Alumni Profiles

Photo of Alejandro Miranda playing the guitar with a quote written beside reading: "My supervisors' critique was a gift that helped me to become a better thinker and writer"

Graduates of the Institute and its previous incarnations* have gone on to varied careers both in academia and in non-academic fields. A selection of our graduates are profiled below.

Nathaniel Bavinton

"What I most enjoyed was the everyday exposure to world's best academics and thinkers."

Doctor of Philosophy, 2011
The Production and Use of Space in the Night-time Economy

Profile photo of Nathaniel BavintonNathaniel graduated from the Centre for Cultural Research with a thesis about Sydney's night-time economy. In 2011 Nathaniel was the recipient the Thesis of the Year by the Australia New Zealand Association Leisure Studies for its contribution to understanding the dynamics of cities at night. Nathaniel currently leads the Smart City Initiative at Newcastle City Council, about which he says, "it's an amazingly diverse and challenging job". This position involves engaging a range of stakeholders to collaboratively develop and implement projects that will facilitate Newcastle's transition to a smart and innovative city. As part of this role he is responsible for a wide range of professional and management tasks including but not limited to city-wide collaborative strategy, stakeholder management, infrastructure planning, ecosystem development, citizen and community engagement and various pilot and demonstration projects.

Reflecting on his PhD experience, Nathaniel says that the Institute is "a dynamic institution" where he was given the opportunity to both be witness to and collaborate with respected scholars in the fields of Urban Studies and Cultural Studies. He reflects on the importance of his relationship with his supervisors, recalling that they had "a strong influence over my development as a researcher and much credit must go to them for shaping me as a professional". Nathaniel also recalls the advantages of undertaking his PhD at a research institute, where there was "always many opportunities to present research and hone my skills as a public speaker and stakeholder manager". Nathaniel reflects that his time at the Institute instilled in him "a genuine desire for collaboration and the critical and empathy skills to facilitate it" and says that "these skills have been put to good use".

George (Kev) Dertadian

"ICS is an intellectually stimulating and nurturing place to do postgraduate study – it is a place that encourages the kind of critical thinking that defines the social and cultural research of today."

Dev DertadianGeorge (Kev) Dertadian, is a social researcher interested in alcohol and other drugs, the sociology of crime and deviance, and social and cultural theory. During 2011-2016 Kev completed his Doctoral studies at the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS), Western Sydney University (WSU). During this time he co-convened the Institute’s seminar series and was the Postgraduate Representative on its Higher Degree Research Committee. Kev's thesis was on the topic of the non-medical use of pain medications, an area which he has continued to do much of his research. In 2019 he also published his first book, which was based on doctoral research conducted at ICS and is titled A Fine Line: Painkiller and pleasure in the age of anxiety. Kev is currently a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

On reflecting about his time at ICS Kev says that "the research training and critical thinking skills I developed at ICS set me up well to work in many and various academic roles" during and since his doctorate. This includes work as an Associate Lecturer at the Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society, UNSW between 2015-2016 and a Teaching Focussed Role as an Online Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences and Psychology, WSU between 2016-2018. He notes that "the thoughtful development of programs of workshops and training sessions that drew from the wealth of talent within ICS and work-class guest presenters is a highlight of my time at ICS."

Justine Humphry

"ICS cultivated many of the research and academic skills that I would need to establish a successful academic career and gave me opportunities that I would not have had anywhere else."

Doctor of Philosophy, 2010
I, Office: Configuring person and place in everyday office computing

Black and white profile photo of Justine HumphryJustine is a Lecturer in Cultural and Social Analysis in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University. She has published widely in a range of publications, including as a contributing author to the new Oxford university Press book Sociologic: Analysing Everyday Life and Culture (2015) and the Routledge Companion to Mobile Media (2014), as well in respected journals such as Journal of Media, Culture and Society and Australian Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy. She has also enjoyed success in attracting competitive research funding from a variety of funding bodies, including the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, and most recently the Digital Humanities Research Group.

On reflecting about her time at the Institute Justine says "I gained a strong sense of being a researcher, not just a student". A big part of Justine's development as a researcher was her generous and supportive supervisory panel, about which she says "I always felt that I had the very best supervision panel. I sometimes referred to them as 'the dream team'". Even after leaving the Institute to work in a different part of the University and when working with other institutions and funding bodies, ICS has remained an important resource for Justine who says that "as a recently graduated PhD student, its reputation was an important factor in finding academic employment, securing international visiting fellowships and pursuing research grants".

