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

Hana Abdullah H Abuhathra

Researching gender and entrepreneurship in the Saudi Arabian context

Centre Supervisor: Jannine Williams

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

Erik Cateriano Arevalo

Researching service systems in social marketing focusing on the role of traditional medicine in Peru’s health service system

Centre Supervisor: Ross Gordon 

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

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

Hayden Cahill

Researching an interdisciplinary investigation of sports betting

Centre Supervisors: Ross Gordon 

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

Renee Chapman

Researching the influence of organisation leadership and culture on participation in new religious movements.

Centre Supervisors: Deanna Grant-Smith and Bernd Irmer 

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 Supervisor: Deanna Grant-Smith

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

Bernadetta Devi

Bernadetta’s PhD research examines how the mining industry in Indonesia is governed in the context of sustainable development. Specifically, her research investigates how proximally located large-scale mining and artisanal and small-scale mining in Indonesia is governed as multi-scalar and how the involved actors are themselves governed. The research utilises a case study approach examining a specific mining site in Indonesia. The research will extend current understandings the (un)sustainable practices of extractive industry and international development.

Centre Supervisors: Robyn Mayes and Deanna Grant-Smith

Marie Frederiksen

Researching the influences on survivors of multiple natural disasters to continue living in the same disaster-prone location

Centre Supervisor: Trish Obst

Hememali Ganewatta

Researching the multiple foci of employee engagement

Centre Supervisor: Bernd Irmer

Melissa Giles

Researching the role of storytelling in the career adaptations of writing professionals with disabilities

Centre Supervisor: Jannine Williams

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

May Isaacs

Researching why the gains of female education are lost in the workplace

Centre Supervisor: Jannine Williams

Gabrielle Jess

Researching a multiple capitals perspective exploring Australian small business survival of natural hazards

Centre Supervisor: Deanna Grant-Smith

Emma Karanges

Researching brand signals as determinants of employee brand consistent behaviour

Centre Supervisor: Kim Johnston

Maria Khan

Researching working practices in the gig economy focusing on decent work perspectives on future work practices

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

Paolo  Marinelli

Paolo’s PhD research looks to the future of the Australian Federation by examining how power is arranged between and within the Commonwealth, states and territories and their agencies. Using as a case study the recent formation of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, which is neither a Commonwealth nor state agency, the various institutional response to the changing power relationships of the Federation are being examined. Prior to commencing his PhD, Paolo worked for both Commonwealth and Queensland agencies in the areas of local government relations, water catchment management and sustainable transport policy including introducing Queensland’s first voluntary travel behaviour program – TravelSmart.

Centre Supervisors: Deanna Grant-Smith and Robyn Mayes

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 and aligned with the Centre for Decent Work & Industry.  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.  

With her background in engineering, sustainable design, and strategy consulting, she has developed a specialty in digital transformation implementations (originally across industries and government and, most recently, within the built environment), focusing not only on what should be done but also how and why for sustainable effectiveness. Before joining QUT, she founded the consultancy firm Eudae Group to advise clients on how to best design for health in the built environment and consequently influence occupant health & well-being and thereby improve employee experience, portfolio impact, and organizational success.

Centre Supervisor: Deanna Grant-Smith

David Misso

Researching a multi-dimensional feasibility study for a metacognitive-informed group psychotherapy program for male perpetrators of domestic violence

Centre Supervisor: Trish Obst

Deborah Munro

Researching carer responsibilities and women’s decisions to undertake university study

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 digitial spaces; and ewhat are the effects of these arrangeemnts, 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

Adhi Nugroho

Researching digital economy taxation using the concept of user participation

Centre Supervisor: Kerrie Sadiq

Sari Rossi

Researching the role of the Federal Government support for the arts support in shifting from survivorship to sustainability

Centre Supervisors: Kerrie Sadiq and Bree Hurst

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

Liuissa Zhen

Researching  an evaluating of the YMCA Ruby physical activity program for women who have experienced domestic violence

Centre Supervisor:  Trish Obst

Heidi Zummo

Researching  corporate tax focusing on evaluating the full publicity of an action

Centre Supervisor:  Kerrie Sadiq

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

Current Masters Students

Laura Christie

Researching the barriers and enablers in Australian Indigenous career progression

Centre Supervisor: Robyn Mayes

Kate Down

Researching leader impact on work unit financial risk climate

Centre Supervisors: Bernd Irmer and Deanna Grant-Smith

Julian Evans

Researching volunteering as a way into employment or further education

Centre Supervisor: Bernd Irmer

Madeline Farlow

Researching an evaluation of food literacy interventions in primary schools

Centre Supervisor: Foluké Badejo

Alicia Feldman

Alicia’s research explores the drivers and inhibitors of habitat restoration actions among individuals who participate in outdoor recreational activities. The aim is to identify psycho-social and contextual factors that predict the performance of specific responsible environmental behaviours of recreational fishers. This research will contribute to a deeper understanding of the motivations and barriers experienced by individuals, therefore helping to shape more targeted interventions that encourage pro-environmental behaviours.

