Australia-Indonesia diplomacy bolstered by next generation of researchers

The Australia-Indonesia Centre appointed 18 Associate Fellows to the Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research (PAIR) earlier this year. The group forms the next generation of interdisciplinary researchers forging closer ties between the two countries.


Their enthusiasm and diversity of backgrounds has injected a new energy into the research team, complementing the experience of the Senior Fellows appointed last year.

Our Associate Fellows come from 10 universities across Australia and Indonesia, and are among the brightest early career researchers in their fields. They are a truly multidisciplinary group, with expertise spanning 15 disciplines. These include health, economics, engineering, science and social science. Their range of experience adds valuable perspectives to PAIR’s research, and ensures interconnection between the domains and research projects.

During PAIR, the Associate Fellows are learning and developing crucial skills in bilateral research, setting them up as future leaders in this area of collaboration and diplomacy. They are receiving mentoring from the Senior Fellows, and will participate in a Talent Accelerator Program led by Team Capability Coordinator Dr Martijn Van der Kamp. Both of these PAIR components will support them in their career development. They will also learn on the job, through supporting the Senior Fellows’ work and undertaking PAIR research.

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In addition to these skills, the Associate Fellows will build important relationships and networks through PAIR that will serve them in their careers to come.

“PAIR aims to connect the next generation of Australian and Indonesian research leaders”, said PAIR Program Director Dr Eugene Sebastian. “We are investing in the development of our Associate Fellows, as early- to mid-career researchers, to inspire and build long-term collaborative research relationships for the mutual benefit of both our countries.”

Associate Fellows on a field trip to Makassar New Port in February 2020. (Photo: AIC)

When the Associate Fellows first met at the Induction Workshop, it was clear the group would get along well. Although they come from different backgrounds, friendships quickly formed and they were eager to get to work. The study tour around Makassar to the Makassar New Port, the Makassar-Parepare train line and to a seaweed community enabled them to get to know the area and each other. By the end of the week, solid bonds had been formed and the group were even treated to a karaoke performance by Dr Imam Muthohar from Universitas Gadjah Mada.

Two of our Associate Fellows, Anis Wulandari (Universitas Airlangga) and Dr Muhammad Farid Dimjati Lusno (Universitas Airlangga), wrote this blog article about their time in Makassar in February. Dr Simon Bowly from Monash University also wrote this blog article about the PAIR Policy Dialogue in February.

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For many Associate Fellows, PAIR is their first time working with colleagues from the other country. They are excited about PAIR and what this opportunity means for their careers.

Dr Tony Dwi Susanto from Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember says the program will help him make international networks and reach his career goals. “Joining the PAIR Program is very important for me, because this program helps push me towards working as a researcher”.

Dr Alexandra Langford from the University of Queensland is looking forward to the positive impact she can make through PAIR. “I would like to see the PAIR program identify some important areas where small changes can be made to create useful outcomes for people on the ground,” she said. “For myself, I would like to be involved in directing policy in a way that creates positive change.” After meeting through PAIR, Dr Sulfahri from Universitas Hasanuddin invited Dr Langford to collaborate on two journal articles about seaweed-sourced bioethanol which have already been published.

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Dr Dyah Rahmawati Hizbaron from Universitas Gadjah Mada is keen to learn more about eastern Indonesia through PAIR, saying “Through PAIR I can expand my interests, starting from Makassar and its surrounding areas”. Meanwhile Dr Healthy Hidayanti is glad to be growing her skills and interests while contributing to PAIR. “My career goal is to be a better lecturer for my students and produce scientific writings,” she said.

We are excited to see the contribution the Associate Fellows are bringing to the PAIR program, and we look forward to observing their development as they go on to become the next generation of Australia-Indonesia researchers.

Picture of Marlene Millott

PAIR Program Officer
The Australia-Indonesia Centre