Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Otago announces 26 new Professors

Tuesday 8 December 2020 4:25pm

Twenty-six University of Otago academics have been promoted to the position of professor this year.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne warmly congratulated the new professors when making the announcement today.

The promotions acknowledge the hard work and commitment of the talented group, which covers the breadth of the University’s divisions and campuses.

“Not only do these promotions honour these individuals and shine a light on their work, they underscore the range of academic talent and expertise at Otago.

"I will be following their future teaching, research and service achievements with interest,” Professor Hayne says.

Otago’s promotion process involves thorough evaluation of each individual’s record of contributions to research, teaching, and service to the University and community. It also involves input from international experts in evaluating the candidates’ research contributions.

A further 44 academics are being promoted to Associate Professor and Research Associate Professor.

The promotions take effect from 1 February 2021.

Staff promoted to Professor (in alphabetical order):

Robert Aitken

Department of Marketing

Robert's current research focuses on two major areas. The first is marketing to children and, in particular, the ways in which commercialisation and the promotion of materialistic values can negatively influence the nature and experience of childhood. The second is in relation to sustainability and (over)consumption and how (and whether) areas such as corporate social responsibility and business ethics can reconcile the tensions between business imperatives to make a profit and social concerns to protect resources; in particular, what are the barriers that make it difficult for people to consume sustainably and what can businesses do to help overcome them. Robert is currently President of the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy (ANZMAC) – the foremost academic association in Australasia, Chair of Consumer.org – the leading consumer advocacy group in New Zealand, and co-director of the Otago Business School’s Research Network for Sustainable Business.

Boris Baeumer

Department of Mathematics & Statistics

Boris is a mathematician working on problems ranging from within the applied sciences to exploring properties of solutions to abstract stochastic differential equations with memory. Collaborating with a research group at the Desert Research Institute in Nevada, he is exploring better ways to forecast how particles move in groundwater; collaborating with researchers in Germany and Hungary he is developing the theory that allows for a deeper understanding of non-local differential equations and their connection to stochastic processes. This Marsden funded research is aiming to ultimately provide better models for scientists to make more accurate forecasts in systems where rare extreme events are driving the system; whether they are fast underground pathways in groundwater, weather events driving erosion or seed dispersal, or distant travel spreading a virus. Boris’ research also includes finding efficient numerical algorithms to approximate the solutions of the derived systems of non-local or fractional differential equations.

Tim Cooper

Theology Programme

Tim is a historian of seventeenth-century English religious and intellectual history with a particular focus on the Puritans, and two Puritans in particular: Richard Baxter (1615-91) and John Owen (1616-83). He has pioneered an approach to their intellectual history that emphasises real-world factors that shape ideas – factors such as personality, experience and geography. He has written one academic monograph on the way in which the English Civil War (1642-46) prompted Baxter to reinvent his doctrine of salvation, and another on the strained relationship between Baxter and Owen, the two most significant leaders within English Nonconformity. Tim is one of four co-editors of a new scholarly edition of the autobiography of Richard Baxter that was published by Oxford University Press in five volumes comprising three-thousand pages and 1.5 million words, and he is currently co-editing a volume of the letters of Richard Baxter, under contract to Oxford University Press.

Sue Crengle

Department of Preventive and Social Medicine

Sue Crengle (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha) is a GP and Public Health Physician. Sue’s research focuses on Māori health equity and inequities in health status and health outcomes. She has a particular interest in health services research (especially primary care), youth health and mental health. Sue uses Kaupapa Māori quantitative and qualitative methods and has had an increasing focus on trialling interventions to assess their impact on Hauora Māori outcomes.

Barbara Galland

Department of Women’s and Children’s Health

Barbara’s early research centred on understanding the biological mechanism(s) involved in Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy, with a focus on cardio-respiratory control during sleep. While the mechanism(s) remain elusive, many hypotheses generated from her studies supported the adoption of safe sleep practices, that we now know are vital for protecting our little ones. That research enabled her to develop expertise in sleep health and sleep-related breathing disorders in children. She has advanced the field in several aspects of paediatric sleep measurement and built an evidence base around childhood snoring linked to learning deficits that support the arguments for early intervention. A growing demand for expertise in sleep research is matched by her multidisciplinary practice, currently with many University of Otago collaborators across Health Sciences and Sciences. Barbara greatly values these collaborations and her role in research. She has mentored more than 30 postgraduate students to complete their degrees.

