Dr Helena Varkkey is currently a Senior Lecturer at the Department of International and Strategic Studies, University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She completed her Doctorate at the Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney, Australia under the guidance of Associate Professor Susan Park and Professor Lily Rahim. Her doctorate thesis has been published as a book in 2015 as part of the Routledge Malaysian Studies Series. Her writings have also appeared in many international academic journals, including International Environmental Agreements, Environmental Hazards, Asia Pacific Business Review, Wetlands, and Asia Pacific Viewpoint. One of her academic articles won third place in the ASEAN Peatland Media Award 2013. Her work was also featured in the 2014 Routledge Handbook on Contemporary Malaysia. Dr Helena has been interviewed by various media for her views on haze, agribusiness and ASEAN, including The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Financial Times, Channel News Asia, The Straits Times Singapore, and The Star Malaysia. Her commentaries on sustainable development and haze issues have also been published in The Straits Times Singapore and the Malaysian Insider. She continues to undertake research in this field.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Dr Helena has been interested in sustainable development and environmental politics throughout her academic career, beginning at the undergraduate level when she was selected to represent Malaysia at the Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative in 2005, where she was involved in a working group on "Translating Environmental Awareness into Action". Her interest in the field has evolved to a focus on transboundary pollution in Southeast Asia, particularly pertaining to the role of patronage in agribusiness, especially the oil palm industry, and its link to forest fires and haze in the region.