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

Dr Karen Tustin

Phone: +64 3 479 5089

Karen completed her PhD in Psychology at the University of Otago under the supervision of Professor Harlene Hayne. The focus of Karen’s PhD research was on childhood amnesia and memory development.

Since 2011, Karen has been working as a Research Fellow in the National Centre of Lifecourse Research (NCLR). She is the Project Manager for the Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand, a longitudinal study designed to understand the value of a New Zealand tertiary education by following a cohort of students for 10 years post-graduation.

Research Interests

Childhood amnesia and episodic memory

The focus of Karen’s PhD research was on the specific mechanisms responsible for childhood amnesia (the inability of adults to recall their infancy and early childhood). In particular, Karen is interested in how the development of episodic memory contributes to our understanding of childhood amnesia. During the course of her PhD, Karen developed a new technique to interview children about their personal memories and she devised a new coding scheme to tap the episodic nature of the information that individuals report about their memories. One of the studies in her thesis represents the first systematic attempt to examine age-related changes in childhood amnesia across the lifespan.

Longitudinal outcomes of tertiary education

Karen’s current work on the Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand (GLSNZ) aims to understand the value of a New Zealand tertiary education by exploring how graduates fare in the years following university, in terms of their lifestyles, employment and career development, and their health and well-being. It will provide critical information to both universities and government policy makers, who are seeking robust information on the cost-effectiveness of their significant financial investment in university education and how this is contributing to the social and economic goals of individual graduates and New Zealand society as a whole. The first wave of data collection for this study was completed in 2011, the second wave was completed in 2014 (2 years post-graduation), and subsequent waves will take place at 5 and 10 years post-graduation.

Visit the Graduate Longitudinal Study (GLSNZ) website for more information.

^ Top of page


Theodore, R., Gollop, M., Tustin, K., Taylor, N., Kiro, C., Taumoepeau, M., Kokaua, J., Hunter, J., & Poulton, R. (2017). Māori university success: What helps or hinders qualification completion. AlterNative, 13(2), 122-130. doi: 10.1177/1177180117700799

Theodore, R., Taumoepeau, M., Kokaua, J., Tustin, K., Gollop, M., Taylor, N., Hunter, J., … Poulton, R. (2017). Equity in New Zealand university graduate outcomes: Māori and Pacific graduates. Higher Education Research & Development. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2017.1344198

Theodore, R., Tustin, K., Poulton, R., Gollop, M., Taumoepeau, M., Taylor, N., Kokaua, J., … Hunter, J. (2017). Māori graduates: Success at university and equity in outcomes. Proceedings of the New Zealand for Research in Education (NZARE) Conference. (pp. 30). Retrieved from

Tustin, K., & Hayne, H. (2016). Early memories come in small packages: Episodic memory in young children and adults. Developmental Psychobiology, 58(7), 852-865. doi: 10.1002/dev.21423

Blank, M.-L., Connor, J., Gray, A., & Tustin, K. (2016). Alcohol use, mental well-being, self-esteem and general self-efficacy among final-year university students. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology, 51(3), 431-441. doi: 10.1007/s00127-016-1183-x

More publications...