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Graduate spotlight on: Nicole Renaud
J. Thorburn
Nicole Renaud

Nicole Renaud received her MA in Geography from Memorial in May 2012. She is now a doctoral student at the University of Western Ontario, where she is conducting a comparative case study involving small-holder farmers in northern and central Malawi. “I am interested in assessing how agroecological and industrial farming approaches influence small-holder farmer agricultural water security, as well as the gender and food security implications for the different agricultural approaches,” explained Nicole. “I am also interested in examining how multi-level actors address drought vulnerability in sub-Saharan Africa.”

This research builds on Nicole’s experiences as a Master’s student at Memorial, where she investigated the history of water security among small-holder farmers in the community of Mullak’as-Misminay in the Peruvian Andes. For this project, noted Nicole, “I examined the stresses and adaptive responses that have emerged in a community with a history of resiliency and innovations in the face of socio-ecological hardships.” This type of research “blends the human and physical realms in a political ecology framework and is best-suited in an inherently interdisciplinary discipline such as Geography.”

A mainlander, Nicole came to Memorial for one reason: “Location, location, location!” She explained, “I have always felt an affinity for East Coast culture and its people, and once I perused the faculty pages in the Geography Department, Dr. Vodden’s community engagement and research interests caught my eye. From my first email to her all those years ago, continuing on today, her unrelenting support and kindness played a big role in my graduate university choice and success.”

When asked what was most memorable about her experience at Memorial, Nicole was quick to respond. “My field work experience definitely stood out the most. It was challenging in ways I couldn’t have predicted and involved a lot of learning off the cuff that has made me able to deal well with a very wide range of situations and people henceforth. My problem-solving and coping skills in life and research increased sharply and it has had a residual effect in that it takes a lot to shake me up or stump me! On a practical note, actually working with the farmers has dragged me out of the books and kept me focused on why I am doing this, and motivated me to keep doing this work.”

Published: Mar 1, 2013

Nov 10th, 2014

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