PhD researcher with 20-years’ experience working across government and research sectors. My research interests span tourism, environment, and waste management.

Michelle Whitmore

I am a working mother and part-time researcher with a passion for the natural environment. I have over 20 years’ experience working in leadership roles in government and collaborating across disciplines, including conservation, tourism, heritage, and property services.

I have a broad range of writing experience, preparing text for academic papers and textbooks on protected area management to briefing notes and Ministerial speeches. I can rapidly absorb and translate complex information into plain English. I work to understand every side of a problem and find creative solutions. I connect research to practical outcomes.

I am a realist who is focused on the positive changes we can make for the benefit of the environment (human and non-human). I enjoy work that aligns with my values and challenges me to grow. I believe in balance in all aspects of life.

In 2021, I commenced a PhD with the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, Australia.

My decision to launch into PhD research was inspired by my experiences while on a family holiday in the United States of America in late 2019 and early 2020. During our trip I was struck by the amount of waste that was being generated at the accommodation and attractions that we visited. I was impressed with some of the conservation initiatives that the Walt Disney Company had taken, but there was still much to be achieved.

My research will focus on the role of plastic in the Walt Disney Company theme parks. How plastic is used and disposed of and the opportunities and constraints to minimising plastic waste within the Disney theme park environment. As an industry leader and conservation advocate, Disney has the potential to positively influence our relationship with plastic.

I will share some of my experiences, frustrations, and findings through my posts on this site. I hope that in sharing, I can connect with others going through similar experiences.

Academic background

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) – Institute for Culture and Society – Western Sydney University (2021- current part-time)

Bachelor of Antarctic Studies (Honours) – University of Tasmania, Australia
(1998) (First Class Honours)
A one year, course work and thesis program, covering biological, physical, policy and political context of Antarctica. My honours thesis was on the role of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators and the self-regulation of tourism in Antarctica.

Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Management and Tourism) – Western Sydney University, Australia (1995 – 1997) (Distinction)
Undergraduate degree spanning environmental management, environmental health, and tourism management subjects.

ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7721-059X

Personal reflections

My Disney story

Social research cannot be conducted in a vacuum. All research is influenced by the life experiences and personal values of the researcher, as well as what is going on in the world around them. My current research focus, on Disney and plastic waste, is a product of my life experiences, travel, work, and study.  I have been aware of Disney for as long as I can remember.…

Juggling / Struggling

R U OK? Day is a good reminder to check in with your own feelings as well as with others. I feel exhausted. Almost numb some of the time. I am trying to be the best wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, niece, aunt, sister, friend, pet-owner, laundress, cleaner, cook, assistant gardener, hairdresser, teacher’s assistant, neighbour, employee,…

Personal brand

I am not good at self-promotion; I never have been. When I recently enrolled in a course that included working on personal brand, I knew it was going to involve some personal discomfort. As has become my custom, I immediately made a link to the book I am reading at the moment, Grace under pressure…


Work-life balance is a difficult thing, least of all because work is a part of life just like humans are a part of nature. You cannot consider one without the other, and if you do then you are likely to cause harm. Modern humans have, in large part, considered themselves above nature, able to manipulate…

%d bloggers like this: