Brooke Porter

Brooke Porter

Professor of Environmental Science, Umbra Institute, Perugia, Italy
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, AUT
Doctor of Philosophy

Being able to work in her field of interest is what she loves most about her career, says AUT tourism alumna Dr Brooke Porter who specialises in research on coastal and marine tourism.

“Marine conservation and conservation strategy are the foundation for most of my work. Fortunately, I’ve been able to pursue research topics that are of particular importance to me. My current work focuses on the human connections with the coast, specifically interactions with the fisheries and the marine environment.

“My other research interests include voluntourism, coastal and marine tourism, marine mammal tourism, education and interpretation aboard marine tours, and gender biases in field research. I’m especially proud of a co-edited volume a colleague and I released earlier this year, which explores how our gender, in this case femininity, influences our fieldwork and experiences.”

Researching tourism around the world
Studying at AUT prepared her for a research-oriented career, says Brooke who took a leave of absence from the Umbra Institute in Italy to return to AUT as a postdoctoral research fellow.

“I’m currently in Italy for some exciting field work with local fishermen at Trasimeno Lake in Umbria. I’m exploring their understanding and interactions with fish biodiversity in the lake, and how they negotiate the introduced fish species.

“As part of my postdoctoral research, Professor Michael Lück from AUT and I spent two weeks on the South Island and Stewart Island earlier this year to explore the motivations of pelagic bird tourists. We also travelled to the Philippines for the Mermaid Project, an exploratory project that investigates the motivations of tourists at mermaid schools, and the overlap of cosplay and conservation strategy.”

While she was in the Philippines, Brooke also partnered with a local neonatal doctor to continue her research findings from her PhD on the implications of infant care and nutritional choices and fishing effort.

Choosing AUT
The expertise of AUT’s tourism staff first attracted her, says Brooke who has always been interested in academia and applied research.

“It was the strong team of my supervisors, Professor Mark Orams and Professor Michael Lück, that brought me to AUT.

“My doctoral research was a result of recognising gaps in fisheries development projects supported by international aid. After completing a consultancy in North Eastern Africa, which focused on the industrialisation of fisheries, I became interested in the viability of coastal and marine tourism as a supplemental livelihood for remote fishing communities in lesser developed regions.”

She would recommend studying tourism at AUT, Brooke says.

“I would highly recommend the PhD in tourism to others. The independence afforded by the programme was invaluable, and I finished the programme with the confidence to embark upon my own research studies.”