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Adjunct Research Fellow, University of the Sunshine Coast

Erin Smith is a human geographer and Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Sustainability Research Centre (SRC) at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Her work focuses upon delivering socioeconomic vulnerability assessments for natural resource management organisations in the context of climate change, its impacts and potential adaptation responses.

She joined the SRC in February 2014 after previously working in the Social Research Team at AgResearch (Ruakura, New Zealand) and undertaking a PhD in Human Geography, School of Geosciences at The University of Sydney.

In her PhD, Erin investigated the impact of the separation of land ownership and water access ownership upon the socioeconomic organisation of Australian farm enterprises.

This research contributed toward filling an information need identified by the National Water Commission, specifically that there is a need for fine-grained understandings of the importance of water reform from other drivers of rural change (eg farmers’ attitudes toward land, superannuation plans, local land markets, the likelihood of intergenerational transfer of the farm business).

Erin’s PhD was supported by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant Rural adjustment or structural transformation? Discovering the destinations of exiting farmers (Grant Number LP0990297).

Erin holds a Bachelor of Recreation Management (Outdoor Leadership) and a Master of Applied Science, both from Lincoln University, New Zealand.


  • 2017–present
    Adjunct Research Fellow, University of the Sunshine Coast
  • 2014–2017
    Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of the Sunshine Coast
  • 2010–2015
    PhD Candidate, The University of Sydney
  • 2009–2010
    Research Associate, Social Research Team , AgResearch Ltd, New Zealand


  • 2015 
    The University of Sydney, Doctor of Philosophy
  • 2009 
    Lincoln University (New Zealand), Masters of Applied Science
  • 2006 
    Lincoln University (New Zealand), Bachelor of Recreation Management (Outdoor Leadership)


  • 2016
    Rapid regional-scale assessments of socio-economic vulnerability to climate change, Environmental Research Letters
  • 2016
    Spatialising the Melanesian Canarium industry: Understanding economic upgrading in an emerging industry among three Pacific small island states, Geoforum
  • 2015
    Truck journeys and land parcels: Understanding the socio-economic organization of family farming through farm life histories, The Professional Geographer
  • 2015
    Chapter: Australian agricultural policy: The pursuit of efficiency, Rural and Regional Futures
  • 2015
    Assessing socio-economic vulnerability to climate change impacts and environmental hazards in New South Wales and Queensland, Australia, Geographical Research
  • 2014
    Chapter: Water reform in the 21st century: the changed status of Australian agriculture, Rural Change in Australia: Population, Economy and Environment
  • 2013
    Family or enterprise? What shapes the business structures of Australian farming , Australian Geographer
  • 2012
    Engaging adolescent participants in academic research: The use of photo-elicitation interviews to evaluate school-based outdoor education programmes, Qualitative Research
  • 2010
    The temporary community: Student experiences of school-based outdoor education programmes, Journal of Experiential Education