Possible HDR Projects

Research   Possible HDR Projects

Here is a list of topic areas and/or projects identified by JCU academics where students may consider undertaking a MPhil/PhD. Research in other areas are also possible and students should examine the JCU Singapore academic profiles to see if they can identify possible advisors that may have other research projects of interest.

Activity Based Costing

Dr. Desti Kannaiah

Activity Based Costing is the process of identifying and assigning costs to specific activities within functions and work processes. The approach allows the costs to be differentiated by individual products or customers based on the effort and resources required by each. Activity Based Costing (ABC) literature is replete with success stories. ABC system can fail even after all the measures of a successful implementation are taken. ABC system needs to be seen from a systems perspective and should draw and actively engage people from cross sections of an organization.

Topics include:
1.On Trying to Understand an Activity Based Costing Failure
2.Activity Based Costing (ABC): Is it a Tool for Company to Achieve Competitive Advantage?

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Dr Desti Kannaiah (

Attraction management

Associate Professor Abhishek Bhati

In a fast growing tourism industry in Asia, visitor attractions have a central role in entertaining visitors. Attractions man-made and natural are difficult to manage due to presence of wide range of stakeholders –government, local community, attraction management, destination management organisation (DMO) and visitors. The conflicting interests of these stakeholders form another layer of complexity in attraction management. The variation in the size, infrastructure development and resource requirement to manage attractions is another consideration in attraction management. The need for visitor attractions to deliver United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and be viable for the operators presents challenges in attraction development and management. What will attractions of the future look like and what roles will they serve? One thesis area for development is the role of attractions in building family good times and experiences in the age of technology and social media. What can attractions do to maintain their integrative family role?

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Associate Professor Abhishek Bhati (

PhD Studentship(s) on Circular Economy and Servitization

Associate Professor Adrian Kuah

Companies are offering services, either as a standalone delivery, or often packaged with products. Companies’ goals are to service their customers in their best interest. However, the relationships with customers, employees and suppliers have been violated as customers are offered one-off selling, employees are incentivized to meet performance targets, and suppliers are chosen based on lowest prices in a linear fashion! These result in goods and products disposed shortly after they reach their end-of-use. The circular economy refers to a model to which resources are optimally used by lengthening and broadening it's life, and actions are taken to recover and regenerate resources at the end of a product’s service life. One specific model build on the concept of “servitization” where companies switch their focus from making products to bundling them with a range of services. Privately owned goods can be shared and commercially owned products can be leased in peer-to-peer marketplaces. By promoting sharing, shared platforms can redistribute overcapacity, conserve resources, and create value for the society. Circular economy thinking touches on some important core values of trust, future security, and sustainability, as it restores the thought of striving for well-being, sustainability, and longevity.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Associate Professor Adrian Kuah (

PhD Studentship on Gurus in Management

Associate Professor Adrian Kuah

The corporate training industry as well as the business and financial training industries are filled with renowned gurus, from Anthony Robbins to Stephen Covey. One former guru, Donald Trump, is now the 45th President of the United States; during the presidential election campaigns, he made use of his guru fame and brand. Many business corporations and executives in English-speaking Western economies have been affected by the thoughts and actions of these gurus, delivered via the printed media or live seminars that cost a substantial amount of money. These gurus, who are entrepreneurial leaders themselves, sell a wide range of knowledge-economy-based products and services to the public in areas such as investments, motivation, and self-help. Gurus also attract a large number of followers, who may become better off financially or entrepreneurially after the trainings. This longitudinal study proposes investigating the entrepreneur and leadership characteristics of gurus and developing an instrument to capture the influences these gurus have on their followers. Other than the gurus, this topic area has scope in understanding the extent followers mimic their gurus in their behaviours and create their personal success.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Associate Professor Adrian Kuah (

