Class Year


Current Hometown:

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Job and Employer

Research Assistant, Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity Law


Most of my work falls under a subsection of international biodiversity law called “access and benefit-sharing.” If you’re interested in learning more about what that is, check out this handy explanation courtesy of the COA student organization Earth in Brackets.

I do legal research, which basically means a lot of reading stuff and then writing stuff. Since starting here, I have collaborated on an article that will be published in an upcoming book on international environmental law and contributed to a report analyzing the current access and benefit-sharing practices of a local institution and recommending best practice guidelines for them. I also went on a week-long trip to the region of Sarawak to visit different indigenous communities. My upcoming work will include helping to develop national disaster risk reduction strategies and doing research for an article that critically analyses a particular component of access and benefit-sharing laws. I sometimes have administrative tasks as well, but they are always things that I have a weirdly intense passion for, like transcribing facilitated discussions. Occasionally I attend workshops and conferences or help out with events that CEBLAW organizes.

Senior project:

My senior project was titled “Legacies of Western Thought in Climate Change: Ideology Creation, Normative Grammar and Law Making.” It was a mix of a lot of different things but essentially was born out of my curiosity about how language shapes meaning and how that interacts with a space I am really interested in: negotiations of international environmental law. To me, both language and law are systems that are kind of arbitrary and illogical and strange. They are this crazy mix of things that don’t make sense, things that do make sense within their own little universes, things that people believe in really deeply, and things that contain bucketloads of power and meaning whether you want them to or not. I was fascinated by how these two sets of structures—language and law—which are so similar in very peculiar ways, might or might not overlap and intersect with each other. (If you want to hear more about the specifics of my project, you can watch my presentation at the following link:


I did my official COA internship at the Gaia Foundation in 2013, researching how extractive industries affect food and water systems. (You can see the final report at: I also did a shorter internship at CEBLAW in 2014 where I analyzed various provisions present in a selection of existing access and benefit-sharing agreements.

Human ecology in action:

In terms of my job, human ecology helps a lot. CEBLAW does legal work that is deeply committed to social, environmental, economic and global justice. To do that kind of work effectively, we have to be interdisciplinary in order to be aware of the different ways that law can function. So I feel very well-equipped. Still, working at a legal center, it is sometimes a struggle to not have more of a legal background. (In all fairness, I could have taken more law classes while I was at COA!) It takes me longer to do things or I don’t always come at them from the right angle. But my boss is incredibly understanding and supportive and patient. I also think studying human ecology affects my life positively outside of work/study! People would always say this and I never believed them, but it’s true: human ecology really does help you in the real world. It’s easy to talk to a variety of people because you have studied a variety of things. You’re more able to interact with someone who’s not exactly the same as you (which is so important! and so human ecological!). A training in human ecology gives you more flexibility in how you approach things. It’s easier to communicate as well: from a purely linguistic perspective, it can be difficult to talk to someone with a different background from you if you’re coming from a specific training in a specific field, because you’re so used to communicating within a very specific framework of reference. Human ecology acts as a counterbalance to that because an interdisciplinary education doesn’t shoehorn you into one singular perspective and the singular set of vocabulary that would correspond to it. And it’s weirdly fitting, that human ecology makes interacting with other people easier and better, because human ecology in itself is something really social. It’s interdisciplinary and collaborative; it teaches you to create meaning through interacting with other people.

A COA experience that was particularly significant or memorable:

In true human ecological fashion, I would say that all the components of my time at COA complemented and built on each other, and were all significant to me. At the same time though, without a doubt the single most memorable part of my COA education was studying. Being in the library, at a desk in the stacks, hunched over and squinting at printouts—that was when things would really start to come together. I would have never learned what I did without all the other incredible experiences that COA gave me, for sure. But it was always when I would go back to doing my readings and writing my papers that everything would come to life for me.

Considerations for prospective students:

My hands down number one favorite thing about this university is that it revolves around a genuine and deep passion for education. Your fellow students love learning and geek out about the awesome classes that they get to take. Your professors LOVE teaching and will go to incredible lengths to further your educational experience. I’ve visited a few different universities and the learning atmosphere at COA is something that other institutions don’t even come close to. It’s so, so special. I cannot emphasize this enough.

COA is also great for people interested in learning about a variety of things from some really cool perspectives. And it’s good for people who don’t want to be miserable….? Which is to say, it’s fairly easy and common to have a fulfilling and balanced life (instead of existing purely to study) and that is pretty nice ☺

Do keep in mind that COA is a school that is both small and growing, and with that come particular constraints. Structural hiccups definitely arise—lack of administrative clarity, limited resources and funds, restricted capacity to do things like study away, limited transport to get out of Bar Harbor itself—and you ought to be aware that they exist. Still, everyone who works at COA is really kind and dedicated to their jobs, and they will do everything they can to help you out.