PhD & ECR bursary winners

Each year CAUTHE offers competitive bursaries for PhD Scholars and Early Career Researchers from Chapter Member institutions. For some bursary award winners, this might be their first ever conference or the first time sharing their ideas beyond their supervisors. Others may be nearing thesis submission and seeking feedback on their final conclusions. Past winners share their experiences below.


Dr Michael Volgger, Curtin University

It was a great honour being awarded the 2018 CAUTHE Award for Early Career Researcher Bursary for my paper on Smartly reconfiguring a tourism destination: Learnings from an innovation case. The 28th CAUTHE Conference in Newcastle was an inspiring event, which allowed me to get new stimuli for my research, meet new and interesting people and gather with friends. Although I am primarily research-focused in my daily work, I was motivated to expand my horizon by participating in several teaching-oriented sessions at the CAUTHE Conference. I found them particularly creative, innovative and enticing.

Similarly, the conference conveners Tamara and Paul did an amazing job in delivering on their conference promise (or was it a solicitation?): ‘get smart’. I personally found Day 1 with the ECR and MCR Workshops exceptionally helpful in becoming smarter academics. The day touched upon various paradoxes and possibilities at the crossroads between academia and industry and at the crossroads between old and new research quality assessments.

‘Smart’ is often about digital and new communication technologies. Interestingly though, for me the single most valuable element in the conference was an ‘old-fashioned’ face-to-face mentoring session with my senior mentor. I got the impression that the CAUTHE mentoring is a powerful format – timeless, valuable and smart. I can only hope that it will be retained for the future, so that others may have the opportunity to make the same insightful experience.

(Pictured L to R below: PhD bursary recipients Dung Le, Richard Aquino, Sarath Munasinge, Kim Nelson)

Dung Le, Griffith University

Since I started my PhD at Griffith University, my colleagues kept telling me about CAUTHE and how amazing it is. That’s why when I knew that my paper was accepted for the CAUTHE 2018 conference, it was ‘a dream come true’. I was excited but also nervous to prepare my first presentation at such a big international tourism conference. Luckily, the first day was well-designed to just make me calm down. I had the opportunity to listen to experienced researchers sharing their experiences and even to be mentored by a great scholar, Associate Professor Pierre Benckendorff. Their advice and guidance were so valuable for PhD students like me in developing our academic careers.

The highlights of the conference were the inspiring speeches of Professor Sara Dolnicar and Professor Cathy Hsu. I felt a bit overwhelmed to find myself surrounded by leading tourism researchers. However, it was a pleasant surprise to find out how friendly and supportive they are. I did my presentation on the last day of the conference and got many constructive comments to improve my work.

After all, the gala dinner was a perfect ending with great music, good food and wonderful dance. I made so many new friends at CAUTHE 2018 conference and we can’t wait to meet again at CAUTHE 2019 conference in Cairns. I just want to say a big ‘thank you’ to the organisation committee for pulling off a great conference. It is my big honour to be awarded a CAUTHE 2018 bursary.

Richard Aquino, Auckland University of Technology

Being at the early stage of my doctoral studies, the CAUTHE Conference has given me direction, inspiration, and a stronger motivation towards undertaking the next steps of my academic journey. Participating in the PhD Workshops provided a better picture of what academic life is like, the rewards of being a tourism and hospitality academic, and the tangible and intangible actions for embarking on this career. The sessions updated my knowledge in the field, based on the recently developed work in Australasia and beyond. For me, the highlight of this academic event was the chance to socialise with a multitude of individuals, who are world-renowned experts in their respective fields. It was an honour to meet the ‘faces-behind-the-citations’ and inspiring to listen to their stories and professional advice. Likewise, attending this conference strengthened my motivation to move forward in my academic endeavours, because being awarded a PhD Scholar Bursary to attend this event was a significant milestone. My participation at the CAUTHE Conference is indeed one of my memorable life experiences. I am taking this chance to express my sincerest gratitude to my mentors for helping me make this possible, and to the CAUTHE bursary committee for giving me this wonderful opportunity. Thank you.