Psychology and Health-based Project: Biophilia and Nature Immersion Practices

Dr. Denise Dillon

Biophilia is a term coined by the German psychologist Eric Fromm as “an orientation which we may call love of life.” Renowned American biologist, Edward O. Wilson later defined biophilia as “the innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes”. Wilson went further to propose that human existence relies on a predisposition to “explore and affiliate with life”, which is crucial to human mental development. This project proposal identifies immersive biophilia as a means for humans to reconnect with nature, to revision ourselves as part of nature and to prevent human-nature interactions from being reduced solely to artificial means (e.g., built/constructed/enhanced/augmented/simulated nature). Two forms of immersive biophilia are highlighted. Firstly, forest bathing, from the Japanese term shinrin-yoku, involves nature immersion through contemplative walks in nature for preventive health care and restoration. Secondly, dadirri, from Australian aboriginal cultures, represents a similar concept: healing via immersion in the silence of nature through the practice of deep and respectful listening. Stanner speculated that Aboriginal religion was the “most life-minded of any of which we have knowledge”. Forest therapy is a relatively new practice based on the concept and practice of shinrin yoku, with guide training courses stemming largely from the US producing a global network of trained and certified forest therapy guides. While there is ample research-based evidence that nature connection and exposure provides a range of psychological health benefits, the practice of guided forest therapy walks has yet to be validated as an effective psychological health intervention. Further, although US-based training courses draw from a range of spiritual philosophies and learnings, there is no overt reference to dadirri, although some parallels are apparent. There is scope here to document current forest therapy practices across the US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Asia, in order to determine evidence-based efficacy of guided forest therapy walks in terms of psychological well-being, and to determine the evidence-based efficacy of cumulative forest therapy practices amongst the community of trained guides. Secondly, an opportunity presents itself to document current dadirri practices to draw on for comparative purposes in terms of efficacy and nature connectedness.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Dr Denise Dillon (

Tourism resilience

Associate Professor Abhishek Bhati

Resilience is a key feature of growth and progress. Asian Tourism resilience is entrenched in several factors, such as, disaster recovery and management, changing visitor demographic and psychographic makeup, technological disruption and so forth. Technology and the role of technology is a leading instrument for industry change. The study will examine four tourism sectors- the restaurants, the resorts, attractions and the events to assess how new technologies are changing jobs and employment with implications for the work left undone. Both workers and managers views will be sought in response to likely future scenarios. Technology resilience in managing visitor demand and supply of hospitality & tourism elements is an area in need of further study and deeper analysis. Technology enabled hospitality and tourism development will result in higher levels of efficiency and productivity ensuring Tourism resilience.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Associate Professor Abhishek Bhati (

The relationship/interrelation between Big Data and Knowledge Management in SMEs

Dr. Adrian Bradshaw

The broad aim of this research project is to explore the relationship between big data and knowledge management (KM) in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). Big data analytics is causing significant (disruptive) changes to the process of generating organisational data and information in many industries. Consequently, big data analytics offers companies a great opportunity to use the knowledge generated, using big data, to have a positive impact of their knowledge management capabilities and decision making. This area of research is still emerging, and the majority of the research focuses on large companies and specific industries, for example oil and gas. SMEs dominate the industry sector in many countries, most notably are New Zealand and Singapore. SMEs could benefit significantly from big data, but there is a need to fully understand how knowledge management can be conceived, applied and integrated with big data analytics to improve their knowledge and decision-making leading to increased value creation. This research project would firstly be meeting a need of exploring the relationship between big data and knowledge management in SMEs which has not been discussed much in the literature. Secondly, this project would be proposing a model/framework for the successful use of big data analytics by SMEs that centres on knowledge management and organisation knowledge.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Dr Adrian Bradshaw (

Living Cities: Tropical Imaginaries

Associate Professor Anita Lundberg

‘Living Cities: Tropical Imaginaries’ reminds us that cities are both created and creative spaces. Research undertaken in the Living Cities: Tropical Imaginaries’ Cluster is concerned with the peopled and lived experiences of cities and how these interact with visual and material cultures. In particular, the processes of space and place-making are investigated in the following research projects: creative economies, smart cities, urban myths (tropical vampires), aesthetics, cinema, everyday life, walking in the city (the tropical flaneur/flaneuse), tropical gothic, liminal spaces, and material poetics. The tropical emphasis is particularly relevant to cities in Southeast Asia. Research projects are available for students interested in arts, humanities, cultural studies or anthropology. Research students are encouraged to think about how interests align with a project under the research cluster.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Associate Professor Anita Lundberg (

Psychology Industry linked projects

Associate Professor Carol Choo

Carol has available research projects and research collaborations with industry partners in the healthcare industry and also with the leading research institute in Singapore. They include: research to explore novel approaches to facilitate treatments for clinical conditions across the lifespan, novel neuroscience and neuropsychology research investigating brain activity and mindfulness. Carol's research interests also include Quality of Life issues for people with disabilities, mental and physical illness, and suicide prevention. She has supervised theses (to completion) on suicide study, mental health, wellbeing, resilience, stress, depression, self-esteem, e-mental health interventions, trauma resilience, and trauma counselling.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Associate Professor Carol Choo (

