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Health Sciences profile

Dr Melissa Purnell

PositionTeaching Fellow in Epidemiology and Public Health
DepartmentDepartment of Preventive and Social Medicine (Dunedin)
QualificationsBSc MSc(Neurobiology) PGCertHealSc (Occ Health) PhD
Research summaryOccupational epidemiology, neurobiology, injury prevention, mental health
  • POPH192
  • Early Learning in Medicine 2
  • Early Learning in Medicine 3


Melissa completed her Phd in the department in 2006 while on a Health Research Council Training Fellowship. Her thesis was focused on sleep, alertness, performance and fatigue management in extended duration and irregular night shift workers.

She has worked for many years in a variety of capacities including university based researcher, private consultant to government and commercial companies, and as a science communicator, primarily in the areas of occupational health, injury prevention and mental health.

Melissa is enjoying utilising this background to inform her current full-time teaching role within the Department.


Bell, C., Moot, W., Porter, R., Frampton, C., McIntosh, V., Purnell, M., Smith, R., & Douglas, K. (2022). Examining the long-term cognitive effects of exposure to the Canterbury earthquakes in a resilient cohort. BJPsych Open, 8(4), e114. doi: 10.1192/bjo.2022.512

Baddock, S. A., Purnell, M. T., Blair, P. S., Pease, A., Elder, D., & Galland, B. C. (2019). The influence of bed-sharing on infant physiology, breastfeeding and behaviour: A systematic review. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 43, 106-117. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2018.10.007

Purnell, M. T., Feyer, A.-M., & Herbison, G. P. (2002). The impact of a nap opportunity during the night shift on the performance and alertness of 12-h shift workers. Journal of Sleep Research, 11, 219-227.

Purnell, M. T., Mitchell, C. J., Taylor, D. J., Kokay, I. C., & Mercer, A. R. (2000). The influence of endogenous dopamine levels on the density of [3H]SCH23390-binding sites in the brain of the honey bee, Apis mellifera L. Brain Research, 855, 206-216.