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Postgraduate students of the Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit (HePPRU)

HePPRU has an active community of students undertaking postgraduate studies in health promotion and policy related research. We also have a range of opportunities for postgraduate study – at Master's or PhD level.

Enquiries are welcome for all those interested in any aspect of public policy that has population health implications, and from those with any academic background - from public health and health sciences, to anthropology and economics. Particular opportunities are available for qualitative and quantitative research in public policies relating to tobacco, food, and alcohol. Aspects of policy relating to these areas could include trade, media, marketing, public perceptions, and many other facets.

Researchers at HePPRU would be delighted to hear from potential students who are interested in carrying out research within their areas of interest and expertise. You may have your own ideas you wish to pursue, or wish to find out about the sorts of opportunities that are available currently. Either way please feel free to get in touch with the Directors of HePPRU - Professor Richard Edwards or Associate Professor Louise Signal.

The following lists give the names, titles and supervisors for recently completed PhD and Master's students and their projects. All supervisors are from the Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, unless stated otherwise.

Current PhD students

Michelle Barr

  • Thesis title: Children’s exposure to food and beverage marketing in public places
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Moira Smith

Tim Chambers

  • Thesis title: The Nature and Extent of Alcohol Advertising in Children’s Environments.
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Moira Smith

Matthew Shaw

  • Thesis title: From the community to the policymakers: A critical approach to understanding the process in creating a poverty measure and addressing the needs of the resource poor.
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Geoff Fougere

John White

  • Thesis title: Commercial and public health influences on food labeling policy in New Zealand and Australia: A case study
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, George Thomson

Christina McKerchar

  • Thesis title: Healthy food availability for Māori children – A rights based approach
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Cameron Lacey, Gilian Abel

Amanda D'Souza

Thesis title: Healthy public policy for children: Overcoming the barriers
Supervisors: Louise Signal, Richard Edwards

Completed PhD students 

Moira Smith

  • Thesis title: Food environment and sport
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Richard Edwards, Janet Hoek
  • Awarded: 2016

Judy Li

  • Thesis title: The effectiveness of graphic warnings on cigarette packs in improving knowledge of harms of smoking and encouraging quitting
  • Supervisors: Richard Edwards, Janet Hoek (Professor of Marketing, University of Otago)
  • Awarded: 2015

Mary-Ann Carter

  • Thesis title: Is Junk Food Promoted Through Sport
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Richard Edwards, Janet Hoek
  • Awarded: 2014

Marie Russell

  • Thesis title: How do passengers use and value their public health travel time, and what is its value for health? 
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, James Stanley, Jackie Cumming (Health Services Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington).
  • Awarded: 2013

Sharon Ponniah

  • Thesis title: Addressing smoking among young people in New Zealand. A study of youth smoking an smoking cessation. 
  • Supervisors: Nick Wilson, Richard Edwards
  • Awarded: 2011

Nicole Hernamson

  • Thesis Title: New Zealand social service community organisations as advocates for health: Not just "social justice heroes always on the perphery". 
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Peter King (Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit)
  • Awarded: 2011

Gabrielle Jenkin

  • Thesis Title: Individuals, the environment or inequalities: Industry and public health framing of obesity and its presence in New Zealand Government policy on food and nutrition. 
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, George Thomson 
  • Awarded: 2010

Mat Walton

  • Thesis Title: Promoting Childhood Nutrition through Primary schools: A complex analysis of policy options 
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, George Thomson
  • Awarded: 2009

Anna Matheson

  • Thesis Title: Treating communities for health inequalities: Complexity matters. 
  • Supervisors: Kevin Dew, Jackie Cumming (Health Services Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington).
  • Awarded: 2008

Current Master's students

Nadia Freeman

  • Thesis title: Children’s recreational use of urban green spaces: Impact of household deprivation and urban green space quality
  • Supervisors: Paul Blaschke, Hera Cook

Ryan Gage

  • Thesis title: Skin cancer prevention in NZ school-children: a Markov cost-utility model using data from Kids’Cam automated cameras.
  • Supervisors: William Leung, Louise Signal

Marcus Gurtner

  • Thesis title: Researching the extent of exposure of children to smoking in ‘private’ places
  • Supervisors: George Thomson, Richard Jaine

Belinda Lowe

  • Thesis title: Children’s exposure to food marketing on screens
  • Supervisors: Moira Smith, Richard Jaine

Sarah Dallas

  • Thesis title: tbc
  • Supervisors: Moira Smith, Richard Jaine

Sharon Sime

  • Thesis title: tbc
  • Supervisors: Lousie Signal, Moira Smith

Completed Master's students

Leanne Toledo

  • Dissertation Title: Council Smokefree Parks and Playgrounds policy - longer term evaluation
  • Supervisors: George Thomson, Richard Edwards
  • Awarded:

Bronwyn Ferry

  • Dissertation Title: The journey to become a late-start tobacco smoker and the influence of transitional vulnerability: a pilot qualitative study exploring why those aged 18 years and over take up smoking.
  • Supervisors: George Thomson, Richard Edwards
  • Submitted: 2012 (check)

Andrew Waa

  • Thesis Title: Understanding determinants of smoking uptake and potential interventions to address them
  • Supervisors: Richard Edwards, Bridget Robson
  • Awarded: 2013

Sainimere Boladuadua

  • Dissertation Title: Fijian women’s perspectives on cervical cancer screening and supports and barriers to use of cervical screening services
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Diana Sarfati
  • Awarded: 2011

Mili Burnette

  • Dissertation Title: Tagata Pasefika working together to reduce obesity: A case study of the implementation of Healthy Eating Healthy Action (HEHA) among Pacific communities in the Hutt Valley.
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Jackie Cumming
  • Awarded: 2010

Carly Woodham

  • Thesis Title: Food desert or food swamp? An indepth exploration of neighbourhood food environments in Eastern Porirua and Whitby.
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Vivienne Ivory
  • Awarded: 2009

Mary Duignan

  • Dissertation Title: Sun protection in New Zealand Teacher-led early childhood centres
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal
  • Awarded: 2011

Michelle Mako

  • Dissertation Title: A qualitative investigation into the effects of food advertising in shaping diets of tamariki Māori aged 10-12
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Donna Cormack
  • Awarded: 2009

Toby Regan

  • Dissertation Title: The role of public health services in poverty reduction in New Zealand
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Anna Matheson
  • Awarded: 2009

Janine Mardani

  • Dissertation Title: Does every child count in Aotearoa New Zealand? A child rights-based evaluation of Working For Families policy development.
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Richard Edwards
  • Awarded: 2008

Keitha Small

  • Thesis Title: The talk of food tax
  • Supervisors: Louise Signal, Carolyn Watts
  • Awarded: 2008