Our Team


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Dr Sebastian Thomas

Dr Sebastian Thomas is a transdisciplinary researcher with a background in climate strategy, environmental management, and sustainability economics and policy. His work examines human-nature relations – the interconnected biophysical, economic, social, and policy dynamics of sustainability innovations, climate governance, and environmental governance. In the context of global change issues – including technology, climate and environment, new economic forces, social movements and conflicts, and resource constraints – he investigates how communities can connect to global economic and policy frameworks to achieve resilient and prosperous sustainability outcomes. His research interests include vulnerability and resilience, ‘blue carbon’ in coastal ecosystems and its role in sustainable development, ocean governance, energy transitions, and the role of educational innovation in adapting to global challenges. Dr Thomas is a lecturer in the Office for Environmental Programs, and affiliated with the Australia-Indonesia Centre, the Australian-German Climate and Energy College , the EU Centre for Shared Complex Challenges, and the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences. He has extensive experience working in the Asia-Pacific as a business leader and research scientist.

PhD Candidates

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Carolina Contreras

Project: Coastal areas and nature-based tourism

About Carolina...
Carolina is a first-year PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. She received a master’s degree in Environment from the University of Melbourne and a master’s degree in Social-environmental Studies from Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (Quito, Ecuador). Carolina has an International Relations background with over five years of experience in the field. She is interested in coastal areas, nature-based tourism, traditional environmental knowledge, and global environmental governance.

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Kieran Sullivan

Project: Community-centred sustainability and the creation of environmental and economic value

About Kieran...
Kieran has completed a Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) at The University of Queensland, and a Master of Energy Studies jointly awarded by the University of Queensland, the University of Newcastle, and the University of Western Australia. His Master’s thesis included two distinct but related studies; an examination of the changing dynamics of the Queensland electricity sector under the influence of residential solar photovoltaics, and the evolution of strategic management theory in light of the global sustainability imperative. He has also spent 3 years as a professional engineer working in project management and delivery roles throughout Australia.

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seb rattansen

Project: What lessons can Australian policy-makers learn from earlier historical transitions that could accelerate Australia's energy transition?

About Seb...
Seb’s academic background is in Political Studies and International Relations. Most recently, he completed an MA in Politics and International Relations at the University of Auckland in 2015 that examined the effectiveness of the international climate regime. Seb has also worked as a policy analyst and consultant in the environmental and energy sectors in New Zealand and the UK. Between 2015 and 2016 he worked at Gemserv, an energy consultancy administering the regulations that govern the smart metering rollout in the UK. Seb’s interests include: climate and energy politics and policy (domestic and international), energy transitions, and the relationship between innovative technology (like drones and AI) and the transition to a zero-carbon civilisation.

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anita talberg

Project: Anticipatory governance of geoengineering

About Anita...
Anita has a Bachelor of Engineering and a Masters of Climate Change, both from the Australian National University. She's based at the University of Melbourne’s Australian-German Climate and Energy College where she's undertaking a PhD on the use of scenarios for anticipatory governance of climate engineering. Anita's interest areas are climate and energy policy, and she has nine years of experience in the public and private sectors in research and in communications.

Masters Research Students

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IsObel Graham

Project: Modelling a renewable and energy independent community in the Gold Coast Hinterland, Queensland

About Isobel...
Isobel has completed a double degree in economics and science at the Australian National University where she specialised in chemistry and natural resource management. In her current masters project she is focusing on renewable energy and climate change. She is currently working at an industry association in the energy industry.

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Oliver Hill

Project: Building a typology of best practice Social Impact Assessment: a study of community-based agreement-making in the resource sector

About Oliver...
Transitioning from undergraduate studies in geology and marine sciences, Oliver has since developed knowledge in environmental policy, sustainable resource development, resource ownership, and marine environments. His research focuses on developing resource sector Social Impact Assessment (SIA) by studying leading examples of community based agreement making. The work aims to develop better practices in SIA and increase understanding of community needs prior to development, leading to a more equitable sharing of benefits.

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Widia Lestari

Project: Understanding governance architectures, community leadership, and cultural diversity in Java, Indonesia

About Widia...
Widia is a Master of Environment student (last semester) and not choosing an assigned specialty but tailoring her own stream combining the 'development, climate change, and renewable energy'. Her interest in these areas is rooted in her background in Urban Planning and work with many people from different disciplines. Her main interests are to work within renewable energy, climate change, poverty and development issues.

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Linh Nguyen

Project: Livelihood pathways through community-scale renewable energy in West Java, Indonesia

About Linh...
Linh is currently studying a Masters of Environment with specialisation in Energy Efficiency. After working in the accounting profession for two years, she decided to return to academia and pursue her dream of studying the environment. Her main interest lies in the renewable energy sector and the economics of the current energy markets. Occasionally, she also dabbles in politics with the hope to understand the forces that dominate the national and international policies surrounding climate change and other environmental issues.

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Jack Simkin

Project: The design of a community developed community-enterprise benefit-sharing scheme for climate resilience activities: utilising the funds derived from a sustainable sea cucumber harvesting program

About Jack...
After graduating from RMIT with a Bachelor of Environmental Science/Bachelor of Social Science (Environment) in 2011, Jack spent 5 years working as a Hydrographer. Working in environmental services data collection helped him realise the significance of resource management policy design. He came back to University to explore how the system works, and more importantly, how it could work better.

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Jose Lopez

Project: Modelling the waste stream of the University of Melbourne's Burnley campus

About Jose...
After completing his undergraduate studies in Animal Science (Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Peru), Jose developed an interest in organic waste treatment technologies and Industrial ecology to contribute to a sustainable farming. He is currently following the Waste Management specialization of the Master of Environment, and expects his research project serves as the first step towards reaching a zero waste campus.

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Ashley Sroka

Project: Exploring the past, present, and future of sustainability science

About Ashley...
Ashley grew up in the Adelaide Hills, graduating from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Geography, Environment & Population along with a Bachelor of Science in Genetics and Microbiology & Immunology. She is currently completing her Master of Environment at the University of Melbourne, where she also works as a Research Assistant in the field of sustainability science.


Alice Trumble

Project: Examining how participatory, futures-oriented innovations in integratededucation-research approaches can enable sustainability transitions

About Alice...
Alice has a BA majoring in Psychology and Philosophy, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Agricultural Science (The University of Melbourne), and enjoys spending time thinking about human behaviour, ethical dilemmas, and food. Currently Alice is completing the Master of Environment at the University of Melbourne, where she is concentrating her studies on sustainable food systems and behaviour/social change. Alice also works as a Research Assistant in the fledgling Sustainability Science Lab, where she is exploring how innovations in educational techniques can facilitate transitions towards sustainable futures.