Previous HDR Supervisor of the Month awardees

Details about previous Higher Degree Research (HDR) Supervisor of the Month awardees are provided below:

February 2024

Leonie Quinn

Professor Leonie Quinn
Head, Division Genome Science and Cancer
Head, Brain Cancer Discovery Group
John Curtin School of Medical Research
ANU College of Health and Medicine

Leonie's supervisory approach:
"My approach as a supervisor is to listen to my students. Then it is pretty simple: I work with each student to tailor the training and support required to enable them to achieve their immediate goals of their PhD studies and, ultimately, their career aspirations. I am acutely aware that the PhD journey is challenging and, thus, check in to ensure my students are enjoying their HDR travels. Most importantly, in between all the hard work, we also take time out for coffee and chocolates!"

Find out more about Leonie’s work by visiting Leonie's profile webpage on the JCSMR website.

November 2023

Sonali Walpola

Dr Sonali Walpola
Senior Lecturer
Research School of Accounting
ANU College of Business & Economics

Sonali's supervisory approach:
"In supervising HDR students, I prioritise a student’s holistic best interests: their intellectual development, personal fulfilment in their research journey, and their psychological wellbeing. While guiding students to pursue research topics that advance knowledge, I emphasize the importance of students exploring questions they are deeply interested in. In providing feedback, I am focussed on sharing my specific skills in the development of logical and coherent argument and persuasive written exposition. I firmly believe that HDR students flourish in an empathetic and positive learning environment. To this end, I praise students for strong aspects of their work, particularly improvements, and I frequently invite students to approach me with anything that is affecting their progress or concerning them."

Find out more about Sonali’s work by visiting Sonali's profile webpage on the CBE website.

October 2023

Anthony Reid and Myra Abubakar

Professor Anthony Reid
Emeritus Professor
School of Culture, History and Language
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Anthony's supervisory approach:
"I initially felt this award was generous but wholly inappropriate, since my contribution to supervision was distinctly peripheral not only in the past month, but the past year and decade. Since retiring from ANU in 1999 to take up positions overseas, and returning as emeritus professor 10 years later, I have managed to avoid serious academic responsibility. I only joined the committee of a couple of Aceh students as the ‘local knowledge’ advisor. But I have accepted the fait accompli of the award as a kind of farewell gesture of recognition, as I hang up my metaphorical red pencil, for 55 years of graduate supervision, most of it in service of ANU.

Guiding graduate students is a rare privilege, allowing a closeness to smart, diverse young people rarely given to teachers at other levels. It means sharing the grief as well as the joy of that isolating journey, but learning much along the way. The first 15 of my 40+ students (of which 30 ANU) were all men, the last dozen mostly women. They came from 9 countries, with only 8 Australia-born but a bigger number making a career here. The students of the 1970s had a smoother path to academic success in Australia when Southeast Asia was popular, but by the 1990s one could not encourage anybody to anticipate an Australian academic job.

I learned from all, and would like to use this occasion to thank them for helping me to be a better historian of Southeast Asia, and perhaps a better person.

Find out more about Anthony’s work by visiting Anthony's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

September 2023

John Evans

Dr John Evans
FSES - Fenner School of Environment & Society
ANU College of Science

John's supervisory approach:
"I find supervising postgraduate-level students one the most rewarding aspects of my job. I see HDR supervision as a collaboration with another researcher who is in the process of developing their own research interests and skills. Undertaking a postgraduate degree such as a PhD can be extremely challenging, frustrating, and isolating. But it is also a creative endeavour primarily driven by the student. My role is to provide guidance through those tough times but also to encourage the student to tap into their own interests and creativity.

I try to balance the need for students to develop their skills independently but without them spending months wasting time on challenges that I could provide them with the advice to overcome. For example, in ecology, there is a steep learning curve to develop the statistical and coding skills necessary to become an ecological scientist. Initially, it can be difficult to know where to start. I like to provide students with the best approaches for a specific task and to work with them to get started. I don’t want them to spend weeks trying to correct a coding error, but similarly, I want them to understand what they are doing.

Empathy is an important skill to use when working with HDR students. For example, the peer-review process can be frustratingly slow, unfair, and bruising. It can sometimes take over a year from submission to publication. A researcher’s work can be in review for months, only for it to be rejected, for seemingly trivial reasons. This can be an emotional roller coaster for anybody, but it can be especially acute for a HDR student whose’ whole degree hinges on this work. Understanding this from the student’s perspective is crucial and providing advice and assurance through this process, I believe, is one of the most important ways in which I can help a student achieve completion of their HDR degree.

It is extremely rewarding seeing HDR students develop into high-quality independent researchers with their own skills and ideas."

Find out more about John’s work by visiting John's profile webpage on the Researchers website.


Soumi Bala
Business Manager
The John Curtin School of Medical Research
ANU College of Health and Medicine

Soumi's approach to supporting HDR's:
"JCSMR HDR support team is a part of the Business Manager portfolio, which is currently under my purview. As a supervisor, I strive to create a work environment that supports, respects, and motivates my team to perform at their best. I believe in fostering an inclusive workplace where every team member's voice is heard and valued. I realise that each team member brings unique challenges, strengths, and perspectives to the table, which is why I make it a point to demonstrate the behaviours and attitudes I expect from my team.

I make sure to recognise and appreciate my team's efforts and achievements regularly. Additionally, I support my team's professional growth and development by providing opportunities for training and skill-building to help them reach their full potential. Our team shares the same values, which has helped us set up an excellent, high-performing team that strives to help academics and HDR students achieve their best level."


August 2023

Bonnie McConnell

Dr Bonnie McConnell
Senior Lecturer
School of Music
ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Bonnie's supervisory approach:
"Supervising HDR scholars as part of my academic role is a joy and a privilege. I believe that an important aspect of my role as a supervisor is to serve as a mirror to reflect back to the student researcher their ideas in order to help clarify and focus those ideas. That is, effective and supportive supervision begins with developing a clear understanding of the HDR scholar’s own priorities, aspirations, and strengths as a researcher. This supports the development of a sense of agency and independence. This also provides a foundation for introducing new, challenging ideas and articulating the broader significance of the thesis project.

The pressures of completing a PhD can be very challenging. In working with HDR scholars, in addition to guiding their thesis work, I aim to provide space to share challenges such as time management, work-life balance, and mental wellbeing, and to problem solve together, referring students for further support if needed. In my view, mentorship that considers the wellbeing of the whole person (and not just the thesis) is an important aspect of the supervisory role.

At the ANU, HDR thesis projects in music are extremely diverse and varied in terms of topic, methodology, and theoretical positioning. This means that as a supervisor, there is no “one size fits all” approach that will work for all students. At the same time, I have observed a common challenge (and source of insight) among the HDR scholars in music where supervisory guidance is particularly important. This is the challenge of understanding and articulating the nature of sound and embodied musical experience in the HDR project. As a supervisor, I approach this challenge as a source of insight because it connects to questions of student motivation and critical perspectives on research methodologies, communication of findings, and the place of non-text-based knowledge in the academy".

Find out more about Bonnie’s work by visiting Bonnie's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

July 2023

Alexander Maier

Professor Alexander Maier, FASP FASM SFHEA
Biomedical Science and Biochemistry
Research School of Biology
ANU College of Science

Alexander's supervisory approach:
"Like for many my approach to HDR supervision reflects my own journey – emulating what I found valuable from my own dedicated supervisors combined with experiences and perspectives accumulated over the years.

Being a successful researcher requires many different skills – and not all of them can be acquired and trained in a classroom setting. As the PhD student’s project moves along, I aim to outline the intricacies of the scientific endeavour, may it be project selection, experimental design, publishing, or career planning. This does not only include exemplifying, analysing, and rationalising the way I approach these topics, but also considering the pros and cons of alternative approaches. It is important that the student find the way that best suits them and the circumstances. The goal is to equip budding scientists with a range of options that can be called upon.

