The Cookson Scholars

Collaborative research projects with experts from Manchester and Melbourne

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Established by the University of Melbourne and the University of Manchester in 2019, the Dr Isabel Clifton Cookson Scholars are a collective of international researchers comprised of joint PhD candidates and their supervisors from both universities. Collaborative research teams investigate issues in a variety of areas across the sciences and the humanities.

Candidates who are part of the Cookson Scholars receive an immersive experience alongside a diverse and motivated cohort of researchers. They are mentored by global experts, learn how to adapt to new cultural and research environments, and gain access to the best facilities and resources at both universities.

The Joint PhD experience has been fantastic. Despite lockdown rules forcing a more virtual experience, I have a great team with extremely supportive supervisors

Ching Yi Wu
Cookson Scholars joint PhD candidate

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Manchester-Melbourne Graduate Research Group becomes the Cookson Scholars

Previously the Melbourne-Manchester Graduate Research Group, the jointly awarded/ dual PhD program will now be known as the Dr Isabel Clifton Cookson Scholars. A pioneering Australian palaeobotanist, Dr Isabel Clifton Cookson (1893-1973), received her first-class honours in biology and zoology from the University of Melbourne. After graduating she received a government research scholarship to study flora in the Northern Territory, and then travelled to England to work alongside Professor Lang, a specialist in fossil plants at the University of Manchester.

During her 58-year career she authored and co-authored 93 scientific publications, and her papers on fossil plants are said to have helped to shape theories of early plant evolution.

The announcement of the new name was marked by a visit from University of Manchester senior leadership to the University of Melbourne campus where they met with the locally based joint PhD cohort. The collaborative program is now recruiting their fourth cohort of candidates to twelve fully funded PhD projects.

Project spotlight story: Creative economy entrepreneurs and market research

The creative economy encompasses industries such as advertising, architecture, the arts, designer fashion, and more. The creative economy is a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity, with many startups in the field finding great success. However, as a whole, failure rates for new ventures in the creative economy remain high. This is the case despite the heavy use of market research and market validation methods amongst entrepreneurs in this field. After all, proving that customers want your product is a fundamental principle of entrepreneurship. But why is this the case? This project aims to understand how creative economy entrepreneurs and corporate innovators use (and omit) market research in the creative economy.


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Our Partner: The University of Manchester

The University of Manchester is a leading public research university located in Manchester, the United Kingdom. With roots in the civic university movement of the 19th century, it is today a part of the Russell Group of universities in the UK. Social impact is the core driver of research at the University. It is ranked first in the world in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings 2021 and its five research beacons – advanced materials, biotechnology, cancer, energy and global inequalities – are formulated around the world’s most pressing challenges.


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University of Manchester

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Meet our academic lead

Dr Suzie Sheehy is the University of Melbourne academic lead of the Cookson Scholars. She is a physicist, academic and science communicator based at the University of Melbourne, where she is a Senior Lecturer in Accelerator Physics and at the University of Oxford, where she holds a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. Dr Sheehy’s research focuses on developing new particle accelerators for future applications in areas such as medicine and energy.


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