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USP student accepted into PhD programme in France

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Vandhana Kumar, a Master of Science in Climate Change student at USP is the successful recipient of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Institute of Research for Development (IRD) scholarships to do her PhD in France.

A student of The University of the South Pacific has been accepted to do her PhD in France under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Institute of Research for Development (IRD) scholarship.

IRD is a French research organisation and the IPCC is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change that was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Vandhana Kumar graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Chemistry in 2011 and is currently doing her Master of Science in Climate Change.

In the same year, she won a Gold medal for Chemistry.

When asked about her interests, Vandhana said she chose to study physical oceanography, focusing on sea level rise, as it is a critical issue being faced in the Pacific islands today.

“I had always wanted to be part of the scientific community. Of course, in school I had never thought that my career path would be in physical oceanography. But then, I did not really know that I had it as an option at that time. The greater part of my career plans shaped out during my university years. I knew I wanted to have a doctorate degree when I learnt about it, and it is a colourful combination of planning as well as a bit of spontaneity that has brought me to where I am today. I wouldn't be honest if I said that I have achieved what I wanted, but I can certainly say that I am on my way there,” she shared.

“Our region is among the most vulnerable to sea level rise and the associated impacts of climate change. Most of our island/atoll neighbours, and even some of our Fijian communities have already started experiencing problems such as inundation, coastal erosion, more frequent floods, storm surges and contamination of gardens and fresh water lenses with rising sea levels over the last few years,” she said.

In her research, Vandhana will be using climate models, satellite observations and past records to make projections for sea level variations in the South Pacific over the coming decades, and for the end of the century.

“With the findings on near and long-term projections on sea level, I am hoping that proposed work will be able to greatly complement vulnerability assessments, adaptation planning and climate resilience building in the Pacific. In this way, I intend to play my part in serving my country and the region,” she noted.

Vandhana travels to France at the end of September and is grateful to have been selected.

“While finishing my Masters, I was applying for almost all of the scholarships I came across. Of course I was hoping to hear a positive response whenever I sent any application, but you really can't be sure with the competition at international level. So I was indeed elated to have been selected for these scholarships,” she said.

Vandhana will be travelling between Tolouse (France), Fiji and New Caledonia during her 3-year programme.

“I am looking forward to working with internationally renowned experts in the field of physical oceanography, and being at the centre of excellence. Nonetheless, I believe that learning is not only academic, and I look forward to all the new experiences and adventure that France has to offer.

Vandhana is grateful to her MSc. supervisor, Dr. Helene Jacot Des Combes who has been a mentor and a source of inspiration for her.

“I would also like to acknowledge my co-supervisor in Fiji, Dr. Awnesh Singh for his invaluable assistance when I was applying for these scholarships. Thanks also to the PACE-SD team, both staff and fellow students - they are an awesome team to be part of. Last, but not least, my family for always being there for me,” she added.

This news item was published on 18 Sep 2014 02:39:03 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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