GRI Members

Who we are

Md Saiful Khan

Postdoctoral Fellow

Saif is a spatial ecologist and passionate about biodiversity conservation. Saif’s doctoral studies (Zoology Department, Otago University, NZ) focused on assessing the applicability of different remote sensing tools to assess braided river bird habitats. He developed a deep-learning model for automated detection and counting of braided river bird colonies on aerial images. He has a BSc and MSc in Forestry (Khulna University, Bangladesh; Copenhagen University, Denmark and Bangor University, UK) and Biology (Ecology; Lakehead University, Canada). He has worked with IUCN, UNDP and FAO in Bangladesh and has been a research fellow at UNEP-WCMC at Cambridge, UK and has also been a civil servant for the Bangladesh Government working for the Ministry of Science and ICT. At GRI, Saif is working as a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Eco-index programme (, focusing on developing detectors for various biodiversity indicators for tracking outcomes of conservation investments.

Dr Lukáš Marek

Postdoctoral Fellow, GeoHealth Lab

Lukáš received his PhD in 2015 from the Department of Geoinformatics at Palacky University in the Czech Republic. In his thesis, he conducted a research study on spatial and spatiotemporal analysis of Campylobac-teriosis in the Czech Republic. His main research interest is currently focused on geovisualisation and spatial analyses of health data using spatial and spatiotemporal modelling, and spatial statistics.


Dr Jesse Wiki

Postdoctoral Fellow, GeoHealth Laboratory

Jesse received her PhD in Geography from the University of Canterbury in 2019. She is interested in the intricate connections between geography, populations, and health. Her research focuses on the geographical nuances that influence everything from disease prevalence to healthcare accessibility by combining advanced statistical analyses with geographic information systems (GIS) to map out trends, identify disparities, and propose informed solutions.


Dr Sharmila Savarimuthu

Computer/Information Science

Sharmila holds a PhD in Information Science (Otago) and a master’s degree in Computer Science. In her career spanning several years in two countries (New Zealand and India), she has undertaken several roles – lab tutor, researcher and software developer. Previously she worked as a software engineer at QuakeCORE. She joined GRI as a software developer. She develops full stack web applications.

Xander Cai

Geospatial Researcher

Xander Cai acquired a Master of Science degree in Data Science from the University of Canterbury and a Master of Engineering degree in Microelectronics and Solid-state Electronics from Huazhong University of Science and Technology. During years of service in the integrated circuit (IC) design and electronic design automation (EDA) fields in the research and development roles, he produced solid fundamentals and broad interests in state-of-the-art technology research, development, and application. His current research focuses on improving geospatial data processing and analysis based on deep learning, connecting communities with environmental change by leveraging visual reality technology.

Luke Parkinson

Geospatial Software Developer

Luke is a software developer with the GRI working between multiple projects. He has a strong interest in web and application development with a growing specialisation in geospatial technologies. Luke provides software advice and support to researchers and develops and deploys web applications and research scripts. He is developing an open-source 3D geospatial web visualisation framework that is used in various GRI projects.

Casey Li

Geospatial Developer/Researcher

Casey joined the GRI as a Geospatial Developer/Researcher after completing her master’s degree in Applied Data Science at the University of Canterbury. Her primary focus is on the development of the flood resilience digital twin. She has previously worked as a Commerical Accountant and has gained her Chartered Accountancy qualification.

Mario Puente-Sierra

Mario Puente-Sierra

Spatial Analyst, GeoHealth Laboratory

Mario is a geographer and spatial analyst who joined the GRI/GeoHealth Lab after completing his master’s degree in Environmental Geology at the Complutense University of Madrid. His main research focuses on the associations between human geographies and water, with special attention to fairness, equality, sustainability, and water policies. At the same time, he keeps an interest in the interactions between society and physical geographies during the Anthropocene, in Quaternary Geomorphology, and in anything about the land that can be mapped. His recent research has focused on the current state of public water in Aotearoa New Zealand and its relationship with detrimental health outcomes.

Dr Rose Pearson

Postdoctoral Fellow, NIWA | Visiting researcher, GRI

Rose received her PhD in 2018 from the Department of Information engineering at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at NIWA and a visiting researcher at the Geospatial research institute. Her postdoctoral research focuses on combining geospatial data, primarily LiDAR point clouds, to produce hydrologically conditioned DEMs and roughness maps for use in river flood modelling. Her research interests centre on surface generation and attribute mapping from a wide array of spatial and geospatial datasets.