David Gwynne Jones

Department of Surgical Sciences

David Gwynne Jones has been an Orthopaedic Surgeon in Dunedin since 2001 and specialises in hip and knee replacement surgery. He was Clinical Leader of Orthopaedic Surgery between 2009 and 2019. He is head of the section of Orthopaedic Surgery and a founding member of the Centre for Musculo-skeletal outcomes research (CMOR). His research interests include the long-term results of hip replacement and the provision of elective orthopaedic surgery including the use of scoring tools and equity of access across New Zealand. Much of his research comes from a large service improvement programme for orthopaedics in Dunedin that he led. This included enhanced recovery after joint replacement surgery and a physiotherapy–led clinic designed to improve non-operative management of patients with hip and knee osteoarthritis. He is currently collaborating on research aimed at improving patients’ fitness for surgery.

Simon Hales

Department of Public Health

The pace of global environmental change has accelerated in recent decades. The implications for human health and wellbeing are relatively easy to assess for directly acting hazards such as air pollution or heat exposure. More complex issues, such as the effects of biodiversity loss on food and nutrition, are more strongly affected by context and so more difficult to understand and predict.
Simon has studied the effects of global environmental changes, based on comparisons of health outcomes among populations with varying profiles of exposure over time, or by location. The results of these studies can be used to quantify the current burden of disease attributable to different environmental factors, and to forecast potential future health impacts based on scenarios of future policy and resulting exposures. Simon is known for his contribution to epidemiological studies of air pollution and global climate change, and as an advisor to the World Health Organization.

Merilyn Hibma

Department of Pathology

Merilyn is a viral immunologist whose research interest is human papillomavirus and cancer. She completed her PhD studies in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Otago, and her post-doctoral work was carried out at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund laboratories at the University of Cambridge, UK. Much of Merilyn’s research has explored immune regulation by human papillomavirus, with a particular focus on viral regulation of antigen presenting cells in the skin. She has led the development of a collaboration to support implementation research for HPV screening in the Pacific and is part of a team that applies Kaupapa Māori methodology to explore the use of HPV DNA testing to maximise uptake in under-screened Māori. Her research continues to contribute to advances in basic biology of HPV and its clinical application to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer.

David Jardine

Department of General Medicine, Christchurch

Our bodies are continuously controlled by two different sets of nerves: the sympathetic nerves which increase heart rate and blood flow to muscles during physical exertion, and the vagus which decreases heart rate and increases digestive activity during rest. Usually, these nerves act in a sort of “yin and yang” fashion to control body organs independently of conscious thought. I started by directly recording the sympathetic nerves in humans to see how they regulated blood pressure during changes in body posture, bleeding and fainting. The results were surprising: when blood pressure fell below a critical level, the sympathetic nerves choked and lost control of the circulation. On the other hand, after a heart attack, although sympathetic nerve activity increased, sudden dangerous changes in heart rhythm did not seem to be triggered by these nerve signals. Further studies included nerve responses to hormones and drugs thought to protect the heart.

Roslyn Kemp

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

I am an immunologist with a background in fundamental T cell biology in the context of homeostasis and cancer. My current work focuses on the complexity of the immune response in the gut mucosa. My lab studies the immune microenvironment in tumours of people with colorectal cancer and how we can use this knowledge to improve diagnosis and prognosis, and to identify potential new therapeutic targets. We also research the immune contributions to the cause and pathology of inflammatory bowel diseases in patients. Our research approach uses both high dimensional analyses of mass cytometry data, an orthotopic colorectal cancer model, and an ex vivo human intestinal organoid model. Our overall goals are patient-focussed, finding new ways to diagnose and treat diseases using our knowledge of the immune system.

