Category Archives: Erskine Fellowship Programme


Professor David Smith has joined us from Smith College in the USA.

Where have you come from, and what do you teach?
I grew up in Virginia, received my undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Virginia, a masters in Marine Science at the University of South Carolina, and my PhD in Zoology at the University of Maryland.  

I have been teaching at Smith College, a liberal arts women’s college in western Massachusetts, since 2001.  Prior to that I taught at Northeastern University and before that, conducted postdoctoral research at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland, Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program, and Bamfield Marine Station on Vancouver Island, Canada.

At Smith, I teach one of the introductory courses (Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation) for the Biological Sciences major, a 200-level lecture and lab in Invertebrate Diversity, and an upper-level seminar in conservation biology.  I am also a member of Smith’s Environmental Science and Policy Program and regularly teach the senior capstone seminar, entitled Sustainable Solutions.

What interested you in the Erskine Programme/why did you want to come to UC?
My contact with UC and the Erskine Programme arose from my sending many Smith students to the Frontiers Abroad Program at UC and meeting its director, Max Borella.   

Frontiers Abroad’s relatively new Earth Systems program has been a good fit for our Environmental Science and Policy majors and ecology-minded Biology majors.  New Zealand combines a unique flora and fauna with a complex history of land use and conservation efforts by Maori and Pakeha; this combination provides a great learning experience for Smith students and a new lens through which to view social-ecological interactions. 

My research focuses on marine bioinvasions, so I was broadly interested in seeing how New Zealand has dealt with the problem of non-indigenous species along its coastline and on its lands.

I was also attracted to UC because of its new and growing Environmental Science major.  I was director of Smith’s Environmental Science and Policy Program for 11 years and helped to design and launch its major.  We are currently conducting our first program review, and I was interested to see how UC’s environmental program was organized and taught.  I also hoped to exchange ideas with UC faculty and meet UC Environmental Science students.

What have you been doing at UC?
My wife, Dr. Denise Lello, and I arrived in New Zealand in late January.  She is a terrestrial botanist and I am a marine ecologist.   We hit the ground running by joining the Frontier Abroad students and their professor Sharyn Goldstein in Kaikoura two days after our arrival.  

We spent the next 10 days in Kaikoura familiarizing ourselves with the coastal flora and fauna and engaging with the students.  We each gave a lecture on our research and led field modules with subsets of students.   Denise led her group to Puhi Peak to examine plant communities and conservation efforts on a large tract of privately-owned land.   I had students test for spatial variation in snail shell form at intertidal sites uplifted by the 2016 earthquake.   We have each been supervising a student project this semester that stemmed from our field projects.  We also gave seminars in ENVR356 Field-focused Research Methods.  Denise talked about climate change and the importance of understanding phenology (seasonal change) in forests, and I spoke about the role of phenotypic plasticity (environmentally induced changes) in marine bioinvasions.

I also gave lectures in the new course ENVR301 Environmental Science: Cities and Coasts.   This class was offered to the first graduating class of Environmental Science majors at UC.   My topics included estuaries and harbors, space allocation along coastlines, and changing biological diversity.   In preparing for these lectures, I learned a great deal about New Zealand’s coastal habitats, the challenges they face (e.g., climate change, coastal development, invasive species) and management approaches to meet these challenges.  I also sought to introduce the students to system-thinking and resilience-thinking approaches to tackling environmental problems. 

When not on campus, Denise and I have relished exploring Christchurch and South and North Islands.  We managed to complete four of the Great Walks.

What have you most enjoyed about your time here at UC/Christchurch?
I very much enjoyed teaching the ENVR students; they readily shared their personal knowledge about environmental issues in New Zealand and I learned a great deal from them. My travels around New Zealand have also been incredibly rewarding.   Experiencing the landscape and the biota firsthand and learning about New Zealand’s geological, evolutionary, and cultural history have been exhilarating. 

Denise and I met many friendly people at UC and in our travels. For example, Bryce Williamson was generous in sharing his knowledge of tramping, and we met a park ranger on the Kepler Track who gave us a wonderful background to the Save Manapouri campaign of the late 1960s/early 1970s.  

Although no joy was involved, I was deeply moved by the responses of the University, Christchurch community and nation to the mosque shootings.  The prime minister showed tremendous compassion and great leadership in the aftermath.  The overarching message of inclusivity and understanding was inspirational.