Sherene Idriss

"Being at the ICS taught me that critical thinking doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Through rigorous analysis and innovative methods, scholars can generate new insights and knowledge about the world we live in that can be transformative and lead to real social change."

Doctor of Philosophy, 2015
The Just-In-Time Self: Young Arab Men, Skills and Narratives of Aspiration in the New Economy

Shireen Idriss ICSI am currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute of Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University. My current research examines contemporary postracial landscapes of youth, gender and entrepreneurship. I was a PhD candidate at the ICS from 2010-2015. My thesis examined the vocational aspirations of Arab-Australian young men in creative fields which I have since published as a book, Young Migrant Identities: Creativity and Masculinity (2018) as part of the Routledge series Youth, Young Adulthood and Society. While at the ICS I held multiple roles, teaching undergraduate courses and as a research fellow working in interdisciplinary teams across the institute on various projects. My PhD journey was an overwhelmingly positive experience. My supervisors had a wealth of experience and expertise so I could always rely on and trust their advice. They were also extremely generous and supportive during and upon PhD completion giving helpful suggestions and directions, but also giving me the confidence to explore alternative conceptual and theoretical directions. During my candidature, the institute itself offered HDR students high quality support in the form of interactive workshops, reading groups, guest speakers, seminars and conference support which was immensely helpful for testing out my thesis findings in a range of formats and in an interdisciplinary and collaborative environment.

Koichi Iwabuchi

Doctor of Philosophy, 2000
Returning to Asia: Japan in the Cultural Dynamics of Globalization, Localization and Asianization

Koichi Iwabuchi is Chair Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Monash University. He completed his PhD at The Research Centre for Intercommunal Studies, for which he was awarded Best Doctoral Thesis on Asia by the Asian Studies Association of Australia in 2000. In reflecting about his time at the Institute Koichi says that its "supportive environment" allowed for "caring encouragement and productive feedback" essential to a student's development in any Higher Degree Research program.

Since completing his doctorate Koichi has had a successful academic career in Asian Studies and Cultural Studies, having published several influential books in the field, such as Resilient Borders and Cultural Diversity (2015) and Recentering Globalization (2002). He is also the current Director of the Monash Asia Institute.

Georgie McClean

"I really valued the opportunity to generate thinking and evidence that was relevant to industry and my work context, and to translate between theory and practice."

Doctor of Cultural Research, 2012
...And in doing so, reflect Australia's multicultural society': The Contemporary Role of SBS

Profile photo of Georgie McCleanGeorgie McClean has recently set up her own consultancy business (Georgie McClean Consulting) and prior to this was Senior Manager of Strategy and Communications at Screen Australia, Australia's primary screen sector funding agency. The skills Georgie developed during her Doctor of Cultural Research have been invaluable in her work which spans research, strategy, policy and communications.

Georgie completed her Doctorate while working at SBS, which gave her the chance to deepen and add a new level of engagement to her work there. She describes how she really valued the opportunity to learn and refine skills in applied research in a "generous and stimulating environment with high levels of peer and supervisor support", and reflects that these skills assisted her "to generate thinking and evidence that is relevant to industry and my work context" as well as to develop the knowledge and experience to "translate between theory and practice".

Alejandro Miranda

"My supervisors' critique was a gift that helped me to become a better thinker and writer."

Doctor of Philosophy, 2016
Mobilities of Practice: The Circulation of Traditional Music Making Across Mexico and the United States

Alejandro Miranda

Alejandro is an Independent Researcher currently developing the manuscript for a book with Routledge, which is based on the work conducted in his Doctorate. Alejandro is a recent graduate of ICS, having received his PhD early in 2016. The outstanding quality of his PhD research on the mobility of musical practices has already been recognised by the Institute of Australian Geographers, who awarded him Outstanding Postgraduate Presentation at their 2015 conference. Alejandro was recently invited to contribute to an article to the international journal Mobile Culture Studies.

Alejandro says that the best thing about doing a postgraduate degree at ICS is the interdisciplinary research environment because it "opened many opportunities to learn from fields that I would not have imagined before starting my PhD". He reflects: "my supervisors showed genuine interest in my work" and this meant that "their critique was a gift that helped me to become a better thinker and writer".

Tayanah O'Donnell

"What I enjoyed most was the freedom and independence to pursue my research."

Tayanah O'Donnell

Tayanah is based at the Australian Academy of Science where she leads the Future Earth Australia initiative, as well as currently Acting as Director of the Science Policy team. She was previously a research fellow at the University of Canberra and is currently an honorary senior lecturer with the climate change institute at the Fenner School for society and environment at the Australian National University. She has published several journal papers in leading international journals, as well as a number of book chapters that span topics such as legal and political geographies, climate change adaptation and property rights, climate law, and land use planning and the public interest, and several research reports and international keynotes. Tayanah is lead author of an edited collection, Legal Geography: Perspectives and Methods, under production with Routledge.

Tayanah’s dissertation explores the legal, political and cultural aspects of coastal climate change adaptation. It won an AMP Tomorrow Maker award in 2017 (with an accompanying grant). Her dissertation, along with her work with local and state governments in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Queensland, is under contract for two books with Palgrave Macmillan (expected in 2020). She maintains an active, albeit selected, research profile given her demanding day job in the prestigious Australian Academy of Science.

Tayanah says the best things about her PhD experience at ICS was the collegiality of all staff including senior professors and the ability to pursue true interdisciplinary research with real world impact. In particular, her supervisors Donald McNeill and Louise Crabtree, as well as key research staff including Megan Watkins, enabled Tayanah to produce a dissertation that contributes to both academia and to society.

Wanning Sun

Doctor of Philosophy, 1997
Reading the Other: Narrative Constructions of Japan in the Australian and Chinese Press

"I had the opportunity to participate in conversations with the most exciting scholars in media studies and cultural studies in this country."

Photo of Wanning Sun standing against a bookshelf.Wanning is currently a Professor of Media and Communication Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney and an internationally respected scholar in the field of Chinese Studies. She is widely published in the areas of Media and Chinese Studies, including several books such as Subaltern China (2014) and Maid in China (2009). Wanning also holds multiple Australian Research Council (ARC) grants for projects about Chinese labour and popular culture.

Recalling the importance of her training at the Institute, Wanning says that she was able to "participate in conversations with the most exciting scholars in media studies and cultural studies in this country". She goes on to say that Chinese Studies is dominated by social science perspectives and that the blend of social science and humanities she was exposed to at the Institute "enabled me to explore social change in China by taking a less trodden path". This emphasis on professional and academic training was complemented by an inviting and collegial professional environment: "I got to meet some really fantastic HDR fellow researchers, with whom I've developed life-long close friendships and professional connections".

Amanda Wise

"The interdisciplinary environment taught me to think beyond borders and challenge intellectual orthodoxies in ways that have profoundly shaped all the research I have done since."

Doctor of Philosophy, 2003
No Longer in Exile: Shifting Experiences of Home, Homeland and Identity for East Timorese in Australia

Profile photo of Amanda WiseAmanda is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Macquarie University, where she teaches undergraduate courses and supervises postgraduate students in topic areas related to migration, Islamophobia, urban diversity and everyday multiculturalism. In the time since her postgraduate studies Amanda has had great success in research related to her thesis topic. She has won multiple competitive government grants, including the Australian Research Council (ARC) funded project 'Everyday Multiculturalism at Work' (2012-2015). Amanda is also the sole author of the book Exile and Return Among the East Timorese (2006, University of Pennsylvania Press) and she produced the edited collection Everyday Multiculturalism (2009, Palgrave).

Reflecting on her time doing a PhD Amanda says "the Centre shaped me in many ways. The interdisciplinary environment was a gift - it taught me to think beyond borders and challenge intellectual orthodoxies in ways that have profoundly shaped all the research I have done since". The PhD experience was also a very personal one for Amanda who explained the value of doing research alongside "an amazing group of PhD students working on a range of interdisciplinary topics". She goes on to say that "many of us have become lifelong friends. I even married one! And two have ended up as my colleagues in the same department".

*The Institute for Culture and Society has previously been known as The Research Centre for Intercommunal Studies, Institute for Cultural Research and Centre for Cultural Research.

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