Building resilient communities with Dr Sonia Akter

13 February 2023

Crawford School introduces our fantastic staff, so you can meet the people of Asia and the Pacific’s leading graduate policy school.

This time around, we talk to Dr Sonia Akter about moving to Canberra in 2023, her research interests, and why she wanted to work at Crawford.

What is your role at Crawford School and what are you looking forward to this year?

I am a Senior Lecturer in the Resource, Environment and Development Department, here at Crawford School. My role includes teaching, supervising PhD students, doing research on environment and development issues. I enjoy doing research but also enjoy sharing my research experience with students. Training PhD students is a particular passion of mine and I am looking forward to this, in particular. I am also looking forward to building new research collaborations with national and international researcher working in my field.

What’s been your favourite moment working at Crawford so far?

I completed my PhD here in 2010, so coming back to the School after 12 years and becoming a part of the School as an academic, was a special moment. Also, meeting and getting to know my colleagues who are gradually emerging after the summer break is also exciting.

Can you give an overview of your research area and why it’s important?

I work mostly on development issues in the Asia-Pacific region. Majority of the population in this region are poor and depend on agriculture for a livelihood. Climate change induced changes in rainfall and temperatures and climatic and non-climatic natural disasters are major threats to rural people’s livelihoods and thus pose a serious obstacle for poverty alleviation. Among all populations in this region, women and girls are highly disadvantaged and marginalized as they face various forms on inequality in access to education, healthcare, labour market, asset ownership and so on. My research therefore focuses on improving opportunities for women and girls and reducing gender gaps in various spheres of life in the context of various shocks caused by climatic and non-climatic events.

What did you do before coming to Crawford?

I was an Assistant professor at the Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. Before joining the LKY School, I was the leader of the gender research program of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines. Prior to that, I was Senior Researcher of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, (UFZ), Germany.

What are you looking forward to in 2023?

Exciting research projects, building new collaborations, working with PhD students.

What is one thing that you can’t live without?


What is one thing you have brought with you?

I have not brought much with me but one thing I bought soon after coming to Canberra is a bicycle. Riding around Lake Burley Griffin is a favourite place of mine. So too is enjoying a sunset around the lake, seeing the birds, and people out on the boats.

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