Ping Liu

Department of Anatomy

With a background in medicine, Ping works at the interface between the laboratory and diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid with several bioactive metabolites. Ping’s group has been working in the areas of arginine metabolism and aging, neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders, using post-mortem human brain tissue, human biofluids and various animal models via a multidisciplinary approach. Her research to date has implicated the alterations of brain arginine metabolism in the process of normal aging and in the pathogeneses of Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Ping and her collaborators are currently exploring the potential use of blood and/or cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers centred on arginine metabolism for clinical diagnosis and prognosis of both diseases. Moreover, her team has been investigating the role of decarboxylated arginine in maintaining healthy aging and its therapeutic potential for Alzheimer’s disease.

Christoph Matthaei

Department of Zoology

Christoph’s earlier research (at ETH/Eawag Zurich, universities of Otago and Munich) focused on how flood disturbances shape stream communities. After permanently moving to New Zealand, investigating the impacts of multiple stressors on running-water ecosystems became another key focus. These stressors include nutrient enrichment, sedimentation, water abstraction, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and climate change. Christoph has provided expert advice to several ministries; Environmental Protection Authority, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Department of Conservation, and many regional councils. His research has been supported by grants from Switzerland, Germany, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry for Primary Industries. In 2017 his team received the ‘NZ River Story Award’ for research aimed at improving the health of our rivers. Christoph has 35 international collaborations, the latest being a €10M multiple-stressor project led by German researchers. He has supervised 69 postgraduates and was named Supervisor of the Year (Sciences) by Otago’s Student Association in 2011. He has published >100 scientific articles and is Director of the cross-departmental Ecology Degree Programme.

Janice Murray

Department of Pscyhology

Janice’s career-wide research interest has focused on human perception, from early questions regarding newborn babies’ understanding of speech sounds through to object and face perception. Most recently her work has focussed on the changes in our ability to recognise facial emotions that accompany normal adult ageing, and the implications of those changes for social and cognitive function. Janice joined the Department of Psychology in 1991 and has supervised 40 postgraduate students to completion. Janice has been the Associate Dean (Academic), Sciences since 2013, and the Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Sciences since 2017. In her senior leadership roles, Janice leads and supports strategic developments relating to academic matters at both the Divisional and University levels. She led the development of the MAppSc and the new multidisciplinary degrees, the BACom and BComSc.

Dorothy Oorschot

Department of Anatomy

Dorothy is a neuroscientist with internationally recognised expertise in the anatomy and circuits of the healthy or injured brain. Her 3D anatomical data of the healthy brain is foundational to computer models that increase knowledge on behaviour and motor control. She was instrumental in creating a new animal model of hypoxic brain injury due to extreme prematurity to investigate treatments. This is relevant to decreasing ADHD and memory deficits. She also researches changes in brain circuits in schizophrenia and hypoxic-induced cerebral palsy, including the investigation of treatments. Dorothy has received continuous external research funding since 1998 and has 54 full-length publications. She has successfully supervised to graduation 36 PhD/Masters/Honours/PGDipSci students and has taught undergraduate students at the University for 30 years. Dorothy has served as Associate Dean for Medical Education for the School of Biomedical Sciences and as Head and Deputy Head of the Department of Anatomy.

Chris Pemberton

Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch

Rapid blood tests to help the diagnosis and management of heart patients have been the focus of Chris’ research with the renowned Christchurch Heart Institute (CHI), University of Otago, Christchurch. Chris leads the Translational Biodiscovery Laboratory (TBL) section of the CHI, which performs over 40,000 annual tests from their own inspired projects, international collaborations and commercial partnerships. The TBL receives ongoing support from the Health Research Council (HRC), Heart Foundation, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Canterbury Medical Research Foundation, Otago Innovation and University of Otago Research Grants. In 2011 Chris received the HRC Liley Medal and in 2015, co-founded the diagnostics company, Upstream Medical Technologies, which discovers and commercialises new biomarkers. He is Associate Principal Investigator on the Cardiovascular Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), Healthy Hearts for Aotearoa New Zealand – Manaaki Mānawa, an associate investigator with the Maurice Wilkins Centre CoRE, steering committee member of the International Society for Bioactive Peptides and a member of European Society of Cardiology.