Clevon Ash

PhD Student

Clevon Ash who comes from the island of Trinidad & Tobago in the Caribbean, is a PhD candidate in the GRI and the Waterways Centre at the University of Canterbury. Having completed a Master of Disaster Management at The University of Auckland in 2021, he is now using his experience in Emergency Communications, Policy Development and Scientific Research towards improving the understanding and representation of uncertainty in flood risk management. His research is a part of the cross cutting theme of uncertainty  in the MBIE Endeavour research programme, “Reducing flood inundation hazard and risk across Aotearoa/New Zealand”, also known as : “Mā te haumaru ō te wai” which means “By keeping the water safe”. Clevon is happy for the opportunity to work with different groups of stakeholders and researchers across New Zealand to improve the way that flood risks are managed.

Prof Matthew Wilson
Prof Iain White (University of Waikato)
Dr Carolynne Hultquist

Katherine Booker

PhD Student

Katherine is a PhD candidate with the University of Waikato being hosted by the GRI. She has a professional background as an economist within government and commercial organisations and recently completed a Master’s degree in Applied Data Science at UC. Katherine’s PhD research draws on her professional experience and data science training to investigate how future urban growth projections can be generated by computational models. This research is part of the MBIE Endeavour research programme “Mā te haumaru ō nga puna wai ō Rākaihautū ka ora mo ake tonu: Increasing flood resilience across Aotearoa-New Zealand”. In addition to projections of location and severity of future flooding, including the implications of climate change, we also need to consider what future urban landscapes might look like. Where might people be living in 2050 or 2100? Katherine’s aim is to explore, test, and develop methods to generate a range of alternative long-term urban development scenarios for building into assessments of future flood risk. She is excited to be able to work with researchers and policy makers to support sustainable decision making in the face of a changing world.


Prof Iain White (University of Waikato)
Prof Matthew Wilson
Dr. Xinyu Fu (University of Waikato)

Susie (Bingyu) Deng

PhD Student, GeoHealth Laboratory

Susie (Bingyu) Deng is a PhD candidate in Health Geospatial Science. Her skills include GIS analysis, longitudinal modeling, and programming. Her research primarily focuses on the impact of neighbourhood on health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on greenspaces and mental health. A broad question that her research will answer is, do the places where people lived have an impact on people’s health? Her objectives include investigating people’s migration patterns throughout their lives, evaluating socioecological exposures of places where people lived, examining the association between the accumulated socioecological exposures throughout people’s lives with their subsequent mental health conditions.


Senior supervisor – Matt Hobbs
Co-supervisor – Malcolm Campbell
Associate supervisors – Joseph Boden and Geri McLeod from University of Otago

Phoebe Eggleton

PhD Student, GeoHealth Laboratory

Phoebe is a PhD candidate at the University of Canterbury in the School of Health Sciences, which she is now pursuing after completing a Master of Spatial Analysis for Public Health in 2021 also at the University of Canterbury. Her research topic is focused on the relationship between location-based exposure to the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence (2010-11), and the associated mental health outcomes. Phoebe will be using spatial methods throughout her project to determine how a cohort was exposed, and how they have relocated in the aftermath of disaster.


Associate Professor Malcolm Campbell (UC, GHL, GRI)
Dr Matt Hobbs (UC, GHL, GRI)
Dr Geri McLeod (Christchurch Health and Development Study, University of Otago)
Professor Joe Boden (Christchurch Health and Development Study, University of Otago)

Andrew Kindon

PhD Student, GeoHealth Laboratory

Andy is a practicing Clinical Vascular Physiologist, completing a HRC Clinical Reasearch Training Fellowship with the Geo-Health lab. Andy has specialist clinical interest and expertise in the diagnosis and surveillance of Adnominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAAs). He is completing a PhD using geospatial techniques to improve our understanding of AAA epidemiology in New Zealand. 

Dr Matt Hobbs (University of Canterbury)
Professor Simon Kingham ( University of Canterbury)
Mr. Oliver Lyons (University of Otago)
Prof Justin Roake (University of Otago)

Andrea Pozo Estívariz

PhD Student

I am a civil engineer from Spain. Since my Master’s I have been working in the GeoOcean research group (University of Cantabria), having the opportunity to deep into different research topics such as the development and prediction models for tropical cyclone activity, wave modelling, rain fields parameterization or flood modelling and mapping. I have just started my PhD in the area of water resource management, focused on the development of advancing methods of rapid flood risk scenario assessment using hybrid approaches of hydraulic modelling and machine learning.

