In 2011 Sandra completed her Masters research at the Fenner School for Environment and Society at ANU: "Learning to Communicate by Communicating to Learn: Social Learning in the Michelago Region - A Case Study". Sandra is currently a PhD scholar in the School of Sociology, Research School of Social Sciences, ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences.
Sandra's PhD research explores the changing functions of rural fire brigades in New South Wales, within the context of national policy changes toward "shared responsibility" when managing emergencies or disaster. The research examines the expectations for rural fire brigades by the NSW Rural Fire Service, local communities and other stakeholders. Using a case study in the Monaro region of South-East New South Wales, the research develops an understanding of how rural fire brigades represent both fire agencies and communities, and what this pertains for future fire management strategies within New South Wales and Australia. The Australian Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre has stressed that existing fire management practices, at all levels, are not sustainable in today’s changing world and as such, research at the “grassroots” end of fire management is prudent and timely.