USP PhD student scoops award at US Conservation Conference


A PhD student and lecturer at The University of the South Pacific (USP) scooped the Best Talk Award at a Student Conference on Conservation Science in New York which was held on October 15-17, 2014.

Rosiana Lagi was the only South Pacific Islander to be among conservation professionals networking and exchanging ideas with leaders in science, policy, academia and management at one of the world’s preeminent scientific and cultural institutions.

The conference was organised by the American Museum of Natural History’s Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation and was attended by graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and professionals.

“It was a great conference because it gave us the opportunity to share and showcase our work with other academics and researchers in their various fields of study,” she said.

Ms Lagi’s research is an outcome of her PhD thesis titled “Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of Climate Change Adaptation – Educational Implications”.

Her presentation was a case study of Rukuruku village in Ovalau, which was a research site in her PhD.

Rukuruku village adopted the traditional adaptation method of Vanua Sauvi to adapt to Climate Change and consequently imposed a 5-year traditional restriction on the use of their terrestrial and sea resources.

As a result, the Vanua Sauvi area became a source of conservation for the terrestrial and sea resources.

The natural re-growth of mangroves in the Vanua Sauvi area also slowed down coastal erosion, which in turn reduced the impacts of sea level rise.

Furthermore, the spill over effects from the Vanua Sauvi area became a source of food and human security.

“The Vanua Sauvi area also acts as a carbon sink, absorbing and reducing carbon in the atmosphere in turn contributing to the reduction of carbon and temperature globally,” she said.

Relating to her experience in winning her award, Ms Lagi said she was honoured to be recognised by a universal prestigious institution.

“It is a really wonderful achievement to be recognised universally, especially having come from Fiji, which is but a dot on the world map,” she shared.

“I attribute my success to my elders and parents who have taught me well in the area of TEK and my supervisor Professor Konaiholeva Thaman and mentor Dr. Frances Koya-Vakauta who encouraged me and taught me on how to research and effectively use TEK in my teaching and publications,” she added.

“It is also an indication that our research is recognised world-wide and this may contribute to our accreditation to United States Universities,” Ms Lagi said.

USP’s Director Research Dr Jito Vanualailai congratulated Ms Lagi for her achievement.

“To be recognised and awarded by the world-famous American Museum of Natural History, out of the hundreds of university students from USA puts Ms Lagi’s research and USP on the map,” Dr Vanualailai said.

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