Where are they now? - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Where are they now?

Employment opportunities for recent SRC graduates have been excellent

Here are the whereabouts of many of them:

Renee Currenti (MA 2018) – Consultant for climate change adaptation plan, Noosa Council, QLD

 

Eric Lede (MA 2017) – Climate Emergency Project Officer, City of Darwin, NT

 

Roger Kitson (BA 2018) – Drought Response Officer, Parkes Shire Council, NSW

 

Erin McPhail (BEnv Management 2018) – Environmental Health Officer, Byron Bay Shire, NSW

 

Matthew Brown (BSc Honours 2017) – GIS Consultant, Esri Australia, Brisbane, QLD

 

Rachele Wilson (BSC Honours 2016) – PhD Candidate, University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), QLD

Dr Sonia Marshall, PhD Graduate, USC, Sustainability Research Centre

Dr Sonia Marshall, who graduated from the SRC with a PhD in 2010, was among 3 winners at the Outstanding Alumni Awards at USC on 24 October 2019. Sonia has driven positive change in public health and the local community using the communication techniques, research skills and ’ability to think outside the square’ gained during her USC doctorate in environmental interpretation.

The Sunshine Coast Council strategic policy officer in sustainability, whose teenage daughter has cystic fibrosis, last year successfully lobbied for a cystic fibrosis medication to be approved for listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The cost for patients to access the drug Orkambi has now dropped from $250,000 a year to less than $500 a year, increasing the expected lifespan of sufferers by 23 years to age 50.

Sonia is currently leading a UNESCO Biosphere nomination for the Sunshine Coast area and continuing to work on local environmental sustainability benchmarking. In 2017, she helped achieve carbon neutrality accreditation for the Sunshine Coast Airport.

 

 

Mike Duggan
Dr Michael Duggan, PhD Graduate, USC, Sustainability Research Centre

Thesis Title 

"Scaling up, Scaling out, and Scaling in: Facilitating effective Education for Sustainability through a Decentralized Global Network"

What do you hope to achieve?

"Leading sustainability and social impact projects internationally whilst contributing to academia and research."

What would you recommend to other people thinking of doing a degree or course in Sustainability?

"Gain practical experience in applying your studies in sustainability wherever possible. Theory put into practice is where you really learn and gain valuable insights into how to influence the many competing agendas the impact upon sustainability."

Best experiences while at the SRC?

"Learning from and being inspired by my supervisors."

Person who influenced you the most during your studies?

"Professor Tim Smith and Associate Professor Dana Thomsen"

Please provide any additional advice for future research students?

"The one and only piece of advice I give anyone asking me about how to have a great experience in HDR studies is 'make sure to take your time finding the right fit for your supervisor(s)'. I think this can be one of the main factors influencing the direction of your HDR experience."

Employment status and achievements since graduating from USC?

Chief Operating Officer at Orange Sky (www.orangesky.org.au).

Orange Sky is an organisation that provides regular laundry and shower services for people experiencing homelessness has appointed a USC graduate to lead its operations around Australia and New Zealand.

Orange Sky Australia appointed Michael Duggan as Chief Operating Officer to lead the organisation in 22 locations, involving over 2000 volunteers every week including a busy service on the Sunshine Coast. He is now based at the organisation’s headquarters in Brisbane.

Dr Duggan, of Upper Kedron, completed a PhD at USC’s SRC via remote study from Gladstone, and graduated in 2016. Dr Duggan’s goal post-graduation was to transition from over 15 years of work in consulting and working as an operational and sustainability leader in the resources and energy sectors, to a role in the social impact focused, not-for-profit sector.

He was immediately impressed by the positive impact Orange Sky had made on the lives of thousands of vulnerable people and knew his sustainable and operational business skills could help expand the organisation.

What started in 2014 as an idea to improve hygiene standards and restore dignity to people doing it tough had already evolved into a safe and supportive environment for those who often feel ignored or disconnected from the community.“The organisation is built around the goal of positively connecting communities,” Dr Duggan said.

“The most important part of our work, more important than the washers and showers our volunteers provide, is that we travel around in our vans with six orange chairs and it is on these chairs that we connect through non-judgemental conversation with our friends on the street.”

“All Orange Sky employees go out on shifts and spend time connecting with friends, service providers and other stakeholders.” Dr Duggan said shared employee values bound the team together strongly and helped them make collective decisions for success. “A lot of strong, successful organisations these days are really considering their unique set of collective values and how that enhances the social capital of their organisation. It’s a fascinating space,” he said.

Dr Duggan chose to study at USC because it offered the closest personal and cultural fit to his values of sustainability and social responsibility, and he “just clicked” with his supervisors Professor Tim Smith and Associate Professor Dana Thomsen. “In 2007 when I began, I wanted to be sure the fit was right. I spoke to different supervisors at different universities and USC was the one that really ticked all the boxes,” he said.

His thesis was called ‘Scaling up, scaling out, and scaling in: Facilitating effective Education for Sustainability through a Decentralised Global Network. Dr Duggan, who is also a passionate trail runner and the current president of the Trail Running Association of Queensland, said completing a PhD over seven years while having a family and a full-time job was akin to running a 100km ultramarathon. “It takes a level of discipline. You have to learn how to walk, because you can’t run up every mountain in a long race,” he said. Originally from Canada, Dr Duggan moved to Brisbane in 1999 and met his now wife from Townsville. Their children are now seven and 10.

Carmen Elrick-Barr
Dr Carmen Elrick-Barr, PhD Graduate, USC, Sustainability Research Centre

Thesis Title 

"Understanding household adaptive capacity: case studies from coastal Australia"

Employment status and achievements since graduating from USC?

"Employed as a Research Fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Since graduating I have undertaken research work through USC, and conducted teaching and research at the University of Western Australia." 

What do you hope to achieve?

"To deliver research that can support on-ground decision-making, particularly in relation to coastal areas."

Best experiences while at the SRC?

"Participation in international and local climate change conferences, trips to Maroochydore to engage with the SRC (as I was an external student) and the collegial working environment at the Sustainability Research Centre."

Person who influenced you the most during your studies?

"All three of my supervisors (Tim Smith, Dana Thomsen and Ben Preston) had a huge influence on me during my studies, each in different and positive ways."

Dr Brian Stockwell, PhD Graduate, USC, Sustainability Research Centre

Thesis Title

"Fragticulture: Reconfiguring agricultural systems to enhance resilience and sustainability in fragmented coastal peri-urban catchments."

Employment status and achievements since graduating from USC?

"Consulting in the field, and elected Local Councillor"

What would you recommend to other people thinking of doing a degree or course in Sustainability?

"Understanding the complex world we live in will help chart the ways forward"

Best experiences while at the SRC?

"Support of supervisors initially Ron Neller, then Jen Carter and Neil Tindale."

Person who influenced you the most during your studies?

"Assoc Prof Jennifer Carter"

Update on other PhD graduates

Dr Sabiha Zafrin is now an Environmental Officer in the Department of Environment and Energy, joining her husband Dr Latif Siddique (Senior Reporting Officer, Australian Fisheries Management Authority) in Canberra.