Geography Careers: Scientia Associate Professor Paul Munro
18th August 2023
By Nicole Miller - Communications Officer, IAG
Geography Careers: Interview with Scientia Associate Professor Paul Munro
The field of geography is diverse. It offers many career paths and opportunities for people interested in people and our planet.
We spoke to Scientia Associate Professor Paul Munro ahead of a Wiley Geographical Research webinar on 22 August 2023. In his presentation, Energy geographies of justice, access, and poverty: the solar object in Africa, Paul shared his work in Ghana, Uganda, and Zambia including challenges for communities to access energy. Watch the replay.
What’s your current role and where do you work?
Associate Professor in the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of New South Wales. I am also Faculty Director for Sector Engagement (Climate) – a role that involved linking researchers working in the climate space to a range of research, funding and engagement activities.
What are you most excited about for your webinar?
To be able to share my work with new people and to hear their insights and response.
What key things do people most ask you about your work?
Usually, 'how did I end up getting into this field of study?'
What’s a common misconception that people have about solar in Africa?
That people don’t know about solar (or are required to learn about solar by someone from outside of Africa). The average person in Africa (especially in rural areas) will have a much more fine-grained knowledge of how solar works than someone in Australia (other pretty much anywhere else in the word).
Tell us briefly about your latest research you’re working on that’s exciting.
I have been conducting research on solar waste and repair in Zambia. Looking at how looking repair cultures and geographies are able to extend the life of broken down solar products. We just had a publication accepted by Political Geography based on this research. It should be coming out next week.
How did you get into your field and what did you study?
I travelled to Sierra Leone in 2007 to visit a friend there, and stumbled into work with an organisation doing energy work. I was supposed to stay for weeks, I ended up staying for over a year working on energy projects.
Tell us about any formal or informal geography mentors and the impact they had on you.
Lots of mentors along my journey, too many to mentioned by name. But a shout-out to my PhD supervisor Simon Batterbury, who has always supported me, and guided me in terms of being an ethical researcher.
What would you say to someone considering choosing a field of geography for study or work?
Do it. You won’t regret it, and there are so many different pathways of work that geographers do.
Any advice to early career geography researchers?
Look out for each other. Be kind geographers and support each other as you careers developed.
What’s your most memorable geography research trip or other experience?
I am not sure about my most memorable. I have had many. But one that left a mark on my life was an undergraduate field trip that I did during my studies at Sydney university to Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. It was run by Phil Hirsch.
What work or research you are you most proud of? Tell us about that and what impact it’s made on you, others or the field of geography.
I think what I am most proud of now is seeing my students (undergraduate, honours, PhD) have excelled in their own paths. And how I might have played a very small part in contributing to what they achieve.
Watch Paul's webinar
What the replay of Paul's Wiley Geographical Research webinar which was recorded on 22 August 2023. In Energy geographies of justice, access, and poverty: the solar object in Africa, Paul shared his work in Ghana, Uganda, and Zambia and reflected on challenges for the communities to access energy.
Read about the many career opportunities in the field of geography.
What is geography?
Geography is the study of place, space, and the environment, and of people and others in relation to those. Read more.
Join the Institute of Australian Geographers
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Paul's university profile
Visit Paul's University of NSW staff profile.
Photo credit: University of NSW