Being a PhD candidate is a defining period – it is the chance to apply your talents to independently explore a topic and become a recognised expert in it. In addition, a PhD project provides plenty of opportunities to hone a whole range of generic skills – effective communication, time management, teamwork, record keeping, logic and effective workflows. Whether students will continue working as scientists or apply their skills and talents in other areas, these proficiencies are universally applicable. However, these skills also need to be matched with specific knowledge – they need to be grounded in a discipline. Merely being able to work in a team is not enough – one must contribute something to the team to make it worthwhile. I try to instil a strong sense of professional ethics and pride in one’s work. The beauty of the scientific method is that it does not only satisfy our innate curiosity, but it enables us to make in a systematic way a positive impact on the world.

Research is rarely a 9 to 5 job. Exceptional outcomes are always built on hard work, but it is equally important to find a suitable work life balance that is sustainable. Compiling the data and arguments for a PhD thesis is a marathon, not a sprint! A steady sustained effort that allows enjoyment of the journey is more useful than bursts of frantic activities followed by periods of exhaustion. Hence, as a supervisor I hope to set such a sustainable pace.

Like in any healthy ecosystems, diversity in a team adds to its resilience and value. But that also means that a one-size-fits-all approach to mentorship is unlikely to work. It is very satisfying for me to see students exploring their individual traits and converting them into unique portfolios of assets."

Find out more about Alexander’s work by visiting Alexander's profile webpage on the Researchers website.


June 2023

Bernardo Pereira Nunes

Dr Bernardo Pereira Nunes
Senior Lecturer
Sub Dean (Academic Integrity)
School of Computing
ANU College of Engineering, Computing and Cybernetics

Bernardo's supervisory approach:
"Understanding the challenges and uncertainties inherent in pursuing a PhD, I put myself in their shoes and empathize with their experiences and struggles. By understanding my students from the beginning, I can establish an open and safe communication channel, allowing them to feel comfortable and confident in expressing their ideas and collaboratively helping them build their research.

We all know that the PhD journey is not easy, and resilience plays a vital role throughout this pursuit, driving an unwavering commitment to constant improvement. Even when faced with setbacks, such as the rejection of a paper — a challenge we all encounter — I encourage my students to seize such opportunities for growth. Together, we refine their approaches and enhance their ability to communicate their findings more effectively. I also encourage (and remind) them to embrace critical and creative thinking, adapt to unfamiliar scenarios, and explore the broader societal implications of their research. Together, we strive to create the world we envision, one where innovative ideas and responsible research shape our future.

Throughout this transformative journey, we transcend the traditional roles of supervisor and student, evolving into colleagues working in the same field, mutually enriching each other's research pursuits. We form a cohesive team, leveraging our collective strengths and enabling us to achieve more. My ultimate goal, however, remains to empower my students to the point where they no longer require my supervision. Of course, I will be there for them but then as a collaborator."

Find out more about Bernardo’s work by visiting Bernardo's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

Lou Farrer

Dr Lou Farrer
PhD (Clinical Psychology)
Senior Research Fellow/DECRA Fellow
National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health
ANU College of Health and Medicine

Lou's supervisory approach:
"Supervising students is such a rewarding and enjoyable part of my job, and I have been fortunate to work with many passionate and talented students. My own PhD supervisors were outstanding mentors and this has made all the difference to my path through research and my supervisory approach. My supervisors saw and encouraged the best in me, and that is something I hope to convey to the students I work with.

The journey through a PhD is about learning how to be a researcher (and much more!), and is an enormous privilege to be a part of. I aim to support students to develop a strong sense of autonomy and ownership over their work, while knowing that they have a mentor walking beside them who is just as invested in their growth, wellbeing, and success as they are. I’ve learned that supervision is not ‘one-size-fits-all’, and I really enjoy collaborating with students to work out how best to support their growth as a researcher.

Availability and approachability are important to me as a supervisor. I aim to help my students feel confident to discuss ideas, share the ups and downs, and most importantly, navigate the times when things inevitably stray from what we expected. I benefit greatly from the students I work with; their ideas and energy motivate and inspire me, and they are constantly teaching me new things about being a researcher and supervisor. "

Find out more about Lou’s work by visiting Lou's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

May 2023

Rajeev Pathak

Prof Rajeev Pathak
Cardiologist and Cardiac Electrophysiologist
School of Medicine and Psychology
ANU College of Health & Medicine

Rajeev's supervisory approach:
"I have been fortunate to have strong and gifted supervisors and mentors during my PhD and post-doctoral studies. My mentors have imparted their knowledge and skills onto me, which have inspired me to support and supervise students of my own. The PhD program can be an overwhelming prospect, however with correct guidance and support, students can enjoy their studies and work towards being able to form independent skills and management techniques of complex cardiac arrhythmias.

I work towards creating an inclusive and diverse PhD program, offering local, national and international students an inclusive and equitable learning environment and opportunities to advance their skills. I encourage students to ask questions to form a deeper understanding in the field of cardiac electrophysiology, to better their scientific understanding and ability to provide utmost care to patients. I aspire to show students the importance of holistic management and highlight the importance of research and clinical medicine on advancement of technology and treatment therapies. I strive to have an open door policy where students can approach me for support and guidance at every step of their PhD.

I believe it is crucial for students to reflect on their own work to better their mindfulness, generation of ideas and improve their thesis before submission. I enjoy promoting positive debates to deepen research ideas and enjoy supervision as they form research which betters the medical field.

I offer all of my students support whilst they manage their PhD, clinical fellowship, and their busy lives. I prioritise the growth and development of my students and see this as a true honour to be able to support so many intellectual individuals as they build their career.”

Find out more about Rajeev’s work by visiting Rajeev's profile webpage on the Canberra Heart Rhythm website.

April 2023

Kathryn Grasha

Dr. Kathryn Grasha
DECRA Fellow & ASTRO 3D Fellow
Research School for Astronomy & Astrophysics
ANU College of Science

Kathryn's supervisory approach:
"I have been fortunate to have had exceptional and extraordinarily impactful supervisors during my PhD studies -- my approach to supervision is modeled after my own supervisors. A PhD is extremely challenging and daunting, but a supervisor can help you manage and navigate the pathway to becoming an independent scientist, all the while enjoying the process along the way.

At the core of my supervising and mentoring philosophy is a dedication to building communities that are equitable, inclusive, and supportive. We do our best work when we feel we belong; having a community that values us as individuals is a first and necessary step to academic excellence. My job is to help students in their educational and career aspirations and to train them how to be successful, independent scientists in whatever they want to achieve in life. A big part of this is communication because every student is different and needs different support, and that changes with time as well.

I believe it is crucial to enable students to answer their own questions in a positive and supportive environment. This is a crucial component in helping students take ownership of their research. In addition, I strive to be an exceptionally strong role model and encourage my students to develop their professional skills. It is my goal to help my students get where they want to be -- to help them identify what success means and to lay out a roadmap so they can achieve their own version of success. Above all, I see students as whole people, and I try to help students holistically manage research while balancing other aspects of their busy lives.

The most enjoyable aspect of supervision is watching my students turn their thoughts and questions into work that informs us of the physical processes at play that govern how galaxies form and evolve over cosmic time.”

Find out more about Kathryn’s work by visiting Kathryn's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

March 2023

Stewart Fallon

Professor Stewart Fallon
Associate Director, Higher Degree Research
Research School of Earth Sciences
ANU College of Science

Stewart’s supervisory approach:
"A PhD program is a significant expenditure of time, effort and passion. It is not easy and almost never straightforward. I feel it is important to continually highlight the big picture (even when it changes) for the students while letting the individual steps to be their own. Each project is unique, often with technical hurdles and short-term gains before the final hurrah. We celebrate these gains with lab and extra-curricular activities.

