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Why I chose CDU for my research degree

This article appears in: Environmental Sciences, Health, Science
Casuarina campus by night

Find a research project you're passionate about at Charles Darwin University. Our research portfolio has real-world impact that reaches far beyond our unique Northern Territory location.

CDU may be small, but we have an impressive international reputation for research and a cohort of researchers who are some of the most influential in their fields.

We prioritise the complex issues facing northern Australia and the Asia-Pacific, with recognised excellence in Indigenous and tropical health, environmental science and public policy. 

Here, some of our researchers explain what made them choose to pursue a Higher Degree by Research with CDU.

Stephanie Marsh


Stephanie's research examines what guides parent decision-making about their children’s use of antibiotic medicines.

I really liked that CDU offered so much flexibility and the opportunity to study remotely, via distance learning to complete my HDR. I could schedule my hours to work in with my home life. This was an important consideration for me with juggling life as a parent and full-time study.

"Completing a research degree has been a really rewarding experience for me so far. There are inevitable challenges and hurdles along the way with conducting research, but the support of my supervisors and the staff at CDU has been invaluable," she says.

"Everyone is very willing to help and is contactable - which has been so important, particularly as a remote student."

Read more on Stephanie's research here

Kade Skelton

Kade Skelton conducting research out in the field

Kade's research is focused on a group of native lizards found in the Top End, known as dtellas, and whether they can cope with changes to their environmental conditions.

"My primary interest is crocodiles, and ecology comes a close second. My supervisor, Professor Keith Christian, knew exactly what to say when approaching me with the offer of this PhD project: he convinced me that dtellas were ‘a lot like small crocodiles'. That may not quite be the case (though many bite and deathroll!), but the project caught my interest. An animal’s biology only makes sense in the context of its environment, so comparing dtella physiological traits to habitat conditions was a very exciting research topic for me," says Kade.

The potential supervisors at CDU specialise in a variety of topics, so there is a broad range of possible HDR projects in environmental studies. But ultimately, the Northern Territory is an incredibly environmentally valuable region of Australia that offers many opportunities for research and discovery.

"CDU is an ideal place to study environmental science, whether you are interested in studying anything from landscape management to microbial ecology."

Read more on Kade's research here

Elnaz Saki

Dr Saki in the laboratory

Elnaz's research aims to harness the healing power of plants native to Northern Australia.

"Northern Territory is renowned for its unique and diverse flora and fauna. Given my research focus on natural compounds from Australian native plants, CDU provided an ideal location to conduct fieldwork and study these unique resources," she says.

"I would enthusiastically encourage others to pursue a Higher Degree by Research at CDU. CDU's commitment to supporting research students, including workshops and resources from the Office of Research and Innovation, was an important consideration. I felt confident that I would have the necessary support to succeed in my research journey."

Also, CDU's multicultural environment was appealing to me. It offered a rich cultural experience and provided an opportunity to engage with various perspectives and backgrounds, which can be enriching for research.

Read more on Elnaz's research here

Caleb Ojo

HDR student Caleb Ojo in the lab

Caleb's research is trying to solve one of the plastic waste problems plaguing our planet. 

"I encourage others to pursue HDR at CDU for the following reasons:

  • The HDR staff are simply the best. They are readily available to provide assistance and guidance on various aspects of study
  • My supervisors are always checking in on me through weekly meetings to ensure I am on the right track and provide valuable insight into my project while allowing me to steer the wheel
  • Rigorous training programs by experts from various fields: PhD-related training and post-study skill development
  • CDU, and Darwin at large, is a very welcoming environment, easy to settle in, lovely people and a diverse community
  • Excellent library and facility services
  • Perfect staff-to-student ratio, ensuring nobody feels left out."

Read more on Caleb's research here

CDU is seeking Higher Degree by Research students to take part in research projects just like these. Scholarships are available. Learn more.

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