'Best of many worlds'
Mathew Turner's insights into how ADRI is helping him cultivate an academic career.
PhD candidate Mathew Turner says Higher Degree Research (HDR) at ADRI is 'the best of many worlds'...
As a PhD candidate within ADRI, I have the best of many worlds: supervision and guidance from leading experts; immersion in a vibrant and multidisciplinary research environment; opportunities to develop my research; and the cultivation of a future academic career.
When I knocked on ADRI’s door in early 2011 seeking acceptance as a potential PhD candidate, some eight years had passed since I completed by Honours year in History at Deakin. Even after such a considerable break, I received immediate support and encouragement from ADRI’s Director, Professor David Lowe, and from other ADRI members, Dr Tony Joel, and Pam Maclean, who formed my supervisory panel. Although still employed at the time and raising a young family, through ADRI’s support, I was offered a permanent base to conduct further research and develop a thesis topic. Within a few months of my candidature, ADRI’s Working Paper series offered me a platform to publish two papers, and to share my preliminary findings with a wider audience. As a student at ADRI, further, I received mentoring and assistance that enabled me to successfully apply for a Deakin Postgraduate Research Scholarship at the end of 2011.
As a result, I was able to commence my research as a full-time student based at ADRI from 2012, allowing me to exchange ideas with other ADRI members from various disciplines and engage in fruitful discussions. My research and personal development has only benefited from such interactions, encouraging me to quickly formulate my doctoral research topic, which considers how the role of German historians as expert witness in Holocaust perpetrator trials shaped Holocaust historiography. Beyond the field of history, then, as a member of ADRI I take advantage of formal and informal opportunities to present my research to members from a broad range of disciplines – such as anthropology, sociology and cultural studies.
My experience as a student in ADRI has reaped many additional rewards, including work as a sessional tutor at the Waurn Ponds campus, and casual Research Assistant. Importantly, through ADRI’s backing, Deakin provided me with funds to enable me to conduct critical fieldwork in Germany over a period of four weeks in mid-2012. This included archival research in several locations, the presentation of my research at a conference in Cologne, and meeting with leading experts in my field of interest, such as Professor Norbert Frei. Needless to say, these experiences have progressed my research considerably.
Overall, as a HDR student at ADRI I am armed with the essential ingredients for long-term success: immediate and ongoing support, a vibrant research environment that encourages and fosters multidisciplinary approaches and interaction; and stepping stones to a future career.