Joint Centre for Disaster Research

An international centre for research and teaching in disaster risk and emergency management.

What we do

The Joint Centre for Disaster Research provides a state of the art, high-quality, graduate teaching and contemporary research programme to both Aotearoa New Zealand and people worldwide.

By doing so, we develop community disaster resilience by leading and delivering risk identification, communications, and reduction and readiness programmes in communities and organisations across the nation and beyond.

Who we are

World class teaching by world class faculty

We are Aotearoa New Zealand’s longest-serving accredited education in this area.

From short professional development courses, undergraduate certificates and bachelor qualification, to postgraduate diplomas, certificates, master degrees, and PhDs, we offer one of the broadest range of emergency management education, development, and research anywhere.

As one of the pioneers in Australasia to offer a doctorate in emergency management (Doctor of Philosophy in Emergency Management), we are a world-leading institution that underpins its teaching with rich and contemporary research.

Our research

The Joint Centre for Disaster Research (JCDR) does multi-disciplinary applied research to understand the impacts of natural, man-made and environmental disasters on communities.

We work with our partners to improve the way societies manage disaster reduction, readiness, response and recovery.

Research areas

The Joint Centre for Disaster Research covers a broad range of topics across emergency management that tackle real-world situations and solutions.

Disaster risk and science communication

Disaster risk and science communication is the communication of science advice for individual and organisational decision-making during natural hazard events.

Topic areas include:

  • communication of probability forecasts and uncertain science advice
  • hypothetical scenarios to explore effective communication
  • public response to aftershock information

Emma Hudson-Doyle's profile

Education, outreach and social networking tool

We measure community understanding of, and preparedness for, natural hazards including volcanic eruptions. We specialise in participatory methods and risk perception research.

Our results are used to develop scenarios, training tools and educational strategies for communities, businesses and schools.

We also specialise in the use and impact of social networking tools in a disaster context. Our team focuses on people's interactions with information and communication technologies, and how this can contribute to a resilient culture.

Our key area is public information-seeking activities and the self-organising capabilities of disaster-affected communities.

David Johnston's profile
Marion Tan's profile

Māori and Indigenous risk reduction and disaster management

The Indigenous Disaster Risk Management team engages with Māori communities and other Indigenous peoples.

Topic areas include:

  • the role culture plays in facilitating disaster preparedness
  • risk mitigation
  • emergency management

We also look at disaster recovery and community resilience in the context of humanitarian, health and natural hazard events.

Christine Kenney's profile

Psychosocial support and community resilience

We research the psychosocial impact of disasters on health care and social welfare professionals. We advise agencies including the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Health.

We also develop tools and guidelines to empower communities to become resilient to natural hazard events.

Our research focuses on understanding the factors that enable a community to withstand the consequences of natural hazards. We also research local, regional and national factors that influence communities.

Lauren Vinnell's profile
David Johnston's profile
Julia Becker's profile

Multi-hazard warning systems

Warnings comprise an important component of responding to emergencies. We undertake research on different aspects of warnings systems.

Topic areas include:

  • the technological components of warnings systems
  • preparedness and planning for effective warning
  • best-practice warning communication
  • understanding human behaviour in warning situations.

We investigate warnings across a range of perils including

  • earthquakes
  • tsunami
  • weather and flood events
  • volcanoes
  • landslides in both short-fuse and longer term warning contexts

David Johnston and Julia Becker

Disaster response and recovery management and leadership

The coordination and leadership of organisations and communities in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergency situations is a crucial area of research.

Understanding how response and recovery capabilities are most effectively developed, maintained, and learned from is an essential area of emergency management research.

Topic areas include:

  • emergency response
  • management, planning and response
  • recovery management and leadership
  • incident command and management
  • system development and application
  • centre design and operation
  • intelligence delivery
  • capability development

Jon Mitchel's profile

People-centred technologies and systems for disaster management

Our research looks into enhancing disaster resilience through understanding technology and systems and their intersection with human behaviour especially in the context of crises. Our team investigates both the technical feasibility and social acceptability of technological systems.

Topic areas include:

  • artificial intelligence
  • big data analytics
  • decision support systems
  • early warning systems
  • technology acceptance
  • usability, user perceptions and behaviour

We welcome research ideas that use methodologies such as design science and participatory design.

Marion Tan's profile
Raj Prasanna's profile


We work with a range of academic and industry partners.

The Crisis Response and Integrated Simulation Science Laboratory (CRISiSLab)

The CRISiSLab is a research and learning laboratory based out of the JCDR providing a platform to conduct transdisciplinary socio-technical research at the human-technology interface.


Te Toi Whakaruruhau o Aotearoa – The EQC Mātauranga Māori Disaster Risk Reduction Centre

Contributes to creating a resilient New Zealand through building Māori disaster risk reduction research and workforce capabilities as well as developing and applying indigenous innovation to minimise hazard risks and impacts on the people and taonga of Aotearoa.

