Who we are?


Dr Rita Dionísio

Senior Lecturer, School of Earth and Environment


Spatial Planning

Rita’s research is focused on collaborative planning, urban regeneration, and community resilience. Her research experience has been developed through projects focused on the social and environmental sustainability of neighborhoods and cities, through engaged research. In Japan, she developed research supporting communities, affected by the 2011 Tsunami, in envisioning regeneration and recovery scenarios. This work explored community responsive urban design and environmentally appropriate planning at local and regional levels.

Dr Lukáš Marek

Postdoctoral Fellow, Geospatial Research Institute


Geospatial Analysis

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 Maria Vega Corredor

Researcher, Geospatial Research Institute


Geospatial Analysis

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.


Dr Rajasweta Datta

Postdoctoral Fellow, Geospatial Research Institute


Geospatial Analysis

Rajasweta (Raj) completed her PhD in 2021 from the Department of Geography, School of Earth and Environment, University of Canterbury. In her thesis, she studied foehn-induced temperature fluctuations across McMurdo Dry valleys of Antarctica using satellite remote sensing. She had previously worked for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) as a Junior Research Fellow and did her Master’s in Remote Sensing. Her research interests include remote sensing applications in study of micro-climates, hydrology, and Antarctic meteorology.

Dr Dean Walker

Postdoctoral Fellow, Geospatial Research Institute


Geospatial Analysis

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.

Dr Rose Pearson

Postdoctoral Fellow, NIWA
Visiting researcher, GRI


Geospatial Analysis

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.

Dr Merel Keijsers

Research Assistant


Geospatial Analysis

Merel completed her PhD in social robotics at UC’s Human Interface Technology Lab and holds a double masters degree in social psychology and methodology&statistics from the university of Utrecht. For her doctoral research she looked into what makes people behave aggressively towards robots. She is currently working on the VESPHA project, which uses virtual reality to study vapers’ and smokers’ craving responses to vaping related cues.

Dr Sharmila Savarimuthu

Computer/Information Science


Software Development

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.

Luke Parkinson

Geospatial Software Developer


Software Development

Luke joined the GRI as a software developer after completing his BE(Hons) Software Engineering degree. Luke has a strong interest in web and application development with a growing specialisation in geospatial technologies, with previous work at Seequent introducing him to contributing to geospatial modelling applications in industry. Luke develops open-source web frameworks for geospatial applications for the GRI and provides software advice to researchers.


Casey Li

Geospatial Developer/Researcher


Software Development

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.

Previous GRI researchers


Pooja Khosla

Geospatial Developer


Software Development

Pooja completed her master’s degree in Applied Data Science and joined GRI as a Geospatial Developer in 2021 where her primary focus was on software development for the digital twin, which will automate the generation of inputs for flood inundation models by integrating multiple spatial data sources (e.g. LiDAR, streamlines, land cover, and infrastructure), run a flood model, then automatically analyse the outputs. Previously she has worked with the Quake Centre as a data scientist intern.

Inês Falcão

Geomatics Engineer


Software Development

Ines is a certified geomatics engineer. She obtained her MSc certificate from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon in 2012. Ines has been involved in information technology projects as a researcher and developer. Ines has a particular interest in programming and web mapping activities and her most recent work experiences were related with IT consulting and INSPIRE directive implementation. Presently, Ines is working as a programmer in the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge – SRA2: Next Generation Information for Better Outcomes, being involved in the development of a web-based geospatial application to aid better urban decision making.


Dr Matt Hobbs

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Geospatial Research Institute


GeoHealth Analysis

Matt is a postdoctoral researcher in the GeoHealth Laboratory 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.

Dr Sonia Giovinazzi

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Geospatial Research Institute


Geospatial Analysis

Fields of Research include: Natural and man-induced hazard risk analysis; GIS-based territorial scale damage scenario analysis; Structure and infrastructure vulnerability analysis; Risk reduction strategies including mitigation strategies, emergency management and resilience enhancement strategies; Extreme events decision making; and Seismic vulnerability assessment of unreinforced masonry and heritage/monumental buildings.

David Garcia

PhD Student, GRI


Geospatial Analysis

David is a mapmaker. He is a PhD student focusing on crowdsourcing geographic information for community development and humanitarian action. He used to work as a geographer and urban planner for the United Nations and other organisations in places hit by disaster (Super Typhoon Haiyan) or conflict (Marawi siege) in the Philippines. Broadly, his academic, professional, civic work has been for and with cities and communities at the crossings of crises and conflict in his country. In the fields about cartography, spatial planning and geographic information, he tries to combine a computational, critical, and creative approach. His hobby is to make good maps, which he shares for free (www.mapmakerdavid.com). David is also a volunteer of OpenStreetMap (OSM), which is about sharing and making “free geographic data for the world” (www.wiki.openstreetmap.org).

Kelly Lu PhD StudentGRI

Kelly Lu

PhD Student since 2020


Geospatial Analysis

Kelly’s PhD research focuses on the analysis of spatio-temporal trends in New Zealand Traffic in 1998-2018 and implications for benchmarking and implementation of autonomous self-driving vehicles.


Kelly is the first recipient of the GRI-PhD scholarship established in 2019.


Prof. Elena Moltchanova

Dr Christoph Bartneck 

Dr Mehdi Ekbatani

Prof Simon Kingham


Martin Nguyen

PhD Student, GRI


Geospatial Analysis

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

Sidney Wong

Sidney Wong

PhD Student, GRI


Linguistic Geospatial Analysis

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


Andrea Pozo Estívariz

PhD Student, GRI


Geospatial Analysis

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)


Prof. Elena Motchanova

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

Dr Malcolm Campbell

Deputy Director of the GeoHealth Laboratory; Senior Lecturer (Above the Bar), School of Earth and Environment, University of Canterbury

Dr Jesse Wiki

Postdoctoral Fellow, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Auckland; Former Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Manager, GeoHealth Laboratory, University of Canterbury

Greg Preston

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

Dr Emily Lane

Hydrodynamics Scientist, NIWA

Dr Christoph Bartneck

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

Dr Mehdi Keyvan-Ekbatani

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

Dr Delwyn Moller

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

Jan Pierce (chairperson)

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

Mark Nichols

General Manager, Trimble Navigation New Zealand
Kat Salm

Dr Kat Salm

Business Development Manager, FrontierSI

Prof. Ian Wright

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, University of Canterbury

Former board members


Colin MacDonald (former chair person)

Chair, Network for Learning (N4L), formerly the Chief Executive, Department of Internal Affairs

Dr Richard Gordon

Chief Executive Officer, Landcare Research.

Prof. Wendy Lawson

Pro Vice Chancellor Science, University of Canterbury

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 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.


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.

Professor Matthew Wilson

Professor of Spatial Information
Director, Geospatial Research Institute


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 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 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.

Dr. Melanie Tomintz

Manager, Geospatial Research Institute


Melanie has a PhD in quantitative geography from the University of Leeds in the UK and graduated as certified engineer in the field of geoinformation science from the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences in Austria. She is passionate about merging the fields of geoinformation and health science and especially enjoys the collaborative work with the NZ Ministry of Health. Melanie was previously the Research Manager of the Geohealth Laboratory and continues to oversee the lab within her expanded remit.

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.

SEE_Fiona Hopkins_Website Photo

Fiona Hopkins

Administration, Geospatial Research Institute


Fiona provides administrative support to the GRI, she is also a part-time administrator for the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Canterbury. Fiona grew up in Christchurch and completed a BSc in Geography at the University of Canterbury.