I have a very diverse student cohort often very far from home (different cultures and languages) and they all work on different projects. We meet weekly where anyone can discuss anything, science, coffee, sports, trips. I find these meetings to be very productive, and new insights are often realized due to the different backgrounds of the students. This helps students engage with other projects because once they finish their PhD, juggling multiple projects is the norm. It is important to keep in mind that we are not only here to supervise a PhD project, but also to help train the students in a multitude of skills: critical thinking, communicating, writing, presenting and teaching. I get my students to engage with the ANU HDR training modules as I feel these are a tremendous resource that was not available to many of us supervisors as students.

I have been fortunate to see many types of supervision and students in my role as Delegated Authority for HDR. This has helped refine and shape my approach which is continually evolving. It is exciting for me when students walk in with new plots of data, or ideas that then lead to critical insights, and when they hand me the finished product that is really the most rewarding part of my job.”

Find out more about Stewart’s work by visiting Stewart's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

February 2023

Shameem Black

Associate Professor Shameem Black
Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies
School of Culture, History and Language
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Shameem’s supervisory approach:
"A PhD often feels like an epic journey! A great joy of academic life is supporting such a quest. I see the most important part of supervision as helping PhD students consider who they are and who they want to become through the act of creating original knowledge. Developing that unique voice is often what can help to clarify the intellectual stakes of a thesis and serve as a guiding light when inevitably the journey meanders down dark paths. My job is also to anticipate the demons of critique and counterargument that my students might encounter down the road. I try to help them build the critical skills they’ll need to forge ahead with confidence. Finally, my goal is to remind students of all they have done and can do. Through these encounters, I’m grateful to my PhD students for sharing their journeys with me. They continually impress me with their creativity, perseverance, resilience, and bravery."

Find out more about Shameem’s work by visiting Shameem's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

Pauline Ridge

Professor Pauline Ridge
ANU College of Law

Pauline’s supervisory approach:
"My supervisory practice involves project management; intellectual engagement; and preparing the student for life beyond the thesis. Each of these roles is infused with a concern for student wellbeing.

A PhD project’s size and duration can be very daunting. I believe in regular meetings where we break the project down into manageable chunks, set goals and interim deadlines and critique draft writing. ANU’s thesis milestones framework and fabulous training resources are also really useful in facilitating timely thesis progress.

Intellectual engagement is the most satisfying part of supervision. I try to provide a safe space for students to articulate their arguments and be challenged on them, plus it is great fun to discuss the law with a fellow enthusiast. My most recent supervision (of an inter-disciplinary project) involved a very experienced and engaged supervisory panel, from whom I learnt a great deal (about the topic as well as supervisory best practice).

I am also mindful of a student’s career path post-thesis and the need to build a portfolio of relevant skills and experience, for instance, through conference presentations and the like, but also by giving rigorous feedback on research and writing. Throughout the process I am responsive to and seek to promote a student’s wellbeing. Life interferes with most plans, so it’s important that I help students develop resilience, flexibility and resolve.

I feel privileged to have watched my current student turn her raw ideas and questions into polished work that will have a positive impact on law and society."

Find out more about Pauline’s work by visiting Pauline's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

January 2023

The Duong

Dr The Duong
Research Fellow
School of Engineering
ANU College of Engineering, Computing and Cybernetics

The’s supervisory approach:
"As a former international PhD student back in 2014, I felt extremely lucky to receive excellent support from my PhD supervisor and to graduate within exactly three years. After starting my academic career, I have always promised myself that I will try my best to support and guide my students. For me, being an HDR supervisor is an exciting but very challenging task, since the quality of my work will make a great impact on the research outcomes, well-being, and future careers of my bright-minded students. My first rule is to always respect the students and give the students enough independence in doing their research. At some point during the students’ candidatures, I expect that they should have more expertise in their research topics than me. Secondly, my door is always open if the students have any questions either about their research or something else. I am happy to come to the lab with the students, work through their experiments, and provide them guidance whenever possible. Thirdly and most importantly, I think building a good relationship and trust with my students is key to my supervisory journey's success. It is critical to have regular meetings with my students to create a better understanding of each other as well as to keep track of the projects. It is also important to be professional in everything I do so that I can be a role model for my students. Lastly, I consider supervision as a great opportunity for me to learn from others, especially from my students. I really enjoy this supervisory journey and I am happy to see some of my former students starting their exciting careers right after graduation."

Find out more about The’s work by visiting The's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

November 2022

Chris Ballard

Associate Professor Chris Ballard
Senior Fellow
School of Culture History & Language
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Chris’s supervisory approach:
"Supervising PhD scholars is one of the great pleasures of a university career (back in the day, ANU PhD students used to be called "scholars", and treated by staff as junior colleagues, not students). Colleagues are generally too busy for extended conversations, so it's with PhD scholars that you have the most exciting and sometimes confronting intellectual engagements. They know their topic like no-one else, and they bring an extraordinary enthusiasm and freshness to their enquiry. The key challenge is to work together to find ways to articulate the central problems of the thesis, which are often understood intuitively from the outset, but can require the full length of the doctoral process to bring to light and to express clearly for a readership. As a supervisor, you get to experience both the highs and lows of the doctoral journey, and your role is to anchor those swings within the framework of the research and the production of the thesis, keeping things in proportion and on track, and encouraging a sense of progress. Every topic and every supervisory relationship is different and, as with all relationships, it's essential to find a frequency and an intensity of engagement that works on both sides. I've met some PhD scholars every week for their entire program, while others are happy to surface less frequently (which can be nerve-wracking for a supervisor!). I think the growing awareness of mental health issues and willingness to be open about the challenges of the long, hard slog of a PhD are amongst the most important recent developments in the PhD relationship, and tackling some of these issues early and establishing healthy practices is more necessary than ever."

Find out more about Chris’s work by visiting Chris's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

October 2022

Christina Spry

Dr Christina Spry
Research School of Biology
ANU College of Science

Christina’s supervisory approach:
"My approach to supervision has been inspired by the great supervisors I have been lucky enough to encounter during my research career. I appreciate that all students are different and it’s therefore critical to build a relationship and learn what works best for each. A key part of my role as a supervisor is to remove impediments to a student’s research, whether that be by directly tackling problems outside of a student’s control, facilitating student troubleshooting and decision making, or simply being a cheerleader at times when extra motivation is needed. I encourage my students to take ownership of their projects and to move in directions that inspire them. In this regard, I give weight to all suggestions and meet all ideas with an open mind. Communication is key to my supervision style, and as such, I strive to be approachable and to foster a collegial research environment where there can be open dialogue, and no questions remain unasked. Finally, I recognise the personal side of research, i.e., the emotional roller coaster that can accompany the highs and lows of research, as well as other struggles that may be ongoing behind the scenes. Correspondingly, I exercise due care in discussions with my students.

Recently, I took maternity leave in conjunction with the birth of my first child. Although this was a time of many changes, and I was suddenly left with a fraction of the time I once had available, I recognised that what I was going through did not diminish the needs of my students. I therefore found new ways to ensure our dialogues did not stop, and very much enjoyed the opportunity to continue my research through them (albeit with sleeplessness and nappy changes in the background)."

Find out more about Christina’s work by visiting Christina's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

September 2022

Hsiao-chun Hung

Dr Hsiao-chun Hung
Senior Research Fellow
School of Culture, History & Language
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

Hsiao-chun’s supervisory approach:
"Many PhD students travel a lonely road, especially when they follow subjects such as archaeology not in prevalent demand worldwide. Most of my PhD students are international students. As an international student who has gone through a similar path, I can understand the challenges and the efforts needed to live in a new place. While I share my own experience with them, I hope they can make their own paths and avoid some of the rocky parts that I met along the way, although their journeys inevitably will be long and arduous, without shortcuts.

From the PhD stage all the way to the academic career, students need a solid motive and genuine passion for continuing the journey intrepidly. I always ask students first if they are truly happy with what they are doing and plan to do. I believe that research enthusiasm, especially the desire to pursue a uniquely new and important question, is essential to sustain an individual through this strenuous trip and continuing for a lifetime.

