Centre for Disaster Resilience, Recovery and Reconstruction

Our people

The centre is supported by highly skilled individuals that contribute toward making the centre successful.

Core team


CDRR Director: Professor Suzanne Wilkinson

Suzanne has a PhD in Construction Management and a BE (Hons) in Civil Engineering. She primarily works on projects in resilience and recovery, including recovery from disasters, recovery management, build back better, resilient organisations, resilient infrastructure and resilience governance and the management of the construction industry in disaster environments. She has extensive research experience including over 150 international and national publications and is a regular contributor of to BUILD (www.buildmagazine.org.nz/authors/show/suzanne-wilkinson).  Suzanne currently works on Government (BRANZ, EQC, MBIE) funded projects on the recovery of Christchurch, particularly around how the building and construction sector can assist disaster recovery. Suzanne leads the Bush Fire Recovery project – a longitudinal study of the recovery and reconstruction following the 2009 Australian bush fires.

Suzanne is the Director of the Centre for Disaster Resilience, Recovery and Reconstruction, a research leader with Resilient Organisations and a co-Director of The University of Auckland’s Urban Research Network.


Associate Professor Regan Potangaroa

Professor Regan Potangaroa

Regan is a Professor of Architectural Science in the School of Architecture at Victoria University, Wellington. His professional background is as a structural engineer which lead him into humanitarian aid work through RedR Australia and that ultimately lead to him taking up academic life and research. His research areas not surprisingly are in post disaster reconstruction and the interface between the technical/technology and those being assisted in the humanitarian arena. He has completed over 100 deployments into the field with various UN Agencies, the IFRC and national RCRC Societies, major INGO's and RedR Australa in 23 different countries that includes Haiti, Indonesia, Samoa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Vanuatu, Gaza, Syria, Sudan, China, Thailand, Tonga, Australia and New Zealand. He has been medi-vacced 5 times and taken hostage once and often it these many undocumented experiences that brings a spicy richness to his research. 


Dr Dean Myburgh

Dr Dean Myburgh

Dean is an industry-based researcher who has extensive leadership experience in the private sector, local government and as a risk consultant. He has expertise in disaster resilience with a background in risk- and emergency management. Dean has taught Risk Management Masters Papers at the University of Auckland.



Dr Alice Chang-Richards

Dr Yan (Alice) Chang-Richards is a lecturer in the Centre for Disaster Resilience, Recovery and Reconstruction at the University of Auckland. She has a background in civil engineering and disaster risk reduction. Her current research and teaching portfolio includes decision making in the construction industry and disaster resilience in the built environment. Alice has extensive post-disaster field experience and knowledge in Indonesia, China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the USA. She also worked as a research consultant for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat in 2013, for the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) in 2015 and served as a consulting engineer working for Care International, Canada in its Post-Tsunami Housing Reconstruction Programme, Banda Aceh, in 2008.


Dr Seosamh Costello

Seosamh Costello is our expert in resilience of the transportation infrastructure. He is involved in National Science Challenge 10: Resilience to Natures Challenges, where he is leading the Transportation element of the Distributed Infrastructure Toolbox. He is also working with the NZ Transport Agency on the development and implementation of a resilience assessment framework for transportation infrastructure.


Dr Liam Wotherspoon

Liam Wotherspoon is our expert in earthquake engineering. He is on the leadership team of QuakeCoRe, the New Zealand Centre for Earthquake Resilience, and leads the Distributed Infrastructure Toolbox of the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges National Science Challenge.


Dr Jan Lindsay

Jan Lindsay is an Associate Professor in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland (UoA) where her position is supported by a Fellowship from the New Zealand Earthquake Commission (EQC). Prior to joining UoA in 2006 she held research positions at GNS Science (Taupo); the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences (Potsdam, Germany); and the University of the West Indies (Trinidad).

She has an MSc in Geology from UoA, and a PhD in Geosciences from the University of Giessen in Germany. Jan is a past president of the Geoscience Society of New Zealand and is currently Deputy Head (Research) of the School of Environment. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) and co-leader of the IAVCEI Commission on Volcanic Hazards and Risk.

She is a volcanologist, with research interests spanning all aspects of volcanoes, from the origin of their magmas through to the communication of volcanic hazard and risk with stakeholders. She has research leadership experience as PI of the multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional projects DEVORA (Determining Volcanic Risk in Auckland) and VORISA (Volcanic Risk in Saudia Arabia). She has close ties with research stakeholders (e.g., Civil Defence, EQC and regional government), especially in Auckland. 


Garry Miller

Garry is a civil engineer and an experienced professional in the design, procurement and delivery of capital works. With over 25 years of industry experience he has advised public and private sector clients in the health, property, energy, transportation, water and telecommunications sectors.



