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Students named for ‘perfect storm’ conference

7 Aug 2019

Three students from USC will be at the forefront of Australian climate change adaptation discussions, when they attend a national conference this month.

From August 12-13, Valentin Thépot, Zoe Bridge and Daniela Medina Hidalgo will attend the conference in Canberra titled Weathering the Perfect Storm – Addressing the Agriculture, Energy, Water, Climate Change Nexus.

The trio - studying fish immune systems, Fijian heritage preservation, and climate change adaptation and its links to food systems respectively – are attending on scholarships from either the Crawford Fund or USC.

Valentin Thépot, who won a scholarship from the Crawford Fund Queensland, is completing a PhD on seaweed as an ingredient for fish food, in the hope of boosting their immune systems.

“I’m very concerned about the environment and our effect on the planet, so I want to improve how we help people in developing countries grow what they need in a sustainable manner,” said Mr Thépot, who is having promising results from his trials.

“Stronger fish don’t get sick, so they don’t need antibiotics and need less food to achieve the same weight, which means less waste going into the environment and less financial losses.”

Zoe Bridge is an honours student exploring links between oral history and agricultural practices in Fiji, with a goal of understanding how cultural identity is shaped there. USC is supporting her trip to the conference.

Daniela Medina Hidalgo’s PhD research focuses on food and nutrition security and climate change adaptation in the Pacific.

“My research aims to assess the capacities of rural communities in the Pacific Islands to adapt to climate change,” Daniela said.

“I have a particular emphasis on smallholder farming systems and their potential to increase food and nutrition security through direct strategies, but also to inform policy that could improve livelihoods of farming communities.”

Daniela has previously worked for the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture on climate change strategies for the Americas and Caribbean regions. USC is supporting her trip to the conference.

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