Higher Degree Research Office Newsletter
Macquarie University
HDR Support & Development
Fostering critical, reflexive practice in research training
2018: Reflections and Achievements
Message from the Dean, HDR - Prof. Nick Mansfield
Research degrees sometimes seem not to have changed very much over the years: candidates work with supervisors to complete a major research project. But if you look more closely, they’re now very different to what they were even a generation ago. There’s greater emphasis on the development of the whole researcher and their preparation for possible careers outside academia.

The HDR Support and Development team is busy trying to keep ahead of these changes, and 2018 is a big year to look back on. We’ve teamed up to launch a comprehensive researcher development calendar, revamped our orientation program, developed a fellowship scheme for supervisors, become one of the biggest participants in HDR internship programs, and of course launched this newsletter, and much much more!

A big warm thanks to everyone on the team who has worked hard and so creatively in 2018. I know all our candidates can also look back on a big year of hard work and achievement, and 2019 will only be better!

HDR Mentors 2018: Reflecting on achievements

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HDR Mentors – Achievements of
dedicated HDR Mentors & MQ teams

We could not have achieved all these without our proactive and dedicated HDR mentors!

The HDR Mentors family, consisting of research candidates from MRes Year 2 to candidates in all stages of their PhDs, have all done an amazing job.
We would also like to express our sincere thanks to our close collaborators, the Support and Development team under the Dean, HDR, Campus Wellbeing, Global Leadership Program, Campus Services and Facility; and all the Faculty and Departmental HDR Representatives.
Last but not least, we would like to thank all HDR candidates who have attended our events and provided input and feedback. 

Our aspiration for the new year is to create a connected supportive HDR community not only for Macquarie University but also across Australia. Therefore, we look forward to extending our family through building and strengthening our relationships with other higher education providers and research industries.

To join or know more about us, please visit HDR Mentors website or HDR Mentors Facebook 

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HDR Mentors events:

HDR Mentors continued to build a stronger HDR community in 2018! We are very proud to have held many thoughtfully curated programs and events, including the Peer Writing Assistance (PWA) program, academic forums, social events, monthly HDR Meet & Mingle, events targeting wellbeing and fundraisers for the local community. The high participation of higher degree candidates across these events over the past year reflects a need for further peer support in higher degree research. 

Pursuing research can be overwhelming at times, but it can also be enjoyable – with the right kind of support. Offering peer support through mentoring has proven to be at the heart of our success. We are not only building a happier HDR community, but our events also provide unique opportunities for both professional and personal advancement; we ensure there is something for everyone. 

HDR Learning Skills 2018: Reflecting on achievements

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The HDR Learning Skills team had another busy year in 2018! On top of our regular offerings of research writing courses, retreats and skills workshops, you may remember such highlights as Michelle’s Mindfulness Seminar Series and Meditation practice sessions, Megan’s use of stage craft techniques to enhance academic oral presentations, Demelza’s panel sessions on Parenting Through a PhD and the Slow Academia Movement, and Juliet’s still newish PACE for Research unit for MRes.

Our three websites – the HDR Learning Skills website, HDR Learning Skills ilearn unit, and HDR Workshops site – all underwent extreme makeovers in 2018, with the latter being transformed into the myRDC calendar.

You may have also noticed some changes in the HDR Learning Skills team itself: since the beginning of this year, we’ve welcomed new faces (Megan), welcomed back old faces (Juliet, Michelle and Florence) and said goodbye – hopefully not forever! – to familiar faces (Adele, Emilie and Demelza); our one constant since December 2017 has been Frank!

We always love to see lots of you attending our workshops on campus, but we’ve especially enjoyed meeting more of you who are off-campus via Zoom or Echo livestream; keep signing up for our online writing groups, seminars and consultations!

So, thanks for coming along to our workshops and events this year and for giving us your useful feedback! May you all have a very merry Christmas and happy holiday season, and return refreshed and ready for another great year of research, development, collaboration and growth in 2019.

Juliet & the HDR Learning Skills team
NewMac Humanities Postgraduate Conference
PhD candidates Making a Mark

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Phillipa Bellemore, Marian Lorrison, Michelle Jamieson (me!), Lara McGirr, Tom Corbin, Amy Way (in the captain's hat), Georgia McWhinney, and Li Kan 

In July 2017, Macquarie University hosted the NewMac Humanities Postgraduate Conference, organised by PhD candidates from the Faculty of Arts. This month, six of the best papers from that event have been published as peer-reviewed articles in a special issue of Humanity, an online postgraduate journal edited by student volunteers from Macquarie University and the University of Newcastle. Themed ‘Making a Mark’, the issues features papers from law, english, modern history, creative arts, sociology and anthropology, including four articles by Macquarie candidates.