PhD students and postdoctoral researchers

Postdoctoral researchers


Dr Sandeeka Mannakara 

Sandeeka began her career as a structural engineer but soon proceeded to completing a PhD focusing on disaster management.  Her research looked at defining the concept of “Building Back Better” (BBB) in post-disaster reconstruction and recovery.  She developed a framework for BBB which is fast gaining recognition worldwide.  She currently works as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Auckland looking at a number of projects including the Victorian Bushfires recovery in Australia and producing a State of New Zealand report for the United Nations Habitat III Conference on developing a new urban agenda in partnership with the University of Auckland’s Urban Research Network.  She has also been working as a BBB specialist consultant for international agencies such as the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and the Agricultural Development Association, Palestine.

Current PhD students


Behrooz Balaei

Behrooz is a PhD scholar student in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He has got 7 years of experience in disaster management field focusing on infrastructure resilience, damage estimation, mitigation planning, and risk reduction.

He studied his M.S in Disaster Management at the University of Tehran in Iran. Working in Tehran Disaster Mitigation and Management Organization (TDMMO), He has been to several disasters and gained a real world experience. Behrooz is currently working on water supply systems resilience to determine the technical, organisational, social, economic, and environmental factors which affect water system functionality after an earthquake. Due to his engineering background and curiosity in social issues, he is working on social complexities of engineering solutions for water system recovery after March 2015 Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. He is also working on some projects to foster water system resilience in Iran on the basis of his experience in Iran, New Zealand, Japan, and Vanuatu.


Masoud Sajoudi

Masoud is a PhD candidate in Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The University of Auckland. Masoud's research focuses at the issues and requirements of  infrastructure resilience assessment frameworks implementation process toward a holistic, practical and applicable measurement tool for transport sector.


Ke Qin

Ke received his Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree (BEng) from Hunan University of Arts and Sciences in 2006. After working as a designer for several years in China, he went to the City University of Hong Kong to pursue a Master of Science (MSc) degree majoring in Construction Management. Then he joined China Resources Construction Company as an assistant project coordinator for one year in Hong Kong where he was involved in subcontractor management and procurement delivery. From 2014, he joined the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The University of Auckland as a PhD student. 


Dantje Sina

Dantje is a doctoral student working under supervision of Professor Suzanne Wilkinson and Doctor Alice Yan Chang within the area of livelihood recovery of disaster induced relocated people. As previous researchers pointed out that tends to negatively impact to the beneficiaries particularly on their livelihood, Dantje’s research is looking deeply into livelihood recovery of Post Indian Ocean tsunami 2004 relocation beneficiaries in Aceh, Indonesia. It is focuses on the challenges faced by the relocated people also the barriers and inhibitors of their   livelihood recovery. The research is aim to propose viable framework for increasing the livelihood resilience of relocation beneficiaries. 


Imelda Piri

Imelda is a doctoral student at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She works in close cooperation with Professor Suzanne Wilkinson and Doctor Alice Yan Chang within the area of resourcing for post-disaster reconstruction projects.

The Canterbury earthquake events that occurred in 2010 and 2011 and its on-going reconstruction have created a substantial demand for construction resources. As the majority of the construction businesses are small businesses operating in the subcontracting sector, subcontractors, therefore, play a major role in securing resources for disaster recovery projects. Given the fact that subcontractors are susceptible to significant demand cycles, Imelda’s research focuses on the subcontractors’ resourcing strategies and identification of the critical factors to sustain their business stability. The research aims to equip the subcontractors with a specific procedure on resourcing best practice; suiting the small and medium-sized construction businesses. 


Tinu Rose Francis

Rose completed her Masters in Disaster Management with specialization in Remote Sensing and GIS from Mahatma Gandhi University, India. She has a background in Disaster Risk Reduction and Geospatial analysis. She joined as a project officer in DRM (Disaster Risk Management) and DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) projects of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Government of India.

Over this time she found a perfect opening to work with Prof. Suzanne Wilkinson and joined in University of Auckland to pursue her doctoral studies. She got her funding from University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarships

Her research focussed on “Attaining Resilience through Disaster Recovery” which aims for better resilience by incorporating key resilience elements in post-disaster restoration. This research aims to investigate the effectiveness of ‘Build Back Better’ to the recovery of to the built environment such as residential, public and lifeline buildings to produce a resilient outcome. The research uses post-disaster case studies in Christchurch, Waimakariri and pre-disaster preparation assessment of built environment in Christchurch. The outcome will enhance recovery by incorporating better resilience thinking for built environment recovery planning.


