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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.

Dr Simone Rickerby

Ph.D, MA, BA (Hons.)

Simone completed her Ph.D on ‘Variation in the Latin Text of the Jewish Greek Bible’ in 2015 at Whitley College. This thesis built upon her previous research into text-critical problems associated with the Greek New Testament. Dr Rickerby’s more recent research focuses on the Latin translations of the Old Testament, especially the translations of Jerome in the text of his Commentaries and various books of the Vulgate (especially Ezekiel and the Minor Prophets). Work on ‘The Latin Versions of the Minor Prophets’ highlights the variation of the Latin textual tradition and also alludes to the likely relationship between Jerome’s “Vulgate” text and that of Symmachus, as noted previously for other books of the Old Testament (e.g. Salvesen, Symmachus in the Pentateuch).

Dr Rickerby also has a wider interest in the textual criticism and historical/theological context of both the Greek Old and New Testaments, as well as that of the Latin, Coptic and Syriac versions.

As an Honorary Fellow of the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE), University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom, Dr Rickerby has been working on an electronic edition of the Latin Version(s) of the Minor Prophets.

Dr Rickerby’s recent publications include, ‘The Latin Versions of the Minor Prophets’, in The Book of the Twelve: Composition, Reception, and Interpretation. Eds. Lena Tiemeyer and Jakob Wöhrle. (Leiden: Brill, 2020).

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)

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 (forthcoming).

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, doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2020.101666.

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. http://www.theinterfaithobserver.org/journal-articles/2019/3/12/how-we-see-each-other

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: www.libbybyrne.com.au

Introducing our Honorary Research Fellows

Assoc Professor Frank Rees

MA, BD(Hons), MTheol, DipEd, PhD, CertGovInst.

Frank Rees was Professor of Systematic Theology at Whitley College from 1991 to 2016 and Principal of the College from 2006 to 2016. During his term as Academic Dean and then Principal, the College developed the innovative TransFormation Program, the 12Watts and Next Programs, and the beginnings of Whitley’s engagement with NAIITS. He supervised several doctoral programs relating to Theology and the Arts, leading to new courses in this area as well as the Religious Art Prize.

He served as Chair of the Baptist World Alliance study commission on Baptist Doctrine and Christian Unity, with a research project on ‘Baptist Saints’ and currently is Co-Chair of the BWA Dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church.

A former President of the Melbourne College of Divinity, he has served as Chair of the Academic Board in the University of Divinity since 2017. He also teaches as an adjunct lecturer at Whitley College, Eva Burrows College, and Pilgrim Theological College.

His research interests have included Baptist ecclesiology, contextual theologies and biography as theology. He is currently researching a biography of Mervyn Himbury, the founding Principal of Whitley College.