A big thank you to our student editors, Georgia McWhinney, Tom Corbin, Lara McGirr and Marian Lorrison, for their hard work over the past year putting this together. Click here for the special issue: ‘Making a Mark’

Michelle Jamieson, HDR Learning Adviser, Faculty of Arts

APR.Intern at MQ - reflections of employers and interns

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APR Intern panel: Oscar Lira, Isabella Murphy, Mark Ovens, Cameron Ferris, Tracy Rushmer & Pouya Jamborsalamati

Approximately 40 staff and PhD candidates attended a lunchtime event hosted by the Faculty of Science and Engineering and APR Intern.

This exclusive event for Faculty of Science and Engineering students included a presentation about the internship scheme from Mark Ovens, Business Development Manager, APR Intern, followed by a panel discussion with the following participants:

  • Dr. Cameron Ferris – CEO, Inventia Life Science, a current APR Intern employer
  • Oscar Lira, Head of PMO, Pacific Region, Avis Budget Group - Internship Supervisors
  • Isabella Murphy, Performance Excellence Deployment Leader, Pacific Region, Avis Budget Group - Internship Supervisors
  • Pouya Jamborsalamati – FSE PhD candidate (Engineering) who recently completed an exciting internship with Avis Budget Group
  • Professor Tracy Rushmer – Associate Dean, HDR FSE and Academic Supervisor for 2 APR Interns in FSE.  

Members of the panel shared their experiences with the scheme and provided insights for candidates who may like to apply for an internship during their PhD.  Panel members also met with PhD candidates afterwards and enjoyed a pizza lunch provided for attendees with the generous support of APR Intern.

We would like to thank our guests who participated in the panel discussion and to everyone who attended.

Please note: If you have a connection with industry and would like to explore the possibility of an internship supported by the APR Intern scheme please do not hesitate to get in touch with [email protected]

PhD candidates are welcome to review the advertised available internships on the APR Intern website.   

If your application is successful please note the relevant HDRO form to be completed for eligibility and approval purposes.

When a Librarian becomes a PhD candidate 

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Mary Simons, with Sophie

When a librarian becomes a PhD student … it’s not as easy as it sounds.

After working as a research/clinical librarian at MQ for 15 years I decided to venture down the research path as a part-time PhD student. I thought it would be a straightforward process, as I knew all about research skills and University life.

All those years of helping students find and use information did not prepare me for the initial HDR tasks of planning my academic year, writing a research proposal and preparing an ethics submission. Issues with supervisor availability, ethics committee and a planned study ensued; and I had only just started. My first publication came back recommending major revisions. I started again, carefully working through the feedback and enlisting the help of a librarian colleague to review my searches and data extraction. The accepted version took another 8 months to prepare.

How can I, an experienced librarian, be struggling as a part-time student? I know all about EndNote, Systematic Reviews, literature searching and research metrics. However, it’s one thing to know about these skills and another entirely to successfully carry them out within the context of being a research student myself.

Through this first-hand experience I have developed greater insight and admiration for the challenges that many HDR students face. No matter what lies ahead for my research, I have a heightened regard for the HDR student, their perseverance and their resilience.

Mary Simons, Clinical Librarian & PhD candidate

Note from Ed. Recent Thesis Whisperer post  on PhD therapy animals which irecognises the importance that companion animals have for research candidates. Kudos, Sophie!

HDR Professional Skills Program - a few November highlights

Wellbeing: Resilience & Motivation workshop

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Photo by Cam Adams on Unsplash

The Resilience & Motivation workshop was very interactive. We had a really nice group and some fantastic group problem solving.

The issue of how to deal with supervisors who are overly harsh or unsupportive came up, with a request for supervisors to have training in mental health. The group discussed the ideal of the ‘flow state’ and how to use our emotions of anxiety, boredom and stress as a guide to know what we need to work effectively. An interesting suggestion was using the flexibility of the PhD go out and take advantage of good weather on a weekday and make up that time on a weekend.
We discussed the importance of mindset and how being more flexible can assist us in managing challenges and we also explored how harmful some of our responses to emotions, such as isolation, not asking for help and focusing only on the negatives, can make situations even worse. The benefits of mindfulness and self-compassion were discussed.

