Research students

We host PhD and MPhil students who contribute to our research on a range of topics. Contact Centre Director Robyn Mayes if you are interested in joining this program as a research student.

Current PhD Students

Natalia Adan

Currently, Natalia holds a scholarship from QUT to undertake her research at the School of Management. She explores food waste governance in the food service business. The focus of the study is to understand how private governance responds to the challenges of reducing food waste in such establishments. Using qualitative research methods, she will investigate perceptions and knowledge about food waste management practices by managers and chefs of restaurants and cafes. She holds a Brazilian bachelor’s degree in agriculture science and has always been involved in food waste management initiatives. She has also worked for the Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space at the University of Wollongong.

Centre Supervisor: Robyn Mayes

Suemay Arif

Suemay currently holds a scholarship from QUT to undertake her PhD research at the School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations. Her research interests are strategic employee behaviours, internal communication and employee engagement in organisational contexts. The main objectives of her study are to understand the attributes of a strategic subordinate and how they can be influenced by internal communication and employee engagement. Using a mixed methods research approach, she will investigate employees’ perceptions and understanding on the attributes of a strategic employee in a public organisation in Malaysia. She believes the findings of this research are key to guide both organisations and employees on how communication and engagement can support the enactment of a strategic employee. She holds a Bachelor of Honours in TESL from University of Exeter, England and a Master degree in Corporate Communication from University Putra Malaysia. Previously, she worked as an English language officer in the Ministry of Education, Malaysia.

Centre Supervisor: Kim Johnston

Benafsha Askarzai

Benafsha is a Doctoral Candidate at QUT and currently holds a research scholarship within the School of Justice. The main objective of her project is to identify neutralisations present within far-right and Islamic extremist narratives, which often contribute towards the formation and maintenance of collective identity, recruitment pathways, as well as the mobilisation of violent collective action.

Centre Supervisor: Erin O’Brien

Linda Bennison

Linda’s PhD research focuses on legislative regimes for cooperatives. Eight in ten Australians hold cooperative or mutual membership, the sector contributes 8.3% of GDP, yet this business form is poorly understood and recognised by most Australians. The legislative environment has been identified in the development, or lack of, Australian cooperatives and consequently forms the basis of this study.  Supervised by Professors Sadiq and Chapple from the School of Accountancy, the PhD is supported by a QUT Faculty of Business Research Scholarship. Prior to undertaking her studies, Linda served as Executive Officer with Soil Science Australia, Agronomy Australia and the Grassland Society of Southern Australia.

Centre Supervisor: Kerrie Sadiq

Ligerui Chen

Ligerui’s PhD study explores the complexities that migrant workers, who are working in abroad, from Chinese multi-national corporations are facing in the context of ‘belt and road’ initiative. His study also attempts to find out how migrant worker shapes where their work is being produced and how host-country context influences migrant worker. He is also interested in media communication, social policy and cultural studies. He has a Bachelors from Chinese University, a research Masters from Chinese University and a MSc from University College London.

Centre Supervisors: Deanna Grant-Smith and Bree Hurst

Roma Deo

Roma is a Doctoral student in the Faculty of Education, with supervisory team consisting of Professor Abby Cathcart and Dr Ian Davies. Roma’s research explores post school study options of onshore international students and the influencing factors shaping these preferences. Her research reflects her interest in international education and the global, political, economic, and cultural factors that affect this. Roma holds a Master’s degree in Education (Career Development), Graduate certificate in Education (Leadership and Management) and a Bachelor of Technology Education.

Centre Supervisor: Abby Cathcart

Alicia Feldman

Alicia’s PhD research will explore the disparities in research success between medical staff with explicit research responsibilities or roles who are employed in the Australian hospitals and health service sector. Specifically, the research seeks to understand the differing pathways to success, and barriers faced by women and minority groups. The findings of this research will inform policy development and organisational change, which may lead to more equitable outcomes for medical staff, more diversity in the health and medical research agenda, and ultimately better health outcomes for diverse groups. This research will also contribute the larger ARC Linkage project “Achieving gender equality in STEMM hospital and health service research.”

Centre Supervisors: Deanna Grant-Smith and Paula McDonald

Risini Ilangasingha

Risini’s PhD is titled, The Construction of Spaces of Spas and the Identity of the Masseuse in Sri Lanka. Being puzzled by the ambivalent nature of the spaces of spas in Sri Lanka which has become a social taboo in the wider Sri Lankan society, her study critically examines the intersection of the construction of the spatial organization of spa and the construction of the identity of the masseuse in the broader socio-cultural environment of Sri Lanka. The study adopts a qualitative approach while being theoretically informed by the socially constructed view of space and identity. Risini is also an academic of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka.