Harold Aquino

Harold's thesis aims to determine the effect of post-disaster wind design code changes on the affordability of housing in the Philippines.


Osamuede Odiase

Osamuede Odiase holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria and a Master of Science degree in Disaster Management from Coventry University, United Kingdom. He has researched on the impact of Structural Adjustment Programme on Nigerian Peasantry and  conducted an investigation into the effectiveness of responses to drought in the Sahel Region: the rethinking of a region’s food security. He is presently a PhD student at the University of Auckland, assessing the resilience of urban communities in Auckland to the risk of natural hazards.


Mohammad Aghababaei

Mohammad is a PhD student at the University of Auckland, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He graduated in the field of Natural Hazard Management from University of Tehran. He has 7 years professional job experience in Tehran Urban Research and Planning Centre (TURPC) as of Disaster and Emergency Management Expert. Due to his position in TURPC, he earned a broad knowledge in emergency management, disaster risk reduction, urban resilience as well as urban planning.


Heiman Dianat

Heiman is an experienced Engineer and Project Manager in the field of construction. He contributed in few disaster response and reconstruction. His doctoral work examines and tests United Nations Disaster Resilience Scorecards for cities. Heiman’s research tests Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland disaster resilience based on UNISDR’s Ten Essentials. The research is intended to prioritise areas for investment and action to improve their resilience.

Heiman recently joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The University of Auckland as a PhD student. 

Gujun photo

Gujun Pu

Gujun Pu has a Bachelor of Crop and Soil Science from Michigan State University and a Bachelor of Agriculture in Beijing Forestry University. He finished his study of Master of Disaster Management in the University of Auckland with the research focusing on the livelihood recovery after 2012 Lushan Earthquake in China. He is now a doctoral student under supervision of Professor Suzanne Wilkinson and Doctor Alice Yan Chan within the area of developing a toolkit to assess the livelihood recovery.


Riffat Shaheed

Mr Riffat Shaheed is a PhD student in University of Auckland under supervision of Dr Alice Yan Chang and co-supervised by Professor Suzanne Wilkinson. After graduation in Civil Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology, he worked in construction industry. He is a seasoned Project Director of road and bridge construction in remote regions of Bangladesh. Later on, his expertise stretched through administration, commerce, production and industrial construction of factory facilities as the General Manager in another group of companies. Then, he joined in academia of University Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia) and completed Master of Science (Civil and Structural Engineering). Presently his research is focused on resilience of construction SMEs in Auckland.

Mostafa Baghersad

Mostafa Baghersad

Mostafa is a PhD candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at The University of Auckland, New Zealand with a master degree in Natural Disaster Management from The University of Tehran, Iran. After graduation from The University of Tehran, Mostafa gained a great deal of knowledge by working in a couple of organisations. He used to be a technical expert in Tehran Disaster Mitigation and Management Organisation (TDMMO) in which he had been working on projects related to urban disasters. He also gained valuable knowledge relating to water supply systems management in emergencies when working in Tehran’s water and Wastewater Company. Owning to working in several work spaces, he is experienced in disaster risk reduction methods, reconstruction management, and incident commanding in real situations.

Lukuba Ngalya Sweya

Lukuba Ngalya Sweya

Lukuba holds a BSc. and MSc. in Environmental Engineering, and Environmental Technology and Management respectively. He has been working in the School of Environmental Science and Technology at Ardhi University, Tanzania as Assistant Lecturer since 2009. Lukuba has 8 years’ environmental management experience on water and wastewater, Building Services, and climate change. He is currently enrolled as PhD student at the University of Auckland, under supervision of Professor Suzanne Wilkinson and Dr Alice Yan Chang.

April Aryal

April Aryal

April completed his Bachelors in Architecture in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2010.  Afterwards he worked in architectural and planning industry for three years in Nepal. He got hsi M.Sc in Sustainable Urban Technologies from Germany in 2016 with a specialization in sustainable post-disaster recovery. April’s research includes the disaster resilient urbanism in developing countries in post-disaster recovery and reconstruction through community resilience.

Our graduates


Dr Temitope Egbelakin

Temitope’s PhD was on understanding the challenges to successful seismic retrofit implementation from a socio-behavioural perspective.

Temitope is now an academic staff member at Massey University.


Dr James Rotimi

James' PhD was on legislation for post disaster reconstruction.

James is now an academic staff member at Auckland University of Technology.


Dr Kelvin Zuo

Kelvin’s PhD was on contractual arrangements for post-disaster reconstruction.

Kelvin is now working in the New Zealand construction industry.


Dr Fei Ying

Fei’s PhD was on decision making processes for earthquake retrofit solutions in New Zealand.

Fei is now an academic staff member at Auckland University of Technology.