Why study in Wodonga?
Reason 1: Academic Opportunities
If you’re interested in how animals function within their environment, in the face of major environmental challenges, then you won’t find a better place for research than La Trobe’s Albury-Wodonga campus. In addition to my main research focus, we have a range of staff with specialties in genomics and molecular biology, environmental chemistry, population ecology, freshwater ecology, and conservation, who can provide co-supervision in these areas. The local Centre for Freshwater Ecosystems has a world-class laboratory with facilities for animal housing, animal physiology, environmental chemistry, and ecotoxicology, as well as everything you might need for field research.
As my lab works within the School of Molecular Sciences, we also have the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS), through which we can access powerful capabilities in proteomics, genomics, and microscopy. Working at LIMS is a major opportunity for designing research projects that might have applications to human health or engineering. Finally, I offer a range of collaborative research opportunities, internally at La Trobe, locally at nearby Charles Sturt University, and across Australia at the University of Sydney, Western Sydney University, University of Canberra, and James Cook University.
Reason 2: Lifestyle
If you’re an aspiring biologist, ecologist, or conservationist (or just someone who likes the outdoors), there are few places better in Australia to live than the Albury-Wodonga region. Here are some of the things that make it great:
It’s easy to get outside to enjoy the outdoors, fast. Albury-Wodonga is adjacent to the (Australian) Alps, which offer skiing in the winter, and hiking in the summer (and potential field sites!). The Murray River is a great place to swim, go for a relaxing float, or go fishing (and research turtles or fish). There are heaps of bike paths around the towns, as well as mountain bike trails in the hills.
Compared to Australia’s larger cities, the cost of living is much lower, so your scholarship stipend (if you qualify for one) will go farther. It’s easy to find inexpensive places to live close enough to the uni to walk or ride a bike in. We can also find inexpensive housing for you on-campus until you find something else, if desired.
I have field sites for my research within a 10 minute drive of my house. I can even bicycle to some of them. This reduces the cost of research, and can make work-life balance a lot easier than making long trips out to a remote field site (though we can do that too, depending on your project’s needs).
Albury-Wodonga is smaller than a capital city, but it’s one of the biggest regional centres in Australia. It has all of the necessities and most of the amenities. We get Australian bands playing regularly at pubs, the SS&A, and Gateway Island. Both Albury and Wodonga have lively play and musical schedules. Both cities have regular social events, especially in the summer. It is overall a fun, friendly, relaxed, and welcoming community.
If you’d like to occasionally work in one of Australia’s larger cities, we can design a project with components at the Bundoora campus in Melbourne, which is only 3-4 hours away by train or car, or with my collaborators in Sydney, which is a 1 hour flight away.For international students especially: as a transplanted American myself, I really like living in the Albury-Wodonga area. If you want to see/work with some of Australia’s iconic wildlife and ecosystems, you’re only minutes away. We regularly see some of the local herps on campus and in the local parks, and there are great places for birding and seeing mammals (including platypus) just outside of town.
Reason 3: Career Opportunities
Albury-Wodonga is a great place to network with agencies and consulting firms who do on-ground research, management, and conservation. To name a few, we have local offices of the Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (VIC), NSW Department of Primary Industries, North East Catchment Management Authority, North East Water, Murray Landcare Collective, and local councils. There are also nearby offices for Parks Victoria, Winton Wetlands, and Goulburn-Murray Water, and I have research links with North-Central CMA, Arthur Rylah Institute, and Natural Resource Management in South Australia. Such a diversity of agencies nearby presents a number of potential routes for collaboration, networking, and potentially, future employment.