Sarath Munasinghe, Auckland University of Technology

My experience at CAUTHE 2018 has already made it one of best conferences that I have attended, and I have some good reasons to say so. To me, CAUTHE is a good example of an innovative and comprehensive academic conference – the content of the four-day programme is evidence of this. The PhD/ECR workshop was interesting and very useful for researchers; the expert panel members’ advice and the ‘meet the editors’ session invited re-thinking of how to connect our life-in-front of a computer screen with the industry and broader spectrum of academia. The session ‘No supervisors allowed’ added character to the conference experience as it not only allowed us as doctoral students to discuss personal and professional level issues we came across, but also provided an opportunity to learn from peers, of the personal strategies they employ to help them through highly stressful journeys.

The mentoring session was a new experience to me at a conference and the expert advice on diverse matters relevant to career advancement have life-time relevance and importance. Special interest group meetings and ample opportunities to network with like-minded people encouraged us to engage in collaborative research work. Also, the diverse topics covered in keynote speeches and concurrent paper presentations highlighted the paradoxes and opportunities that demand attention from both industry and academia now and in the future. Being thankful for providing me with an unforgettable conference experience, I wish CAUTHE all the success in its contribution to the development of global tourism and education.

Kim Nelson

CAUTHE 2018 was both my first conference and my first CAUTHE. I am from a regional university in NSW, in which I am the only tourism PhD student. Attending the 2018 CAUTHE gave me for the first time, total immersion in a space filled with people who were also deeply interested in understanding the phenomenon of tourism and how it shapes, and is shaped by our social, cultural, and natural environments. Each day of the conference I was greeted with a buffet of session options on offer, which allowed me to gain knowledge of a diverse range of research areas.

Attending CAUTHE 2018 gave me the opportunity to present my work and receive valuable feedback which will be woven into my PhD thesis. Above all, what I found the most valuable part of my CAUTHE experience was the opportunity it provided for connection. From the PhD workshop day, which launched me into instant friendships with others on the PhD journey and a phenomenal mentor, to the informal chats in sessions and at lunch times with scholars of all levels who were all incredibly generous with their knowledge and experience. These experiences of connection and shared knowledge are what will shape my own research now and into the future. Attending CAUTHE 2018 has allowed me to become part of a network of tourism scholars who are committed to making an ongoing contribution to unpacking what is happening in tourism spaces.


(Pictured L to R, Faith Ong, Phobe Everingham, Hongxia Qi, Ambrozio Queiroz Neto)

Ambrozio Queiroz Neto, Griffith University

Conferences usually provide the best moments during a PhD journey. In this sense, CAUTHE 2017 delivered the best that I could have: opportunity to learn, chance to spread my ideas, great networking and great social moments too. During the PhD/ECR Workshop, a special event that preceded the conference, I had the chance to learn how to overcome the issues during my PhD journey. Highly experienced mentors taught me about ‘personal online branding’ and ‘impact and online visibility’; and I was able to discuss with other PhD candidates in order to better assimilate the topics. Apart from all experience that you gain while attending very interesting presentations during the event, your own presentation is the moment that you really grow. In my case, I was both excited and apprehensive to discuss part of the results of my PhD Thesis. At the end of the presentation, I could not be more confident with my study. All remarkable achievements were only possible due to the great support from PhD Bursary that I received from CAUTHE. It is highly recommended that PhD candidates and scholars in tourism attend CAUTHE conference.

Hongxia Qi, Victoria University of Wellington

This is the first time for me to attend such an international conference in tourism field. I am so excited and happy to have the CAUTHE 2017 as a wonderful chance to broaden my horizon, network with other scholars, build my research profile, as well as gain invaluable comments from experienced academics to further my research. More importantly, I become more confident with the encouraging feedbacks from other researchers. My supervisors have highly recommended this excellent platform to me. I did enjoy myself, develop some productive relationships, and get valuable suggestions for both my PhD research and academic career direction. Winning the bursary is also special to me. Overall, it is a wonderful experience and I find it extremely rewarding to participate in this wonderful conference in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Phoebe Everingham, University of Newcastle

This was my first CAUTHE conference and it was a great experience. To engage with current research from such a diverse range of topics around tourism was exciting, as was the opportunity to network with other academics in my field of research. The Phd workshop enabled me to meet other PhD students and was definitely a highlight. The workshop also gave me insights into what I can expect by pursuing an academic career, advice on how to present my research and teaching experience when applying for jobs, and also valuable information regarding building an online identity – something which is really important in the era we are living in. PhD students can benefit so much from the conference and the opportunities it presents. I came away feeling I had extended my network of academic contacts, and broadened my mind around how important tourism research is in a contemporary global context. I also really enjoyed the Special Interest Group session where I have made invaluable connections with others in my field, and most importantly I have made friends along the way. I definitely feel part of the CAUTHE community and am looking forward to the next one.