I am grateful to the Erskine Programme and to those in Geological Sciences, Frontiers Abroad, and Environmental Science who helped me secure this wonderful fellowship.


The Erskine Programme would like to welcome the following Visiting Erskine Fellows to the University:

  • Professor Hezy Ram from Ram Energy Inc, Israel, arrived 25 April and will be teaching in the Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Professor Duncan James from Fordham University, USA, arrived 26 April and will be teaching in the Department of Economics and Finance
  • Associate Professor Karen Green from the University of Melbourne, Australia, arrived 27 April and will be teaching in the Department of Psychology
  • Associate Professor Vinaya Channapatna Manchaiah from Lamar University, USA, arrived 28 April and will be teaching in the Department of Communication Disorders
  • Associate Professor Harry Nelson from the University of British Columbia, Canada, arrived 28 April and will be teaching in the School of Forestry

We wish all our visitors and their families the very best for their stay.


A reminder that nominations for the 2020 Canterbury, Cambridge and Oxford Fellowships and Grants are now open.

Nominations for visits to UC (fellowships) and visits by UC academics (grants) are due into the Erskine Programme Office by 10 May 2019.  Visits will take place during 2020.

Further information and the nomination forms can be found here>

Canterbury Fellowships and Grants are available for non-Erskine Schools/Departments being:

  • the College of Arts (excluding the Departments of Philosophy, Linguistics and NCRE);
  • The College of Education, Health and Human Development (exuding the School of Health Sciences); and
  • The School of Law.

All Schools and Departments can apply for a Cambridge and Oxford Fellowship or Grant.

If you have any questions, please contact the Erskine Programme Office at

Erskine Programme Visitor Profile

Professor Tammy Allen has joined us from the University of South Florida, located in Tampa, Florida.

Tammy and Mark enjoying the great Kiwi outdoors

What do you teach?

My general background is in industrial and organizational psychology.  My research and teaching focus has been on work-family issues, worker career development, and occupational health.

What interested you in the Erskine Programme/why did you want to come to UC?

My first experience as an Erskine visitor was in 2012 and I have been interested in returning since then.  I appreciate the collegiality of the psychology department and the concern that is shown for students. My current host, Katharina Naswall who I met during my first visit, shares an interest in worker wellbeing and we are currently collaborating on a large-scale cross-national work-family project.  Every time I visit a university, I learn something new, which I try to take back to my home institution.

What have you been doing at UC?

My primary activity has been teaching a course on Stress, Health, and Wellbeing to the Applied Psychology graduate students. I am co-teaching with my partner, Mark Poteet, who is also an industrial-organizational psychologist who does consulting work. While I focus on theory and research, Mark focuses on application within the workplace. The students have been eager to learn and their engagement has made teaching the course very rewarding.

I also delivered a research lecture focused on work-family conflict. In the lecture I discussed a program of research my lab has been conducting in which we investigate the day-to-day conflicts that individuals experiences between their work and family roles, decision-making about competing work-family demands, and physiological reactions.

What have you most enjoyed about your time here at UC/Christchurch?

It has been delight to return to Christchurch and see the revitalization of campus life and the city that has occurred since 2012. I have also very much enjoyed interactions and sharing of ideas with students and colleagues within psychology.

My partner and I enjoy outdoor activities and have been fortunate to do some great hiking while here, including the Tongariro Crossing on the North Island, Abel Tasman, and trails in Mount Cook Village. We continue to be stunned by the natural beauty of New Zealand.  We love the warmth and friendliness of the Kiwi culture. I’m grateful to have had this time at UC!

Erskine Programme Arrivals for March

The Erskine Programme would like to welcome the following  Visiting Erskine Fellows to UC:

  • Professor David Boje and Emeritus Professor Grace Rosile from New Mexico State University, USA arrived 1 March and will be teaching in the Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship (Joint Fellowship);
  • Professor Peter Kotanen from the University of Toronto Mississauga, Canada arrived 3 March and will be teaching in the School of Biological Sciences;
  • Associate Professor Anna Mitchell from the University of Oxford, UK arrived 4 March and will be teaching in the Department of Psychology;
  • Professor Glen Van Brummelen from Quest University, Canada will arrive 9 March and will be teaching in the School of Mathematics and Statistics; and
  • Emeritus Professor Victor Gosbell from the University of Wollongong, Australia will arrive 11 March and will be teaching in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

We wish all our visitors and their families the very best for their stay.