Professor Denise Wood AM - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Professor Denise Wood AM

PhD, MEdTech, MDn, DipSocSc, DipInsComp, BA (SW), MACS, MACE


  • Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students)
+61 7 5456 5454
Office location
Sunshine Coast
Professor Denise Wood AM


Denise is Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) at USC. Prior to her appointment at USC, Denise was Professor and Director of a research centre focusing on regional advancement of learning, equity, access and participation at Central Queensland University. Denise also worked for 12 years at the University of South Australia in various roles, including Associate Head of School (Learning and Teaching) in the School of Communication, Internal Studies and Languages. During that time she was also appointed to an Adjunct Professorial position in the Faculty of Education at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, where she was undertaking collaborative research focusing on improving education outcomes of people from under-represented groups in regional provinces of South Africa. 

Denise’s commitment to research and education of people from under-represented groups evolved from working in the disability sector for nearly two decades, and her experience working in the non-government sector has enabled Denise to build on research collaborations and industry partnerships in her subsequent academic career.  


Denise is responsible for the overall vision and effectiveness of initiatives that enable students to realise their fullest academic and personal potential. She also provides leadership in fostering excellence across the portfolios of Student Services and Engagement, and Indigenous Services, and she also chairs the University’s Learning and Teaching Committee. Denise provides strategic and operational advice to the University Executive on matters relating to the realisation of the University’s student retention goals and on academic policy development and review.  

Denise has received several awards in recognition of her research and teaching, and contribution to improving outcomes of people from under-represented groups including: 

  • Member of the Order of Australia Award (AM) for significant service to education as an academic, researcher and practitioner in the field of participation, inclusion and access (2017). 
  • Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning for sustained excellence in engaging undergraduate students through service learning and research activities that promote social and ethical action and enhance the student learning experience (2010).  
  • Telstra-TJA Christopher Newell Award for Telecommunications and Disability (2010). 
  • Premier's Public Sector Engagement Award (Building Communities category) for Sustainable Online Community Engagement Project (2009). 
  • South Australian Information Technology Achiever of the Year, (Comtec) (1994). 
  • S.A. Great Award for Services to a Special Field - Disability (1994). 

Denise is a member of the Equity in Higher Education Panel appointed by the Minister for Education in 2020 and former member of the Equity Research and Innovation Panel.  

She is also a member of the State-wide NDIS Workability Advisory Group and the FASD CQ Alliance, and Deputy Chair of the Australasian Congress of Undergraduate Research and a Member of the World Conference on Undergraduate Research Organising Committee. 

Denise is a professional member of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and the Australian Council of Education (ACE). 

Denise’s research focuses on strategies for improving the educational and social participation of people from under-represented groups including people in regional and remote locations and people with disabilities. Denise’s research also contributes to the scholarship of learning and teaching at the local, national and international level. She is currently leading a project funded by Jobs Queensland in partnership with Community Services Industry Alliance, CSIRO and Global Community Resourcing investigating the workforce and training needs resulting from the roll-out of the NDIS across Queensland. 

Denise has received more than $8 million in competitive grants funding over the last 10 years including several national projects. Denise was a Chief Investigator (CI) for the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre (2011–2016), as well as on three international projects led by the University of the Western Cape where she held an Adjunct Professorial position. She has been an assessor for the Australian Government’s learning and teaching grants and awards, and is an expert reviewer for the South African National Research Foundation, the United States National Science Foundation and the Channel 7 Children's Research Foundation.  

Research areas

  • Educational and social participation of people from under-represented groups

Denise is currently principal supervisor of three PhD candidates. She has also supervised six PhD students to completion and has been an external examiner of five PhDs. Prior to her appointment at USC, Denise coordinated the Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Education course, Research in the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching, and also the Masterclass in Distance Education at CQUniversity. In her former role as Associate Head of School at University of South Australia, Denise developed and implemented strategies for improving the quality, relevance and reach of the school’s teaching, as well as enhancing the school’s capacity to accommodate an increasingly diverse student population, including those from special equity groups. Denise was also responsible for the design and development of the Bachelor of Media Arts, and an industry focused Professional Certificate in Web Accessibility, which continues to attract high demand from government departments both nationally and internationally.  

Teaching areas

  • Denise is currently principal supervisor of three PhD candidates.

Denise has authored/co-authored more than 120 peer-reviewed publications including book chapters and high impact journal publications, as well as several government reports. She is co-editor of two education related edited books published by Routledge and Springer. She has 750 citations, an RG Score of 21.6 and H-index of 15, and over 16,000 reads cited on ResearchGate. She is a member of the Higher Education Research and Development Journal College of Reviewers and former Associate Editor, as well as a peer reviewer of several high ranked journals.