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Our people

Ō mātou tākata

Our interdisciplinary teams include researchers from a wide range of specialties within the University of Otago, from other universities and research agencies, in New Zealand and internationally.

The Centre is committed to growing research capability in sustainability by supervising and supporting postgraduate students with aligned interests.

Research staff

Research Associate Professor Caroline Orchiston

Caroline Orchiston thumbDirector, Centre for Sustainability (on Study Leave returning January 2023)

Caroline's passion is for applied research that makes a difference to our society, particularly in building social capital through networks and connections, and working with communities to build resilience.

Email caroline.orchiston@otago.ac.nz

Research Professor Janet Stephenson

Janet Stephenson thumbActing Director, Centre for Sustainability
Postgraduate Co-ordinator

Janet is passionate about collaborative, interdisciplinary research. Her research interests include indigenous resource management; the interconnections between people and their local environments; and the role of individuals and organisations in the transition to a sustainable future.

Email janet.stephenson@otago.ac.nz

Dr Karly Burch

Karly Burch thumbPostdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Sustainability

Karly has research interests in the fields of science and technology studies (STS), environmental sociology, and the sociology of agriculture and food. She has a deep passion for collaborative, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, and strives to enact research which opens up discussions on food, technology and the environment in ways that attend to the complex social and material heterogeneity imbued within these intersecting topics.

Email karly.burch@otago.ac.nz

Professor Hugh Campbell

Hugh Campbell thumbProfessor of Sociology, Gender Studies and Criminology, School of Social Sciences

Hugh has research interests in the social and economic dynamics of ‘greening’ food systems, the politics of sustainability under neoliberal governance, achieving sustainability via audits, food waste, transitions in agriculture and food systems in New Zealand, and theories of global food regimes.

Email hugh.campbell@otago.ac.nz

Professor Merata Kawharu

Merata Kawharu thumbResearch Professor, Centre for Sustainability

Merata (Ngāti Whatua, Ngāpuhi), has research interests that have over-arching themes of supporting Māori leadership, community and education. She has focused in areas such as land and water, capability building, climate change resilience, and connections to ancestral marae by young Māori.

Email merata.kawharu@otago.ac.nz

Dr Jen Purdie

Jen Purdie thumbSenior Research Fellow, Centre for Sustainability

Jen works at the nexus of climate and energy. Her research interests include climate change impacts on the energy system, and climate forecasting on a range of timescales.

Email jen.purdie@otago.ac.nz

Abbi Virens

Abbi Virens thumbnailAssociate Research Fellow, Centre for Sustainability

Abbi is a social scientist, originally from Canada. Her interest in natural history directed her doctoral research into an exploration of the foraging landscape within Dunedin. Her research areas include science and technology studies (STS), post-humanism and post-colonialism.

Email abbi.virens@otago.ac.nz

Associate Professor Priscilla Wehi

Priscilla Wehi thumbDirector, Te Pūnaha Matatini, Centre of Research Excellence

Priscilla a conservation biologist whose research has two main research themes: ecological knowledge; evolutionary ecology, and especially foraging behaviour, including isotope and nutrient analyses of diet, and socioecological relationships, including cultural environmental management.

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Administration

Email centre-sustainability@otago.ac.nz

Gwenda Crawford

Gwenda Crawford (160)Senior Research Administrator

Tel +64 3 479 5220
Email gwenda.crawford@otago.ac.nz
Hours 8:30am–4:30pm (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)

  • Day-to day centre operations
  • Research project administration, applications and contracts
  • Human resources
  • Travel and fieldwork
  • Equipment and logistics
  • Student and visitor support

Nicki Topliss

Nicki Topliss new2015 (160)Senior Research Administrator

Tel +64 3 479 5220
Email nicki.topliss@otago.ac.nz
Hours 8:30am-4:30pm (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)

  • Day-to day centre operations
  • Research project administration, applications and contracts
  • Human resources
  • Travel and fieldwork
  • Equipment and logistics
  • Student and visitor support

Fiona Gray

Project Administrator: Kainga and climate change

Email fiona.gray@otago.ac.nz

Mary-Jane Campbell

Research Assistant: Media and Communications

Email mary-jane.campbell@otago.ac.nz

Kimberley King

Kim King imageBEATS Study Co-ordinator

Tel +64 3 479 5461
Email kim.king@otago.ac.nz
BEATS Research Programme

Current and recent research projects:

  • BEATS Natural Experiment (2019–2023)
  • BEATS Cultural Study (2018–2019)
  • BEATS Rural Study (2018–2019)
  • The Active Living and Environment Symposium (2019)
  • BEATS Study Symposium (2018, 2020)

Angela Moore

Client Services Administrator

Email angela.moore@otago.ac.nz

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Postgraduates

Masters’ students

PhD students

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Visitors

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Advisory Board

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Research affiliates

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Alumni

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