My PhD is supervised by Prof. Matt Wilson (UC), Dr. Emily Lane (NIWA) and Prof. Fernando Méndez (University of Cantabria, Spain) and it is part of the MBIE Endeavour research programme, “Reducing flood inundation hazard and risk across Aotearoa/New Zealand”. I am very motivated because this programme not only offers me the chance to work with cutting-edge techniques and learn more about such interesting topics for me like climate change; but also I feel I can contribute with my work to improve the quality of life of all the people who suffer from floods.

Prof. Matt Wilson (UC)
Dr. Emily Lane (NIWA)
Prof. Fernando Méndez (University of Cantabria)

Martin Nguyen

PhD Student

Martin completed a Master’s degree in Applied Data Science at UC, during which he developed a specific interest in the versatility of Artificial Intelligence. He is pursuing a PhD in the area of data science methods for flood risk assessment. Specifically, his research will focus on advancing methods for uncertainty estimation in flood inundation modelling, using machine learning approaches.

Martin says that he feels so honoured to be working as part of the MBIE Endeavour research programme, “Reducing flood inundation hazard and risk across Aotearoa/New Zealand”, supervised by Prof. Matt Wilson and Dr. Emily Lane (NIWA). This programme not only offers him many opportunities to improve his data handling competencies and to explore practical geospatial data with advanced geospatial techniques, it also gives him a chance to employ what he studies to contribute to the safety of the public

Prof. Matthew Wilson
Dr. Emily Lane

David Pedley

PhD Student

David has a professional background as an environmental lawyer and has recently completed a Master’s degree in landscape architecture at Lincoln University. Through this experience, David has established a strong interest in the potential of geospatial analysis to help develop effective solutions to complex environmental problems. David’s PhD is in urban forestry and will focus on the conflict between housing intensification and the loss of urban trees on private residential land in New Zealand cities. This research will incorporate deep learning techniques to detect changes in canopy cover over time and explore potential solutions to increase the retention of urban trees in the face of ongoing intensification pressure. David is very grateful for the opportunity to pursue this research through the Geospatial Research Institute Toi Hangarau PhD Scholarship, working alongside supervisors Dr Justin Morgenroth and Dr Grant Pearse.


Dr. Justin Morgenroth (UC)
Dr. Grant Pearse (Scion)

Sunil Tamang

Sunil Tamang

PhD Student

Sunil comes from Langtang Valley, Nepal. He holds dual master’s degrees- one in Disaster Risk Management and another in Geospatial Technologies. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD research, focusing on the development of a machine learning framework to interpret earth observation data, with a specific emphasis on regional scale mapping of rock glaciers and other cryosphere landforms. Sunil is grateful and excited for the opportunity to pursue his doctoral studies, made possible through the Geospatial Research Institute Toi Hangarau PhD Scholarship, along with the University of Canterbury Doctoral scholarship.

Dr. Shelley MacDonell (UC)
Dr. James Brasington (UC)
Dr. Benjamin Aubrey Robson (University of Bergen)

Sidney Wong

PhD Student

Sidney is excited to be offered the opportunity through the Geospatial Research Institute Toi Hangarau PhD Scholarship to model the social and linguistic characteristics of local populations using geo-referenced language data. He was attracted by the transdisciplinary nature of this project and he looks forward to exploring the possibilities of geospatial linguistics under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan Dunn and Dr. Ben Adams.

He has long been involved with the Linguistics community at UC. He completed a BSc in Linguistics and a Master of Linguistics at UC. He is currently on track to complete a Master of Applied Data Science which he has been studying alongside his role as an Iwi Data Analyst at Stats NZ. In his role, Sidney works with hapū, iwi, and iwi-related groups across Aotearoa to gauge their data needs – this includes consulting, sourcing, extracting, and producing statistics to meet their data requirements.

Sidney is an active member of the community in Ōtautahi. He is the co-chair of Qtopia, and is on the board of the Christchurch Heroes Sports Trust and Population Health Advisory Board at Pegasus Health. He also maintains a social media presence for the New Zealand Linguistics Society as their social media officer.


Dr. Jonathan Dunn
Dr. Ben Adams

Dr Dean Walker

Adjunct Fellow, GRI

Dean’s research interests include collaborations with Māori communities for the development of culturally-based frameworks and geospatial tools. His current research involves the development of map-based tools for community and Māori-led bicultural spatial planning, with iwi partners in Waimakariri and Rotorua. He has previously worked with iwi on projects in the Nelson region in the co-creation of tools for environmental monitoring.

