The next step

Some months ago now, I made the decision to take the plunge, and finally apply to begin my PhD research. Thankfully, the next step in my research path was officially confirmed this week when I received my offer of admission from the Fenner School of Environment and Society, at the Australian National University.

This is the culmination of a rather long and drawn out process in which probably every PhD student in history has gone through, where I’ve weighed up my options and tried to find the best answers to a huge number of questions. Which institution should I apply to? Who should I ask to supervise me? What skills do I want to acquire? Do I want to travel? What on earth should I research for the next 3 years? And most importantly, what do really want to get out of a PhD?

And so it begins…

I chose the Fenner School at the ANU because it has a great reputation for interdisciplinary research, which I think will suit me well, and I’m looking forward to being exposed to new approaches and ideas. ANU also has a strong reputation in public policy and economics research,  which are areas I’d like to explore further in my PhD.

I’m really excited to soon be supervised by Karen Hussey and Phil Gibbons at the Fenner School, and Tara Martin at CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences.

What’s your topic?

I’ll get back to you in 3 years! Ok, so I have thought about this (a lot), but also realise that things do tend to change from the initial idea.

I’m interested in how the application of economic principles can help solve problems such as the conservation of biodiversity, and the environment more generally (as the name of this blog will attest). By the same token, I feel that the field of economics could benefit from a greater understanding of ecological principles.

My general aim will be to examine the role of economic policy instruments as applied to biodiversity conservation and natural resource management, both in Australia and within an international context. One of the more specific things I would like to focus on are biodiversity offsets, which are already very widespread in use but becoming even more-so, particularly in developing nations.

I’m particularly interested in whether (for example, from an environmental economic perspective) offsets ‘get the price right’ for biodiversity, and thereby reduce the incentive to remove it in the first place. I’m also interested in what are the potential will also analyse the potential biodiversity co-benefits or ‘bio-perversities’ that could arise through the establishment of carbon offsets, such as those expected to be generated through the Australian Carbon Farming Initiative.

Or at least, that’s idea.

Watch this space!

Over the next few weeks I’ll be busy trying to wrap up projects here at UQ, and will be relocating to ANU mid-year. In winter*. In Canberra**.

Oh, Canberra.

I’m looking forward to maintaining my existing links with the Environmental Decisions Group, as well as forging new links with researchers within and outside ANU.

* The first two questions I was asked by my then-prospective supervisor (after first establishing that we were happy to be supervisor and student) were: “Are you actually going to move here?” and “Can you handle the cold?”. Yes, and probably no…

** Big positive – flat as a tack, great for cycling!


  1. Heh Megan – you’re coming to the big smoke of Canberra (that’s the smoke of people’s log fires, cause there’s no industry down here). Welcome aboard! It’s been minus 5 degrees here each morning for the past week!!

    I look forward to seeing you down (up?) here!


    1. Hi David,
      Thanks, yes I’ll be coming down (from Brisbane) in a few weeks, so I’ll see you soon. And, ah, thanks for the weather update! (I think)

  2. I think I’m headed is a better direction (north). If you can’t hack it I’m sure CQU will have you (and I’d appreciate the company)!

    Good luck! I look forward to updates!

    1. Thanks Ellie, and exciting news for you too! You’ll have to tell me all about next time I see you (and maybe you’ll blog about it too :)

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