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Fulbright-EQC award winner journeys to understand how earthquakes shape our land

Fulbright-EQC award winner journeys to understand how earthquakes shape our land

Dropping out of a helicopter to research the impact of the Kaikōura earthquake was one of many adventures for geophysics graduate Danielle Lindsay.

The Wellington researcher will soon be heading to the University of California, Berkeley, to complete a PhD in Geophysics and use that knowledge to help prepare her fellow Kiwis, as this year’s recipient of the Fulbright-EQC Graduate Award in Natural Disaster Research.

Danielle says that during her graduate studies, it has been sobering to realise how vulnerable people can be to devastating natural disasters.

"During my graduate studies, I have realised how important understanding the fundamental geological forces driving these events is, and how this knowledge helps society better prepare for and mitigate the effects of natural disasters.”

The $US44,000 ($NZ66,000) Fulbright-EQC Award is funded by the Earthquake Commission and will enable Danielle to undertake her PhD research that focuses on earthquakes, slow slip events and how they interact.

"Some of the big questions facing New Zealand at the moment relate to the interactions of locked and slipping patches of the Hikurangi Subduction Zone, and how ruptures could propagate between them and their potential magnitudes,” says Danielle.

"I want the research I complete to have a real impact on the society I live in,” says the Victoria University of Wellington student.

EQC’s Hilary Blake says Danielle’s research will add to the body of scientific knowledge about slow slip earthquakes. “This is a very important area of research for New Zealand as we know slow slip earthquakes are involved in some of our biggest risk areas, like the Hikurangi subduction zone.  The more we can understand the link between slow slip events and larger earthquakes, the better information we can give communities to help prepare.”

Fulbright also offers the Science and Innovation Graduate Award category - another way that New Zealanders can be supported to study sciences in the US, in addition to the prestigious EQC funded research award. Applications for all New Zealand Graduate Awards, including the Fulbright-EQC Graduate Award in Natural Disaster Research, are due 1 August annually.


For more information, please contact Fulbright New Zealand Senior Communications Advisor, Alexandra MacGibbon on 04 494 1507, or email

To contact EQC, email or phone 027 406 3476.

Photo caption: Danielle working as part of an EQC funded campaign in Marlborough, measuring GPS offsets from the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake.


About Fulbright New Zealand

Fulbright New Zealand opens doors for tomorrow’s leaders and thinkers through life-changing educational and cultural exchanges between New Zealand and the United States. The Fulbright Forum is a speaker series aimed at addressing topical areas of research that affect our world. The recent Fulbright Women in STEM panel in May 2019 included Fulbright alumnae Helen Ferner, Technical Director in Structural Engineering at BECA New Zealand, and is available as a podcast audio here.

Fulbright New Zealand was established in 1948 to promote mutual understanding through educational and cultural exchanges between New Zealand and the United States of America. The Fulbright programme offers a range of prestigious awards for New Zealand and American graduate students, academics, artists and professionals to study, research and teach in each other’s countries.

Fulbright New Zealand offers exchange awards annually. Fulbright New Zealand has granted more than 3,000 exchange awards, sending over 1,900 New Zealand graduate students, artists, academics, teachers and professionals on exchange to the US and welcoming over 1,570 Americans on exchanges to New Zealand. The programme is jointly funded by the US and New Zealand governments with additional funding from award sponsors, private philanthropists and alumni donors. More information is available here.

About the Earthquake Commission (EQC)

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) is a Crown entity, established under the Earthquake Commission Act 1993. The Earthquake and War Damages Commission began in 1945 following the 1942 Wairarapa Earthquake. In the years since, the role of EQC has changed significantly.

Today, our core functions are as follows and our statutory functions are set out in section 5 of the Act.

  1. We provide natural disaster insurance for residential property (contents, dwellings and some coverage of land).
  2. We administer the Natural Disaster Fund (NDF), including its investments and reinsurance.
  3. We fund research and education on natural disasters and ways of reducing their impact.

These three core functions are essential for New Zealand to effectively manage natural disaster risk. Find out more on the EQC website.

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