Ben Adams

Associate Professor, Dept. of Computer Science and Software Engineering, University of Canterbury

In my research I am exploring new ways of using computing technology to advance human understanding of our environment and world. I am interested in understanding, modelling, and improving how the people who want to learn about the world (e.g., scientists, students, and policy makers) interact with and make decisions based on geographic knowledge represented in a computer. The research I undertake is both explanatory and constructive. In the first case I work to develop theories that explain how the information that we produce and share in digital form reflects human conceptualizations of the world. In the second case I build software systems that help people use geographic information better to solve problems. My research methodology is informed by methods from data science, machine learning, spatial information science, interactive systems, and cognitive science.

Dr John Reid

Senior Research Fellow, University of Canterbury

John is a specialist in sustainability transitions.  He is a Senior Research Fellow the Ngāi Tahu Centre, at the University of Canterbury.  John works with iwi to plan sustainable development pathways in agriculture, forestry, and fishing.  His current research focus is on nature-based solutions to climate change, declining biodiversity, and excess nutrient emissions.  John is an Associate Editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand and has several corporate and public governance roles.

Dr Marwan Katurji

Rutherford Discovery Fellow, Senior Lecturer in Atmospheric Dynamics, School of Earth and Environment, University of Canterbury

Dr Marwan Katurji specialises in surface-atmosphere interactions. His research interest is in modelling, simulating, measuring and analysing atmospheric phenomena, using advanced in-situ, aerial and remote sensing measurements and numerical modelling techniques. He is developing new approaches to tackle fundamental research questions in the field of atmospheric boundary-layer turbulence that leverages on a multidisciplinary approach of engineering and science. Marwan is particularly interested in coherent turbulent structures within the first 1km of our atmosphere above ground level (also called the atmospheric boundary-layer). These structures form the unique fabric of turbulence that controls the spatial variability of temperature and moisture across our landscape.

Justin Morgenroth

Associate Professor, Postgraduate Director of Studies, School of Forestry | Kura Ngahere, University of Canterbury

I’m interested in understanding urban trees and the critical roles they play in cities around the world. The trees that comprise urban forests face considerable abiotic and biotic stress, but help to make cities liveable, providing residents with healthy, sustainable, and desirable places to live and work. To that end, I research the growth, function, management, and ecosystem services of trees in urban environments. To do so, I work extensively with remote sensing or earth observation techniques, including lidar, as well as aerial and satellite imagery.

Dr Christoph Bartneck

Associate Professor and Director of Postgraduate Studies at HIT Lab NZ, University of Canterbury

Dr Simon Hoermann

Senior Lecturer, School of Product Design, University of Canterbury

User Experience researcher and academic in the School of Product Design, working in the area of human interface technology for health, training, and simulation applications.

Dr Mehdi Keyvan-Ekbatani

Senior Lecturer, Civil & Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury

Dr Emily Lane

Hydrodynamics Scientist, NIWA

Dr Delwyn Moller

Adjunct Professor, Department of Electrical, Computer and Software Engineering, University of Auckland

Prof. Elena Motchanova

Head of the Statistics Consulting Unit, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Canterbury

Greg Preston

Manager – Industry Development, Buiding Innovation Partnership; Research Manager, Quake Centre, University of Canterbury

Professor Matthew Wilson

Kaihautū | Director, Geospatial Research Institute Toi Hangarau
Ahorangi | Professor, School of Earth and Environment – Te Kura Aronukurangi

Addressing key research questions around Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI), as well as associated management and governance topics related to spatial data management, spatial data integration and sharing, interoperability and standards, data models, governance, and legal issues associated with open data and data privacy.


Professor Jennifer Brown

Deputy Director, Geospatial Research Institute

Head of School for School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, Jennifer is an Associate Director of the Biomathematics Research Centre and researcher in the NZ Health Ageing Research Group. She has an undergraduate degree in Forestry from Canterbury University.


Professor Simon Kingham

Deputy Director, Geospatial Research Institute
Chief Science Adviser for Ministry of Transport

Research interests include three areas, broadly linked by relationships between transport and health. These are:
1. Air pollution exposure – This addresses the question of how we quantify the amount of pollution humans actually breathe in. This is important to know if we want to relate pollution to human health.
2. Transport – This research area is interested in how we can make transport more sustainable and looks at people’s perceptions and attitudes to transport, focusing specifically on school and work travel.
3. Health geography – This focuses on links between spatial patterns of illness and air pollution.


