Science Leadership

The science leadership team is made up of the programme leaders for each of the ten science programmes of the Resilience Challenge.

Tom Wilson

Dr Tom Wilson (Rural Laboratory)

Tom is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Canterbury with a high-profile research track record in understanding the impacts of volcanism, earthquake and snowfall hazards on infrastructure, lifelines, agriculture and community resilience. In recent years he has contributed underpinning societal and agricultural impact measures to the major New Zealand Riskscape initiative, investigated GIS tools for evacuation planning and disaster management, and worked extensively on collaborative projects in and around the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence. Producing over 50-refereed publications and several PhD graduands, Dr Wilson’s research has spanned diverse settings from Indonesia to South America.

Prof Suzanne Wilkinson (Urban Laboratory)

Suzanne is a Professor in Construction Management at the University of Auckland and the Director of the Centre for Disaster Resilience, Recovery and Reconstruction. Her research focuses on disaster recovery and reconstruction, construction contract administration and relationship management for construction projects. Suzanne has published over 150 papers in international journals and is an editorial board member of the International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment.  Prof Wilkinson is a regular Keynote speaker around the world on issues concerning Recovery and Reconstruction, Building Resilience: achieving effective post-disaster reconstruction, and has worked extensively on the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence recovery process.

Prof Paul Kench (Edge Laboratory)

Paul is the Head of the School of Environment at the University of Auckland. He is an international expert in coastal processes and coastal engineering including evaluating and managing the effects of climate change, anthropogenic activities, environmental variations and storm/tsunami on coastal settings. He has published over 70 papers in international journals, spanning coastal science to coastal management issues. Paul has researched in many countries around the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Awarded a Marsden grant in 2015, Prof Kench has also a long history of consulting and large-scale research programmes with a range of NZ regional authorities.

Jon Procter

Dr Jon Procter (Mātauranga Māori Laboratory)

Jon (Muaupoko, Ngati Apa, Ngai Tahu) has a background in Geographical Information Systems, Mapping, geology and numerical mass flow modelling. He currently leads the multi-agency $2.5 million Living with Volcanic risk programme (2016-2019) and has also led a diverse range of other Māori-specific projects via MBIE, NZ Natural Hazards Research Platform, Landcare Research and variety of Iwi Authorities and Regional council. His experience includes Māori-resource and landscape mapping and iwi-based initiatives into volcanic hazard mapping and environmental/pollution monitoring and management. Dr Procter is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Agriculture and Environment at Massey University and has published over 35 papers in refereed international journals.

Dr Garry McDonald (Economics Toolbox)

Garry is a director of Market Economics Ltd, an economics consulting and research company. His research focuses on the integration of the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability, particularly in the urban context. This includes development of dynamic and spatially explicit decision/policy support systems; ecological economics and urban/regional economics; critical infrastructure investment and interdependencies; and indicator development (e.g., full cost accounting, resilience). Garry co-developed the Measuring Economic Resilient Infrastructure Tool (MERIT).  A suite of web-based and desktop decision support tools designed to assess the economic impacts, allowing modelling of critical infrastructure outages and mitigation solutions.  These tools are used by Vector, Watercare Services and Lyttelton Port Company and for major ex ante natural hazard events associated with the Auckland volcanic field and Alpine fault.

Dr Liam Wotherspoon (Infrastructure Toolbox)

Liam is a Senior Lecturer in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Auckland. He has published over 50 articles in international journals on structural and geotechnical aspects of earthquake engineering; including soil-foundation-structure interaction and integrated response of structures and foundations (buildings and bridges), seismic response of bridges, resilience of ports, site characterisation (liquefaction studies, strong motion station characterisation) and foundation response. Dr Wotherspoon has been heavily involved in post-earthquake investigations during the Canterbury, Earthquake Sequence and is a principal researcher in QuakeCore.

Dr Vivienne Ivory (Governance Toolbox)

Vivienne is a social scientist specialising in urban environments and urban health based at Opus International Consultants. Vivienne’s expertise lies in examining the relationships between where people live, their demography and their health, including links between built and natural environments, transport, and health and wellbeing. With over 30 publications in these areas, Dr Ivory has worked following the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence on the on-going effects of natural disasters on businesses and communities.

Mark Bebbington

Prof Mark Bebbington (Hazard Toolbox)

Mark is a Professor in Geostatistics in the Statistics Group of the Institute of Fundamental Sciences at Massey University. His research interests include stochastic modelling, especially in geophysics; inference and computational methods for stochastic processes; and reliability and statistical quality control. Mark has published over 100 international journal papers and received over 20 contestable research grants; with a focus on developing methods for assessing and forecasting natural hazard risks, especially volcanic and earthquake hazards. He is also an Associate Editor for the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Statistics.

John Vargo

Dr John Vargo (Trajectories Toolbox)

John is a co-director of ResOrgs Ltd. His research interests lie in building organisational resilience in the face of systemic insecurity. John was a practicing Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the US and was involved in industry for over 30 years. In addition to his academic role, John has filled a range of senior management roles at the University of Canterbury including Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business and Economics), Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. As a researcher Dr Vargo has led several major MBIE and NZ Natural Hazards Research Platform programmes working on private sector and business resilience during the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence.

Julia Becker

Dr Julia Becker (Culture Toolbox)

Dr Becker is a senior scientist in the Social Science research team at GNS Science and specialises in research on community resilience, land-use planning for natural hazards, and hazard-event warnings. Julia works on the interface between individual and community preparedness and resilience for a range of hazards. She has worked extensively in Canterbury before and during the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence. As well as working closely with the Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergency Management and regional Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, she has also worked in Australia, USA and Indonesia on social issues of hazard and disaster management.