Centre Supervisors: Deanna Grant-Smith and Robyn Mayes

Maria Khan

Maria’s PhD research will explore the decent work implications of work organized through digital labour platforms in the domestic care sector in Australia. Within a recent proliferation of platform work across a number of industries and informal sectors, there is considerable debate contrasting the benefits digital platforms against the uncertain and precarious work conditions created. Using the domestic care sector as a case study, this research employs the complementary lenses of ethics of care and decent work to explore how the social dynamics and relationships between platform workers, platforms and platform users shape the relational experiences and conditions of platform work. Maria’s research is supported by a scholarship from the Centre for Decent Work and Industry.

Centre Supervisors: Jannine Williams, Penny Williams and Robyn Mayes

Nathan Laurent

Nathan’s PhD research aims to investigate how Australia’s three federal “ozone acts” have promoted a socio-technical transition to more environmentally sustainable refrigerant management in Australia, with a focus on recovery of refrigerants from end-of-life refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. Areas of practical interaction between the federal ozone acts and other federal, state, and local government policies, including waste management policies, will also be investigated. Extending qualitative knowledge of historical and current management of waste refrigerant in Australia will enable understanding of how the socio-technical transition to more environmentally sustainable refrigerant management might be expedited.

Centre Supervisors: Deanna Grant-Smith

Ave Le Blanc

Ave has worked for over 8 years in corporate and non – profit advertising in the Caribbean. She has been employed with global agencies McCann Worldgroup and Saatchi & Saatchi where she worked on many renowned brands including Nestlè, PAHO/ WHO and United Way. She completed her undergraduate degree with Honours, in Media and Communication (specialised in Social Marketing) at the University of the West Indies and her postgraduate studies with Merit, in Education and Health Promotion at University College London. She is a former Commonwealth Scholar who enjoys spending her free time volunteering with health NGOs in her home country, Trinidad & Tobago. Her interests lie in using digital media to promote healthful behaviours and social change. Ave obtained a QUT scholarship in the School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations and her PhD research sets out to determine the role, impact and cultural factors surrounding the use of social media influencers in social marketing for behaviour and social change in Trinidad and Tobago. Scholarship surrounding the use of social media influencers to promote for-profit sales and services has been growing, however less is known about social influencers being used in social marketing and the factors that surround this.

Centre Supervisors: Ross Gordon 

Erin Ma

Erin is a PhD candidate of the School of Accountancy of QUT. Her study is motivated by the 2017-19 Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, which revealed a fees scandal where superannuation funds were making profits while disregarding the interests of members. Therefore, her study examines, by taking a  member’s perspective, the impact of regulatory changes on fees and costs disclosure on member engagement and the performance of superannuation funds. Prior to this degree, Erin completed her Diploma of Business, Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Business (Honours) at QUT.

Centre Supervisors: Kerrie Sadiq

Zoe Mellick

Zoe Mellick is a PhD candidate and teacher in Fashion at QUT in Brisbane. Zoe has been involved as a research assistant in two research projects examining the Australian cotton value chain (2016-18). She also has over a decade of experience working in retail with Australian fashion brands. Zoe’s educational and professional experience allows her to work at the interface of fashion, sustainability, retail and value chain research. Zoe’s PhD research, co-funded by Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) and an Australian Government Research Training Stipend, focuses on understanding opportunities to create sustainable value along the apparel and textile supply chain. This research is exciting because it is motivated by real-world challenges faced by the global fashion industry.

Centre Supervisor: Robyn Mayes

Jenna Mikus

Jenna is a PhD candidate in the Urban Informatics group at QUT’s School of Design in the Creative Industries faculty.  She is also a sessional academic in the School of Business. Jenna received her BSc degree in Mechanical Engineering (with a minor in Entrepreneurship & Management) from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD where she was a Beneficial Hodson Scholar and her MSc degree in Sustainable Environmental Design from the Architectural Association in London, UK where she was an AA bursary winner.  Jenna comes from spending 20 years in industry at large consulting firms including Accenture and Booz Allen and at smaller firms that specialize in digital transformation in the built environment. She continues to consult on designing for health with clients across North America, Europe, and Australasia.  

Centre Supervisor: Deanna Grant-Smith

Deborah Munro

This research investigates the ways in which care work impacts upon women’s higher education decision-making processes. While much has been learned about the ways in which persistent gender inequities hinder women’s career opportunities and thus economic advancement, less is understood about the ways in which the unequal distribution of care work limits women’s choices with regard to furthering their education. Carer responsibilities frequently impact on educational decision-making processes in ways which are little understood. A mixed methods research approach with an Exploratory Sequential Design has been chosen for this doctoral study. The results could lead to better understandings of the factors which effect women’s higher education decision-making processes and may influence the way in which higher education institutions and policy makers encourage women with caring responsibilities to participate in university study. It may also inform strategies through which women can more effectively prepare to engage in non-traditional ways of tackling the challenges that might prevent them from achieving their educational aspirations.