Patricia Priest

Department of Preventive and Social Medicine

Following training in Public Health Medicine, Trish’s doctorate assessed the relationship between antibiotic prescribing and resistance in the community. Subsequently she has worked in collaborative multidisciplinary research teams on a range of areas within Public Health Epidemiology. Her research mainly aims to increase understanding of the transmission, prevention and control of infectious diseases in the community. This has included assessing Public Health interventions such as hand sanitiser in primary schools, border screening for influenza, vitamin D supplementation for respiratory infections, chemoprophylaxis for leprosy, and household water filters in the Pacific. Other research aims to better understand bacterial carriage and transmission and identify modifiable risk factors for infection, for example multi-resistant organisms causing urinary tract infections, and Legionnaires’ Disease. Trish is a previous Training Programme Director for the NZ College of Public Health Medicine and has been contributing epidemiology advice to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 response, currently as Chief Clinical Advisor, Epidemiology in the COVID-19 Health System Response Directorate.

Anna Ranta

Department of Medicine, Wellington

Anna is a Wellington based neurologist whose research has focussed on optimising stroke care in New Zealand and internationally. Her team has uncovered inequities in stroke care and she has led the design and testing of several innovative stroke service interventions such as electronic decision support tools for GPs aiding in stroke prevention, and use of telehealth in acute stroke care linking stroke specialists to rural emergency rooms for rapid expert decision making. Her work has resulted in increased access to best practice stroke care for many New Zealanders. She is the Head of Department of Medicine at the Wellington Campus. She is also a Board Member of both the World Stroke Organisation and the Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists, current President of the Neurological Association of New Zealand, and Treasurer of the Stroke Society of Australasia. She serves on the editorial boards of journals Stroke and Neurology.

Bruce Russell

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Bruce’s research has primarily focused on mosquito borne diseases of vertebrates. Most of his efforts targeted the biology and control of Vivax Malaria (or Relapsing Malaria), which is the most widely distributed, difficult to diagnose and treat form of human malaria. A sincere commitment to capacity building of applied research (diagnostic and antimalarial drug development) in the vivax endemic countries of Papua, Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar has meant that Bruce spent much of his time working in simple field style laboratories connected to malaria clinics. Since his 2016 move from the National University of Singapore to the University of Otago, Bruce has also taken an interest in parasitic threats facing Aotearoa such as cryptosporidiosis and avian malaria in Hoiho.

Ben Schonthal

Religion Programme, School of Social Sciences

Ben researches the interactions of religion, law and politics in Asia, with a particular focus on Buddhist communities. His work draws on training in Asian history and languages as well as social scientific approaches to the study of law and religion. He has published widely on topics such as religious freedom, constitutional design and religious nationalism. He has advised courts, governments and humanitarian organisations on issues relating to law and religion and co-directs (with colleagues in Law and History) the newly formed Otago Centre for Law and Society. Ben’s current research explores the development and contemporary practice of Buddhist law in South and Southeast Asia, while also asking broader questions about how secular states deal with religious law. Ben received his PhD from the University of Chicago and has held visiting positions at Northwestern University, the Institute for Advanced Studies (Bielefeld) and the Law School at the University of Chicago. He currently serves as Associate Dean (International) for the Humanities Division.

Mark Seymour

History Programme

Mark is a historian whose research explores the dynamic relationship between ‘the personal’ and ‘the political’, with a focus on 19th and 20th-century Italy. His publications investigate the ways individual and collective experience are shaped by – and shape – broader structures of society, such as politics, the law, and religion. Mark’s first book, Debating Divorce in Italy (Palgrave, 2006), analysed the long struggle to introduce divorce into Italian marriage legislation. His second monograph, Emotional Arenas: Life, Love, and Death in 1870s Italy (Oxford University Press, 2020), uses a sensational Rome murder trial to examine how emotions were experienced, expressed, and shaped in the wake of Italian unification. He has also published four co-edited volumes, most recently, From Sodomy Laws to Same-Sex Marriage: International Perspectives since 1789 (Bloomsbury, 2019), as well as journal articles and book chapters. Mark has been co-editor of the Cambridge University Press journal Modern Italy since 2015.

