Each month Griffith Library finds out more about a remarkable Griffith researcher. This month we spoke with Dr Sera Vada Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Griffith Institute for Tourism. We asked her about her latest projects and her advice for aspiring researchers. 

What path led you to become a researcher? 

 My interest in tourism research began when I decided to complete an undergraduate degree in tourism management at the University of Queensland. I later pursued a master’s degree in development studies at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji where my thesis explored the diversification of Fiji’s tourist market to China.  

 The pathway to academia started when I became an Associate Lecturer at the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at the University of the South Pacific. Two years later, I decided to undertake a PhD at Griffith University in 2017 where my research interest was focused on the well-being effects of tourism experiences. During and post PhD, I taught tourism undergraduate courses whilst continuing to build my research profile through publications and collaboration with multidisciplinary teams on tourism well-being research including tourism research in the Pacific.  

 A memorable experience that had a positive impact on my research journey was when I was the academic lead for the sustainable tourism and hospitality program where I had the opportunity to work with 25 brilliant Indonesian participants on developing their research projects. It is the most satisfying feeling to know that the work you do, whether it be in teaching or research, contributes to improving people’s lives through education, especially for the younger generation.   

 ‘…It is the most satisfying feeling to know that the work you do, whether it be in teaching or research, contributes to improving people’s lives through education, especially for the younger generation. ‘    

What projects are you currently working on? 

As a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Griffith Institute for Tourism, my research explores the restorative effects of tourism experiences on tourists’ well-being from the lens of positive psychology. I am currently working on a few different projects as part of my postdoc and in the process of writing up a grant application for the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA).  

One of my postdoc projects which has recently been published, explored the intersection between repeat visitation and the well-being of repeat visitors to Fiji. As a proud Fijian and having worked in Fiji’s tourism industry, I have seen first-hand the connection and attachment that repeat travellers develop through repeated visits to the same destination. It is exciting to be able to carry out this research which not only contributes to the tourism well-being literature but also provides important practical implications for tourism marketers and managers in tourism-dependent countries in the Pacific.  

Another project I am working on explores the transformational triggers of international study tours and their influence on psychological well-being. This research used photo-elicitation (method of interview in visual sociology and marketing research that uses visual images to elicit comments) focus group discussions with tourism professionals in Australia, and I am looking forward to sharing the findings once this has been published. 

My current grant application aims to explore how a Pacific well-being approach can contribute to building a healthy and resilient seasonal migrant workforce in Australia. I am very excited about this topic because it combines two of my research areas of interest: well-being and research on the Pacific. 


Dr Sera Vada discussing research with Indonesian participants on the sustainable tourism program

Images courtesy of Dr Sera Vada

What sparked your passion for this research area? 

 I am very passionate about evidence-based research which influences policies and contributes to enhancing individual well-being and improving the livelihood of people in tourism-dependent communities, especially in the Pacific. My passion for this research area initially started during my PhD journey when I was trying to find a suitable research topic and took an active interest in well-being research from a positive psychological approach.  

 The search for well-being and happiness is a growing area of interest, not only because it addresses one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages but has also become critical now more than ever before, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Personally, I think that being a researcher by profession is a privilege because we can contribute to positive change in our different disciplines. I am passionate about tourism well-being research because it can contribute to wider health benefits, not only for tourists themselves but also for communities in host destinations. 

 ‘…being a researcher by profession is a privilege because we can contribute to positive change in our different disciplines’ 

 What advice do you have for researchers just starting out? 

 The post PhD journey can be a challenging and confusing one, especially changing one’s mindset by navigating away from being a ‘student’ to leading and building a significant research profile and capacity as an ‘expert’ in our research area. My advice to early career researchers is to first, find a mentor/s who can provide valuable guidance and advice throughout your research career. I am very grateful to have incredibly supportive mentors at the Griffith Institute for Tourism, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and Massey University who have provided valuable guidance throughout my postdoc journey. Secondly, try and prioritise research in your area of expertise, but also be adaptable and flexible to other research opportunities outside of your area. Although my research area is on tourism and well-being, I have also carried out tourism research on disaster resilience, inclusive water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), staged authenticity, and organizational citizenship behaviour. Thirdly, join an early career researcher network or other relevant networks within and outside of the university to help develop your research profile. Finally, it is very important to look after your mental and physical well-being because working in the research space can also feel quite isolating. Personally, I commit to daily group fitness workouts, weekly coffee catchups with friends, and spending time with my children to help me feel connected to a wider community. 

 ‘…it is very important to look after your mental and physical wellbeing because working in the research field can also feel quite isolating’ 

 Griffith is proud to produce world-class research contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals 

An icon for SDG 3: good health and well-being

Find out more about the Sustainable Development Goals.  

 Are you thinking of pursuing a research degree? 

 If you would like to find out more, check out the research study web page.  


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