Our team

The La Trobe Asia Team

Our office is in Room W104
Level 1, David Myers Building West

T: +61 3 9479 5414
E: asia@latrobe.edu.au
TW: @latrobeasia

Bec Strating


Bec Strating is the Director of La Trobe Asia and Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University. Her research focuses primarily on maritime disputes in Asia and Australian foreign and defence policy.

Bec leads the DFAT-funded “Blue Security” network focused on maritime security issues in the Indo-Pacific. She is a non-visiting fellow at the Royal Australian Navy’s Seapower Centre, a member of the East West Centre Council on Indo-Pacific Relations, an expert affiliate at the Australian National University’s National Security College, and President of the Women in International Security-Australia’s steering committee. In 2024, she was awarded the Bernard Brodie Prize for best article published in Contemporary Security Policy in 2023.

She is the author of ‘Girt by Sea: reimagining Australia’s Security’ with Professor Joanne Wallis (La Trobe University Press/Black Inc, 2024) and co-editor of 'Blue Security: Maritime Strategies in the Indo-Pacific' (Routledge, 2024, forthcoming).

Bec is available for research supervision in Australian politics, Australian Foreign Policy and International Relations of Asia.

T: +61 3 9479 6671
E: B.Strating@latrobe.edu.au
: @becstrating

Matt Smith

Senior Communications Coordinator

Matt Smith is a communicator at La Trobe Asia and has worked in a variety of roles at the institution previously. He primarily writes and designs publications, manages social media and produces multimedia. He hosts and produces La Trobe Asia’s podcast Asia Rising, as well as La Trobe University’s popular podcast Emperors of Rome. He holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) from the University of Newcastle and a Masters of Global Communications from La Trobe University.

Outside of La Trobe University he's freelanced for The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Encore Magazine, The National Times, Crikey, The Punch and more. He's a regular contributor to ABC Radio National, and his favourite dinosaur is the Stegosaurus.

E: matthew.smith@latrobe.edu.au
TW: @nightlightguy

Kate Clayton

Senior Coordinator (Programs & Research)

Kate Clayton is a Senior Coordinator at La Trobe Asia, supporting the university’s engagement with Asia, the Blue Security program and researching Australia and Asia.  Kate’s work at La Trobe Asia has seen her manage emerging leaders programs to strengthen youth leadership and diversity in the Indo-Pacific.

Her research areas include Australia, China, the Pacific Islands, the United States, and the Quad. Her focus is on security and climate change in the Indo-Pacific. Kate's work has been published in The Conversation, Crikey, Lowy Institute Interpreter, China Story Blog, Junkee, Council of Geostrategy, UWA Defence & Security Institute, 9Dash Line, Perth USAsia Centre and The Canberra Times. She has also been interviewed by Australian and global media outlets on Indo-Pacific security issues. She was formerly a sessional academic in International Relations at the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University.

Kate has a Master of International Relations (International Security) from the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of International Relations (Asian Studies) from La Trobe University. When not at La Trobe, Kate is thinking hard about the latest Pop Culture issues.

E: K.Clayton@latrobe.edu.au
TW: @kateclaytn

Rei FortesRei Fortes

Rei Fortes is a Program Coordinator for the Philippines-Australia Forum (PAF) at La Trobe University. His primarily role involves building PAF at La Trobe’s network by planning and organising events with internal and external partners from the Filipino-Australian Diaspora. Rei also manages PAF at La Trobe’s communications with the network through a mailing list and various social media platforms.

He has worked with the Philippine Consulate General in Melbourne to organise an event celebrating the 125th Anniversary of Philippine Independence in June 2023. Rei also re-established La Trobe University’s relationship with the Filipino-Australia Students Council of Victoria (FASTCO) and helped organise the 2023 International Research Forum on the Philippines (IRFP) in July.

Through his work, he has helped PAF at La Trobe grow its presence in academia, members of the public and Filipino community. Rei is also a Bachelor of Media and Communications (Journalism) graduate from La Trobe University. Outside of work, he enjoys exploring new foods, travelling and listening to music.

E: R.Fortes@latrobe.edu.au

Biju PhilipBiju Philip

La Trobe Asia Fellow (2023)

Dr Biju Philip is a qualitative researcher and has expertise in initiating sport-for-development projects in India, Australia and Thailand in school and community settings. His research interests are in sport-based human resource andcommunity development. He has publications in international peer-reviewed journals.

His PhD research was a longitude qualitative action research project that examined the impacts of a sport-for-development program on social inclusion and leadership of primary school aged children in a complex community setting in rural India. Bijuis also the founding Chair of Sport4all Foundation Inc; and has served in the CPA Australia’s Public and Not-for-Profit Sector Committee.

E: B.Philip@latrobe.edu.au

Sonika GuptaSonika Gupta

La Trobe Asia Visiting Fellow (2024)

Dr Sonika Gupta is an Associate Professor at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai. Sonika has an M.A, M.Phil, and Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) New Delhi in Global Politics and Chinese Studies. In 2011, she founded IITM China Studies Centre and acted as its Co-ordinator from April 2011-July 2015.

Her research interests include India's Himalayan borderlands, Tibetan exile community in India, Chinese foreign policy and International Relations theory. Her current projects include examining protracted conflict in borderland communities, Tibetan rehabilitation in Indian Himalayas and Democratization of Tibetan exile politics.

Uttam LalUttam Lal

La Trobe Asia Visiting Fellow (2024)

Dr Uttam Lal is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Geography at Sikkhim University and his academic interests academic cover Himalayan Ecology, highland social-economic dynamics and rangeland, borderlands studies.

Uttam has a doctorate in Himalayan ecology from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and later becoming a founding member of the Department of Geography at Sikkim University and going on to lead the Department. He led the Sikkim University team in the Inter-University Consortium on Cryosphere and Climate Change (IUCCCC) and was recipient of ‘Emerging Scholar-2014’ at India-China Institute, New School, New York.

In 2018 he was Erasmus+ Mobility programme Guest Fellow at Aarhus University, Denmark, and in 2016 he received the Geography Teaching Award from the Deccan Geographical Society of India.

Hunter MarstonHunter Marston

Adjunct Research Fellow

Hunter Marston is a PhD candidate in International Relations at the Australian National University in the Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs, an Adjunct Research Fellow at La Trobe Asia, and an Associate with 9DashLine. He was a 2021 non-resident WSD-Handa Fellow at the Pacific Forum in Honolulu and the 2019 recipient of a Robert J. Myers Fellows Fund from the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Prior to undertaking his PhD, he was a Senior Research Assistant for the Center for East Asia Policy Studies and The India Project at the Brookings Institution.

He previously worked at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Southeast Asia program. He completed his Masters in Southeast Asia Studies and Masters in Public Administration at the University of Washington in 2013. In 2012 Hunter was a Harold Rosenthal Fellow in International Relations in the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar. He writes regularly on Southeast Asian politics and U.S. foreign policy. His work has appeared in Contemporary Southeast Asia, the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and the Washington Post.