Each student is a unique and independent individual, in terms of learning experiences, language abilities, cultural background, and self-expectations for the future. I adjust myself accordingly to the personality and needs of each student. We travel together through the PhD process and will continue thereafter in our next journeys as colleagues. While we celebrate the excitement of achievements at each milestone, we recognise and learn from the disheartening moments, failures, and tears that help us to grow.

Within the three to four years of PhD life, I hope for each student to grow rich and beautiful feathers and to fly high. I hope they can fly higher and much farther than I have done."

Find out more about Hsiao-chun’s work by visiting Hsiao-chun's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

August 2022

Mary Lou Rasmussen

Professor Mary Lou Rasmussen
School of Sociology
Research School of Social Sciences
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Mary Lou’s supervisory approach:
"I started my PhD in 1997 at Deakin University with Professor Jane Kenway. Jane was an outstanding supervisor and continues to be a friend and mentor today. I found Jane because she had written the foreword to Schooling Sexualities: Teaching for a Positive Sexuality  (1996); one of the first books published in the field of schooling and sexualities in Australia. I knew that she would be somebody who was sympathetic to research in this space, even if she was not researching in the field herself. To my knowledge, at that time there were no academics specialising in sexuality research (or at least ones I knew about) in Australian faculties of Education. Looking back, Jane was not only the supervisor I thought I needed. In addition to valuing my research, Jane helped me to find a way as an academic throughout my career, introducing me to colleagues and their work and assisting me in imagining a pathway into and through the academy as a queer researcher.

25 years later I know there are many people researching in this space in Australia, across disciplines and across universities. I have witnessed and participated in the flourishing of research in this space. The School of Sociology at ANU is a place that enables this field to flourish further with colleagues and a HDR community that value HDR students with diverse experiences and areas of expertise. This includes a number of researchers who are pursuing research that might be broadly labelled as queer; others may identify with this label in a sideways fashion. It’s a huge privilege to be a part of this learning community. It is buoyed by writing retreats, reading groups, seminar series and the Institutional support of the ANU Gender Institute. Together, these provide opportunities for us to gather together and develop ideas in a highly creative and engaging intellectual community. For me this is the essence of research supervision; it’s about participating in and building community, both within the course of the PhD and beyond."

Find out more about Mary Lou’s work by visiting Mary Lou's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

July 2022

Bina D'Costa

Professor Bina D'Costa
Department of International Relations
Coral Bell School
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

Bina’s supervisory approach:
"This generous gesture of recognition by a PhD student of mine is such an important reminder of the mutual respect and trust that bind a PhD journey. Each student who places their trust in me, and who comes to be mentored, offers me and others in our academic community incredible insights. 

Each of us who supervises comes to know that every student needs to find their own path. This path reveals itself through an iterative journey- a patient and painstaking sifting through literature, sharing ideas with others, and revision after revision of thesis questions, arguments, and chapters. In this context, I avoid a one-size-fits-all approach and don’ t micro-manage. I emphasise to my students the importance of self-care and discipline, in particular, to read and write from the beginning.  To instil this practice, I encourage students to send me some form of writing in preparation for meetings.  Our meetings begin with bullet points, which become paragraphs before too long, and then pages, followed by draft chapters. Training students to express thought through writing is really important.

Most of my students do fieldwork based theses, which also means working with them to develop not only an ethics protocol but an ethical approach to research in the field; ensuring that their fieldwork communities benefit from their research. I strongly encourage the use of literature that includes critical interdisciplinary perspectives, non-Western sources as well as literature that addresses intersectional and multiple forms of struggles- such as, class, caste, gender, sexuality, location, and other forms of identities. Finally, I encourage my students to explore beyond their immediate academic encounters in the Department. So much learning happens when they engage with different learning circles at the University and in Canberra- reading groups, thesis bootcamps, writing retreats, walking tracks, picnics and bar-b-ques. Yes, a Phd journey should also be fun!

To conclude, my approach is to encourage students to see both the forest and the trees, and to instil a firm belief that their research has enormous potential to benefit our society and our beautiful world."

Find out more about Bina’s work by visiting Bina's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

Miranda Forsyth

Professor Miranda Forsyth
School of Regulation and Global Governance
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

Miranda’s supervisory approach:
"Supervising PhD students is both a tremendous joy and a significant responsibility. The PhD journey is incredibly intellectually exciting, but it can also be a long and arduous one. Especially in the past few years, many students have struggled with difficult issues caused by isolation and the impacts of Covid-related restrictions on their initial plans. I view PhD students as relational beings, not as isolated individuals, but embedded within families and other sources of connection and commitments. I work in an interdisciplinary environment and seek to guide students in navigating that complex terrain. This cannot be done alone; I draw upon supports such as members of the candidates’ supervisory panels, our broader school community, the excellent services provided by the ANU at a central level, and of course the PhD peer networks. Working with PhD students provides an invaluable opportunity to learn from them and to see research problems and solutions from different perspectives. Working as I do with students from our Asia Pacific region, ultimately I seek to walk alongside and support the leaders of tomorrow."

Find out more about Miranda’s work by visiting Miranda's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

June 2022

Steven Wu

Associate Professor Steven Wu
Convenor of HDR
The Research School of Accounting
ANU College of Business & Economics

Steven’s supervisory approach:
“Every PhD journey is the outcome of a major life-changing decision. HDR students entrust supervisors with the important responsibility to guide their academic, professional and personal development. I deeply appreciate all my research students for choosing and trusting me to accompany them through their research journeys. I aim to provide research students with a full research experience from asking interesting and important research questions to going through the publication process. To do so, I take on various roles including a collaborator, a counsellor, a resource provider, a critic and most importantly a champion for my students.

PhD students are at the earliest stage of their careers, and they should have the greatest freedom to shape their future research directions. As a supervisor, my task is to encourage, guide and support PhD students to discover their research passions rather than constraining them to specific research agendas and methods. It is essential to maintain flexibility in supervision style, which involves being open-minded and willing to adjust the supervision approach to suit students’ needs. As a result, I am often amazed by the work of PhD students, as they introduce me to new research areas and cutting edge theories and methods.

I respect my students’ work and celebrate both achievements and failures with them. A PhD is a lonely learning process that often seems fruitless. Progress is made when students discover both what works and what does not work. Supervisors’ encouragement during adversities help students maintain healthy attitudes towards their research. Showing passion and excitement about students’ works also motivate them to further realize the potential of their research."

Find out more about Steven’s work by visiting Steven's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

May 2022

Elizabeth Williams

Dr Elizabeth Williams
Senior Lecturer
School of Cybernetics
ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science

Elizabeth’s supervisory approach:
“My PhD students are my collaborators and colleagues. I learn as much from them as they learn from me, and that is a privilege I’m grateful for every day. My goal as a supervisor is to do what I can to help my students set high expectations for themselves and provide the support they need to achieve those expectations in a sustainable way. I do this because I want my students to have all the tools they need to succeed in the long term. I’m constantly asking myself: What practices can I either demonstrate or help them establish for themselves that will help them flourish? The answers to this question are individual to the student, and are especially crucial for students like mine, who are engaging in transdisciplinary research projects in a discipline we’re working together to transform. As one might imagine, the projects can be quite challenging and career paths aren’t always clear. But I think all my students are likely to benefit from a supportive, trusting environment where it feels safe to learn, experiment, and make mistakes. So – along with my colleagues involved in HDR supervision in the School, I work to create that kind of environment, both in my individual relationships with my students, but also within the PhD cohort I supervise within the School."

