Dr Michaela Spencer

Ph.D, M.A., B.Sc/B.A

Research Fellow

Michaela is a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Northern Institute at Charles Darwin University. Her background is in environmental science, sociology, geography and Science and Technology Studies (STS), with her doctoral studies focusing on recent practices of environmental management and governance in Tasmania.

Her current research involves working from the ‘GroundUP’ with Indigenous knowledge authorities, and differing traditions of knowledge and governance. This involves collaborative research for policy development, and engaging with government, service providers, university staff and Indigenous people in remote communities. So far this research has been focused around issues such as disaster resilience, emergency management, governance and leadership, remote engagement and coordination, volunteering and women’s health and wellbeing. Michaela also facilitates the Indigenous Community-based Researcher Micro-credential program/s. 

This work drives her current interest in how social science may recognise itself as an active participant in contemporary governance practices, and as working at the interface of differing means for knowing and governing Australian people-places.  

Research Interests

  • Contemporary practices of knowledge and governance
  • Contemporary environmental politics
  • Indigenous research development
  • Collaborative services design
  • Ethnography
  • STS

Current Projects

  • Remote Engagement Coordination - Indigenous Evaluation Research (Project Manager and Researcher, 2016-2017): Collaborative development of evaluation enabling people in remote Aboriginal communities to provide feed back on government engagement practices. 
  • Indigenous Researcher Initiative (Lead Investigator, 2016): Supporting the recognition of Indigenous experts in the contemporary NT knowledge services economy through the development of profiles, e-portfolios and a web presence for Indigenous researchers.
  • Landscapes of Democracy (Co-Lead Investigator, 2016): Ethnographic research in Germany and Arnhem Land focused on the practice of parliamentary politics, and conjunctions between Yolŋu and Western political traditions. 
  • ‘Gurrukurrkurru Manapanmirr’ (Researcher): This project has been developed by a group of Yolŋu women in Milingimbi who are interested in supporting the strength and well-being of young Yolŋu women by working through connections of family groups and relations. 
  • Mattering Press (Editor): Mattering Press is a scholar led Open Access publishing initiative dedicated to the publication of empirical studies in STS and related disciplines, www.matteringpress.org

Recent Projects

  • Helping & caring, not only our family: Northern Territory Indigenous perspectives on volunteering (2015-2016): Research around the definition and practice of volunteering in three Aboriginal communities. Recognising the role that volunteering plays in constituting community and how it might be adequately supported through future collaborations with NGO’S, www.cdu.edu.au/centres/groundup
  • Disaster Resilience and Emergency Management in Indigenous Communities in Darwin and Palmerston (Researcher, 2015-2016): Research in Town Communities and in the Long Grass into ways in which people manage during emergencies, and how these practices may be supported by government agencies and non-government organisations in the future, http://www.cdu.edu.au/northern-institute/research-reports
  • Indigenous Governance and Leadership Project (Researcher, 2013-2015): Collaborative work supporting governance and leadership in five Indigenous communities, focusing on locally identified problems-of-the-moment as loci for development and learning, in particular within an through differing governance traditions, https://www.cdu.edu.au/centres/groundup/igld/
  • Governance Research Lunchtime Discussions (Coordinator, 2014-2015): Facilitating cross- and Inter-disciplinary discussions around governance research amongst scholars in northern Australia, http://www.cdu.edu.au/centres/grld/


  • Asia Pacific Science, Technology and Society Network (APSTSN)
  • Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S)
  • European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST)
  • American Anthropological Association (AAA)
  • The Higher Education Academy, United Kingdom


  • Australian Postgraduate Award, Melbourne University
  • Overseas Research Students Award Scheme (ORSAS), Lancaster University
  • Commonwealth Scholarship, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, UK
  • Ronayne Prize for the equal best First Class Honours result in the Bachelor of Arts in Science and Technology Studies, UNSW

Media Coverage

  • STS Making and Doing is an annual event which showcases engaged and practice-based academic work. It is an integral part of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S) conference. 2018 STS Making and Doing Co-Chairs were Teun Zuiderent-Jerak (Linköping University) and Michaela Spencer (Charles Darwin University) and featured in this video package.

Link to Research Publications

Michaela Spencer


T: +61 8 8946 7251
E: michaela.spencer@cdu.edu.au

Darwin, NT 


CDU Research Webportal