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Transport Research Network

The Transport Research Network brings together researchers from many different disciplines who have expertise in transport-related topics. We undertake research for government agencies, organisations and businesses. If you are interested in discussing a potential research project, or are seeking postgraduate supervision, please contact the TRN convenor Dr Rebecca Brookland, or get directly in touch with one of the researchers below.

To be added to our mailing list and notified of upcoming events please contact the Transport Research Network administrator, Nicki Topliss (03)479 5220

University of Otago - Dunedin campus


Janet Stephenson Centre for Sustainability. Associate Professor Stephenson leads the Energy Cultures research programme which has a number of workstreams on energy-efficient low-carbon transport for New Zealand, and involves an interdisciplinary team examining a range of topics from driver responses to feedback, business interest in low-carbon mobility, and perspectives of transport experts on future transport. As a social scientist Janet has a particular interest in socio-technical transitions and mobility cultures.

Caroline Orchiston Centre for Sustainability. Dr Orchiston specialises in resilience to natural hazards. Her work has included transport network vulnerability to coseismic earthquake hazards (landslides) in the Southern Alps. This research was conducted with Tom Robinson (University of Canterbury). A proposal is under consideration with QuakeCoRE to model tourist decision-making following the Canterbury earthquakes, using the MERIT model. This research has implications for visitor transport throughout New Zealand in a post-disaster situation. The team includes Market Economics (Auckland), and is aligned with the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges research programme.

Ros Day-Cleavin Geography. Ros is co-ordinator of the Master of Planning Programme.

Christina Ergler Geography. Dr Christina Ergler is a lecturer in Social Geography and is interested in how physical, social and symbolic environments shape and are shaped by the way people play, live, age fall ill and recover in particular places at the intersection of geography, sociology and public health. She has published theoretical and methodological pieces on urban children’s independent mobility to alert stakeholders and communities to the socio-spatial, structural and experiential dimensions of children’s health and wellbeing in transforming urban environments.

Claire Freeman Geography. Professor Freeman lectures in environmental planning. Her research has investigated children's patterns of use for their neighbourhoods and its relationship to transport methods and urban form in New Zealand and the Pacific. Other research includes urban biodiversity, community planning and sustainable development in relation to building better urban environments; in all these studies transport use and patterns are a significant consideration.

Lisa Ellis Philosophy. Assoc Prof Elisabeth Ellis is a political theorist who teaches ethics, environmental philosophy, and philosophy, politics, and economics.

James Maclaurin Philosophy. Assoc Prof James Maclaurin is interested in the philosophy of biology and in the application of evolutionary principles in other domains such as philosophy of time, computer science and economics.


Michael Jack Physics. Dr Michael Jack leads the Energy Physics Research Group in the Department of Physics. Michael is interested in all aspects of sustainable transportation in New Zealand. A particular focus is the techno-economic viability, resource efficiency and environmental impacts of electric vehicles and biofuels. Prior to moving to Otago last year Michael spent almost 10 years at the Crown Research Institute Scion leading industry-focused biofuel research projects.

Inga Smith Physics. Dr Inga Smith leads the International Transport Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy Use Research Group in the Department of Physics, University of Otago. Inga and her team specialise in obtaining and analysing large and diverse data sets related to international transport emissions. For example, using data from agencies and organisations such as Statistics New Zealand, the New Zealand Customs Service and the Ministry of Transport, they have quantified the greenhouse gas emissions from all air- and sea-freighted goods exported and imported by New Zealand in one year.

Sandy Mandic Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences. Dr Mandic leads a multidisciplinary research project entitled Built Environment and Active Transport to School: BEATS Study. The BEATS Study is examining active transport (walking and cycling) to school in adolescents using a comprehensive contemporary ecological model which accounts for individual, social, environmental and policy influences. She also leads evaluation of cycle skills training programmes in primary and secondary schools.

Tony Moore Surveying. Tony's research is in Geographical Information Science (GIS), specifically geographic visualization and spatial analysis, applying these and other GI technologies for spatial decision support. Currently, he is eveloping a technique to optimally display spatiotemporal datasets from tracking. This technique transforms complex mapped representations of trajectories into simplified diagrams that enable the tracing of an individual through time whilst highlighting the individuals close to it at any given time. This builds upon past research that investigates the use of time geography (a 3D map in x,y and time) for transportation, merging artistic representation with spatial data. The other significant area of research is in spatial analysis and modeling, including a project that features network modelling for active transport of adolescents to school.

Robert Odolinski Surveying. Robert teaches Geodesy and least-squares adjustment theory, and conducts research in Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSSs). His research interests involve deriving mathematical models for the combination of different countries’ GNSSs, and investigating the corresponding precise (millimeter-level) positioning performance improvement that is achievable when compared to using the systems separately (e.g. GPS-only). Particular emphasis of his research is on the positioning performance in New Zealand, as one of the few countries in the world with a good visibility of almost all GNSSs orbiting earth.

Colin O'Byrne Surveying. Colin teaches and conducts research in the areas of urban design and urban development


Sara Walton Management. Dr Sara Walton is a senior lecturer in the Department of Management at the Otago Business School where she researches sustainability and business. She is a member of the Energy Cultures team and has been leading two streams; first a stream on energy efficiency and business and second, a stream examining business opportunities in future transport where a number of firms in New Zealand have been researched that are offering alternatives to fossil fuels.

