Congratulations to Philippa Higgins

Philippa Higgins from UNSW Civil and Environmental Engineering receiving the Australia Day Award from Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC Governor of New South Wales and her sponsor Ms Doreen ToddUNSW Civil and Environmental Engineering PhD student Philippa Higgins has received a prestigious National Council of Women of NSW Australia Day Award.

Philippa Higgins’ PhD research seeks to better understand how climate change is impacting aquifers in small Pacific Islands, such as Vanuatu and Tonga offering some guidance in the South Pacific where a lack of data makes research and decision-making very challenging.

Her project will improve our understanding of the water-related vulnerabilities of Pacific island countries to climate change, with direct implications for water management and sustainable resource development in both Vanuatu and the broader Pacific region.

Philippa’s novel approach uses remote tree-ring datasets to reconstruct historical wet and dry periods across the islands. She is currently working with colleagues in Vanuatu’s Department of Water Resources and the University of the South Pacific, with benefits of this knowledge-exchange partnership flowing both ways.

 “There are so many questions to be answered, especially in the South Pacific where the lack of data makes research really challenging,” says Philippa.

“By working together with local partners, I can draw on the existing knowledge about climate, groundwater resources, and aquifer vulnerability from in-country experts. Meanwhile, outcomes for Vanuatu and the Pacific Region are improved, because the research methodology is developed in collaboration with the end users of the information.”

Prior to coming to UNSW, Philippa had won an Erasmus Scholarship to the Netherlands to study water science in Delft, Lisbon and Dresden. She has also worked for the Federal Government’s Office of Water Science in Canberra on climate change and water management.

Further information about her research is here:

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