University of south pacific
Professor Randy Thaman is USP’s longest serving academic staff member. He joined the university in February 1984. He received his BA and MA in geography from the University off California, Berkeley in 1962 and 1967, and a Ph.D. from UCLA in 1974. He has, at one time or another, taught or contributed to most of the classes taught within the School. He currently teaches GE201: Introduction to Biogeography, GE301: Applied Pacific Island Biogeography and the postgraduate class, GE407: Advanced Island Biogeography. He has also successfully supervised more postgraduate students than any other USP staff member. Professor Thaman has conducted research in most of the USP member countries, with his most recent studies having been on community-based biodiversity in Fiji, Tonga, Niue Tuvalu and Kiribati and the floras of Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and a number of islands in Fiji. Over the years countless USP students have worked with him on these projects. Many of these students now hold important positions with government and non-government agencies working in the areas of environmental management and sustainable development throughout the region. Professor Thaman has also published widely on a wide range of topics of importance to the Pacific Islands. His main areas of research interest include environmentally sustainable development, atoll and small-island ecosystems and biodiversity, agroforestry, Pacific Island food systems, ethnobiology and traditional environmental knowledge, Pacific Island floras, community-based biodiversity conservation, and ecotourism. Among his major publications, which he has authored or co-authored over the years, are Food and National Development in the Pacific Islands (1983), Environmental Issues in the Pacific Islands (1983), Applied Atoll Research and Development (1989), The National Reports for Kiribati and Tuvalu for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 1992 (1992), Agroforestry in the Pacific Islands: Systems for Sustainability (1993), The Flora of Nauru (1994), A review of Uses and Status of Trees and Forests in Land Use Systems in Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu (1996), Republic of Nauru National Environmental Management Strategy and Action Plan (1998); Niue’s biodiversity: A foundation for ecological, cultural and economic survival of a small island nation (2004); Trees outside forests in the Pacific Islands (2004); Traditional medicine of the Marshall Islands: The women, the plants, the treatments (2006); Plants of Nauru: Guide to indigenous and introduced plants of particular cultural importance and weeds of potential threat to Nauru.(2008); and The vegetation and flora of Nauru – 2007: Current status, cultural importance and suggestions for conservation, restoration, rehabilitation, agroforestry and food, health and economic security (2008). Other published articles in journals, edited books or conference proceedings include articles on agricultural remote sensing, pesticide use in the Pacific Islands, impacts of phosphate mining on Nauru, urban gardening, the evolution of the Fijian food systems, coastal reforestation, the ethnobotany of Pacific Island coastal plants, and environmental education. As a committed teacher, he has also published Bibliographies and Referencing Made Simple: Guidelines for Students (1992). Three Rs for Academic Success - Research, Recoding and Referencing: Guidelines for Students Doing Library, Internet and Field Research (2004), and Plants of the Pacific Islands (1998), a children’s book co-authored with Neil Taylor of the Institute of Education. Professor Thaman also has a long history of community outreach. He was a founder member and served as the Chairman of the Fiji National Food and Nutrition Committee (NFNC) for over 7 years, was the Founder of the South Pacific Action Committee for Human Ecology and the Environment (SPACHEE), and has served as a national coach for both the under-22 and senior Fiji men’s and women’s basketball teams. In 1997 he was the FASANOC Coach of the Year, the year the Fiji Under-22 team beat Tahiti to win the gold medal in the Oceania Under-22 Basketball Championships. In March 1997 he was invested as a Member of the Order of Fiji for his contributions to Fiji through his teaching, sport and community service. He is a keen sportsman and runner. He played rugby for USP in 1974 and 1975, played basketball in the Suva competition until he retired to focus on coaching in 1995, has won the veterans division of the Fiji Fun Run a number of times, and represented Fiji in the pentathlon at the World Veterans Games in 1987. You will still see him working out with students at the USP Fitness so he can keep up with his students on his demanding fieldtrips.
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