Master of Science (Research) student
Geospatial science is making a huge difference to her home country, says Master of Science (Research) student Zoyha Zabin Nisha who came to AUT as an international student from Fiji, supported by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade NZ Scholarship.
“Since Fiji is a developing country, a flood event leads to huge financial costs to repair infrastructures and assist people. For my master’s degree research, I’m focusing on determining the impacts of flood events through flood hazard mapping of the Ba River in Fiji.
“Using geographic information systems and remote sensing, I’m working towards creating flood extents so that people are aware of where flood waters might reach. The datasets I’m using to generate maps for my research include rainfall, building outlines, infrastructure, evacuation centres, and land use and land cover. I’m also utilising SAR imagery from Google Earth Engine to study previous flood events in Ba town.”
Zoyha’master’s degree research is supervised by Professor Michael Petterson and Dr Bradley Case from AUT’s School of Science.
The right choice
Deciding to come to AUT for her studies was easy, says Zoyha who arrived in New Zealand in 2019.
“AUT was my first choice in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade NZ Scholarship application because I had browsed through the AUT website and found all the answers to my questions. I could see that the range of subjects that were taught at AUT matched my career goals.”
However, like for many students, the global COVID-19 pandemic caused some disruptions to her study plans.
“I deferred my studies in early 2020 because of COVID-19 and returned home to Fiji. I wasn’t sure I would be able to return to New Zealand because of the border closures, but I was stoked to receive an email from the AUT Graduate Research School, informing me that I was identified as an eligible student who could return to New Zealand.
“I consider myself very lucky to have been able to return to AUT, and have had great support from my university, supervisors and the scholarships team. They were all working hard to get me back to AUT to finish my thesis.”
Ready to make a difference
Now in the final stages of her master’s degree, Zoyha has thoroughly enjoyed her time at AUT.
“I’ve had the opportunity to learn from experienced academic staff who covered topics like marine spatial planning, GIS and programming, applications of geographical information systems and geospatial science for conservation. These courses have equipped me well to apply geospatial science in a wide range of careers.”
Expecting to graduate from AUT later this semester, she is already looking forward to apply the knowledge she has gained to make a difference to her home country.
“For now, I’m focused on finishing my master’s degree thesis so I can return home to Fiji and work towards improved data collection and flood modelling, so that we’re better equipped to manage flood impacts in the future.”