Dr Mary Anne Thompson

BSc CofC., BA CofC., PhD UoA.

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Research Fellow


My research interests span across natural hazard and risk communication, volcanic hazard and risk assessment, and transdisciplinary approaches to hazard, risk, and resilience research. 

In 2006, I received a scholarship to study geology (BSc Hons) and communication (BA Hons) at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, United States, where I discovered my passion for exploring the complex relationship between science and society. While at CofC, I completed an internship with the National Geographic Society's Communications Department in Washington, DC, and carried out research supported by the NASA SC Space Grant Consortium, in which I used geophysical methods to image coastal paleochannel sequences. In 2011, I received an international scholarship to carry out my doctoral studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. My interdisciplinary PhD research used both geology and social science methods to explore approaches to assessing and communicating probabilistic volcanic ashfall hazard and risk. After receiving my PhD in 2015, I was awarded a number of external research grants to carry out research related to volcanic hazard and risk communication and transdisciplinary approaches as a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Auckland.

I currently collaborate with stakeholders and researchers from a wide range of disciplines and institutions to investigate research questions related to understanding how people make inferences about hazard and risk, and how this affected by different communication approaches. Much my research involves working closely with different groups of stakeholders in order to develop useful outcomes for practice, together with scientific understanding. I am enthusiastic about opportunities for developing interdisciplinary study in geology and communication, and embrace research and teaching challenges that explore the role of communication in mitigating geological hazard and risk.

Research | Current

Volcanic hazard map communication (EQC) P.I.
Investigating how diverse audiences read and make inferences about hazard and risk from volcanic crisis maps

Quantifying and communicating multiple volcanic hazards (NHRP, Massey University) A.I. 
Researching ways that multiple interacting hazards and risks are assessed, visualised, and communicated

Evolution of transdisciplinary research (Resilience to Nature's Challenges, GNS Science) A.I.
Exploring actor experiences over the duration of a large-scale transdisicplinary project on resilience research

Global review of volcanic hazard maps 
An IAVCEI Commission on Volcanic Hazard and Risk initiative, focused on reviewing international practices in volcanic hazard mapping

Teaching | Current

Guest Lecturing:

GEOG 303: Science and Society
GEOL 705: Geohazards
GEOL 752: Volcanology


Scholarships and awards:

International Doctoral Scholarship, University of Auckland (2011 - 2015)
IAVCEI 2013 Scientific Assembly Young Scientist Grant (2013)
Cities on Volcanoes 7 Student Grant (2012)
John M. Rivers, Sr. Communication Studies Scholarship (2009 - 2010)
Presidential Academic Scholarship, College of Charleston (2006 - 2010)
NASA South Carolina Space Grant Consortium Kathy Sullivan Fellowship (2008 - 2009)
NASA South Carolina Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Research Grant (2008)
Staunton Waynesboro Augusta Tennis Judith M. Fister Memorial Scholarship (2006)

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Inaugural member of the NHRP National Natural Hazards Social Science Research Panel (2016 - present)

Co-leader Communications Resarch and Natural Hazards eSocSci Group (2015 - present)

Member of IAVCEI (2013 - present)

Volunteer member of the New Zealand Red Cross National Disaster Welfare & Support Team (2011 - 2013)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Thompson, M. A., Owen, S., Lindsay, J. M., Leonard, G. S., & Cronin, S. J. (2017). Scientist and stakeholder perspectives of transdisciplinary research: Early attitudes, expectations, and tensions. Environmental Science and Policy, 74, 30-39. 10.1016/j.envsci.2017.04.006
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/34944
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jan Lindsay, Shane Cronin, Susan Owen
  • Thompson, M. A., Lindsay, J. M., Wilson, T. M., Biass, S., & Sandri, L. (2017). Quantifying risk to agriculture from volcanic ashfall: A case study from the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. Natural Hazards, 86 (1), 31-56. 10.1007/s11069-016-2672-7
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jan Lindsay
  • Thompson, M. A., Lindsay, J. M., & Leonard, G. S. (2017). More than meets the eye: Volcanic hazard map design and visual communication. In C. Fearnley, D. Bird, G. Jolly, K. Haynes, B. McGuire (Eds.) Observing the Volcano World: Volcano Crisis Communication (pp. 1-20). Springer. 10.1007/11157_2016_47
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jan Lindsay
  • Lindsay, J. M., Thompson, M. A., & Shane, P. A. (2016). Volcanic Hazards. In J. Goff, C. R. De Freitas (Eds.) Natural Hazards in Australasia (pp. 73-103). Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/34946
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jan Lindsay, Phil Shane
  • Thompson, M. A., Lindsay, J. M., & Gaillard, J. C. (2015). The influence of probabilistic volcanic hazard map properties on hazard communication. Journal of Applied Volcanology, 4 (1).10.1186/s13617-015-0023-0
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/31334
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: JC Gaillard, Jan Lindsay
  • Tonini, R., Sandri, L., & Anne Thompson, M. (2015). PyBetVH: A Python tool for probabilistic volcanic hazard assessment and for generation of Bayesian hazard curves and maps. Computers & Geosciences, 79, 38-46. 10.1016/j.cageo.2015.02.017
  • Thompson, M. A., Lindsay, J. M., Sandri, L., Biass, S., Bonadonna, C., Jolly, G., & Marzocchi, W. (2015). Exploring the influence of vent location and eruption style on tephra fall hazard from the Okataina Volcanic Centre, New Zealand. Bulletin of Volcanology, 77 (5).10.1007/s00445-015-0926-y
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jan Lindsay
  • Thompson, M. A. (2014). Exploring the potential of probabilistic Bayesian event tree tools for volcanic hazard analysis, risk assessment, and hazard and risk communication in New Zealand The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/25314


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
New Zealand

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