Faumuina Fa’afetai Sopoaga

Division of Health Sciences

Fa’afetai is the first Pacific female appointed to a professorial position at the University, and the first Pacific female medical doctor appointed as a professor in Australasia. Her PhD research focussed on Pacific students’ health and wellbeing. A public health and primary health care physician, her research interests include mental health and wellbeing, Pacific workforce and capacity building. Awarded the Prime Minister’s supreme award for tertiary teaching excellence in 2018, including the inaugural national award for excellence in supporting Pacific students, her work and engagements extend into the Pacific region. Appointed as New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Health Adviser in Samoa, she is also an advocate for indigenous rights. Fa’afetai is embedded within her fa’a Samoa cultural context, with a strong commitment to community service - following the lead of her parents (both church ministers). Her high chief title Faumuina from Fagaloa in Samoa, acknowledges her lineage and community expectations.

Janet Stephenson

Centre for Sustainability

Janet is a social scientist whose work focuses on societal transitions to a sustainable future. She considers that complex sustainability challenges require the integration of multiple forms of knowledge and expertise, and for this reason most of her work is with multidisciplinary and/or multicultural teams. Her research seeks to deliver insights and solutions through collaborations with end-users such as communities, iwi organisations, councils, businesses and government agencies. She has led several major research projects in Aotearoa relating to energy, mobility and climate change, and has longstanding research collaborations in Norway. Janet has led the development of the cultures framework, a novel theoretical approach to investigating societal change, which has been widely adopted around the world. For the past 10 years Janet has been Director of the Centre for Sustainability, an interdisciplinary research centre which hosts many externally funded research programmes, staff and postgraduate students. She serves in an advisory capacity for a variety of programmes and organisations within Aotearoa and internationally.

Nicola Taylor

Faculty of Law

Nicola is the Director of the Children’s Issues Centre in the Faculty of Law and also holds the Alexander McMillan Leading Thinker Chair in Childhood Studies. Her socio-legal research primarily focuses on child and family law issues by ascertaining children’s, parents’ and professionals’ perspectives on post-separation care arrangements, relocation, international child abduction, child participation and family dispute resolution. She recently completed a major project, funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation, to evaluate the 2014 family law reforms. Currently, she is co-leading two projects, funded by the Borrin Foundation, on relationship property division and succession law. Nicola’s research is applied and translational in nature to help inform and modernise legislative, legal policy and professional practice developments in the family justice field. She also contributes to research collaborations investigating New Zealand university graduate longitudinal outcomes, ethical research and practice involving children, and child-friendlier approaches in return proceedings under the 1980 Hague Abduction Convention.

Maree Thyne

Department of Marketing

Maree’s research focus is consumer behaviour, in particular tourist behaviour. She has over 20 years’ experience in examining tourists’ needs and wants, determining how we can best meet these to provide a satisfying experience. Encompassing an extensive global network, Maree has led international research projects into several areas including examining the impact of tourists interacting with other tourists; the changing nature of cultural tourists; and understanding cruise tourist motivations. Maree is regarded as an international expert in cruise tourism and her research has advised various tourism stakeholders, including: Cruise New Zealand Association; National Port Authorities, Regional Tourism Organisations and individual operators. Working closely with businesses, Maree has led significant curriculum development around ensuring students are able to apply marketing theory to real business problems. Maree holds various service roles within the University, including Acting Dean (Graduate Research School), Acting Head of Department (Marketing), and she is a member of Senate and the University Equity Committee.

