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Our Research Team

Professor Philippa Gander

Centre Director

Phone (+64) 4 9793256
Email: P.H.Gander@massey.ac.nz

Professor Philippa Gander is the Director of the Sleep/Wake Research Centre. Her original research training was in chronobiology (PhD University of Auckland, 1980).  Following a Senior Fulbright Fellowship at Harvard Medical School (1980-1982), she joined the Fatigue Countermeasures Program at NASA, working on field studies of pilot fatigue in different aviation operations and on mathematical modeling of the human sleep/wake cycle. In 1996, she was awarded a Repatriation Fellowship by the Health Research Council and returned to New Zealand and established the Sleep/Wake Research Centre in 1998.

Philippa has a particular interest in advancing and applying scientific knowledge to develop new solutions to the health and safety challenges generated by current trends to restrict sleep and increase 24/7 work and entertainment.  Restricting sleep and disrupting the circadian body clock (which programmes sleep at night) has adverse short-term effects on physical and cognitive abilities, mood, and accident risk, as well as adverse long-term effects on physical and mental health and well-being. Scientific understanding of the mechanisms of these adverse effects is growing rapidly. This provides opportunities for innovative strategies to improve workplace health and safety, for new approaches to reduce the epidemics in obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and for more effective policy and regulatory initiatives.

Philippa also has broad interests in sleep health in Aotearoa /New Zealand, including the epidemiology of sleep disorders and improving treatment services, as well as in sleep across the lifespan, including non-pharmacological approaches to improving the sleep of people living in the community with dementia, and of their family carers. In addition, she has a passion for arts/science collaboration and the creativity and innovation that arises working in the space between disciplines.

Dr Leigh Signal

Associate Professor

Phone (+64) 4 9793257

Email: T.L.Signal@massey.ac.nz

Dr. Leigh Signal is an Associate Professor and is the Associate Director at the Sleep/Wake Research Centre, Massey University, Wellington. Leigh trained as a Commercial Pilot and then completed a Master’s degree in Industrial and Organisational Psychology before completing her PhD in Public Health at the Sleep/Wake Research Centre.

 Leigh is involved in both basic and applied sleep and circadian research with her work spanning two main areas. The first is focused on identifying, managing and mitigating fatigue in applied settings, particularly for the aviation industry. She has worked with aircraft manufacturers and international airlines to conduct studies on board aircraft and in the laboratory environment. Leigh also regularly consults with industry groups on managing fatigue in the workplace and is presently an invited member of two International Civil Aviation Organisation Fatigue Risk Management Task Forces that are establishing global rules and guidelines for managing fatigue in air traffic control and helicopter operations.

 Leigh has also received funding from New Zealand research agencies to undertake basic sleep science and community based research. This body of work has been focused on understanding basic sleep processes and more recently the sleep and health of women and children. She is particularly interested in understanding the sleep of women across the life course and the relationship between sleep and good health.

Dr Karyn O'Keeffe

Research Officer

Phone (+64) 4 9793260

Email: K.M.Okeeffe@massey.ac.nz

Dr Karyn O’Keeffe is a Research Officer and the Associate Director (Academic).  She is a physiologist with considerable clinical experience in monitoring sleep and managing sleep disorders.  Karyn began her career in sleep research and medicine as a Clinical Physiologist at WellSleep, University of Otago Wellington, where she worked for 10 years and gained first-hand experience of shift work.  She began to transition to the Sleep/Wake Research Centre in 2006 and has been based at the Centre full-time since 2012.

Karyn has broad research interests but is particularly passionate about reducing fatigue-related risk in healthcare professionals and improving sleep health in the general population.  Her previous research mainly focussed on treatment provision for sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnoea and insomnia.  

Karyn is responsible for the strategic direction and coordination of the Centre’s teaching activities, which include an undergraduate course(252.201 ‘Sleep, circadian rhythms, and shift work’), two postgraduate courses (252.701 ‘Sleep science for health practitioners’ and 252.702 ‘Sleep, fatigue risk management, and occupational safety and health’), as well as professional short courses.

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Margo van den Berg

Junior Research Officer & Phd Candidate

Phone (+64) 4 9793259

Email: M.J.Vandenberg@massey.ac.nz

After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington, Margo joined the Sleep/Wake Research Centre in 2001, while at the same time gaining shift work experience as a Sleep Technician at Otago University’s WellSleep clinic. As a Junior Research Fellow she has worked on numerous projects that have focused on sleep, fatigue and performance in applied settings such as aviation and she has a particular interest in fatigue risk management as a whole of life issue.

