To mark International Women's Day this year we are celebrating some of the professional and academic staff who make our College a world-leading insitution for research and teaching on Asia and the Pacific.
In this piece, we chat to Jodie-Lee Trembath, PhD candidate and one of the mastersminds behind the new anthroplogy podcast, The Familiar Strange.
What inspired you to get into your field of research and why?
I research researchers, believe it or not, because I truly believe that universities and academics can do so much good in the world, but often we get weighed down by all the red tape. I wanted to understand how bureaucracy is operationalised in universities, and also how that's changing as higher education becomes increasingly global. Anthropology lets me explore these big, totalising ideas from the perspective of the people who are living it.
Who is a woman in your field that you look up to?
Genevieve Bell! I nearly died when I saw on Twitter that ANU had poached her from Intel! She epitomises that intersection between anthropological thinking and the practical application of that thinking that I believe in so passionately; she looks at both detail and the big picture; sees the past and looks to the future... she's fabulous. I've been watching her talk about using anthropology in the tech field for years on YouTube with stars in my eyes, so when I saw that she was coming to ANU I actually literally choked on my coffee as I was walking across campus. That'll teach me for drinking, checking Twitter and walking at the same time!
What is a teaching/research project you are currently working on that motivates you?
Some of my fellow anthropologist friends at ANU and I have recently launched a public anthropology project called The Familiar Strange. It's a combined podcast, blog and social media project where we use the analytical tools we've been taught as anthropologists to unpack the world around us - current affairs, ethical issues, political questions, that kind of thing. It's been amazing actually, we did the full launch in November last year and we've had almost 20,000 visits to the website already, and our podcast episodes have been downloaded more than 3000 times, we're really thrilled. But the best thing about it is that we get to meet and talk to amazing people and learn cool stuff - PhD students email us from around the world with blog posts, we get to interview anthropologists who just have the most fascinating stories to tell, all sorts of people chat to us on social media, it's great. If you want to check it out: www.thefamiliarstrange.com, @TFStweets on Twitter, or search The Familiar Strange on Facebook, Instagram, iTunes or Soundcloud.
What are you most proud of?
Probably getting into my PhD, at ANU, and being supervised by "The Thesis Whisperer"! I didn't have a traditional academic pathway, I'm first-in-family to go to university, I'm a little older than most of my peers, and there were times when I really thought I was never going to even get started on this path! But my supervisor, Inger Mewburn, tends to take chances on people who are a bit outside the norm I think, and she's been a very inspirational figure for me on this journey.
What’s your advice to your younger self about choosing the right path and juggling life’s different demands?
Be picky with your side-projects and don't be so greedy! There are so many amazing opportunities in the world, and if you've got your eyes open and you're enthusiastic, interesting things start flying your way with alarming frequency. It's very tempting to think that you need to say yes to everything because a) something like this may never come along again, b) I LOVE this kind of thing and it will bring me so much joy, c) this will give me the edge when it comes time to look for a job d) I want people to feel they can rely on me or e) whatever other fantastic reason you give yourself. But time is finite, and PhDs are actually quite hard and time consuming (funny that!) so you do need to be quite miserly with what you choose to... ooh, look at that shiny thing over there!