Paola Voci

Languages and Culture Programme

Paola is an Italian-born scholar trained in Chinese, film and media studies. She is interested in how creative practices that develop at the margin of dominant cultures can contribute to create a more open society. Her research focuses on independent documentary, animation, and other digital video practices in contemporary China. In her monograph, China on Video, Paola was the first to study a previously neglected body of smaller-screen movies, circulating on computer screens and mobile phones. She developed the notion of “light culture” to understand how these movies’ unsanctioned creativity circumvents and challenges national and global mass-media. Her current research examines how digital storytelling can promote a stronger link between academic discourse and civil society. Paola co-edited Localising Asia in Aotearoa and Screening China’s Soft Power and has published widely, in English, Chinese, Italian, and French. She is the director of the new programme of Global Studies at Otago.

Nicola Wheen

Faculty of Law

Nicola’s research examines how well law responds to environmental problems or issues. Since joining Otago’s academic staff in 1989, she has examined how law addresses the international environmental problem of whaling and environmental problems in New Zealand involving rights to use freshwater, wildlife conservation and climate change, fishing-related mortalities of marine mammals, genetically modified organisms, conservation of Māori-owned indigenous forests, and regulating sex-work using planning law. Nicola has particular expertise in collaborative research and has co-edited law and politics books on the Waitangi Tribunal and Treaty of Waitangi Settlements; contributed to multi-disciplinary research publications, research centres and themes at Otago that foster interaction between the social and physical sciences; sat on editorial boards (including for Otago University Press); and supervised more than 50 post-graduate and Honours research students. Nicola’s research informs her teaching and has helped conservation organisations and political parties advocate for and promote improvements in New Zealand’s environmental law.

Staff promoted to Associate Professor:

  • Hesham Al-Sallami (School of Pharmacy);
  • Vivienne Anderson (College of Education);
  • Katherine Black (Department of Human Nutrition);
  • Sophie Bond (School of Geography); Ashton Bradley (Department of Physics);
  • Christopher Brown (Department of Biochemistry);
  • Yusuf Ozgur Cakmak (Department of Anatomy);
  • Angela Campbell (Department of Medicine (UOW));
  • Ben Darlow (Department of Primary Healthcare and General Practice (UOW));
  • Shyamal Das (School of Pharmacy); Grant Dick (Department of Information Science) ;
  • Manikandan Ekambaram (Department of Oral Sciences);
  • Anaru Eketone (Social and Community Work Programme);
  • Susanna Every-Palmer (Department of Psychological Medicine (UOW));
  • Mark Falcous (School of PE, Sport and Exercise Sciences); Gina Forster (Department of Anatomy);
  • Benjamin Gray (Department of Primary Healthcare and General Practice (UOW));
  • Phillip Hider (Department of Population Health (UOC));
  • Matloob Husain (Department of Microbiology and Immunology);
  • Jennifer Jordan (Department of Psychological Medicine (UOC));
  • Maria Kleinstaeuber (Department of Psychological Medicine);
  • Michael Knapp (Department of Anatomy);
  • SungYong Lee (The National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies);
  • Li Mei (Department of Oral Sciences);
  • Haizal Mohd Hussaini (Department of Oral Diagnostic & Surgical Sciences);
  • Christopher Moy (Department of Geology);
  • Karyn Paringatai (Te Tumu/School of Māori, Pacific & Indigenous Studies);
  • Helen Roberts (Department of Accountancy and Finance);
  • Diane Ruwhiu (Department of Management);
  • Candida Savage (Department of Marine Science);
  • Harald Schwefel (Department of Physics);
  • John Shaver (Religion Programme);
  • Caroline Shaw (Department of Public Health (UOW));
  • Alesha Smith (School of Pharmacy);
  • Tina Summerfield (Department of Botany);
  • Patrick Vakaoti (Sociology, Gender Studies and Criminology Programme);
  • Greg Walker (School of Pharmacy);
  • Ting Wang (Department of Mathematics & Statistics).

Research Associate Professors:

  • Louise Bicknell (Department of Pathology);
  • Aniruddha Chatterjee (Department of Pathology);
  • Gabrielle Davie (Department of Preventive and Social Medicine);
  • Caroline Orchiston (School of Geography);
  • Brigit Mirfin-Veitch (Centre for Postgraduate Nursing (UOC));
  • Mei Zhang (Department of Medicine (UOC)).