In addition to her work as a Junior Research Fellow, Margo is currently working towards her doctorate which focuses on evaluating the current status and future needs of Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS) for Cabin crew, using a mixed methods approach.

Dr Lora Wu

Research Officer

Phone (+64) 4 9793254

Email: L.Wu@massey.ac.nz

Lora Wu is a Research Officer and registered clinical psychologist at the Sleep/Wake Research Centre. She holds a PhD in clinical psychology from Washington State University (USA).

Lora has a broad interest in sleep and performance, including measuring and managing fatigue in the workplace. At the Centre she has worked on projects involving managing fatigue in the transportation industry including aviation, trucking, and port operations. She has also worked with community groups and schools providing sleep education. Lora is also very interested in the cultural context of sleep and the interaction of sleep and substance use and associated effects.

Lora’s clinical interests include behavioural medicine, sleep medicine, and neuropsychology. In 2015 she worked with a team to establish a clinical insomnia service at the Centre and serves as a clinician providing group therapy for insomnia.

Dr Rosie Gibson

Research Officer

Phone (+64) 4 9793258

Email: R.Gibson@massey.ac.nz

Rosemary Gibson has a background in psychology and clinical sleep medicine. Her research interest is in sleep across the lifespan and the associations between of mental health conditions on sleep. She came to the Centre from the UK in 2008 on a Commonwealth Scholarship to complete her Master’s thesis on the sleep and development in infants. She completed her PhD in 2014 which was concerning the sleep of older people, people with dementia and their family carers. This research included some of the first descriptions of older New Zealanders sleep. Furthermore, people with dementia and their family carers were actively included in focus groups and in a pilot study of a non-drug intervention to improve their sleep. More recently, Rosie has been working on some additional analyses related to her PhD research in order to inform the design of future projects in this area.

Dr Bronwyn Sweeney

Research Officer

Phone (+64) 4 9793265

Email: B.M.Sweeney@massey.ac.nz

Bronwyn Sweeney is a qualified childbirth educator and has been involved in antenatal, post-natal and parenting education for two decades.  She joined the Centre to undertake her psychology honours project which investigated sleep in pregnancy and post-partum and its relationship to drowsy driving.  She was then an HRC funded Doctoral scholar as a part of the E Moe Māmā:  Maternal Sleep and Health in Aotearoa/New Zealand study. As part of that study Bronwyn completed a controlled trial of a behavioural/educational sleep intervention, aimed at promoting the sleep of first time mothers and their babies.  Bronwyn holds a PhD in Public Health and is also a registered Clinical Psychologist.

Our Students

Jennifer Zaslona

Phd Candidate

Phone (+64) 4 9793269

Email: J.Zaslona@massey.ac.nz

Jennifer Zaslona joined the Sleep/Wake Research Centre as a doctoral candidate in 2013 after completing undergraduate studies in biochemistry and toxicology in the UK. As part of her undergraduate degree she completed a year-long internship at Washington State University (USA) where she was involved in two field studies investigating sleep and fatigue in commercial pilots and bus drivers. Her current research interests centre around sleep and fatigue in different operational settings such as aviation. Her doctoral research uses a mixed methods approach to investigate the use of in-flight sleep as a fatigue mitigation strategy for pilots on long range and ultra-long range routes.

Diane (Dee) Muller

Phd Candidate

Phone (+64) 4 9793261

Email: D.P.Muller@massey.ac.nz

Dee has been part of the Sleep/Wake team since 2006. She has a background in occupational therapy, having worked as a therapist in a variety of adult mental health and occupational rehabilitation settings for over a decade before joining the centre. Dee completed her Master of Public Health thesis on the sleep patterns and environmental factors associated with differences in the sleep of school-aged children in 2010. She has been involved in the E Moe, Māmā/Moe Kura study of maternal and child sleep and health since completing her Masters and has a particular interest in the social patterning of child sleep. She is currently doing a PhD on the social determinants of pre-school children’s sleep in Aotearoa/New Zealand using a mixed methods research methodological approach.

Clare Ladyman

Phd Candidate

Phone (+64) 4 9793024

Email: C.Ladyman@massey.ac.nz

Starting at the SWRC in early 2016, Clare Ladyman is the newest member of the team.  With an undergraduate in Sports Science, she completed a post-graduate diploma in Sleep Science in 2013, at the University of Western Australia in Perth.  She has since moved to Wellington and is pursuing a research career in Behavioural Sleep Science.  Her current research is focusing on the sleep quality of pregnant women at risk of depression.

Administrative Team


Kathryn Teal: Business Manager

Tracey Alexander: Administrator

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