Ivan Diaz-Rainey Accountancy and Finance. Dr Diaz-Rainey is a lecturer in Finance and Co-Convenor (Co-Director) of the Otago Energy Research Centre (OERC)

Rakesh Pandey Accountancy and Finance. 

Paul Hansen Economics. Assoc Prof Paul Hansen is interested in helping individuals and organisations with their decision-making and also to understand people’s choices. He is co-inventor of 1000Minds software (, an online suite of tools and processes for ranking, prioritising or choosing between alternatives when multiple objectives or criteria need to be considered simultaneously; i.e. Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) and Conjoint Analysis (a.k.a Choice Modelling). Budgets and other scarce resources can also be allocated – e.g. in pursuit of ‘value for money’ – and group decision-making and population surveys are well supported.

James Higham Tourism. In 2009 Professor James Higham initiated a research project titled ‘Climate change and long-haul aviation to Aotearoa/New Zealand’. This project, which initially examined climate change perceptions and attitudes towards long-haul aviation in key European tourism markets, has diversified into various collaborative projects that address air travel consumer behavior, behavioural and psychological approaches to understanding contemporary leisure/tourist mobility and low carbon transitions in leisure and business travel.

Jeremiah Deng Information Science. Associate Professor Jeremiah Deng leads the Intelligent Computing and Networking Group in the Department of Information Science and coordinates the Telecommunications Programme in Applied Science. His research interests include machine learning, computer vision, communication network performance analysis, and applications of AI techniques in application domains such as transport, health and energy.

Health Sciences

Alex Macmillan Preventive and Social Medicine. Dr Alex Macmillan is a public health physician. Her research expertise is in integrated urban decision-making linking health, equity and environmental outcomes. She has undertaken several participatory policy modelling processes bringing policy, community, industry and academic stakeholders together around transport policies, especially focusing on urban cycling. This led to membership of the national cycling safety panel. She is the research lead for Future Streets – a controlled before-after study of changing streets at suburb level to encourage walking and cycling for local trips.

Rebecca Brookland Preventive and Social Medicine. Dr Rebecca Brookland undertakes research in the areas of young and older drivers and driver licence policy. She is leading a HRC project investigating safety and mobility issues for older drivers, and is co-investigator on the New Zealand Drivers Study, a prospective cohort study of newly licensed drivers (with Dr Dorothy Begg). She is also a co-investigator (with Dr Trudy Sullivan) on an evaluation of a driver licensing programme for youth; a NZ Police and Ministry of Social Development collaboration.

Jennie Connor Preventice and Social Medicine. Professor Connor is a public health physician and epidemiologist.

Trudy Sullivan Preventive and Social Medicine. Dr Sullivan is a lecturer in health economics. She is co-investigator (with Dr Rebecca Brookland) on an evaluation of a driver licensing programme for youth; a NZ Police and Ministry of Social Development collaboration.

Gabrielle Davie Injury Prevention Research Unit (IPRU). Gabrielle is responsible for providing statistical advice to IPRU research staff. She is involved in the analysis of a number of IPRU projects and is particularly interested in injury surveillance research methodology, improving outcomes following injury and usage of administrative data. Gabrielle also manages the data management and programming team. Traffic Crash Reports (TCRs) have been part of IPRU’s National Injury Data Collection for over a decade. Numerous papers have been written using this data source alone or TCRs linked to other data sources such as NZ Hospital discharge data to understand burden, patterns & trends in both fatal & non-fatal traffic crash injuries.  Gabrielle uses TCRs (& other datasets) to analyse the long-term injury-related effects of the increase in the minimum purchase age for alcohol.

Sarah Derrett Injury Prevention Research Unit (IPRU). Assoc Prof Sarah Derrett is Director of IPRU and Deputy Head of Preventive and Social Medicine (Research). She is a health services researcher with a particular interest in person-reported rehabilitation, health and disability outcomes. She leads an HRC-funded project (the Subsequent Injury Study) which follows the six year Prospective Outcomes of Injury (POIS), and is an investigator on the NSW Motor Accidents Authority funded Factors Influencing Social and Health Outcomes after Land Transport Injury: inception cohort study (the FISH Study).

Aimee Ward, PhD student, Mobility Health. Bridging the gap between youth travel behaviour and well-being.

University of Otago  - Wellington campus

Caroline Shaw Public Health. Dr Caroline  Shaw is a public health physician and epidemiologist at the University of Otago Wellington. Her research interests are focused around the provision of evidence for policy, particularly around what works to reduce transport carbon emissions and improve health simultaneously. She is interested in utilising existing data as much as possible to inform policy, and in exploring opportunities around the use big data to answer health and transport research questions.

 Philippa Howden-Chapman Public Health.  Philippa Howden-Chapman is professor of public health at the University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand, where she teaches public policy.

Michael Keall  Public Health.   Dr Michael Keall is an injury epidemiologist who is currently leading the Home Injury Prevention Intervention, a major randomised controlled trial funded by the NZ Health Research Council that is looking at the effectiveness of repairs to home injury hazards as a means to reduce home injury. He is a principal investigator in two major research programmes hosted by the University of Otago, Wellington - He Kainga Oranga and the New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities.