New avenue for international research collaboration

Deakin’s Cotutelle program is offering PhD students the opportunity to expand their horizons.

Deakin University PhD students looking to expand their international networks and research collaborations can now study at Deakin and an overseas institution. A new arrangement will provide joint supervision and the opportunity to earn a doctoral degree that is recognised by both institutions.

Cotutelle agreements, which originated in France but can be arranged between any international institutions, allow students to enrol in and have their doctoral studies supervised jointly by academics from their home and international institutes. On completion of their PhD, they are awarded a joint or double-badged doctoral degree by both institutions that is recognised in Australia and internationally.

Students are required to spend time at each institution during the course of their PhD.

“The overarching aim of Cotutelle arrangements is to encourage new, and strengthen existing, collaborative research projects between international institutions,” explained Deakin’s Assoc Prof Luis Afonso, Director, International Research Training.

[testimonial_text]Cotutelles offer access to grant and publication opportunities and the chance for students to build valuable long-term international networks early in their career.[/testimonial_text]
[testimonial_picture name=”Luis Afonso” details=”Director, International Research Training”]
A/Prof Luis Afonso [/testimonial_picture]

Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences (LES) currently has three Deakin students completing their PhD studies under Cotutelle agreements with the University of La Rochelle in the southwest of France.

La Rochelle has a strong research focus on marine ecology and oceanography and is heavily involved in collaborations with the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France’s equivalent of CSIRO.

Timothée Poupart, an international student from France, is conducting his PhD research on niche segregation in an unusual community of winter breeding seabird species on the west coast of New Zealand. This is a collaborative project involving LES, CNRS and researchers from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Grace Sutton, a local student who has already made important findings about the foraging strategies of little penguins, will expand her research to other penguin species, travelling with a French research team to the subantarctic, as well as spending time at the University of La Rochelle.

Another local student, Katherine Brownlie, is collaborating with numerous State wildlife conservation agencies, and colleagues at the University of La Rochelle on her PhD project to investigate the drivers of population change in the short-tailed shearwater, Australia’s most numerous seabird. She is hoping to develop new, low-cost population monitoring techniques for the species.

“Joint supervision of students across countries enhances co-operation between research teams,” said Prof John Arnould (LES), who is supervising Timothée, Grace, and Katherine in Australia.

“Today, big picture research involves collaboration with different model species, environments and people with different skill-sets. Cotutelle agreements encourage healthy international collaboration and recognition for researchers. They allow students to experience different academic settings and cultures and other ways of doing things.

“Now that the framework is in place, we hope that many other Deakin academics will engage in similar arrangements so students from Australia and overseas can benefit.”

Photo courtesy of Jean Claude Stahl, Te Papa, NZ

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