Research students

Contact Professor Paula McDonald if you’re interested in joining this program as a research student. We host PhD and research masters students who contribute to our research on a range of topics.

PhD Students


Merrilyn Delporte

Merrilyn’s PhD research focuses on how stakeholders respond to and act on narrative used to advocate for social and human causes, using a qualitative case study of an asylum seeker campaign in Australia. Her research will extend insight into how organisations seek to influence different stakeholders through communications, and how these stakeholders make sense of and respond to these efforts. Prior to commencing a PhD, Merrilyn’s professional experience included work as a foreign policy adviser with the Federal Government, and in policy and communications with State and Federal  Members of Parliament. Merrilyn has also worked as a sessional lecturer and tutor in a range of international relations and business subjects.


Melinda Laundon

Melinda’s PhD research focuses on reward and recognition systems, organisational justice and pay transparency. Her study will extend current understandings of employee fairness perceptions of pay and reward, and provide insights into how reward systems can best be designed and managed. Melinda’s other research interests include innovation and higher education research policy. Before commencing her PhD, she held senior policy advisor and management roles in various Australian Government agencies. Melinda holds a Master of Public Policy and a Master of Management from ANU.

Paolo Marinelli

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. The new transport regulator challenges historical understandings of Australian regulatory governance and may prove a testing ground for more contentious, cross-boundary multi–jurisdictional areas of the national economy such as environmental regulatory approaches. 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.

Ellen Nielsen_Headshot

Ellen Nielsen

As a PhD Candidate of QUT’s Creative Industries Faculty, Ellen’s research investigates how graduates of tertiary education in CI disciplines experience education-to-work transitions. Employing both quantitative and qualitative methods, the research is particularly interested in how these graduates use and value employability strategies when navigating graduate labour markets.  A University Medal recipient and APA Scholarship holder, Ellen has experience as both a sessional academic and Research Assistant within the CI Faculty. Ellen also has over four years’ experience in a variety of communications and research roles within the media and broadcasting sector in Australia.

Samantha Paredes

Samantha’s PhD research examines the value of local fisheries for the coastal community and tourism. By understanding the consumer preferences of both locals and tourists, this may better connect local fishers to the consumer and may lead to a boost in the local community’s economy. She is currently a PhD candidate and sessional academic in the QUT Business School, Economics and Finance and has worked on projects with the CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship. Her previous research examines the role of offsets in compensating for damage in the coastal and marine environments and she holds a Master of Business (Research) (Economics) from QUT and a Bachelor of Business (Economics) (with distinction) / Bachelor of Laws from QUT.


Sylvia Roux

Sylvia’s PhD research looks to the future of work in context of customised work arrangements (CWAs) (includes formal, standard forms of flexible work as well as  short-term ad hoc and informal modifications to work) and management responses to requests that impact employees’ attempts to optimise their work-life balance.  The research contributes to understanding CWAs – how national and organisational-level policies may impact responses to CWA requests, how they are managed at the level of manager-employee interactions, and how those outcomes have implications for employees. Previously, Sylvia has held leadership and management roles in a variety of law enforcement settings, and more recently has undertaken roles in small business, research and tutoring. Sylvia has received academic recognition for teaching and won a nationally competitive Emerging Leader Award grant to present her research at the Future of Work Conference 2016.


Penny Williams

Penny’s PhD research examines the organisational and hierarchical dynamics that shape supervisor support for, and implementation of, flexible work arrangements.  The research aims to improve employee access to and implementation of flexible work arrangements through identifying and explaining the organisational processes that influence supervisor decisions to approve or decline flexible work arrangement requests.  Penny has over 15 years experience in HR in both corporate HR management roles and strategic HR consultancy, working across public and private sectors, nationally and internationally.  She has been a small business owner-manager and is currently a sessional academic in the QUT Business School and Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Masters Students

Choity Jones-Head Shot

Choity Jones

Choity’s research explores 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.

Margaret Lyons

Margaret Lyons

Margaret’s research explored how corporate social responsibility is understood and practiced by junior and mid-tier Australian resources companies operating in developing nations, and revealed contradictions and ambiguities in CSR meaning and practice in this little researched group of companies.  The study identified practical measures to address the gap between the companies’ CSR aspirations and their actions and accountabilities.  Margaret has more than 25 years experience in corporate communication, media relations and issues management and stakeholder engagement to support the environmental assessment process for major infrastructure projects. She has worked extensively in the road, rail, electricity and mining sectors.

Denise Nogueira

Denise’s research explores how the emergence of the sharing economy (initiatives based on digital platforms) is affecting social issues. The research aims to provide a critical analysis of the Australian context, identifying frameworks that reflect how the sharing economy is promoting or impeding social justice. Denise comes from an international background, recently moving from Brazil to Australia. She has over 15 years experience working with grassroots organizations, SMEs, co-operatives, and financial institutions; developing initiatives related to community development, sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Denise holds a bachelor degree in business and a postgraduate diploma in sustainability management.


Jane Tsakissiris

Jane conducted interviews with 52 ICT students from four Australian tertiary education institutions to explore how they conceptualise a career in the ICT industry and their perception of the opportunities and constraints to their entry and continued employment in the sector. This research explored how professional identity and self-interest work together to influence career choices of the emerging Information and Communications Technology (ICT) workforce. Jane’s leadership and management experiences cover a broad spectrum of industries and locations which encompass technology, business and natural resources. Jane is completing her PhD and is currently working as a sessional Lecturer for the QUT Business School and was awarded Vice-Chancellor’s Performance Award in 2015 and Best Performance in any Undergraduate Unit by a New Tutor in 2014.


Paul Woods

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.