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.

Blog posts: Are communities the answer to our renewable energy needs?

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

Blog posts: The Journey of climate entrepreneurshipEU Centre PostGrad research weekend

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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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

Blog posts: UAV-assisted sustainability scienceSustainable eco-enterprise for climate resilience in Fiji

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: Reducing landfill use in 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. His project will evaluate the effect of providing recycling feedback to the Burnley community on the amount of recyclables collected, as well as to model the waste stream of the campus to recommend strategies that allow the waste managers to reach waste management targets.

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Hexing yang

Project: Recycling local waste as substrates for edible mushroom cultivation in the context of "Blue economy"

About Hexing...
Hexing has a science background, and is studying the Environmental Science stream of the Master of Environment. Her project will explore the performance of local wastes such as coffee grounds and recycled paper as cultivating substrates for edible mushrooms. Compared with the current substrate, the project is expected to target alternative substrates and potentially elevate the efficacy of recycling waste.

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Rini widayanti

Project: Capturing Blue Carbon Ecosystems for Improving Social-Ecological System Resilience and Sustainable Development

About Rini...
Rini has 12 years working experience in marine, coastal and small island management, particularly involved in policymaking processes, strategic planning, and training programs. She is currently specialising in the Climate Change stream of the Master of Environment. Her research aims to analyse the socio-ecological system of Morotai Island, North Maluku Province Indonesia and contribute to the resilience of marine and coastal ecosystems. An economic valuation of blue carbon ecosystem services could benefit for finding potential climate finances and enable community to participate in sustaining their economic development.

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orly vidal

Project: Analyzing climate change resilience of indigenous communities: frameworks to La Guajira, Colombia case study.

About Orly...
Orly has a Bachelor in Economics, and is in her third semester of the Master of Environment. She has seven years’ experience in both the public and private sectors coordinating development plans and projects in La Gualira, Colombia. Her project is intended to analyse the existing approaches to climate change resilience, particularly among indigenous communities in La Gualira, Colombia. The main findings can be used as instruments for the development of climate change adaptation strategies in the policy making scenario.