Spotlight on early-career researchers: Lysa Wini

Early-career researcher Lysa Wini, Solomon Islands
early-career researcher Lysa wini, solomon islands

I am Lysa Wini, a researcher originating from Lau Lagoon in the Solomon Islands. Lau Lagoon, deeply ingrained in our cultural tapestry, serves as our enduring home, fashioned from sea rocks and sustaining the livelihoods of ocean-dependent communities, known as the imola i asi, for over five centuries.

Currently, I am engaged in doctoral studies with the One Ocean Hub, delving into the complexities of maritime colonial history and its intricate influence on customary law within the Solomon Islands. This academic pursuit aims to contribute valuable insights to our understanding of historical maritime practices and their implications on local legal frameworks and the imola I asi, or people of the sea, in the Solomon Islands. 

1. What’s your greatest achievement since you started working for the One Ocean Hub?  

In the Hub’s fostering environment of intellectual freedom, I have embarked on a transformative journey of rediscovery, enriching my understanding of the Indigenous peoples in my region, with a specific focus on the imola i asi. This expedition extends to leveraging my knowledge to influence national processes, notably through a collaborative endeavour with the government to meticulously reassess the national ocean policy. The outcome has inspired a commitment to revise the policy, deliberately integrating our Indigenous realities—a dimension historically neglected in the formulation of policies and laws in the Solomon Islands. This effort contributes to fostering greater awareness and appreciation of diverse forms of indigeneity. 

2. How does your work contribute to shaping the One Ocean Hub’s interdisciplinary endeavours?  

My work contributes to shaping the One Ocean Hub’s interdisciplinary endeavors by intricately weaving together the threads of colonial history, legal geography, and Indigenous epistemology and ontology. Through my interdisciplinary approach, the knowledge produced in my research offers a profound appreciation and heightened awareness of the intricacies inherent in the theories of Indigenous communities, particularly the imola i asi. This, in turn, enhances the depth and breadth of the One Ocean Hub’s interdisciplinary initiatives, contributing valuable perspectives to the collective understanding of ocean-dependent communities and ocean-related issues. 

3. What opportunity has the Hub provided you to lead on innovative research? How has the Hub enhanced your leadership skills? 

The Hub has not only provided crucial funding for my research but has also granted me the unique opportunity to work remotely in the Solomon Islands. This has allowed me to engage in a process of relearning from my elders and peers, fostering a deeper connection to my community. Working remotely has given me the time to thoughtfully build relationships and interactions, collaborating with local organisations in the co-creation of knowledge specific to the Solomon Islands. This experience has been transformative, empowering me as a woman to articulate and represent the perspectives of my people in national dialogues and international forums, such as the Climate COP27 where I was a speaker at the event titled ‘Ocean and Climate Frameworks – overview of synergies and discussion on capacity gaps and opportunities’ at the Capacity-building Hub at the Blue Zone.

Through these opportunities, the Hub has played a pivotal role in enhancing my leadership skills, enabling me to bring forward the voices of Indigenous peoples from my region and contribute to innovative research that aligns with the goals and ethos of the One Ocean Hub. 

4. What, in your view, have been the Hub’s most impactful activities? 

In my view, one of the Hub’s most impactful activities has been the incorporation of art-based research as a method for decolonizing research. This approach has inspired me to explore Indigenous methodologies that are appropriate tools for learning, with a focus on approaches that are respectful and contribute to a genuine reconnection with my village. Through this method, I have been able to garner the support of my families and tribe, facilitating a deeper understanding of the impacts of colonialism on the maritime space in the Solomon Islands. The Hub’s commitment to innovative and inclusive research methodologies has significantly enriched my academic journey. 

5. What are the aspects of working in a collaborative environment such as the One Ocean Hub that you value the most? 

One aspect of working in a collaborative environment like the One Ocean Hub that I value immensely is the opportunity for cross-learning among researchers. In our supervisory meetings, if I encounter uncertainty about a topic, I appreciate being able to connect with colleagues who may already be engaged in related research and share insights. Additionally, I deeply value the culture of camaraderie within the Hub, where every member looks out for one another. This environment fosters a continuous learning process, allowing us to expand our understanding of the world, embrace diversity, and celebrate our shared humanity. 

6. What are the challenges and new demands that early-career researchers face today?  

Early-career researchers today encounter multifaceted challenges, including the demanding nature of producing impactful research within tight timelines. These constraints often do not align with the expectations of communities, where the cultivation of meaningful relationships is considered crucial for the generation of valuable knowledge. Balancing these conflicting demands is a delicate task that requires thoughtful consideration and adaptive strategies. 

7. What is your advice to fellow early-career researchers working on a global development project?  

My advice to fellow early-career researchers working on a global development project is to recognize that the production of knowledge is a deeply social process. It involves investing time in building genuine relationships with the communities we engage with. It’s crucial to adopt approaches that are not only appropriate but also meaningful, ensuring that our interactions contribute positively without causing harm or disempowering the communities we work with.