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Honorary Researchers

Our Honorary Research Associates and Fellows are an important part of Whitley College’s research community and its research activity. They are able to serve as HDR supervisors and may teach, where appropriate.

Research Associates and Fellows are University appointments that are associated with a nominated College of the University.

Whitley is committed to a vibrant and active honorary research community and in recognising the benefit to the research community of its honorary research faculty, recognises its Honorary Research Associates and Research Fellows by:

  • acknowledging them on the College website (unless requested otherwise);
  • inviting them to attend celebratory and ceremonial occasions at the College;
  • inviting their participation in research seminars;
  • offering library access to the College library;
  • encouraging the use of the title of Honorary Research Associate in appropriate academic contexts.

Introducing our post-doctoral Research Associates

Dr Barbara Deutschmann

PhD., MTh., BTh.

Barbara is a biblical scholar and former Interserve missionary living in India who also worked for many years in international development with Tearfund Australia. More recently she has lived and worked in Central Australia managing Tearfund’s First Peoples program. She finds joy in being with family, especially grandchildren, and working with a small Anglican church in the western suburbs.

Her PhD was a study of gender in the garden of Eden narrative including reviewing the reception history of the Eden narrative.

Her current research interests include:

  • The Eden narrative and its reception history;
  • The construction of gender in the Hebrew Bible;
  • The history of constructions of ‘Eve’ in Australian history and culture;
  • The implications of understandings of biblical gender for current church culture and polity.

A sample of publications include “Partners in Crime? The Partnership of the Woman and Man in the Garden of Eden Narrative.” Pacifica 30, no. 3 (2017): 255–67 and “Abraham, Isaac and the Problem of Water” in Water: A Matter of Life and Death, Norman Habel and Peter Trudinger, eds (Hindmarsh: ATF Australia, 2011) 63–72.

Introducing our Honorary Research Associates

Dr Xiaoli Yang

PhD (Intercultural Theology), MDiv., ASD (Spiritual Direction)., GDCS., GCS., BBus.

Xiaoli was raised in various subcultures of Asia and moved to Australia as an overseas student at university.  Following her professional accounting career, she was involved in pioneering and pastoring a multilingual Asian church within a large Baptist church for seven years.  Since 2007, Xiaoli has been training and equipping leaders locally and abroad in both seminary and church settings.  She is an ordained minister, an accredited spiritual director and a bilingual poet.  Her PhD from the University of Divinity offers a conversation between the Chinese soul-searching and the gospel of Jesus Christ through a unique contextual poetic lens (Leiden: Brill, 2018).  She is currently working on a bible commentary on John’s letters from Asian perspectives, and a book on a theology of migration and displacement.  She serves on the executive committee of the Australian Association of Mission Studies and the editorial board of the Australian Journal of Mission Studies.  She is fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and several other dialects.


Intercultural Theology; World/Asian Christianity, Poetic Theology, Comparative Theology, Migration, Ethno-hermeneutics, Spirituality/Spiritual Direction


“Towards a Chinese Theology of Displacement—the Poetic Journey of a Chinese Migrant”. Mission Studies 37, no. 2 (2020): 193-217.

“Contemplative Aspects of Pentecostal Spirituality—A Case Study of a Retreat Experience in Asia”. Journal of Pentecostal Theology 28, no. 1, (2019): 123-42.

A Dialogue between Haizi’s Poetry and the Gospel of Luke—Chinese Homecoming and the Relationship with Jesus Christ, Theology and Mission in World Christianity (Leiden: Brill, 2018).

Dr Deborah Storie

PhD, Grad Cert (Theol)., Grad Dip (Theol)., MSc., BVSc (Hons)

Dr. John Andersen

MSc., MArts (Theol)., MTh (Hons) (Syst Theol)., PhD (Old Test Theol).

Initially trained as a veterinary surgeon Dr Storie worked with international community development and disaster mitigation projects for over a decade.  She commenced biblical studies at Whitley on her return to Australia.  Her PhD was titled ‘Contesting Public Transcripts in Biblical Studies: An Adventure with Zacchaeus’. The years Deborah spent living with a rural community in a conflict affected region in Central Asia, together with learning with and from Christian communities contending with poverty and injustice in other places, brought the Bible to life and continues to inspire and inform her work.

Dr Storie has been an adjunct lecturer at several Melbourne-based Colleges and Universities, including Whitley, and has taught in several theological programs over the last fifteen years. She is an accredited Baptist pastor, has held two interim pastorates, enjoys preaching invitations, and has Board experience with several Australian and international NFPs. She is a member of the SBL, the Fellowship for Biblical Studies, and Christians for Biblical Equality.

Her recent publications include ‘Mission and Violent Conflict: Seeking Shalom’ in Mission and Context, edited by Jione Havea (London: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2020) and ‘At Jacob’s Well: Regrounding the Samaritan Woman’  In Grounded: In the Body, in Time and Place, in Scripture. Edited by Jill Firth and Denise Cooper-Clark. Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2020.

Dr. John Andersen is marriage and family therapist and also registered as a general psychologist.  John has been in private practice as a counsellor and psychologist for 16 years. John taught counselling at Tabor College, Victoria between 2000 and 2005. He currently is in private practice at a Christian counselling centre, Mount Evelyn Counselling. John Andersen is a long-standing clinical member of the Christian Counsellors Association.  He was the President of the Christian Counsellors Association of Australia from 2016 to early this year, and currently serves as Vice President.

