Find out about our Indigenous research activities and how our Indigenous academics and students are contributing to science.
We are committed to completing Indigenous research that works with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. A summary of some of our research themes and projects is provided below.
Jobs, land, water and economy
We run several programs relating to Indigenous land use, monitoring and management, including our flagship program run in close collaboration with the Yawuru people of in and around Broome, Western Australia. This partnership with the Fenner School of Environment & Society focuses on developing practical uses of GIS to support Native Title decision making and provided the community with strategic intelligence for post native title governance.
Some of our other projects include:
- Landscape archaeology at Lake Mungo, Research School of Earth Sciences
- Biodiversity discovery in northern Australia, Research School of Biology
- Marginal socio-ecological systems in a changing climate, Fenner School of Environment & Society
- Is there a role for storm water channels in a water sensitive world?, Fenner School of Environment & Society.
Cultural and social issues and history
We are involved in multiple research projects that relate to Indigenous cultural and social issues and Indigenous history. One of our strengths in this area is dating historical and pre-historical events, including though the following projects:
- Radiocarbon dating of multiple Australian archaeological sites, Research School of Earth Sciences.
- Birth of a new language: Gurindji Kriol, Research School of Biology (led by the University of Queensland).
- Dating events in Indigenous history using methods from bioinformatics and molecular evolution, Mathematical Sciences Institute.
- STEM the gap: science belongs to us mob, too, Mathematical Sciences Institute.
The ANU College of Science runs three education programs in Indigenous communities, covering the fields of biodiversity and land management, seismology, rock art dating and mathematics.
- Australian Seismometers in Schools, including collaborations with APY Lands communities, Research School of Earth Sciences.
- Both-ways learning and research on biodiversity in remote Arnhem Land communities, including capacity building for rangers and youth in remote communities, Research School of Biology.
Where does an ANU researcher go when they need to get a meteorite cut?
Or a specific part tailor-made for their solar car?
Or specialised equipment to drill coral cores?
These are all requests which the workshop has fulfilled, contributing their expertise in mechanical engineering to ground-breaking research and development at ANU.
The workshop manufactures, maintains and modifies components for scientific instrumentation and experimentation; supplies parts and materials; and consults on design.
Today I am greeted at the workshop by apprentice Brooke Roy, who shows me around.The room is filled with unrecogniseable machines in all shapes and sizes, some that look like they date back to the 50s. Metal is grinding, whirring and hammering, and a tank in the corner is bubbling with water. Despite this, the room has a relaxed vibe. It’s kind of like being at a mechanics shop, except the staff are actually making the parts.
Despite the novelty of working on objects like meteorites, Brooke says she feels right at the home in the workshop.
“I grew up making things and building things with my Dad. We would pull apart bikes and make new ones together. So I always knew I wanted to do something with my hands, and I knew for sure that I never wanted to work at a desk!”
She shows me some of her personal creations she has made since working at ANU: beautifully crafted hammers, clamps, welded boxes. We talk about what it’s like being a part of the workshop.
“The people here are great. I work with someone different every day to get a range of expertise. One day Carl might show me something, and then the following day Andrew might go over it again. So I can see how things are done differently to get the same result.”
Working together, the team produces parts which end up all over the world.
The equipment for drilling coral cores was built for Professor Nerilie Abram, a coordinating lead author of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Professor Abram used the tool to inspect growth fluctuations caused by climate change.
And the parts for the solar car will now travel with it from Darwin to Adelaide for the Invictus Solar Car Challenge.
“Engineering students came to us with the drawings of what they wanted, and then we worked with them to turn it into a reality,” Brooke explains.
Reflecting on Brooke’s childhood building things with her Dad, I ask her if she chats to him about her work at ANU. She responds with a smile on her face:
“I come home and say ‘I cut a meteorite today, what’d you do?!”
Brooke Roy is the university's first Indigenous apprentice through the ANU Indigenous Apprentice Program.
Find out more about the program and The Research School of Earth Sciences Engineering Workshop.
Associate Professor Rowena Ball shares her experiences of working with students in remote Queensland communities for the STEM Professionals in Schools program.