Five minutes with Dr Nikita Vanderbyl

Dr Nikita Vanderbyl is a Lecturer in History working in the Department of Archaeology and History. Based at La Trobe's Mildura campus, Nikita teaches history to first year and third year students, with a focus on Australian history.

Dr Vanderbyl is a writer, researcher, and teacher of history.  She is most interested in the transnational art histories of Aboriginal cultural objects and artworks from the nineteenth century and their relevance to communities today.  Her research interests also include the legacies of transatlantic slavery in Australia’s colonisation. Dr Vanderbyl issues an e-newsletter, Slow Looking, that each month explores a different artwork and what critics have thought about it over time.

Tell us about your role at La Trobe

I teach history to first year students at diploma and undergraduate level, I also teach third year students preparing to graduate. My research focus is Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung history and art.

Tell us about something cool you/your team are currently working on?

My colleagues in History and I have teamed up with the eBureau to produce an open access textbook about public history in Australia. It features student work and will soon feature academic-community collaborations. The book will be a resource for third-year History students and also accessible as an Open Educational Resource. We're all quite excited to see it finished soon!

Who has been the biggest influence on your work approach?

One of the biggest influences on the research part of my work is the late Tracey Banivanua Mar. Her example is a guide and an inspiration to for working with communities on writing history. In my teaching I'm constantly inspired by the dedication of my Mildura campus colleagues. They constantly go above and beyond to support the diverse cohort at this regional campus and I see the impact that tertiary education has for these students all the time.

What would we most likely find you doing on the weekend?

I spend as much time outdoors as I can. All my teaching is online via Zoom, so gardening, swimming, or being a tourist in my own backyard on Barkindji Country is hugely important to me.

Dogs or cats? Neither? Both? Why?

Both. For maximum chaos.

What brought you to La Trobe?

Over a decade ago my desire to study at a university that combined radical roots and a wide subject selection brought me to La Trobe. Though it's a very different place today, I'm still here and the impacts I saw as valuable then are just as central to the University's mission today.