Geography PhD graduate Moleen Nand wins the John Lewis Medal for Excellence in Doctoral Research

Dr Moleen Nand with the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia

Dr Moleen Nand with the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia

“I was truly overwhelmed and in shock for some time. I thought it was a prank. I remember I emailed my supervisor asking, “Is this for real?” I went through many difficulties during my PhD, so when my supervisor wanted to nominate me, that itself was a big achievement for me.” Dr Moleen Nand, PhD graduate.

The John Lewis Medal for Excellence in Doctoral Research in Geography is awarded to a student who has made a significant theoretical or empirical contribution to geography through the completion of a PhD.

Moleen’s PhD journey wasn’t easy. Moleen went to Fiji for fieldwork just before the COVID-19 pandemic and was not able to return to Adelaide. Studying remotely from Fiji for two and a half years was challenging, but Moleen received extensive support from PhD supervisors Dr Douglas Bardsley and Dr Junho Suh, alongside administrative support from Shamira Barr and Sarah Hoggard.

Moleen stayed determined and continued to study remotely, participating in conferences remotely and completing her thesis pre-submission via Zoom. Moleen overcame these tough circumstances due to her passion for this subject.

“The key to my success is a lot of time management and discipline.”

“I have always been interested in environmental and climate change issues, food security, and community well-being and development. I decided to pursue my PhD and examine climate change loss and damage in Fiji’s sugar industry.”

Moleen Nand graduating

Moleen’s PhD thesis is titled, "Policy options for climate change loss and damage: A case study from Fijian agriculture." Moleen aimed to understand Fiji’s sugarcane farmers' lived experiences of climatic stressors and climate change loss and damage (when individuals and communities face negative effects of climate change despite implementing mitigation and adaptation measures), and evaluate opportunities for policy, planning, and funding mechanisms for climate change loss and damage.

Moleen went further to examine national policies and how the Fijian government is addressing climate change loss and damage.

For her efforts, Moleen was awarded the Research Student Excellence Award with Dean’s Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence.

Moleen came to the University because of the calibre of the academic staff.

“The faculty was admirably qualified in the field of study in which I had very much interest in growing into. It is a good place to study. I found the staff and students very helpful. Both my supervisors were very helpful when I started my PhD. The University of Adelaide is very vibrant and has a diverse culture and all are welcome. I enjoyed studying here.”Dr Moleen Nand

“The best thing about my PhD was definitely my fieldwork. I had the opportunity to live in remote and rural sugarcane communities and interview farmers. This enabled me to understand their way of life and document their rich experiences of climate change. I learnt so much from these farmers about climate change adaptation and loss and damage. This was definitely the best social learning experience for me!”

Moleen is now working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Queensland to understand how climate change affects local values-based systems, how individuals and communities experience non-economic loss and damage, and how to deal with loss and damage now and in the future. This study is being conducted in three Pacific Island Countries: Fiji Islands, Vanuatu, and Cook Islands.

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