Faith Ong, William Angliss Institute

As an early career academic, I am honoured to have been chosen to receive the 2017 CAUTHE ECR Bursary. This conference in Dunedin was my third CAUTHE conference, and one from which I benefited the most. Aside from the eminently useful PhD/ECR workshop that focused on future academic careers, the variety and volume of presentations made it a fulfilling and fruitful experience. The keynote speakers presented thought-provoking addresses, and the depth of discussion in some of the sessions I attended was inspiring. Presenting my paper the morning after the gala dinner could have been a daunting experience, but constructive feedback from the audience allayed that apprehension. Throughout the conference, my fellow attendees were warm and welcoming, ready to trade stories and candid advice over the frequent networking sessions built into the programme. I left the conference with renewed vigour for research, and an appreciation for the camaraderie evident in the CAUTHE community.


Keji Huang, James Cook University

keji huang_150 I was so lucky to participate in the PhD Workshop of CAUTHE conference. The workshop was very wonderful and I have learnt a lot from it. By discussing with other students and experienced mentors, I knew how to keep a good relationship with my supervisors and achieve a meaningful and productive PhD life as well. Meanwhile, the first time to present in such a big international conference made me excited and a little bit nervous too. But I became very confident in the process of presentation, because everyone in the meeting room was kind and friendly. And their comments were really beneficial for my further research work. Overall, this was a quite unique and impressive experience for me, and I’m willing to attend the conference again in New Zealand next year.

Laura Lesar, Griffith University

Laura_Lesar_150The CAUTHE conference proved a highlight in my PhD journey. The combination of thought provoking research, mentorship from accomplished scholars, and networking opportunities in formal and informal settings creates an unparalleled sense of community; it is an ideal opportunity for PhD scholars to network with experts in the field, acquire valuable research feedback, and receive career advice. I recently read an article entitled, ‘The Ten Things You Never Ask a PhD Student’, of which, alluded to all the ‘tough’ questions surrounding PhD research progress and future career aspirations. I can safely say that all of these areas were covered in the PhD/ECR workshop; however, the workshop offered an open, constructive, and enjoyable atmosphere to tackle these confronting issues. The mentoring sessions were among the highlights of the PhD/ECR workshop. The mentors offered valuable strategies to optimally navigate towards career goals and troubleshoot research issues. The workshop mentors and my fellow PhD scholars offered constructive advice to circumvent roadblocks stunting my data analysis progress. My PhD/ECR workshop mentor continued to offer support during the networking sessions; he initiated introductions to CAUTHE delegates that could offer further guidance surrounding my professional aspirations. This illustrates one of the many ways in which the CAUTHE delegates continued to surprise me with the genuine consideration and support in which they extended to PhD Scholars. Ultimately, I appreciated the raw, unfiltered, and constructive insight and guidance that the CAUTHE delegates shared; it has greatly assisted my research progress and professional endeavours.

Hafez E.L Mansour, Curtin University

hafez_150Attending the 2016 CAUTHE conference was a very professionally rewarding experience for me. In addition to socialising with PhD students, doctors, associate professors and professors from Australian and foreign universities, I improved my knowledge about recent tourism trends via attending presentations during the conference. For example, there were very useful papers about the learning in the tourism area. Listening to lecturers during the 2016 PhD/ECR workshop informed me of how to write journal articles according to ABDC Journal Quality List, however, the interaction and discussions with PhD students and the lecturers during the PhD/ECR workshop inspired research ideas of my own, and exposed me to different styles of writing journal articles.

Sulistyo Utomo, Griffith University

Sulistyo Utomo_150CAUTHE 2016 in Sydney was very amazing, I was attending the PhD workshop and I met so many people who were expert in their field. So I can have a better idea on how to do my thesis in the right direction. Another important thing was I learnt the publication process and how to publish my thesis in a quality journal. This workshop was highly recommended for PhD students; we met other students who were on different stages, so that we can learn from each other and built the relationships. We can also talk to other students who have similar topic. During the conference, CAUTHE invited a number of prominent people in tourism industry; including the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events New South Wales, Stuart Ayres, his speech was very informative so we know the current condition of tourism in Australia and particularly in NSW. The last day of conference was the social event. This was an opportunity for me to talk directly to the experts in personal and dinner on the cruise by the opera house was really spectacular experience. This conference is a catalyst for my success and recommended for all PhD students and scholars in tourism.