A clever suggestion was to 'humanise our heroes'. Many candidates found that hearing about the journeys of academics through failures, doubts and pressure helps to encourage them on their progress. One suggestion was the idea of contrasting a 'failure CV' with a normal CV.

Ashwin Singh, Campus Wellbeing
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PostAc team, ANU - Hanna Suominen, Inger Mewburn & Will Grant

Inger Mewburn (aka Thesis Whisperer) PostAc

Inger Mewburn visited Macquarie University recently and spoke informally to HDR candidates, Representatives from the ECR Network and the HDR Support & Development team.

Inger and the team from ANU have been working with Glassdoor to develop a machine learning algorithm to search for, as Inger puts it ... 'PhD shaped' jobs. "Finding a great non-academic job outside a university can be hard. Our research has shown that 80% of companies who are looking to employ researchers don’t specifically ask for a PhD. As a consequence, when you type in “PhD” to most other search engines you will only see academic jobs. If you are searching for a job outside the university it can be a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack. We have used machine learning to reveal the ‘hidden job market’ for your research talents."

PostAc is currently in a trial phase and, ideally there will be sufficient interest to attract funding, ensuring that the application can be launched and maintained to assist PhDs and employers to find one another.

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Anna Grocholsky presenting Commercialisation workshop

Commercialisation Workshop

HDR Professional Skills Program was lucky enough to book Anna Grocholsky, Director of Commercialisation and Innovation at Macquarie University to present a seminar in November on Commercialisation & IP for HDR candidates. We opened the workshop to Early Career Researchers.and other research staff as well.

Anna outlined the role of the Office of Commercialisation and Innovation and explained how they can help researchers to commercialise their research.

The session covered:

  • Intellectual Property; what is it and why does it matter?; Macquarie University’s IP Policy; protecting your work; ownership and returns; publishing and patenting
  • The process of commercialisation at Macquarie University
  • Impact canvas
  • Start ups and spin outs
  • What to do if you have an idea
Anna stressed that it was always better to have conversations about IP and commercialisation in the early stages of research to ensure that the researcher and the university are well positioned to benefit from the IP. 


A reflective PhD Career Story: Patrick Smith, Paleontology Department, Australian Museum

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We have been building a library of video HDR Career Stories and Patrick Smith from the Australian Museumhas generoously shared his story - the HDR Career Story series is housed on the HDR Professional Skills Program iLearn site. A big thanks to Fidel Fernando, Learning Innovation Hub (LIH) for his great work on developing the site.

Mike Catabay and Michael Garganera LIH, accompanied me on an excursion to the Australian Museum to meet with a Macquarie University PhD alumnus, Dr Patrick Smith. The three of us were treated to a personal tour of the Department of Paleontology with Patrick as our expert guide before we settled in for the interview which was professionally filmed by Mike and Michael with additional post-production assistance by Nathan Sollars. A big thank you to the LIH!

I made contact with Patrick via LinkedIn a couple of years ago and, at that stage he was working in Far North Queensland at the marine fossil museum, Kronosaurus Korner which is located in the outback Queensland town of Richmond. I kept in touch with Patrick and he agreed to be interviewed for the PhD Career Story because he, like many other HDR graduates, is keen to share his experiences and lessons learned in the hope that he can help current HDR candidates. One of Patrick's tips is to build a good network during candidature, be open and honest, build on strengths, get experience and visit the Career & Employment Service.

Patrick has done what most of us can only dream about - achieving a childhood ambition ... "I did a PhD because I wanted to work in Paleontology - I have wanted to work in paleontology since I was 4 years old."

Sally Purcell HDR Professional Skills Program, HDR Support & Development 
HDR Supervision Associate Fellow program Reflections ... First cohort:  Rae-Anne Hardie 

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Dr Wu Yi Zheng (Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research), Dr Reidar Lystad (Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Centre for Health Care Resilence and Implementation Science), Dr Lucinda McRobb (Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Neurosciences), Dr Rae-Anne Hardie (Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research), Dr Emily Don (Lecturer – Biomedical Operations and Teaching)

Name: Rae-Anne Hardie
Area of Research: Health systems research (Diagnostic Informatics)
Nationality: Canadian
Area, Faculty or Dept: Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Tell us a little bit about your background (eg place of study, where you grew-up, your PhD topic)
I grew up in Swan River, Manitoba, Canada. I moved to Winnipeg when I was 17 to study at the University of Manitoba where I completed my Co-operative Degree (BSc Coop in Genetics with First Class Honours) and then did my Master of Science in Medical Microbiology at the University of Manitoba studying genetics and immunity in Kenyan sex workers who are resistant to HIV infection. I came to Australia in 2009 and completed my PhD at the Garvan Institute and Kinghorn Cancer Centre (UNSW) in the area of cancer genomics and metabolism from 2010-2013.

