Dr Erin Smith

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Dr Erin Smith


Research areas

  • rural and agricultural restructuring
  • Australian water reform
  • the interface between environmental management and agriculture
  • climate change adaptation
  • socioeconomic vulnerability assessments


Dr Erin Smith is a human geographer and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Sustainability Research Centre (SRC), University of the Sunshine Coast.

Her work focuses upon delivering socioeconomic vulnerability assessments for natural resource management organisations in the context of climate change, its impacts and potential adaptation responses.

She joined the Sustainability Research Centre in February 2014 after previously working in the Social Research team at AgResearch (Ruakura, New Zealand) and undertaking a PhD in Human Geography, School of Geosciences at The University of Sydney.

Erin's PhD investigated the impact of the separation of land ownership and water access ownership upon the socioeconomic organisation of Australian farm enterprises.

This research contributed toward filling an information need identified by the National Water Commission — specifically that there is a need for fine-grained understandings of the importance of water reform from other drivers of rural change (eg farmers’ attitudes toward land, superannuation plans, local land markets, the likelihood of intergenerational transfer of the farm business).

Erin’s PhD was supported by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant Rural adjustment or structural transformation? Discovering the destinations of exiting farmers (Grant Number LP0990297).

Erin also holds a Bachelor of Recreation Management (Outdoor Leadership) and a Master of Applied Science, both from Lincoln University, New Zealand.

Professional memberships

  • Geographical Society of New South Wales
  • National Institute for Rural and Regional Australia


  • Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists – Science Programme Scholar 2013
  • New South Wales Rural Assistance Authority Higher Degree Research Scholarship 2012
  • Australian Postgraduate Award (Industry) – The University of Sydney 2010–2014
  • Drought, Climate Change and Rural Adjustment: Tracking the Destinations of Exiting Farmers
Selected research publications by Dr Erin Smith
  • Smith, E.F., Keys, N., Lieske, S.N., & Smith, T.F. (in press). Assessing socio-economic vulnerability to climate change impacts and environmental hazards in New South Wales and Queensland, Australia. Geographical Research.
  • Smith, E.F. (2015). Truck journeys and land parcels: Understanding the socio-economic organization of family farming through farm life histories. Professional Geographer, 67(3), 464–471.
  • Smith, E.F., & Pritchard, B. (2014). Water reform in the 21st century: The changed status of Australian agriculture. In R. Dufty-Jones & J. Connell (Eds.). Rural change in Australia: Population, economy and environment. Surry, UK: Ashgate. (pp. 169–186).

  • Weller, S., Smith, E.F., & Pritchard, B. (2013). Family or Enterprise? What shapes the business structures of Australian farming? Australian Geographer, 44(2), 129–142.

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