Cinema & Singapore Smart City

Dr. Caroline Wong

What roles does cinema play to navigate the Singapore smart city initiative if technologies are to successfully integrate into our private and public lives? Research has indicated the power of cinema as a form of provocation by projecting us into different possible futures (e.g. "Metropolis" - was considered the first futuristic city portrayed by cinema), causing us to focus, and reflect upon current concerns (personal, societal and cultural dimensions) as well as their potential trajectories . These concerns are embedded in the current economics of smart cities development where people are empowered by networks, data and info-comm technologies to lead meaningful and fulfilled lives (Smart nation website).  Asian smart cities are on the rise and the 2017 Smart Cities Index from EasyPark Group, listed Singapore at No. 2 as a result of its thriving business ecosystem, urban planning successes, quality of internet and its efforts toward clean energy (Forbes website). Three key themes thus drove Singapore’s model of a smart nation: innovation, integration and internationalisation . One of the concerns raised is: How sufficient is it to examine the future “smartness” of cities be based on the economics of digital technologies, networks and innovation to power sustainable development and a better quality of life? Does cinema has role in the cityscape of things? The portrayal of future cities and the lives of their inhabitants in the cinema reveal many enduring personal, societal and cultural concerns which might or might not be driven by the economics of digital technologies, networks and  innovation.  If these concerns were embedded in the economics of smart cities development, what are the implications for the Smart City Initiative for Singapore? What role does cinema play in the smart city initiative of Singapore? These concerns must form the basis of requirements for a smart city if technologies are to successfully integrate into our private and public lives.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Dr Caroline Wong (

Social entrepreneurship, sustainability and human relations

Dr. Helan Gamage

Social entrepreneurship, sustainability and human relations are some of the key contemporary practices and issues in organisations that are interdependent and influence on performance and growth of organisations. There are many possible research topics available for higher research degree students on social entrepreneurship of business and organisational performance, sustainability and stakeholders expectations, human relations and organisational performance, and social enterprises and government intervention. If you are interested, please contact. Senior Lecturer Helan Gamage (

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Dr Helan Gamage (

Improving hatchery production of marine finfish

Associate Professor Jennifer Cobcroft

The expanding finfish aquaculture sector is underpinned by the production of juvenile fish from hatcheries. Survival of fish larvae through to the juvenile stage and the quality of juveniles are important bottlenecks to the supply of juveniles for industry. Research projects are available to examine the roles of the larval rearing environment and genetics on fish survival and quality. Topics include: understanding and managing the microbial flora in marine fish larval culture; investigating the skeletal development and structure of juveniles from different genetic families; and exploring the impacts of tank wall colour and light on survival and quality.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Associate Professor Jennifer Cobcroft (

Tourist behaviour and Asian tourism

Dr. Jenny Panchal

Dr. Panchal’s research interests lie broadly on tourist behaviour and Asian tourism, but she is also interested in specific forms of tourism such as spa and wellness tourism, slum tourism and luxury travel, especially in the Asian context. Available HDR projects include an in-depth study of Southeast Asian spa and wellness tourism which intends to look into historical, anthropological and psychological aspects of the evolution and future trajectory of this industry, along with understanding slum tourism in various parts of Asia through the lens of positive psychology.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Dr Jenny Panchal (

Cognitive psychology

Dr. Lidia Suárez

Lidia Suárez is a senior lecturer in Psychology and registered research supervisor at James Cook University Singapore. She received her MSSC and PhD from the National University of Singapore. Her research interests are cognitive psychology (including psycholinguistics, second language acquisition, bilingualism, and the effects of music training on working memory) and clinical psychology (quality of life, suicidal ideation, interpersonal relationships, problem-solving appraisal, and measurement validation). Lidia is a member of the Language Research Centre at the Cairns Institute, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Society for the Teaching of Psychology.
For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Dr Lidia Suárez (

Bank performance, financial markets, income inequality

Dr. Thanh Nguyen

Dr Nguyen's research interests and where there are possible student research projects fall into three broad categories:
a) Bank performance
b) Stock market
c) Income inequality

Bank performance: one of Dr Nguyen's research interests focuses on the issue of bank performance and how efficient and productive banks are compared to other banks in the same country. Moreover, there is the question of whether commercial banks in one country are more efficient, more productive and more innovative in reducing costs and increasing profit than banks in other countries. Furthermore, she has research interests in understanding the association between competition and performance, and between competition and bank risk. 