Centre Supervisors: Deanna Grant-Smith and Bernd Irmer

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

Sally Higgins

Researching the impacts of digital transformation in the financial services sector on its workforce

Centre Supervisor: Deanna Grant-Smith and Bernd Irmer

Christopher McNeely

Researching employability and employment prospects for Pacifika university students

Centre Supervisor:  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

Susan Scott

Researching community engagement for disaster resilience

Centre Supervisor: Kim Johnston

Yan Lin Tan

Researching Australian primary school internal and external food environments

Centre Supervisor: Foluké  Badejo

Brad Ward

Researching an international brand perspective of engagement of older workers in the brand promise

Centre Supervisor: Kim Johnston and Bree Hurst

Deepthi Wickramaarachchi

Researching an integrative perspective on understanding contextual determinants of intrapreneurship

Centre Supervisor: Jannine Williams

2020 HDR student completions

Lina Taleb Hasan Alsaree (MPhil)

Researching how the contemporary workforce perceives organisational justice

Centre Supervisor: Bernd Irmer

Profile picture of Linda Carroli

Linda Carroli (PhD)

Linda Carroli is a strategic planner, consultant and writer examining sustainable transitions. Her research examined the role of policy narratives in the regional planning response to sustainable infrastructure transitions. Linda has worked in industry and higher education in research, creative industries, urban development, economic development and social sustainability initiatives. As an internationally published cultural journalist and award winning writer, she has received several Federal and State government grants as well as an Australia Medal for ‘long and distinguished service in the arts’. She has published creative and critical works across print, broadcast and digital media.

Centre Supervisor: Deanna Grant-Smith

Merrilyn Delporte (PhD)

Researching human advocacy narratives focusing on stakeholder identification, emotion and the case of people seeking asylum in Australia

Centre Supervisor: Bree Hurst

Choity Jones (MPhil)

Choity’s research explored the strategic ways organisations employ CSR to respond to institutional pressures from a spillover crisis.  The aim is to identify the extent to which organisations assume responsibility within their communication to stakeholders within a CSR-based crisis spillover through strategic responses. Choity comes from an international background and moved to Australia from Sweden in 2007 to complete her Bachelor’s degree.  Since then she has been working as a professional in the Australian international tertiary education sector, and is completing her research studies concurrently.

Centre Supervisor: Bree Hurst

Maria Khan (MPhil)

Maria’s research explored the persisting gender gap in leadership positions by considering how contemporary leadership is conceptualised in the media and the extent to which cultural norms and gendered assumptions inform media representations of women thereby problematising their progression into leadership. Maria has a Bachelor of Laws (LLB Hons) from the University of London, MSc in Management from the University of Surrey, UK and a Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management from QUT, and currently works as a Sessional Academic and Research Assistant at QUT.

Centre Supervisors: Jannine Williams and Penny Williams

Herdiyan Maulana (PhD)

Researching the psycho-social and cultural factors of wellbeing in the Indonesian context

Centre Supervisor: Trish Obst

Tim Piatkowski (PhD)

Researching the relationship between striving for muscularity, masculine identity and PIED/steriod use among young men in Australia

Centre Supervisor: Trish Obst

Amy Rose Williamson (PhD)

Researching non-deterrence based approaches to compliance in relation to preventable injury in the workplace

Centre Supervisor: Trish Obst

Heidi Zummo (PhD)

Researching  corporate tax focusing on evaluating the full publicity of an action

Centre Supervisor:  Kerrie Sadiq

2019 HDR student completions

Ellen Nielsen (PhD)

Ellen’s PhD research investigated how graduates of tertiary education in Creative Industries disciplines experience education-to-work transitions, which reflects her keen interest in the relationship between individuals, higher education, and labour markets. Employing both quantitative and qualitative methods, the research was particularly interested in how these graduates use and value employability strategies when navigating graduate labour markets.

Centre Supervisors: Paula McDonald and Abby Cathcart

Denise Nogueira (Masters of Philosophy)

Denise’s research explores the contributions of the sharing economy to food security in Australia. The purpose of the study is to understand how the sharing economy as a diverse phenomenon is promoting equitable access to individuals or groups that are on the edges of the conventional economy. This research contributes to the development of knowledge on the implications of the sharing economy to social and economic justice. Denise has over 15 years of experience working with community organizations, SMEs, co-operatives, and financial institutions in Brazil and other countries; developing initiatives related to local development, sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

Centre Supervisor: Robyn Mayes


Paul Woods (Masters)

Technology is increasingly enabling new ways of work – including mobile work away from the traditional workplace. Paul’s research explores how individuals who are encouraged to work in more flexible ways enabled by technology manage the porosity of the physical, temporal and psychological borders between work and life. His research into the intersection between technology, work and life is now being both applied and commercialised through his role as the founder of technology adoption consultancy – Adopt & Embrace. Paul has presented aspects of his research at industry conferences in Australia, Singapore and Canada.

Centre Supervisor: Paula McDonald