Find out more about Elizabeth’s work by visiting Elizabeth's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

April 2022

Anton Kriz

Associate Professor Anton Kriz
Research School of Management
ANU College of Business & Economics

Anton’s supervisory approach:
“I see the PhD supervisory role as real privilege and as much as my students may benefit, I know it also changes me as a person, mentor and researcher. My pathway to academia was slightly different to what might be the “norm” and included being a CEO, management consultant and working in government. My early career choice to do an undergraduate business degree after working for a few years was a critical turning point; the decision to then engage in a PhD (after spending time working in industry) really changed the way I view life and learning. “You don’t know what you don’t know” and in my case I was probably sitting at the top of Mt Stupid when it comes to the Dunning-Kruger effect. The delayed trajectory in my own development as an academic and as researcher, mixed with extensive management experience, is something I cherish. I seem to attract PhDs with similar backgrounds wanting to embark on equivalent research journeys, and have appreciated the interest of some experienced and original-thinking prospective management PhDs. Pursuit of a PhD in the latter stages is about perspiration, so you need passion for such a pursuit. Fortunately, the students with whom I am now working and learning, often have a very astute sense of self and know why they are pursuing such a higher-order research challenge. This mix of experience and a search for our own truth fits with what I was taught about a doctor of philosophy and its search for wisdom. I am now far more interested in helping people learn rather than being the “teacher” which likely coincides with my shift to andragogy and executive level instruction. Increasing involvement in regional interventions and impacting on triple helix dynamics (interplay of university, government and industry) adds significantly to my PhD related story. Watching PhDs and masters students now investigate these innovation-related dynamics in different contexts is exciting. Action research, case studies and action learning are now predominant in my methodological tool box and I have been fortunate to witness not only interesting research but also substantial change in the researched phenomenon. Impact is therefore core business for me and I do get concerned when I occasionally hear higher-degree students being prompted to “game the system” in pursuit of journal outputs and climbing the academic ladder. It reminds me of the movie Jerry Maguire when a young boy abused Jerry for encouraging his dad to keep playing football despite regular and serious concussions. Jerry had an overnight conversion and his report to the firm on being more caring had immediate consequences. I agree that the PhD journey is more important often than the destination. But the contribution needs to be worth the effort. Hopefully if you too embark on a PhD, you derive as much satisfaction as I have. I have definitely gained more from my students than I have given. As I have slowly descended the slope of Mt Stupid, I hope I have become richer in my understanding of people, contexts and organisations."

Find out more about Anton’s work by visiting Anton's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

March 2022

Carina Wyborn

Associate Professor Carina Wyborn
Fenner School of Environment & Society
ANU College of Science

Carina’s supervisory approach:
“Without a doubt, working with research students – whether they are in undergrad, honours, masters or PhD – is the best bit about being an academic. They are fun, creative, and inspiring, their work takes you to all sorts of places that you may never have envisaged going, and generally no longer have the capacity to do so because academic life has so many competing demands that you no longer have the privilege to be engrossed in a single topic. Given that, it isn’t long into a student’s project that I start to look to them as the expert on their topic, and see my role as the methodological guide and support as they navigate the many decisions, challenges and opportunities that doing research presents. I’m passionate about methods, I know for some that is boring, but the skills to design and execute a good project, to do critical inquiry, and generate conclusions and implications for the real world from their analysis are transferable to the complex problems students will face in the future irrespective of whether they stay in academia or not. I think supervisors have a responsibility to help students to gain experience outside of academia, to consider alternative career pathways, and, importantly, to understand how to work with non-academic partners to connect their work to the sustainability challenges we face as a society. I do not believe that a PhD has to be a paper production project, nor that you can’t make a contribution to society through research done in a PhD. I work really hard to help my students who have broader impact goals to understand, both practically and theoretically, how to design research projects that can help, in some small way, to make the world a better place."

Find out more about Carina’s work by visiting Carina's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

February 2022

Lara Malins

Associate Professor Lara Malins
Westpac Research Fellow
Research School of Chemistry
ANU College of Science

Lara’s supervisory approach:
“Mentoring students is undoubtedly the most fulfilling part of my job as a research academic. It is a privilege to play such an integral role in guiding not only the academic growth and career progression of my students, but also their personal development. I enjoy getting to know students over the course of their studies and seek to understand what truly motivates them to pursue research so I can do my best to help them achieve their goals—both during their PhDs and after. As a supervisor, I enjoy living vicariously through the experiences of my students, which includes celebrating their many successes and helping them overcome the obstacles they will inevitably encounter over the course of a research program. I don’t see myself as the “boss,” but rather as a colleague and oftentimes, a cheerleader! My goal is to help them acquire the skills they need to tackle challenges at hand and also to help them build confidence in their abilities. I provide advice and encouragement (as well as lab snacks for additional motivation!) and aim to help my students feel comfortable and confident in their capacity to take on new challenges in the future. In turn, I also benefit greatly from interactions with students; I am continually inspired and motivated by their enthusiasm and intellectual creativity and look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together."

Find out more about Lara’s work by visiting Lara's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

January 2022

Dougal Mackey

Associate Professor Dougal Mackey
ARC Future Fellow
Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics
ANU College of Science

Dougal’s supervisory approach:
“Supervising students is one of my favourite parts of being an academic; seeing their achievements and successes never gets old! As a supervisor, I think one of the most important things to remember is that every student is a unique individual — all prefer to work in different ways, are motivated by different things, and have different reasons for undertaking HDR study. Developing a tailored approach in collaboration with the student helps ensure that they are as comfortable as possible, and that they are getting what they want out of the HDR programme. Undertaking a PhD is a difficult, and at times daunting, process, and I think it’s essential for a student to have a high level of trust in their supervisor. This has to be earned by the supervisor! But once it is, the payoff is large — knowing that their supervisor has their back and is working in their best interests really helps inspire a strong sense of confidence in most students. In general, I am always working towards each student gaining ownership over their research. It’s always great when working with a student has evolved to the point of two collaborators attacking a difficult problem together."

November 2021

Etsuko Mason

Etsuko Mason
HDR Administrative Officer
School of Culture, History & Language
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Etsuko’s approach to supporting HDR candidates:
“I respect all our Higher Degree Research (HDR) candidates and their supervisors for their passion and hard work to complete their thesis/examination and supervision. The HDR project is a long journey and challenging task. I would like to assist in making their research smooth and support them from the administrative perspective. I enjoy working with the HDR candidates and their supervisors and am so proud to be a part of the team."

Tracy McRae

Tracy McRae
HDR (PhD) Senior Student Administrator
Crawford School of Public Policy
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Tracy’s approach to supporting HDR candidates:
“Working with PhD students at Crawford School is one of the most rewarding careers that I have had. From the first initial PhD query through to graduation, students are on a journey of a lifetime. Each student initially needs nurturing to navigate their way through the first year of their PhD with rigorous coursework, working out ISIS, submission of eforms … sometimes a minefield! I love working with my students and guiding through the administrative processes during their PhD candidature. I approach the students with a caring attitude and they know they can ‘just ask any question, nothing is wrong or stupid”. They also know anything related to their HDR studies will be responded to in a timely manner so that they can progress with their research receiving the information they require.

I can honestly say that I love my job and my students make my day exciting. Sometimes there are challenges, but with the help of Dr Megan Poore, Academic and Research Skills Advisor, the students' candidatures run smoothly. The feedback I receive from students about my help is always wonderful and we feel very privileged to be part of the Crawford team."

October 2021

Rebecca Colvin

Dr Rebecca Colvin
Senior Lecturer
Crawford School of Public Policy
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Rebecca’s supervisory approach:
“For me, HDR supervision is a real ‘pinch me’ part of academic life: what an incredible privilege it is to contribute to upcoming scholars’ research training. I was fortunate to have my PhD supported by three incredible supervisors, Dr Bradd Witt at UQ and from CSIRO Dr Justine Lacey and Dr Rod McCrea. From my own PhD experience, I learned the importance of having a supervisory team that were on my side. They walked with me and guided me throughout my PhD, as mentors to whom I was accountable but not indebted. They invited me to grow as a person and as a scholar, and helped me to navigate and negotiate how to make the PhD work for me. I learned from my own supervisors the importance of kindness and encouragement. From the example they set I see the relationship between supervisors and PhD Scholar as a pyramid, with the supervisors as the supportive foundation lifting up and supporting the PhD scholar – not an inverted pyramid with the supervisors at the top, dictating and controlling.