Centre Supervisor: Melinda Laundon

Judith Newton

Judith is a PhD candidate in the School of Justice at Queensland University of Technology.  Judith’s research focuses on the role Facebook plays in engaging individual activism beyond slacktivism in fighting forced labour.  Her study examines how activists interact with Facebook posts on modern slavery and forced labour and whether this interaction is indicative of their interest and engagement with the issue; the factors that influence individual participation in online and offline activism campaigns; and the limitations and obstacles faced by advocacy groups and organisations when engaging with activists via Facebook.  Judith’s research synthesises research and methods from justice, digital communication, and marketing. Her research outcomes and subsequent recommendations have the potential to enhance communication and activism strategies of advocacy groups and organisations engaged in the modern slavery and forced labour space.  Prior to commencing her PhD, Judith completed a Master of Arts (Research) after retiring from her position of Research Manager in the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service.

Centre Supervisor: Erin O’brien

Denise Nogueira

Denise’s current research aims to understand the possibilities and dilemmas that social finance methods offer to alternative business models. Her research explores how individuals, organisations, structures and financial resources are mobilised in physical and digital spaces; and what are the effects of these arrangements, especially in terms of social inclusion, equity and justice. Denise’s research and teaching experiences involve sustainability, alternative economies, and agri-food systems. She has also worked for several years with mainstream and alternative financial services, integrating social, environmental and economic approaches to organisational and industry contexts.

Centre Supervisor: Robyn Mayes

Gayani Samarakoon

Gayani is a Higher Degree Research student of the Faculty of Management of the Queensland University Technology.  In her PhD research, she is exploring the shop floor worker voice in the Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility agenda of the Sri Lankan apparel industry adopting a critical perspective by challenging the mainstream literature. This study seeks to explore how and to what extent employee voice is included/excluded in the strategic CSR agenda in the apparel factory floor in the global south (Sri Lanka). Gayani is also an academic of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka.

Centre Supervisors: Robyn Mayes and Deanna Grant-Smith

Amos Tay

Amos is a doctoral student in the Faculty of Education under the QUT Postgraduate Research Award (International) Scholarship and his supervisory team comprises of Abby Cathcart and Henk Huijser. His PhD research is a reflection of his interests in digital equity, technology-enhanced learning and social justice. It examines how emerging educational technologies support or hinder equity in higher education. This research is timely and relevant as learning is taking place in a digital age in which the empowerment of an increasingly diversified learner population is valued. Motivated by the urgent need for a socially just education, Amos seeks to understand, through his PhD research, how education with technologies can function for a more equitable and just society. He holds a Master of Education (Learning Sciences & Technologies) conferred by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and was an education officer in the Ministry of Education, Singapore.

Centre Supervisor: Abby Cathcart

Current Masters Students

Calista Castles

Calista is a social researcher, yoga teacher, and consultant with a background in business, public policy and advocacy, psychology, and organisational behaviour. My research is informed by a social justice and emancipatory agenda, and critical autism and feminist approaches. My current research focus is on removing barriers to meaningful employment for neurodiverse adults, and adults experiencing mental health challenges. I have a keen interest in linguistics, discourse, and their relationship with social change and inequalities. I have extensive experience working in community development, population health, and policy development within Government and non-government organisations. I am currently part of a national research team focused on advancing the Lived Experience Workforce.

Centre Supervisors: Bernd Irmer and Deanna Grant-Smith

Annissa Hansen

The Aged Care industry in Australia is currently experiencing rapid change with an increasingly older population, a workforce that is increasingly in demand, and a more sophisticated consumer. One of the ways in which the industry is responding to this change is through the increased use of technology, both in the care of patients, but also to create a more efficient work practises. Annissa’s research seeks to understand how the introduction of technology is impacting the aged care workplace. Annissa has held senior leader positions in People and Culture in community services and education organisations, and has over 15 years consulting in Australia, the Asia Pacific region, and the UK.

Centre Supervisors: Penny Williams and Paula McDonald

Amanda Quayle

Amanda’s research explores how corporate values influence the engagement of an employee. The study will explore factors that influence employees at work, specifically, what is means to be an engaged employee and the role corporate values play in organisations. This research will also assess why corporate values are important, what influence they have, and how they are communicated to employees. Finally, this research will seek to understand if a relationship exists between corporate values and employees feeling engaged. Amanda has more than 15 years experience working in Communications, Stakeholder Engagement and Media in Australia and abroad.

