Research expertise

Academic staff in the Office for Environmental Programs
Kathryn Williams
Associate Professor Kathryn Williams

Director,
Office for Environmental Programs

Kathryn Williams is Associate Professor in environmental psychology at the University of Melbourne. She is also Director of the University’s Office for Environmental Programs. Her research is concerned with the psycho-social dimensions of environmental management, particularly the emotional and cognitive factors that shape conservation behaviour and public response to environmental policy and management. Her cross-disciplinary research is grounded in partnerships with environmental agencies concerned with forest management and urban greening. Associate Professor Williams’ teaching mirrors her research priorities: applied environmental psychology, social research methods, and knowledge integration for environmental professionals. She is Editor (People and Trees) for Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research. As Director of the Office for Environmental Programs, she oversees the University’s large cross-faculty, interdisciplinary coursework program the Master of Environment.

Dr Sebastian Thomas
Dr Sebastian Thomas

OEP Academic Coordinator
and Subject Coordinator,
Sustainability Governance
and Leadership

Dr Sebastian Thomas is a transdisciplinary researcher with a background in climate strategy and environmental social science. His work examines human-nature relations – the interconnected economic, social, and policy dynamics of sustainability innovations, climate governance, and environmental management. In the context of global change issues – including technology, climate and environment, new economic forces, social movements and conflicts, and resource constraints – he investigates how communities can connect to global economic and policy frameworks to achieve resilient and prosperous sustainability outcomes. His research interests include vulnerability and resilience, ‘blue carbon’ in coastal ecosystems and its role in sustainable development, ocean governance, energy transitions, and the role of policy innovation in adapting to global challenges. Dr Thomas’ expertise crosses sustainability science, political ecology, management strategy, environmental economics, and social-ecological systems dynamics. Dr Thomas is a lecturer in the Office for Environmental Programs, and affiliated with the Australia-Indonesia Centre, the Australia-Germany Climate-Energy College, the EU Centre for Shared Complex Challenges, and the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences. Prior to joining the University of Melbourne he was Education Program Manager at the International Energy Centre, coordinating the professional, interdisciplinary Master of Energy Studies, and lecturing on topics of energy policy, global change, and sustainability leadership.

Dr Thomas coordinates the core subject Sustainability Governance and Leadership.

Dr Stephanie Lava
Dr Stephanie Lavau

OEP Academic Coordinator
and Subject Coordinator,
Interdisciplinarity and the Environment

Stephanie Lavau is a Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Environmental Practice. Her research and teaching focus on social and cultural aspects of environment management and governance, particularly in relation to ecosystem health, environmental risk, biodiversity conservation, and natural resource management. Stephanie's research interests include: the production and intersection of environmental knowledges; nature-cultures; and policy-practice interfaces in governing environments. She has studied sustainable river management in Australia (funded by an APA and CSIRO); the extension of biosecurity policy into food production and environmental management in Britain (funded by ESRC); the socio-technical challenges of biological control for crop protection in Britain (funded by Plymouth University); and the role of biological indicators in lay and expert apprehensions of environmental change (funded by ISSR). Stephanie's research is primarily qualitative and ethnographic, and is situated at the intersection of science and technology studies, human geography, and environmental sociology. Stephanie has recently returned to Australia from the UK, where she was a Postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Exeter and then a Lecturer in Human Geography at Plymouth University. She has previous professional experience in science communication and science policy in government and environmental organisations.

Dr Lavau coordinates the core subject Interdisciplinarity and the Environment