To my mind, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a PhD, so necessarily there is no one-size-fits-all approach to supervision. Every PhD is a negotiation between PhD scholar and their topic, so every supervisory relationship must be bespoke to the scholar, the supervisor, and the research project. But, across all the diversity of PhD experiences, as supervisors I think we have a responsibility to be a ‘critical friend’ to PhD scholars, helping them to design, undertake, and write up rigorous and meaningful research. We should work with the scholars to cultivate their strengths and articulate their contribution to knowledge. We also should work with the scholars to identify weak spots in the PhD so that we can plan together for how the weak sports can be addressed.

As supervisors, we don’t create or cause research excellence, but we can contribute to its flourishing. As supervisors we should use our knowledge and experience to help the PhD scholars to achieve their own excellence – like watering a flower bed to encourage the blossoms to open, not prising the petals open by hand."

Find out more about Rebecca’s work by visiting Rebecca's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

September 2021

Patrick L’Espoir Decosta

Associate Professor Patrick L’Espoir Decosta
Head of Education Quality Assurance
Research School of Management
ANU College of Business & Economics

Patrick’s supervisory approach:
“Whenever I begin the journey of an HDR supervision, my first priority is to develop a clear picture of the candidate’s worldview, approach, perspective, experience and overall position. With their help, I can then lay a foundation to the conception and implementation of an integrated research design for the best possible outcome in their research education. In practice, this means I rely on honest conversations and relationships that place my HDR students and myself on equal footing so we can immerse ourselves fully in the journey of intellectual curiosity, constant questioning, constructive disagreement, critical discussion and collaborative work. I have found that following up candidates’ questions with focused questions of my own promotes growth in their skills and knowledge base as they seek answers to discuss in our later meetings.

While I am keen on providing structure to the HDR candidates’ journey, I also encourage them to challenge my approach through their own intellectual philosophies, methodological expertise and academic competencies. The road to successful supervision is never straightforward, with only one approach suitable in all cases. Guiding an HDR candidate to successful completion of their research education requires that I respect differences, listen actively, ask the right questions and view matters from their perspective, occasionally offering support and empathy when they encounter life challenges outside of their academic journey. With each candidate, I re-evaluate my previous approaches and positions, which tells me that that my role as a supervisor will never become routine or monotonous. In fact, during the pandemic, I considered it essential to provide constant support and a sense of continuity to my students, which made me realise that I am on my own journey of discovery as I accompany them on theirs."

Find out more about Patrick’s work by visiting Patrick's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

August 2021

Penny Kyburz

Dr Penny Kyburz
Senior Lecturer
ANU Computing Internship Convenor
School of Computing
ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science

Penny’s supervisory approach:
“Every PhD journey and candidate are different. I work with my students to understand and support their goals, both within and beyond their PhDs. I think that it is important to recognise that most PhD students will not go on to be academics and to help equip them with a range of skills to support their future careers and long-term objectives. I draw on my own diverse experience of applying my research skills in industry, government, entrepreneurship, community organisations, and academia. I also create a community for my students, where they can share their ideas, questions, and struggles with each other. This provides them with valuable feedback, support, and different perspectives, as well as much needed social interaction to avoid isolation at the moment. I also encourage my PhD students to take a role in mentoring the other students."

Find out more about Penny’s work by visiting Penny's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

July 2021

Ginny Sargent

Dr Ginny Sargent
Lead, Population Health Exchange (PHXchange)
Research School of Population Health
ANU College of Health & Medicine

Ginny’s supervisory approach:
“I see my role as a HDR supervisor to not only guide students through their HDR, but to build on their strengths and mentor them to become an excellent engaged researcher with a healthy career ahead of them.

Being an excellent engaged researcher goes way beyond, learning data collection and analysis research methods and conducting excellent research. It includes: conducting ethical research with academic integrity, learning to work in a team, thinking through the public good of research and who might benefit from it, communication skills, and using a variety of ways to engage with stakeholders throughout a project. My role is to find opportunities for HDR students to get training and experience in all of these aspects of being an engaged researcher, including working in sectors outside of the university.

I want students to get the most from their HDR. It is an opportunity for them to prepare for a lifetime of collaborative academic work, whether they stay working in a university or elsewhere. The determination of HDR students often leads them to work extended hours in isolation, and these have negative impacts on student wellbeing. I have a role in mentoring students to manage their expectations and expectation of their team, achieving a sustainable workload so they can have a long, healthy careers."

Find out more about Ginny’s work by visiting Ginny's profile webpage on the Researchers website. Find out more about the work of PHXchange by visiting the PHXchange website.

June 2021

Birgit Muskat

Dr Birgit Muskat
Senior Lecturer I Deputy Director HDR
Research School of Management
ANU College of Business & Economics

Birgit’s supervisory approach:
“It is such a pleasure to receive this award! I would like to say ‘Thank You’ to the students who nominated me. Supervising curious and passionate HDR students and seeing them thrive is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. It is important to me to get to know the student, to learn about their expectations, values, and motivations—and to keep up with their development over time. Usually, we meet a couple of times, even before supervision starts to find out if this will be a good match.

During the HDR student’s journey, I often think about my different supervisory roles. For example, how these may need to vary and change over time and with situations. I most enjoy being a supporter, a coach, a mentor, and a facilitator who provides access to networks and resources. In other times and situations, I am the critic, the challenger, and ideally, over time the student and I become collaborators.

Taking care of HDR’s student’s well-being and building a good relationship where the student feels they can pursue their research and learning in a friendly environment matters most. What also matters, is to hold myself accountable. Regular meetings are key to a good understanding of each other; and regardless of how different my student’s journey might be, I know that my timely response, recognition of their achievements, and clear feedback always is of high importance for them."

Find out more about Birgit’s work by visiting Birgit's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

May 2021

Benjamin Scheele

Dr Benjamin Scheele
Postdoctoral Fellow
Fenner School of Environment & Society
ANU College of Science

Benjamin’s supervisory approach:
“Completing a PhD is a major undertaking, which can be fraught with a range of challenges. To try to ensure students I work with enjoy their PhD programme, I have a strong focus on regular and clear communication; my students understand what I expect from them and I provide timely and constructive input to help them achieve at the highest level. I am flexible with my supervisory approach and aim to find out what works best for each student. I like to give students lots of freedom within their PhD programmes to ensure that they are working on a topic that they find really engaging and where they believe they can make a valuable contribution. While much of my role as a supervisor is to help students succeed during their programme, it is also crucial to help students work towards their career goals. By understanding what each student is aiming to get out of their PhD program, I can help them best work towards achieving their goals. HDR student supervision is one of the most rewarding parts of my job, and it’s a privilege to be able to see students develop research skills during their PhD and be a part of their journey.'

Find out more about Benjamin’s work by visiting Benjamin's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

April 2021

Nan Yang

Associate Professor Nan Yang
School of Engineering
ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science

Nan’s supervisory approach:
“The HDR journey is a unique one that equips next generation talents with a higher and broader level of competencies in research skills, career development, and disciplinary leadership. To inspire my HDR candidates on this journey, I have created and preserved an engaging, inclusive, caring, and stimulating environment for my research team, to foster a sense of belonging, allow them to gain benefits from mutual assistance, and support the development of research skills and intellectual rigour. Within this environment, I offer personalised supervision for HDR candidates, by considering their distinct personalities and requirements, to help them set goals, track progress, maintain self-motivation, and experience success. At the same time, as a supervisor, I consistently provide high level pastoral care for my HDR candidates. Helping them to balance work and life is particularly important in this pandemic era. Lastly, I always encourage and assist my HDR candidates, using my own networks, to build up effective linkage and engagement with industry sectors and a wide range of community. This will gear them with new skills that elevate their professional capabilities for non-research jobs, profoundly benefiting their post-HDR careers.

