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Amelia Lin came to New Zealand to do her PhD research in a country with earthquakes. She has been working on models to predict areas likely to experience liquefaction and landslides after strong shaking. Profile written for Te Hiranga Rū QuakeCoRE's 2022 Annual Report. www.quakecore.nz
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Ursula Cochran

Science Writer

Amelia Lin

From the seismically sleepy lowlands of Germany to the quaky archipelago of Aotearoa New Zealand, Amelia Lin has traversed a steep learning curve to be doing the hazard research she is doing today. She obtained a Master’s in Civil Engineering in Berlin, but it wasn’t until she studied in Taiwan that she had even heard of earthquake engineering, “it really triggered something in me”. She started seeking out places with earthquakes. “New Zealand popped up as a place with so many researchers in this field and it was great that you could do a PhD paying domestic fees rather than international fees.”

Amelia worked with global geospatial models, adapting them for New Zealand conditions, to see how useful they could be for predicting areas of liquefaction manifestation and landslides after earthquakes. She evaluated the models against observations from the Canterbury earthquake sequence and the Kaikōura earthquake, and found they were useful for identifying exposed areas at both regional and national scales. Amelia applied the models to the State Highway network to estimate the impact of liquefaction and landslides on transport following various earthquake scenarios.

Amelia was impressed that what seemed like a simple research question ended up expanding out in many directions. She is now working on postdoctoral research at the University of Auckland that builds on her PhD. “During your PhD you’re so focused on your research problem that you often forget about the bigger picture. The postdoc is a good opportunity to provide outputs that are more useful for real world application.”

Throughout her PhD, Amelia engaged in the Te Hiranga Rū QuakeCoRE community. She presented at the annual meetings and monthly flagship meetings and was always keen to engage with other researchers. This led to new collaborations and relationships with stakeholder groups. Amelia also took the role of Communications officer for the Auckland QuakeCoRE Emerging Researchers’ Chapter (QERC) in 2019 and 2020.

QERC was a group Amelia first attended with a friend to get to know other people. She didn’t expect it to be so good for meeting people across New Zealand as well as across university departments. With several awards to her name, Amelia’s QuakeCoRE involvement provided not only valuable experience and networking opportunities, but also some highlights for her CV.

And to balance all the work? Amelia does Latin dancing. She admits that dancing three times a week kept her sane towards the end of her PhD. She learnt it here in New Zealand and, although she loves Europe, research is keeping her here because there is far more earthquake-related work in New Zealand than Germany. So, for now, she’s enjoying the peace, calm and kindness she finds in Aotearoa.