What brought you to MQ and/or Australia?
I came to Australia when my husband was studying at Sydney University and I worked as a research assistant for a year before starting my PhD at UNSW. I came to MQ for my second post doc when I was looking to get out of the lab and into health research that is more clinical and translational. The Australian Institute of Health Innovation’s Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research has been a great fit.

Tell us (in lay terms) about your current research and/or your work to support the student learning/research experience
I am currently researching quality use of pathology testing in general practice as well as in hospitals. This includes test result follow up, external quality assurance programs, the diagnostic phase of lab testing, and appropriate use of testing in chronic diseases.

Why to you decide to take part in the MQ HDR Supervision Associate Fellow Program?
As an ECR on shorter contracts, there haven’t been many opportunities for me to officially supervise HDR students other than as an unnamed co-supervisor or helping with certain tasks. The Fellowship Program looked like a great way for me to develop skills I will need to be a great supervisor by learning from experts in different areas of learning, ethics, communication, and more, and to learn more about the HDR setup at MQ.

What is the most important thing you have learnt from the program?
Most of the program has been very useful, but I found the sessions on developing evidence of your supervisory practice to be very important and not something I had considered before.

What changes will you make to how you approach work  & what are your future aspirations relating to your contribution to the HDR candidate experience? 
I will actively reflect throughout the supervisory process and invite my students to do the same. I hope to provide not only project guidance, but also offer a foundation for students in terms of research integrity, career guidance, development of communication skills and leadership, and help foster independent thinkers.
Important Notices

The Macquarie University Higher Degree Research Supervision Fellowship: NEW Specialisation – Supervision in the Digital Age

The Macquarie University Higher Degree Research Supervision Fellowship: NEW Specialisation – Supervision in the Digital Age
As part of our commitment to ‘support the candidate to develop digital literacies as part of their research training for real-world engagement’ from mid – February 2019, we will be offering opportunities – Associate Fellow (Training pathway) only – to be recognised as a specialist HDR Supervisor in the Digital Age.

If you would like to learn more, please email: [email protected]


APR.Intern is driving innovation through short-term 3 to 5 month PhD industry internships. A new Australian Government rebate is now available to all Australian businesses through the program. Through these internships, APR.Intern aims to support industry-based training of PhD research students, giving them the opportunity to apply their research skills in an industry setting.

If you or your academic supervisor are connected to an external organisation you may like to consider if they would be interested in hosting a student on an internship facilitated by APR.Intern and Macquarie University.

Internships from other organisations are regularly advertised on their website. Eligibility criteria for the internships can differ so please review individually.

If you would like any further information on the scheme at Macquarie University please email: Catherine Ennis, HDR Industry Engagement and Placements Manager [email protected]

Have your say! Higher Degree Research Students Annual Survey 2018

Past research student feedback has resulted in greater transparency in research student funding allocations; more targeted support for research candidates and greater clarity in the roles and expectations of supervisors, among other things.

Feedback on your research experiences this year is important to us. So, have your say! The survey should take no more than 15 minutes.

The survey has been sent to all HDR candidates. Please check your mailbox to participate in it.

HDR Statistical Consultancy Service

Just a reminder that you can access advice on all things statistic from the HDR Statistical Consultancy Service!

Associate Professor Peter Petocz from Macquarie’s Department of Statistics is happy to have a look at your data and analyses and to discuss with you what the numbers seem to be saying. You’re also welcome to bring your supervisor along to the consultation!

The HDR Statistical Consulting Service is available on Wednesdays 10am - 1pm in Room 609, 12 Wally’s Walk. Bookings are preferred (email Peter), or you can just turn up and wait to be seen.

Email  A/Prof Peter Petocz or call him on Wednesdays on 9850 9174.
HDR:Behind the Scenes
Nick Mansfield - Dean, Higher Degree Research

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Captain Nick Mansfield, Dean Higher Degree Research and his crew at the inaugural Dean's Welcome.

