Associate Professor Karen McNamara

ARC Future Fellow

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Science
karen.mcnamara@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 56069

Overview

Karen is a development geographer that is ultimately interested in how livelihoods (in the broadest sense) can be enhanced to respond to the triple crises of poverty, disaster risk and climate change. Karen is an ARC Future Fellow (2020-2024) and Associate Professor in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at The University of Queensland (UQ). Karen has been undertaking applied and policy-relevant research in resilient livelihoods, climate change adaptation, non-economic loss and recovery, human mobility, and gender for over fifteen years, partnering with governments, and inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations throughout the Asia-Pacific region. She has published over 100 journal papers and book chapters, and over 70 reports, online commentaries, and policy briefs.

Karen currently leads several grants with the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Vanuatu Government, and Palladium. Her ARC Future Fellowship, in partnership with local grassroots organisations, is exploring non-economic loss as a result of environmental change and identifying ways of working through this loss and grief in Australia, the Cook Islands and Vanuatu. She is working closely with the Vanuatu Government to explore how the impacts of climate change can impinge on people's human rights, as part of the Government's quest for climate justice through the UN and International Court of Justice. She is also currently leading a project for the OECD looking at climate change adaptation governance across the Pacific Islands region and is involved in two other ARC projects looking at transformative mobilities (Linkage) and everyday experiences of sea-level rise (Discovery). She recently completed an ARC Linkage project that evaluated 32 community-based adaptation initiatives in 20 rural communities across Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati and Vanuatu, which identified four interdependent points for optimising future adaptation whereby initiatives are wholly led by local people and institutions. Karen has managed over 25 research grants as lead or named CI totalling over AU$3.5 million for the ARC, Australian Government, United Nations Development Programme, and others.

Karen has supervised 11 PhD students to completion (8 as Principal) who have gone onto exciting roles in universities, the United Nations and consultancy firms. She is currently supervising 8 PhD students, teaches a large course on Applied Research Methods each year and is currently piloting a UQ 'flagship' course for undergraduate students on 'Complexity, Action, and Sustainable Futures'. She is Editor of Asia Pacific Viewpoint and PLOS Climate and is on several editorial boards. Excitingly, she is involved with UQ's Global Development Hub as the 'Environment' Theme Lead.

Prior to taking up her position at UQ, Karen was a Research Consultant at the University of the South Pacific based in Fiji (2011-2012). From 2008-2011, Karen was based in Cairns at James Cook University managing major research projects in the Wet Tropics rainforest and Torres Strait for the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility and National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility. Prior to this, Karen worked for the NSW Government (2007) and in various roles at the University of New South Wales (2002-2006).

Karen proudly comes from the small town of Quirindi, which is Kamilaroi Country, on the Liverpool Plains in NSW. Growing up in a small, close-knit country town sparked Karen’s interest in social, development and environmental issues in rural communities.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of New South Wales
  • Bachelor of Environmental Science, University of New South Wales

Publications

View all Publications

Grants

View all Grants

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Publications

Book Chapter

Journal Article

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Note for students: Associate Professor Karen McNamara is not currently available to take on new students.

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision