Prospective Postgraduate Students
The information below is intended to help intending post-graduate students identify a potential supervisor if you are considering applying for post-graduate study. Staff members are listed below with their research interests and in many cases potential topics. An important part of the process is identifying a potential supervisor and opening a discussion with that person to see if your own research interests and ideas align with theirs.
If you are applying for Master by thesis only or PhD (admission and scholarship) it is critical that you discuss your research ideas or topic with staff before applying. If you proceed with an application you will need to develop a formal proposal that clearly sets out the context for the research and the research problem or question.
In the first instance you should contact Dr Wayne Stephenson (email: email@example.com) he will help you identify those staff whose interests best align with your area of interest. Please do not email other staff before contacting Wayne.
Further information can be found on our Course page
and the international office and scholarship office
Geography Department Staff
Sean's main area of research activity lies at the interface of Geography and Geology where he seeks to develop studies of contemporary geomorphological processes to enhance our ability to understand and reconstruct ancient environments.
At the University of Otago the glaciers and climate change research group has three primary foci:
These are in the general field of environmental planning, notably:
Recent research projects undertaken, which include work in all the above areas, are as follows:
Tony’s doctoral research in 1974 was on the relationships between rural development and diamond mining in Sierra Leone, since when he has travelled and researched extensively throughout Africa. His research is mainly concerned with resource development and poverty alleviation, with particular reference to the dynamics of indigenous farming, pastoral and fishing food production systems. His recent work has focused on community-based development initiatives in South Africa, post-war community reconstruction in Sierra Leone and urban agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa and Vietnam. He was instrumental in establishing three British Council sponsored higher education links with Bayero University, Kano, (Nigeria), Rhodes University, Grahamstown, (South Africa), and Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. These links provided opportunities for academic exchanges, collaborative research and writing, and valuable support for research students. He has also travelled widely through China and has developed numerous academic links. Tony has an active research interest in the teaching of geography and development education in schools and higher education, which developed during his fifteen years as Curriculum Tutor in Geography on the Sussex Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) programme. Since moving to Otago, he co-founded in January 2005 with Philip Nel (Politics, Otago) the Otago-based ‘Poverty, Inequality and Development’ (PID) Research Cluster, which is now a well-developed multi-disciplinary network of academics and postgraduates across the University of Otago, and holds regular meetings and workshops on varied research themes. During 2006, Tony was invited by the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission to serve as a member of the ‘Social Sciences and Other Cultural/Social Sciences’ Panel for the Performance Based Research Funding (PBRF) Quality Evaluation Exercise. He served again on the PBRF Panel during 2012. In 2010, Tony was invited to join the Social Sciences Advisory Panel of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
My core research interests are the understanding and management of human impacts on environmental systems, especially soils and vegetation. I also have a strong interest in impact assessment, a fundamental environmental management tool.
The following issues or areas of interest are indicative: some might be developed as PhD topics, others are more specific and could be Masters or Hionours dissertation topics. I'm happy to discuss any of these, or related topics, with prospective students.
Impact assessment (IA)
[this terms covers what is often called environmental impact assessment, but also includes more targeted forms such as health IA, ecological, IA, social IA, cultural IA, strategic environmental assessment, and so forth]
The role of the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in impact assessment processes.
What is an "adequate" assessment of environmental effects under the RMA?
What is the current status of: social impact assessment/ ecological impact assessment/ cultural impact assessment in New Zealand?
Are recent changes to the RMA endangering the impact assessment process?
Exploring the potential to use strategic environmental assessment under the Local Government Act.
How is health impact assessment being used in New Zealand?
The evolution of regulatory impact assessment in New Zealand.
The potential role of regulatory impact assessment as a form of SEA.
How effective is IA in the Pacific Island countries?
Adapting IA to Pacific Island needs and capacities.
Environmental management and communities
Using 1000Minds software to explore "valued environmental components" as a basis for regional environmental management and planning.
Role of communities in decision-making about environmental and planning issues.
Land use impacts on soil and related systems
Sources, and implications for terrestrial ecology, of heavy metals in soils of rural and urban environments: agricultural processes; timber treatment facilities; use of treated timber; playground equipment; automotive sources; diffuse aerial sources, etc.
Assessing childrens' exposure to heavy metals in play environments in urban areas
Copper accumulation in the soils of vineyards, orchards, and similar land uses sprayed with copper fungicides; the implications for soil health; implications for future land use change.
Assessing the legacy of past heavy metal contamination of orchards and horticultural areas in Central Otago.
Sulphur use in vineyards, and possible impacts on soil
Agriculture and forestry: nutrient changes, nitrate leaching from agricultural land, etc.
Ecology and dynamics of modified vegetation and introduced species
Thyme in Central Otago: helping or hindering rehabilitation of degraded landscapes?
Weed ecology in degraded or modified landscapes
"Tor ecology": microhabitats associated with tor outcrops; tors as safe sites for native vegetation
Forest dynamics and regeneration processes, in relation to human activities.
Etienne's research interests are as follows:
Michelle's main areas of research interest lie in the exploration of contemporary approaches to planning and environmental management, in particular
Nicolas' research interests are in all aspects of meteorology and climatology. The study of the atmosphere inevitably involves an understanding of other components of the global environment, which for Nicolas has been primarily the cryosphere. Much of his research has focused on the interactions of the atmosphere with snow and ice surfaces in the high and mid-latitudes, as well as on a number of high mountains in the tropics (e.g. Kilimanjaro). Nicolas is also interested in the impacts of atmospheric processes on human behaviour, in particular air pollution meteorology, utilizing wind for energy through turbine development and issues related to climate change on local to global scales. The research that Nicolas undertakes is dependent on a combination of field data, remote sensing observations and modelling.
South Asia (especially India)
Geopolitics and Transboundary Water Resources
Ports, labour Restructuring and Maritime Trade
Rural Development and participatory governance in West Bengal
Urban transformation and Socio-Spatial segregation in India's megacities
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