Vanuatu geologists play an important role in our everyday lives. Within the context of Vanuatu, a geologist’s role can include conserving soils and maintaining agricultural productivity, helping to discover and extract sources of energy derived from fossil fuels that are used to provide electricity and power our vehicles, and harnessing other sources of power such as solar, geothermal and hydroelectric. Elish Naki is an Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships alumnus who graduated in 2021 from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science (Earth Science). Earth science, also referred to as geoscience or geology, primarily looks at how the earth is formed, its structure and composition.
“The topography of Fiji bears some similarities to us here in Vanuatu, so having the opportunity to work amongst the research team at sites identifying volcanic hazards, utilising geothermal energy from hot springs to generate electricity and carrying out environmental analyses to determine the presence of heavy metals in waters that can cause contamination was very relevant and applicable to Vanuatu’s landscape” stated Elish
Currently teaching chemistry to secondary students at Santo East, Elish aims to facilitate a new earth science program being offered in 2023; a subject that is highly relevant to the welfare of humanity, particularly through the lens of assisting to predict and prepare for natural disasters. Our ability to survive natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions is enormously influenced by the ability to predict their occurrence, as well as plan and engineer structures to mitigate their impact.
Some earth science fields, notably geology, have historically had a low percentage of females working in the sector but Elish believes science is for everyone and encourages females to pursue their interests regardless. “I don’t think you should let these ideas stop you from achieving what you want.“
As a teacher, Elish is making this field of science accessible to the next generation of boys and girls, a field that is extremely applicable to Vanuatu – considered one of the most vulnerable nations to experience natural disasters within the South Pacific.. With her wealth of knowledge, Elish is able to ensure awareness of these issues are raised as a preventative measure for a sustainable future.