Te Toi Whakaruruhau o Aotearoa

We also work with:

Research projects

Explore a selection of our recent research projects.

Facilitating psychosocial community recovery

The project, updating psychosocial support guidance and reviewing community recovery models is funded by the MBIE COVID-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund and resulted in two reports.

A desk review examined the psychosocial impacts of the COVID crisis and provided updated psychosocial support approaches and interventions.

A second related report focused on facilitating community recovery. The reports were shared in regional workshops to support agencies in their recovery planning.

David Johnston's profile
Maureen Mooney's profile

Earthquake Early Warning: Marion Tan and Raj Prasanna

The project is investigating the feasibility of using community-based low-cost sensors to issue out earthquake early warnings (EEW) for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Understanding the viability of EEW for New Zealand requires a multi-faceted transdisciplinary approach that engages with various stakeholders to address complex technical and social issues.

The project has four research themes:

  1. social sciences – including public and stakeholder engagement
  2. earthquake prediction and modelling
  3. IoT, sensors, and telecommunications
  4. data and knowledge management.

Marion Tan's profile
Raj Prasanna's profile

HIWeather Citizen Science Project

Part of the World Meteorology Organization, HIWeather Citizen Science aims to improve the effectiveness of weather-related hazard warnings.

We research, investigate, and share resources from existing successful citizen science initiatives. We also provides tools to encourage and enable more groups to do citizen science.

Marion Tan's profile
David Johnston's profile

Hawke's Bay Tsunami Warning package project

We investigated how we might accommodate large numbers of people after a large earthquake and tsunami in Hawke's Bay.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Alerting Systems Review project team is doing a review of what public alerting tools currently exist and assessing the best options for the region. 

Julia Becker's profile
Marion Tan's profile

Communicating Uncertainty, Science, and Risk

We are trying to understand how to improve communication of physical science to decision makers, including the public.

Communication about:

  • mental models and science communication in a crisis
  • uncertainty
  • multi-hazard risk
  • probability, likelihoods, forecasts, and warnings
  • disaster preparedness
  • spatial and temporal uncertainty visually
  • enhancing inter-agency science communication

Emma Hudson-Doyle's profile

Study emergency management

We offer emergency management programmes from short professional development courses, workshops, to tertiary education like undergraduate qualifications, postgraduate diplomas, certificates, to master degrees, and PhDs to people worldwide.

Study emergency management

Centre staff


Professor David Johnston

Professor of Disaster Management

+64 4 979 3672 extension 63672

School of Psychology

Deputy directors

Associate Professor Julia Becker

Associate Professor Julia Becker

Associate Professor
School of Psychology
Dr Raj Prasanna

Dr Raj Prasanna

Senior Lecturer
School of Psychology


Dr Emma Hudson-Doyle

Senior Lecturer

+6449793616 extension 63616

Dr Carol Stewart

Associate Professor

Harriett Guy


Emily Campbell

Research Officer

+6449793617 extension 63216

Lucy Kaiser

Senior Research Officer

+6449793617 extension 63413

Jennifer Lillo

International & Special Projects Coordinator

+6449793617 extension 63187

Jon Mitchell

Capability Development Manager

+6449793617 extension 63673

Dr Maureen Mooney

Research officer - International Red Cross

+6449793617 extension 63671

Dr Marion Tan

Post-doctoral Research Fellow

+6449793617 extension 63406

Dr Lauren Vinnell

Post-doctoral Research Fellow

Alicia Cui

Research Officer


Matt Luani

Videographer / Editor

Rasika Nandana

Research Officer

Kelvin Tapuke

Research Officer

Dr Caroline Holden

Seismologist Research Officer

Jessica Thompson

BA Psych/History, MA Psych
Junior Research Assistant
Palmerston North Psychology Clinic
School of Psychology – College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Manawatū campus, Palmerston North

Sara Harrison

Research Officer

Annal Dunghana

Teaching Assist

Piata Inch

Junior Research Officer

Visiting academics

Dr Ben Payne

Publications and reports

Staff and students at the centre publish internationally recognised research through a variety of channels – including journal, books, conference papers and disaster publications.

Research reports

Our reports provide regular updates about current research and information relating to the Centre. The JCDR newsletter is scheduled to be published bi-annually.

Other disaster publications

Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies
An electronic online journal, edited by the Centre and published by the School of Psychology.

GNS Science
Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Ltd, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute.

The Earthquake Commission is a New Zealand Crown entity.

Online Institutional Repository, Disaster Research Center (DRC), University of Delaware

Contact us

Joint Centre for Disaster Research


Physical address
Massey University
Building T28 - (via Entrance E from Tasman St)
Mt Cook
New Zealand

Postal address
Joint Centre for Disaster Research
Massey University
PO Box 756
Wellington 6140
New Zealand