Find out more about Nan’s work by visiting Nan's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

March 2021

John McCarthy

Associate Professor John McCarthy
Senior Lecturer
Crawford School of Public Policy
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

John’s supervisory approach:
“One of the most rewarding activities of an academic is seeing PhD students developing their skills and coming up with new insights about their research field, applying this to their work, and developing excellent research outputs. I take great pleasure in supporting the development of PhD students. The PhD path is a difficult one for many, and each student faces their own difficulties, whether they be personal, professional or financial. For this reason each student requires bespoke assistance if they are to keep on the path. At some point most students will face a crisis for one reason or another. Yet, students are sometimes reluctant to be open about their difficulties or to indicate when they are lacking confidence or losing their way.

In my experience the key to helping them to do well is encouragement. One needs to keep an eye on them to make sure they are not losing the way forward, and try to direct them back on the path if they are progress too slowly or wandering off. But it is important not to assume they are feeling secure about how things are going. While its good to remind them of deadlines, it is critical to avoid putting too much pressure on them. Most PhD students are ambitious and self-critical and more responsive to positive advice rather than criticism or negative feedback.

I aim to help them to develop their confidence as independent researchers through a continuous process of nurturing their strengths, providing positive feedback on what they are doing well and how they can build on it, and trying to steer them towards taking a conceptual approach to their research while keeping in mind field realities.”

Find out more about John’s work by visiting John's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

February 2021

Hongdong Li

Professor Hongdong Li
Chief Investigator, Australian ARC Centre for Robotic Vision
School of Computing
ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science

Hongdong’s supervisory approach:
“I feel very much honoured to receive this award. Thanks to all our wonderful HDR students at the ANU Computer Vision group. For an HDR supervisor, I think it is important to understand that: every student is different, each comes with a different training background, with different talent, and has different learning habits or learning styles. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all solution in terms of HDR supervision. The best approach for supervising an individual student is to design an individually tailored (often unique) research program for them. This is what I would do, whenever a fresh new PhD student joins the research group. In order to do it well, you don’t have to be academically brilliant. All that matters is to be compassionate, be kind to students, understand their needs, their past training, as well as what best motivates them. The PhD journey is often a stressful one, especially for young students. To students, you are more than just a thesis supervisor -- you are their career mentor and sometimes a lifelong friend. Be supportive to students both academically and mentally; I believe this is all that takes to be a good supervisor.”

Find out more about Hongdong’s work by visiting Hongdong's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

January 2021

Stephen Gould

Professor Stephen Gould
School of Computing
ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science

Stephen’s supervisory approach:
“The key to my style of supervision is to treat students as colleagues and to build a cooperative team environment. We are working together to tackle challenging problems guided by our curiosity and joint research interests. To my mind this collaboration continues not just during the tenure of their PhD, but for the remainder of our careers. Early in a PhD I see my role as helping establish a student as an independent researcher and throughout the journey my role is to provide advice gained through experience and to support students through the many setbacks, failures and frustrations inherent in doing novel research. In return I am rewarded with sharing in the breakthroughs and successes, and often learning more from my incredible students than they do from me.”

Find out more about Stephen’s work by visiting Stephen's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

November 2020

Patrick Kluth

Associate Professor Patrick Kluth
Associate Director HDR
Research School of Physics
ANU College of Science

Patrick’s supervisory approach:
“HDR students are the backbone of our research activities. A highlight of my day is the many formal and informal discussions I have with my students about our research. I have an open door (or Zoom!) policy and am always learning from my students. It is very satisfying to see the students grow in their independence and confidence. In many ways, I see my students as colleagues working on the same research team. I really value collaborations and teamwork, honest feedback (from all sides) and the willingness to embrace failure. We learn so much more from the things that go wrong than from the things that work. As Thomas Watson Jr. (IBM president) said: “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.””

Find out more about Patrick’s work by visiting Patrick's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

October 2020

Iwu Dwisetyani Utomo

Dr Iwu Dwisetyani Utomo
Research School of Social Sciences
ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Iwu’s supervisory approach:
“I started my PhD in 1993 at School of Demography, RSSS, CASS. As an international student my four years journey was challenging, rewarding and sometimes very difficult. It is not easy to be struggling as an international student at ANU. The journey can be long and winding with risk of mental health related problems. I promised myself that if I ever have the luxury to be a supervisor to post graduate students, I want my students to experience the best journey and not ever if any experienced any difficulties as an international students. As a supervisor I also acknowledge individuality and intellectual creativity of each PhD student.”

We note with sadness Dr Iwu Utomo’s passing in May 2021, and pay our respects to her family, friends and colleagues.

September 2020

Katherine Daniell

Associate Professor Katherine Daniell
Associate Dean (Education), ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science
Research Lead, 3A Institute, ANU
Associate Professor, Fenner School of Society and Environment

Katherine’s supervisory approach:
“A PhD should be a positive and transformational journey for every student. It is different for everyone, and I know will be challenging, inspiring, frustrating and could turn their own worlds and relationships upside down. This means as a supervisor, I make it my responsibility to support, inspire and connect students to each other and the intellectual and personal resources that will lead them to navigate this life journey as they collectively contribute to knowledge and practices that will impact the world. Working with an extraordinary and diverse group of students and fellow supervisors is one of the great pleasures of academia.”

Find out more about Katherine’s work by visiting Katherine's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

August 2020

Megan Poore

Dr Megan Poore
PhD Academic and Research Skills Advisor
Crawford School of Public Policy
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Megan’s approach to supporting HDR candidates:
“I am not technically a supervisor – or even an academic! – but the Crawford PhD academic and research skills advisor, which means I work one-on-one with our 180 or so PhD students. My primary job is to provide feedback on students’ research and writing; however, at Crawford PhD myself and our HDR Administrator, Tracy McRae, adopt a ‘case management’ approach to working with students, meaning that we take care of each student according to their individual circumstances. I demand a lot of students, but I try to balance the intellectually rigorous with providing practical and emotional support where I can. I don’t think I always succeed, but I’m inside the fence giving it a go, at least.”

Nicolas Cherbuin

Professor Nicolas Cherbuin
Head, Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing
Research School of Population Health
ANU College of Health & Medicine

Nicolas’s supervisory approach:
“Supervising enthusiastic students and seeing them flourish and chart their own course is the best part of my job. I am passionate about research and making a difference in the community, and it is a pleasure to share this passion with others. I like to consider my students as partners in research, and I aim to develop a humorous, trusting, caring environment which motivates students to stretch themselves, conduct compelling and rigorous research, while keeping an eye on the big picture and things that really matter. They keep me on my toes and we share a lot of fun.”

Find out more about Nicolas’s work by visiting Nicolas's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

July 2020

Christoph Federrath

Associate Professor Christoph Federrath
ARC Future Fellow and Stromlo Fellow
Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics
ANU College of Science

Christoph’s supervisory approach:
“I really enjoy working with everyone in our research group at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. They are a fantastic group of people! I see myself less as a ’supervisor’, but more as a mentor and collaborator. I think and hope that this creates a comfortable atmosphere for everyone, where we can speak freely and openly about any problems, so we can solve them together. But there is still room for me to improve, especially when it comes to always finding time and the right balance, so I can best serve each individual student.”

Find out more about Christoph’s work by visiting the Federrath - Research Group webpage.

June 2020

Erica Seccombe

Dr Erica Seccombe
Head of Foundation, Postgraduate Coursework Convener
School of Art & Design
ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Erica’s supervisory approach:
“My approach to supervision is influenced by my own positive experience as an HDR candidate where I was mentored wisely yet treated as an equal. Being a practicing artist undertaking Higher Degree Research requires a unique set of skills and understanding of how new knowledge can be created, articulated and resolved in the studio, and then demonstrated through exegetical writing. A majority of my students have an established practice when they begin their candidacy, therefore I believe my role is to support them to gain self-confidence in their academic ability in order to position themselves as researchers in the field.”