Maria Cecilia Vega-Corredor

Menetia | Manager, Geospatial Research Institute Toi Hangarau

Maria is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with an MSc in Tropical Ecology. Over the last several years, she has been working in research in the spatial epidemiology of zoonotic diseases, with a particular focus on their geographical variations and associated risk factors including ecological, environmental and climatic.

Associate Professor Malcolm Campbell

Director of the GeoHealth Laboratory
Associate Professor, School of Earth and Environment, University of Canterbury

Associate Professor Campbell is a Quantitative Human Geography with expertise in Health and Medical Geography as well as Urban and Regional Analytics. He is the current Director of the GeoHealth Laboratory at UC and the founder of the Regional Analytics Lab. Dr. Campbell has primary research themes in mGeoHealth and Health Geography. He also has research themes in regional studies and science with a focus on regional analytics. Malcolm is working on a series of projects that examine and attempt to understand social and spatial inequalities for different populations, processes and places.


Matthew Hobbs

Deputy Director of Geohealth Laboratory

Matt is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health. He is interested in how we can modify the food and physical activity environment to promote health. As an early career researcher, he recently completed his PhD for which he received a scholarship. His thesis explored the association between the physical food and physical activity environment and obesity. Most recently, he has been invited as part of the international advisory panel for Perspectives in Public Health a flagship journal of the Royal Society for Public Health (MRSPH). Matthew became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA & PGCHE), has studied and worked in Australia, at Loughborough University within the UK, and has also worked as a health, physical activity and obesity consultant.


David Humm

Business Development Manager, Research & Innovation.

David is responsible for engaging with external customers for research, consulting and commercialisation activity with a specialisation in the ICT sector.

Hannah Walker

Marketing Administrator, Geospatial Research Institute

Hannah has a Master of Fine Arts in Natural History Filmmaking and Communication from Montana State University and a Dual BA/BS from the Evergreen State College. She specialises in science communication and marketing.

Jan Pierce (chairperson)

Kaihautū Deputy Secretary Customer Delivery at Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand

Dr Kat Salm

Business Development Manager, FrontierSI

Peter Shaw

Engineering Director, Cloud (Geospatial), Trimble

Mike Taitoko

CEO Takiwa, co-founder of Toha and Calm The Farm

Prof. Ian Wright

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, University of Canterbury

Jennifer’s primary research interests are in environmental statistics and she has expertise in survey design and environmental monitoring. Her research areas are broad and she works in other application areas, most recently, human health and wellbeing.

Professor Simon Kingham

Deputy Director, Geospatial Research Institute and Director, Geohealth Laboratory
Chief Science Adviser for Ministry of Transport

Research interests include three areas, broadly linked by relationships between transport and health. These are:
1. Air pollution exposure – This addresses the question of how we quantify the amount of pollution humans actually breathe in. This is important to know if we want to relate pollution to human health.
2. Transport – This research area is interested in how we can make transport more sustainable and looks at people’s perceptions and attitudes to transport, focusing specifically on school and work travel.
3. Health geography – This focuses on links between spatial patterns of illness and air pollution.

Professor Richard Green

Sourcing and Delivery Theme Leader at the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering
Theme Leader of Geospatial Research Institute

Incorporating a range of topics related to spatial data sourcing and delivery, including research work in UAVs, sensors, WiFi networks, environmental telemetry, positioning, mobile technology, communications, crowdsourcing, and representation of indigenous knowledge.

Professor Rob Lindeman

Research Leader of the HIT Lab NZ

Incorporating big spatial data analytics and rapid spatial data analytics, complex system modelling, geo-visualisation and interpretation, and GIS interfaces with other systems such as BIM. It also includes human aspects of data representation.

Dr John Reid

Ngāi Tahu Research Centre

John is a specialist in indigenous economic development with a particular focus on land, freshwater, ocean, and housing sustainability. He has spent years as both a consultant and researcher developing hapū and iwi scale businesses and economies. He also has a strong interest in indigenous identities and relationships to place that underpin novel approaches to social and economic development.


Dr Graeme Woodward

Wireless Research Centre

The applied use of geospatial for smart cities and infrastructure development and management, including smart cities, intelligent transport systems, business intelligence, situational awareness, built environment planning, monitoring and management, emergency services, post-quake city geoscience, and smarter as-set/utilities/infrastructure management.