What do you like most about your role at MQ?
The thing I love most about my job is that I’m supporting research. It’s the most wonderful and exciting thing, and nothing has greater impact on how we live our lives..

What has been your favorite project at MQ?
The two things I’m most proud of are the launch of the MRes and the growth of the HDR Support and Development team. In both of them I’ve worked with really talented and generous people to establish something of real value to HDR candidates (and therefore the world!)

If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?
The three things I’d take to a desert island wouldn’t work on a desert island: internet access, a coffee maker and some wine (and my partner of course so we can sit around and drink coffee and wine and chat about things from the internet …)

If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why?
I think Eric Bana has the right degree of toughness to play the role of Dean HDR.
Find all HDR Workshops Here
Calendar icon
Wellbeing: Communication & Managing Upwards 
Wednesday 5 December, 9:30am-12:00pm

Communication - Identify your own communication strengths and weaknesses more clearly and analyse communication styles that other people use.

Managing Upwards - Learn how to work towards developing healthy, positive relationships which provide mutual benefit.
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Mindfulness Meditation Practice Group
Tuesday 11 December 2018, 11:00am-12:00pm

Mindfulness meditation is a practice of focusing the mind on the present moment. Through careful observation of the breath and other felt sensations, it teaches us to be where we are and to meet ourselves with kindness and objectivity. This practice cultivates awareness and self-discipline, and helps to regulate our attention and emotions.

This event is for anyone interested in learning mindfulness meditation or practicing regularly with a group. These fortnightly sessions will offer instruction in meditation techniques, guided practice and time for questions.
HDR Dynamic Duos
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Malene Ahearn

How you came to know each other?

A/Prof Hush and I initially met during our training in Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy) at University of Sydney. A few years ago, I decided to pursue my PhD studies at Macquarie University and I approached Julia who immediately made me feel welcome and excited about beginning my journey as a researcher in the field of low back pain!

What are your shared interests?

We share a passion for improving health outcomes for people experiencing low back pain. Low back pain is a burdensome condition which significantly impacts the lives of millions of people around the world. It has been wonderful to combine our clinical and research perspectives into the development of a new treatment model for low back pain which will be tested at MQ Health next year.

What do you appreciate most about Julia?

I appreciate Julia’s positive attitude and friendly personality. She is an empathetic and supportive supervisor who continues to inspire me with her passion for excellence in education and research in the field of pain while helping early career researchers achieve their potential. I am thankful to have the opportunity to undertake my PhD under her guidance and hope our collaboration continues for many years to come!
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A/Professor Julia Hush

How you came to know each other

I first met Malene studying entry-level Physiotherapy program at the University of Sydney, which was for me a new application of my basic science background to health science.

What are your shared interests?

We are both passionate about advancing clinical care and outcomes for people seeking health care. In Malene’s project, she is applying very novel techniques to develop and test a treatment model for acute low back pain that has been co-designed by patients and clinicians.

What do you appreciate most about Malene?

Malene is an outstanding presenter of her research, which is exemplified by her winning 1st prize in the FMHS 3MT competition this year. Malene’s wealth of clinical experience also brings a fantastic understanding of person-centred care to her research.

Interested in being featured in HDR Dynamic Duo?

The HDR Support & Development team is seeking contributions to the HDR Dynamic Duos section of our newsletter. The people featured might be… HDR candidate & supervisor, HDR Mentor & HDR Mentee, HDR Candidate and Industry placement supervisor.

If this is of interest to you, please head to our website for further information on how to contribute.

Enjoy the break!

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Photo by Ales Me on Unsplash

Thank you to everyone who has supported and contributed to the HDR Support & Development newsletter this year. There have been some great stories and I know that we enjoy reading them. We hope you all get a much needed break, whether it is short or hopefully a longer one, and that you return refreshed, with new vigour in 2019 ready to furnish us with more great stories to show the amazing things that are being done at Macquarie University by HDR candidates and Supervisors. 

We are giving ourselves a break so the next newsletter will be in February.

All the very best from the HDR Support & Development team:
Nick Mansfield, Juliet Lum, Kim Tan, Rhianne Hoffman, Florence Chiew, Michelle Jamieson, Megan Brewer, Frank Song, Bill Ashraf, Catherine Ennis & Sally Purcell

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