Stock market: The second research area aims to address the important issues in relation to the determinants of stock market integration, portfolio diversification, and the interrelationships between stock markets.

Income inequality: the third area of research is about income inequality determinants, and the impacts of financial development, FDI and tourism development on income inequality. As bank performance and stock market play a very important role to the development of an economy, while income equality plays a crucial role to the sustainability of economy development, these three categories of research will be very useful for the policy makers, bank managers, investors, researchers, and other stakeholders.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Dr Thanh Nguyen (

Interdisciplinary Legal Studies

Dr. Wesley Kendall

Dr Kendall's research crosses several academic disciplines, such as law, economics, political science, public policy and international relations. He has HDR projects available  that explore the interrelationships that exist between these different fields of inquiry. Two examples of this cross-disciplinary approach from his past work include 1. An examination of the international influences (diplomatic, economic, legal) on American death penalty policies, and 2. The social, economic and legislative incentives that shape international policies of mass incarceration. Although his past work has predominately used a qualitative case-study approach in its methodology, he is also trained in quantitative methods such as multiple regression analysis (SPSS and Stata), and would be comfortable supervising HDR students who wish to use either (or both) in their research projects.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Dr Wesley Kendall (

Role of altered time perception in technology use

Dr. Aoife McLoughlin

This project would be an in depth examination of the possible ways in which altered time perception is linked to technology use, as well as the relationship between altered timing and addiction to information communication technology/Internet. Human time perception is easily malleable and has been shown to change dependent on many characteristics of a stimulus. Researchers have previously suggested that there may be links between altered time perception and various physical addictions/dependencies such as nicotine and alcohol dependency, however, more recently researchers have begun to look at links between human interval timing and technology usage, as well as Internet addiction. Understanding the role that time perception plays in technology usage, and vice versa, has ramifications for many areas of society, ranging from health to industry. This topic is suitable for students from many backgrounds including psychology, sociology, health, technology etc.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Dr. Aoife McLoughlin (

Assessing marine fish habitat utilisation around a “future city”

Dr. Neil Hutchinson

Singapore has developed rapidly over the last 50 years, and has become a regional icon in relation to land based development.  This has inevitably led to the loss and fragmentation of coastal marine habitats.  Current understanding of how this has impacted wild marine fish populations around Singapore is minimal.  This project will examine the population structure and movement patterns of fish species found in Singapore waters.  A range of techniques will be utilised that may include acoustic tracking, underwater video systems, and potentially novel genetic tools.  An important project outcome will be the provision of information to resource managers. Would suit an applicant who is highly motivated and has completed Honours, Masters or appropriate Postgraduate research training in fisheries science and marine ecology or an associated field.  Familiarity with acoustic telemetry, BRUVs or population genetics would be an advantage, but overall an acute desire to develop more skills is vital.  The candidate should be field competent and happy working on boats as well as in laboratory situations.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Dr. Neil Hutchinson (

Sentinels in tropical aquaculture: tracking individual behaviour to improve farming practices

Dr. Neil Hutchinson

Over 50% of fisheries production in Southeast Asia is from aquaculture, amounting to over US$17 billion per year.  Automation will enable the industry to develop more sustainable practices, reducing environmental impacts and costs while improving the quality of fisheries products. This project will focus on how the behaviour of individual, sentinel, animals in an aquaculture system can be used to understand the behaviour of the broader population. Animal tracking technologies will be used in real-life situations in commercial farms. This information will enable the development of rapid adaptive management strategies, to maximise animal condition and production. Would suit an applicant who is highly motivated and has completed Honours, Masters or appropriate Postgraduate research training in Aquaculture, Marine Science or an associated field.  Familiarity with acoustic telemetry and analysis would be an advantage.  The candidate should be keen to work in field and laboratory situations and should possess a positive and open approach to communication that would enable them to work closely with non-academic partners.

For more details on this project, or to discuss other research interests, please contact Dr. Neil Hutchinson (


For general information on how to apply for a research degree, please visit
Graduate Research school page

If you wish to make further enquiries or submit your Expression of Interest, please contact

For the Expression of Interest form, please download here