Elaine Chiao Ling YANG, Griffith University (TTF Scholarship winner)

I found it extremely rewarding to have participated in CAUTHE 2016. I haveE Yang Presentation_150 benefited greatly throughout the conference, which was started off with the highly engaging and encouraging PhD/ECR workshop, facilitated by experienced mentors. The keynote speeches, panel discussions, and paper presentation sessions were great learning platforms to gain insights into the current issues that are investigated or debated in the tourism academe and industry. I truly enjoyed the fun and sparkling social events which were held in various landmarks in Sydney. These events allowed me to network with other like-minded researchers as well as to build lifelong friendships. Through this conference, I have learnt to pitch my research and have received invaluable feedback to further enhance my PhD study. I would strongly recommend other PhD students to attend the next CAUTHE. Finally, I would like to thank Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) for the bursary support that has made this amazing experience possible.


Jane Godfrey, University of Technology, Sydney

Jane G_150This year’s workshop highlighted the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to research outputs. It was really reassuring and encouraging to get such positive feedback as well as some really helpful comments and suggestions to build into my thesis. The presentations I attended were really interesting and thought-provoking, such as whether genome testing influences destination choice. The social events are a good chance to chat to other PhD students and academics in a more informal setting and holding the conference right by the beach was a bonus.


Mizuki Yamasaki, University of Tasmania

Mizuki_150We had to discuss ‘what are you going do after your PhD?’, which I have always avoided answering! Talking to other PhD students who face similar problems was a great way to start. It was the first time I have presented my research and I was very apprehensive and my hands were shaking. But through the experience, I learned presentation skills, the importance of networking, and of talking about my study to a wider audience. In fact, I developed more confidence with my study as I received great comments from other researchers who have similar interests.


Mohammad Yousuf, Federation University, Australia

Mohammud_150The workshop was very interactive and effective, particularly the mentoring session which gave me the chance to get valuable career advice from the best in the field. It was fantastic networking with other PhD students and able to share my research with experienced scholars who have undertaken research in my field. Winning the bursary award was very special, but the experience and exposure I got was invaluable. There was never a dull moment, and I just loved every aspect of the conference. The CAUTHE conference is an excellent platform to learn and share ideas and, therefore, a must-go conference for any tourism PhD scholars.




Faith Ong, Victoria University

F-Ong_P1040114A research degree can be isolating, and my attendance at CAUTHE 2014 served to highlight that research and academia can have an enjoyable, social component too. Aside from the pleasure of meeting other researchers in my field, I also benefited from the group mentor session with senior academics during the PhD/ECR Workshop, where our discussions touched on the issues we faced in the final stretch of our PhD and how to develop our careers as early career researchers. The collegiate atmosphere at the CAUTHE conference provides an encouraging environment for first-time attendees, which is particularly helpful if one is seeking feedback for their research. The social events such as the Welcome Cocktail and Gala Dinner are also integral parts of the CAUTHE experience as you get to interact with everyone in a more relaxed setting. To make the most of this experience, prepare an elevator pitch about your research – it is a great way to introduce yourself to a stranger at a conference, and provides an avenue for further conversation if they share similar research interests.

Simone Grabowski-Faulkner, University of Technology, Sydney

S-Grabowski_P1040112The annual CAUTHE conference is one of the best networking events for PhD students studying tourism and hospitality. I have found the conferences to be extremely useful in providing students the opportunities to meet academics in their areas of research interest, to engage with other students from around the world, and to develop communication and presentation skills. Before attending CAUTHE I felt quite timid presenting to a large audience and now I feel confident that my message is being communicated. The PhD workshops that are provided prior to the commencement of the conference have helped me think about, manage and develop many components of research process including time management, procrastination, effective communication, and succinct writing skills. All PhD students should attend CAUTHE so that they too can benefit from the content that is presented and, more importantly, from the new relationships that will prosper well into their academic careers.

Madelene Rose McWha, La Trobe University

Madelene Rose McWhaI would highly recommend other PhD scholars attend and present their research at CAUTHE to gather insights into current issues and debates as well as receive helpful suggestions from experienced and respected academics. CAUTHE conferences are always held at interesting destinations and welcoming universities and provide an excellent professional platform to share your research ideas and/or findings, fun social events and wonderful networking opportunities in a friendly, collegial and supportive environment.