Dr Nunan's main area of interest is concerned with linkages between the environment and development, particularly in renewable natural resource governance and livelihoods in the Global South. She rejoined academia in September 2008, after spending five years in East Africa, working on two fisheries co-management projects, funded by the UK Department for International Development and the EU. Since her return, she has conducted research on Lake Victoria fisheries, the governance of mangrove forests in Kenya and Zanzibar and into how policies and management approaches in coastal areas can contribute towards climate compatible development. Dr Nunan was appointed as Head of the International Development Department, University of Birmingham, in 2014.
Her first book was published in 2015 by Routledge, 'Understanding Poverty and the Environment: Analytical Frameworks and Approaches'. She edited a collection on climate compatible development in 2017. 'Making Climate Compatible Development Happen' was published by Routledge with the Climate and Development Knowledge Network.
Dr Nunan served on the Council of the UK Development Studies Association between 2010 and 2016 and convenes the DSA Study Group on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change.