Life as a new PhD candidate

Caroline Spry is an archaeology PhD candidate researching stone tool artefacts found in the dry lake bed of Lake Mungo in New South Wales.

Choosing a PhD

It was a chance meeting that made Caroline decide to do a research degree at La Trobe. Caroline was working on a dig at Glenrowan and came across a group of graduate researchers from La Trobe on a field work trip. They talked about their hands-on experience with lots of different research projects, and their ability to get jobs in Victoria as archaeologists after graduating.

Transitioning to research

Caroline's biggest challenge on starting the PhD was making the transition from the prescriptive format of an undergraduate degree to the in-depth and self directed approach of the research degree. 'It can be overwhelming at first, but you just have to slowly work through it'. She planned her research from the start to introduce some structure into her daily work.

Getting support

Caroline's supervisor has been a strong source of support. 'She gives me a lot of direction and feedback on my progress.' They meet once a fortnight to talk about her work and make improvements as they go. Caroline has also used La Trobe workshops for PhD students on writing up chapters or applying for grants to build up her skills as a new researcher.

Making a difference

Even at this early stage, Caroline hopes her research will help advance our understanding of humanity's ability to adapt to climate change. Through looking at stone tool artefacts, she is exploring how past climate change affected humans in their every day life. 'It gives us a better understanding of how people adapted to climate change in the past and what we can do about it in the future.'

Starting a PhD

Caroline Spry on a fieldwork trip to Lake Mungo