Find out more about Erica’s work by visiting Erica's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

Stephen Lambert

Associate Professor Stephen Lambert
Senior Research Fellow, Academic Supervisor Master of Philosophy (Applied Epidemiology) Program
National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health
Research School of Population Health
ANU College of Health & Medicine

Stephen’s supervisory approach:
“In my early days of supervising, I asked myself questions like: If I was my student, how would I like to hear that feedback? How would I like to be supervised? I don’t think my supervision style has changed much over time, but I have tried to be less egocentric in my approach. These days my questions are more likely to be: Who is this student? What do they need from me to maximise their learning and success in this course of study? How can I best assist them prepare them for life after graduation?”

Find out more about Stephen’s work by visiting the Master of Applied Epidemiology webpage.

May 2020

Nerilie Abram

Professor Nerilie Abram
QEII Research Fellow, ARC Future Fellow
Research School of Earth Sciences
ANU College of Science

Nerilie’s supervisory approach:
“The effect of the University's COVID-19 closure isn’t the same for everyone, and I’ve been particularly concerned about the impact of this on research students and ECRs. Tight timelines, lab experiments suddenly stopped, and far from ideal home-working spaces are all challenges that my team has faced. I’ve seen my primary role as a supervisor during this time as being one of supporting my team be productive and feel secure despite these crazy times, and I think that our research group will come out of this as an even stronger team than before.”

Find out more about Nerilie’s work by visiting Nerilie's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

Robert Dyball

Dr Robert Dyball
Senior Lecturer
Fenner School of Environment and Society
ANU College of Science

Robert’s supervisory approach:
“For Higher Degree Research students my approach to supervision is collaborative in nature. Early in the student’s program I see my role as that of a critically engaged sounding-board for the student’s gestational ideas. I also believe I have a mentoring role in connecting students to networks and to embed them in a community of practice. As their confidence as an academic grows I see my role change into a partner in a developing academic collaboration. At the end of the process the student has matured as an academic colleague in their own right, with potentially continued collaborations after their graduation.”

Find out more about Robert’s work by visiting Robert's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

April 2020

Rob Lanfear

Associate Professor Rob Lanfear
Division of Ecology and Evolution
Research School of Biology
ANU College of Science

Rob’s supervisory approach:
“I do my best to provide HDR candidates with everything they need to thrive. To me, this includes a supportive workplace, freedom to pursue their own interests, honest and constructive feedback, abundant opportunities to expand their networks, and as much guidance and support as they need. I still have a lot to learn, so I put try hard to regularly improve my supervision (e.g. ANU offers some excellent courses). I was taught early on, by my first PhD student in fact, to try to focus on asking 'how can I help you?'. I do my best to remember that.”

Find out more about Rob’s work by visiting The Lanfear Lab @ANU webpage.

Sonia Pertsinidis

Dr Sonia Pertsinidis
Lecturer and Convenor of Ancient Greek
Centre for Classical Studies
School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics
ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Sonia’s supervisory approach:
“I am delighted to have been awarded 'Supervisor of the Month' for April 2020. To engage in HDR supervision is a great privilege. For the student, a PhD is a tremendous opportunity for personal growth as well as academic achievement. For a supervisor, the supervisory experience is an opportunity to guide and instruct, to excel and to cultivate a new member of the academic community. As we now adapt to remote teaching and supervision arrangements, it is especially important for supervisors to support and guide their HDR students. In addition to managing their program milestones, HDR students are very often navigating a range of personal, financial and employment-related issues. They need to feel supported, encouraged and connected with the wider research community. As supervisors, I believe that we have an important role to play in cultivating a sense of stability and positivity in these uncertain times.”

Find out more about Sonia’s work by visiting Sonia's profile webpage on the Academia website.

Hugh O'Neill

Professor Hugh O'Neill
ARC Laureate Fellow
Research School of Earth Sciences
ANU College of Science

Hugh’s supervisory approach:
“Like many researchers, a lot of my work is done through my students. This is not necessarily unalloyed good, because what makes a suitable PhD project for the student may not be optimal for advancing my own agenda in science. Compromise is needed. A PhD project must be tailored to the student’s interest and abilities, while incorporating skill acquisition, and fostering independence and originality. The result should help the student move on to their chosen career. Looking back over my record critically, maybe I got it right two-thirds of the time. Always room for learning to do it better!”

Find out more about Hugh’s work by visiting Hugh's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

March 2020

Marco Casarotto

Associate Professor Marco Casarotto
Senior Research Fellow and Group Leader
John Curtin School of Medical Research
ANU College of Health & Medicine

Marco’s supervisory approach:
“Reflections of a HDR convenor: It has often been said that a relationship between a PhD student and their supervisor is likely to last longer than a modern-day marriage. There is little doubt that this relationship is critically important during and after a person’s PhD degree. My role as HDR convenor has been to act as an academic ‘relationship’ councillor and facilitator. So, what has given me the greatest satisfaction during my period as HDR convenor? Well, that can be summed up by the smiles of the students (and their families) on graduation day.”

Find out more about Marco’s work by visiting Marco's profile webpage on the The John Curtin School of Medical Research website.

February 2020

Hieu Nguyen

Dr Hieu Nguyen
Senior Research Fellow, Senior Lecturer
Research School of Electrical, Energy and Materials Engineering
ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science

Hieu’s supervisory approach:
“Effective supervision and mentorship are the most important characteristics of a research student’s experience in the university. They are major factors driving program completion and success. As a supervisor, I should empower my students to take ownership of their education and help them realise that they are responsible for their learning outcomes with the highest standard. My practice is not something magical, but down-to-earth: work, learn and share the knowledge together. I don’t try to be a superman knowing everything in front of my students. Utilising their own talents and honestly sharing my weaknesses and thoughts are the keys.”

Find out more about Hieu’s work by visiting Hieu's profile webpage on the Researchers website.

January 2020

Diane Smith

Dr Diane Smith
Research Fellow
Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR)
ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Diane’s supervisory approach:
“My supervision approach has a simple focus – to recognise the individual and intercultural needs of HDR scholars, and the very real multiple demands each is under – from their family, communities, peers and professional lives, as well as the often unique demands of their Indigenous Studies. Supervision is, above all, a two-way working relationship – personal, collegial and professional. The balance in that is often delicate and changeable, but critical to outcomes. Through understanding the needs in each individual case, I try to identify the specific support that I, other colleagues and peers, the ANU and the wider community can provide that will make the most difference at a particular point in each scholar’s program.”

December 2019

Amelia Maddock

Amelia Maddock
Student Research Administrator
Medical School
ANU College of Health & Medicine

Amelia’s approach to supporting HDR candidates:
“Completing a PhD can be one of the most challenging and rewarding moments in a student’s life. Remembering that they are individuals with unique experiences and backgrounds helps me to consistently provide the support and guidance they need to succeed. I am privileged to be a part of each student’s journey, and am grateful to see them grow both professionally and personally.”

November 2019

Charlotte Galloway

Dr Charlotte Galloway
Acting Director – Centre for Art History and Art Theory
School of Art and Design
ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Charlotte’s supervisory approach:
“I supervise both practice-led and art historical research candidates - for me, understanding individual motivation and goals is an important foundation stone in the candidate-supervisor relationship. This helps establish a framework that will support achievement of necessary milestones and administrative tasks while encouraging the creativity and curiosity that all academic research requires. As an active researcher myself, acknowledging that everyone brings different expectations, skills and experiences to their candidature is also critical as this impacts on the way we engage with and undertake our research activities.”

Find out more about Charlotte’s work and the School of Art & Design by visiting the School of Art & Design website.