Centre Supervisors: Kim Johnston and Bree Hurst

2021 HDR student completions

Bernadetta Devi (PhD)

Bernadetta’s thesis examines the governance of the interface between commercial mining and artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Indonesia. It does so from the under-addressed perspective of artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Using a critical governmentality lens, the research discovered artisanal and small-scale gold miners are neglected because of governmental techniques adopted by global and national bodies to eliminate mercury use. Concurrently, these miners have created alternative knowledge and practices through counter-discourses, conduct and strategies to ensure their mining agenda can progress. This research advocates for inclusion of artisanal and small-scale miners in mining governance to promote mining sustainability.

Centre Supervisors: Robyn Mayes and Deanna Grant-Smith

Alicia Feldman (MPhil)

Environmental stewardship is essential to conserving recreational fishing areas. Alicia’s thesis explores the characteristics of Australians engaged in such stewardship. A novel theoretical perspective (complexity theory) and methodology (fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis) uncovers complex configurational mechanisms, with multiple equifinal solutions identified as sufficient for performance of stewardship behaviours. Configurations predictive of stewardship differ between environmental organisation members and non-members. While there are numerous, varied configurations sufficient for performance among environmental organisation members, there are fewer among non-members, indicating only a specific subset of non-members perform these behaviours. These findings can inform targeted recruitment and engagement strategies for environmental stewardship participation.

Centre Supervisors: Deanna Grant-Smith and Bernd Irmer

May Isaac (PhD)

May’s thesis challenges our ideas of what motherhood and ‘career’ means. Investigating contemporary motherhood practice, it reveals how for many educated Australian mothers, regardless of paid work engagement, motherhood is a skilled and meaningful ‘job’ and a ‘career’ in itself. The study contributes the notion of motherhood as a protean career to career theory by demonstrating how educated mothers experience motherhood over six stages – Starting Strong, Shifting Ground, Digging Deep, Aiming High, Learning Lots and Taking Stock. Motherhood as a protean career can fundamentally reshape how organisations, society and mothers themselves perceive and value the work and experience of motherhood.

Centre Supervisor: Jannine Williams

Paolo  Marinelli (PhD)

Paolo’s thesis examines the multijurisdictional National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to understand the contemporary governance of Australia as a federation. Through the application of enhanced governance models and creation of a diagnostic tool Australian Pragmatic Federalism Theory is advanced to describe, explain and potentially predict intergovernmental structures and processes in the Australian Federation. Using Actor-network Theory to reveal the (re)deployment of power amongst actors and incorporating Multi-level Governance theory into extant models revealed that while centralisation is occurring, it is not unidirectional toward the Commonwealth. Politicians and officials are willing to establish new permanent power-sharing arrangements that pool and share power.

Centre Supervisors: Deanna Grant-Smith and Robyn Mayes

Deepthi Wickramaarachchi (PhD)

Intrapreneurs, who are entrepreneurially-thinking employees within existing firms, are vital as they can think beyond the boundaries of their job and responsibilities, pursue innovative opportunities on behalf of the organisation, and can contribute to organisational value creation. The aim of Deepthi’s thesis was to explore the contextual determinants of intrapreneurial behaviour in an integrative perspective considering organisational, individual, and socio-cultural factors in Sri Lanka, a country where the socio-cultural influence is significant for individual behaviours. To achieve this aim, the research adopted a qualitative, multiple case study approach. The findings of this study provide a significant contribution to the current understanding of the determinants of intrapreneurial behaviour and bring new insights to the cultural aspect of intrapreneurship literature. This study findings also provide a range of practical implications to foster intrapreneurial behaviour, particularly in environments that are known as less intrapreneurial.

Centre Supervisor: Jannine Williams

2020 HDR student completions

Lina Taleb Hasan Alsaree (MPhil) Centre Supervisor: Bernd Irmer
Linda Carroli (PhD) Centre Supervisor: Deanna Grant-Smith
Merrilyn Delporte (PhD) Centre Supervisor: Bree Hurst
Choity Jones (MPhil) Centre Supervisor: Bree Hurst
Maria Khan (MPhil) Centre Supervisors: Jannine Williams and Penny Williams
Herdiyan Maulana (PhD) Centre Supervisor: Trish Obst
Tim Piatkowski (PhD) Centre Supervisor: Trish Obst
Amy Rose Williamson (PhD) Centre Supervisor: Trish Obst
Heidi Zummo (PhD) Centre Supervisor:  Kerrie Sadiq

2019 HDR student completions

Ellen Nielsen (PhD) Centre Supervisors: Paula McDonald and Abby Cathcart
Denise Nogueira (MPhil) Centre Supervisor: Robyn Mayes
Paul Woods (Masters) Centre Supervisor: Paula McDonald

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