell-Matamua

Unavailable for new supervision in 2022.

More information in Natasha's Research Expertise entry

Jo Taylor

I am a clinical psychologist and supervise primarily quantitative research of relevance to clinical psychology, although co-supervise mixed-methods research at doctoral level. I am particularly interested in research on recovery-oriented and service user-led teaching in clinical psychology training, and in supervision of research that aligns with this research area.

More information in Jo Taylor's Research expertise entry

Hukarere Valentine

Unavailable for new supervision in 2021.

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Wellington campus

Julia Becker

I am interested in supervising student projects on natural hazard and society issues.  Subject areas may include perceptions of natural hazards, preparedness for emergencies, community resilience, response and recovery for events, and warnings.  Focuses may be cross-peril and include earthquakes, flooding, coastal issues, volcanoes and landslides.

Simon Bennett

Ella Kahu

Unavailable for new supervisions in 2022.

Emma Hudson-Doyle

Unavailable for new supervisions in 2022

Josh Faulkner

I am a clinical neuropsychologist undertaking research into the assessment and rehabilitation of cognitive and psychosocial factors in neurological conditions. I am particularly interested in the relationship between neuropsychological factors and recovery following mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and the application of psychotherapeutic interventions for this population. I have the following specific projects for honours and masters students:

  1. The psychosocial and mental health characteristics of mTBI patients referred to concussion services
  2. Psychological trauma and mTBI - exploring measures and characteristics of PTSD in mTBI
  3. Executive function and mTBI - this project aims to identify the impact of mTBI on specific executive function skills (i.e. reward-based processing, cognitive flexibility, social cognition) and their influence on outcomes
  4. The long term cognitive and psychosocial outcomes of patients treated for Cerebral Venous Thrombosis (CVT) (a blood clot to the brain)

David Johnston

Raj Prasanna

I would like to hear from potential Masters & PhD students who are interested in conducting   research on 1) Disaster Management Information Systems 2) Application of Internet of Things (IoT) for Disaster Management,3) Use of Big Data & Deep Learning to enhance Disaster Management Situation Arness & Decision Making 4) Designing Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) for Emergency Response, and 5) Situation Awareness & Cognitive Requirements Capturing Techniques for Emergencies.

Sarah Riley

Unavailable for new supervisions in 2021.

Tatiana Tairi

My research is within the field of mental health, risk and well-being, with a particular interest on the associations between dysfunctional cognitive processing (e.g., cognitive errors; dysfunctional attitudes) and psychological well-being in youth, mental health literacy and adolescent suicide attempts. I am also interested in supervising projects focussing on professional ethics and practice. I am open to ideas in these areas, and willing to discuss potential projects (mainly applying quantitative analysis) with students.

Ian deTerte

Unavailable for new supervision in 2022.

More information in Ian's Research Expertise entry