John is passionate about the integration of Christian faith in counselling practice, which is reflected in his training. John holds a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Master of Arts in Theology from Fuller Seminary followed by a MTh (Hons) is systematic theology from Charles Sturt University and a PhD in Old Testament theology with the Australian Catholic University.  Both these research projects have studied the theological implications of psychological research and theory in identity and shame and the application of theology as a theoretical framework for reflective clinical practice.

Dr Gordon Preece

PhD, MSc, MA, BD, BA, ThL, Dip.Min

The Rev’d Dr Gordon Preece is Director of Ethos Centre for Christianity & Society, Senior Policy Officer Catholic Social Services Victoria, Chair of the Melbourne Anglican Social Responsibilities Committee, and Honorary Director, University of Divinity Network for Religion & Social Policy.

Gordon was a minister at several Anglican churches in Sydney and senior minister at Yarraville Anglican. He lectured part-time at Morling Baptist College, was Director of the Macquarie Christian Studies Institute, and Dean of the University College and Director of the Centre for Applied Christian Ethics at Ridley College.

Gordon was ethics consultant for Christian Super and taught business ethics for the School of Applied Finance at Macquarie University. His specialty is in the theology and ethics of work in which he is a leader and board member of two international bodies.
An author/editor of 13 books, Zadok Perspectives and Equip, his more recent publications have addressed themes of vocation, employment, and the precariat, including his chapter, ‘Rehumanizing Precarious Work: Vocation in Location Versus a New Priesthood of Cosmopolitan Techno-Creatives’ in David Benson, Kara Martin & Andrew Sloane ed. Transforming Vocation, Wipf & Stock, 2021.

Dr Siu Fung Wu

PhD, MPhil, BA, MSc, BSc

Originally from East Asia, Siu Fung has been in Australia since the late 1980s. He worked in IT for years before joining the pastoral team of a church in Melbourne, where he provided pastoral care and leadership development for about a dozen small groups and their leaders. He also founded the intercultural ministry in the church.

Siu Fung then worked in the advocacy team of an aid and development organisation for almost seven years. He has a heart for the poor and oppressed. His upbringing in a low-income urban area in East Asia has a profound impact on his life. The place he grew up is still one of the poorest districts in that city and many are still struggling to make ends meet.

He was a visiting lecturer at two theological colleges and continues to teach at Whitley. He loves the Scripture, for it has been an essential part of his life ever since he came to faith in Christ as a teenager. He loves discussing the implications of the gospel with students from different social locations and cultural settings. Siu Fung attended Anglican, Pentecostal and independent churches, but has been a member of Baptist churches for more than two decades.

His work in the area of Paul and suffering is widely regarded, including his editorial work on Suffering in Paul, Eugene: Pickwick, 2019, and “Reading Romans in a Globalized and Increasingly Urban World.” Mission Studies 35 (2018) 321–341.

Dr Libby Byrne


Libby Byrne works as an artist, art therapist and theologian following the invitation and discovery of art into new ways of being with people in liminal spaces. Within her studio practice Libby works with ideas, images and experiences to extend the way we think, perceive and respond to questions of meaning and existence.

Having worked as an Art Therapist in palliative care and trauma recovery her current research addresses the nature and significance of art, both made and received, in the process of healing that is required for human beings to flourish and live well with illness and in health.

Libby teaches in the Master of Art Therapy Program at La Trobe University whilst developing a growing body of research in the emerging field of Practice-led Theological Inquiry. She works as an Adjunct Lecturer and Honorary Research Associate with the University of Divinity.

Recent publications and exhibitions

Crane T. & Byrne L. (2020). Risk, rupture and change: Exploring the liminal space of the Open Studio in art therapy education. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 69:10,

Byrne, L. (2019). Drawing in-church and drawing-in to joy, Practical Theology, DOI: 10.1080/1756073X.2019.1678861

Byrne, L. (2019). How we see each other, The Interfaith Observer: Creating Communities of Belonging, February, 2019.

Byrne, L. (2019). The Nature of Things, Whitley College.

Byrne, L. & Levey, L. (2018). Art Therapy and Spirituality, In Carey, L. & Mathieson, B. (Ed). Spiritual Care & Allied Health Practice, London: JKP Publishers, (139-62).


Check out Libby’s via the following links:

Introducing our Honorary Research Fellows

Rev Professor René Erwich

Professor René Erwich is an internationally recognised expert in Christian theology and ministry and its application to contemporary society. His research involves a hopeful articulation of Christian faith in engagement with the needs and challenges of secular society. He has been the recipient of several major grants for applied and collaborative research, including projects on spiritual leadership in a post-Christian society and Christian identity in health care. Professor Erwich is also widely recognised for his teaching in pastoral theology and missiology.

Scholarly appreciation of his work has led to numerous guest lectureships and conference presentations in many parts of the world. He has rendered significant leadership to the church and academy as Research Professor in Theology at the Ede Christian University in the Netherlands René is an accomplished author with his latest book  (written with Rev Dr Almatine Leene), Vuur dat nooit dooft. Gender, seksualiteit en theologie in gesprek (English version to be published by Wipf & Stock in April 2024 with the title: “Unquenchable Love. Gender, sexuality and theology in conversation“) nominated for the Best Theological Book of 2022 in the Netherlands.

From September 2017 to September 2023, René was the Principal of Whitley College.

René has since taken up an exciting position as the Dean (Theology & Social Work) at Viaa University of Applied Sciences, Zwolle in the Netherlands.