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Alumni Stories

Grads 2024: Bradley Moggridge

Like a river, Dr Bradley Moggridge’s own journey has had a lot of unexpected twists and turns. But ultimately, it has led to him doing something he is incredibly passionate about. Something that has fascinated him ever since he was young.

“Going into senior school, I was actually advised not to do science or maths, but I did it anyway because it was always something that intrigued me. By graduation, I ended up with Dux of Geology,” says Brad.

“I was curious about the way things worked and I figured if I was a scientist, I could be in a position to answer some of those questions myself.”

Brad got into geology for his undergraduate degree, and eventually ended up working in the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia after graduating. While he initially enjoyed learning about the Earth and how structures were formed, a project he was involved in moved into looking for uranium in a WA national park – which didn’t sit well with him.

“From geology, I switched into environmental science and while doing that, I remembered one of my geology lecturers saying that I should look into groundwater,” says Brad.

“He mentioned that it was going to be the next big challenge for Australia and that conversation kind of stuck with me.”

Brad started doing his Masters in groundwater management and became more involved with Aboriginal communities. One day while out in the field, he had a conversation with an Elder, in which he described a dream he had about three waterholes. The Elder confirmed that these three waterholes actually existed.

“I had never been to those waterholes before, so that revelation was surreal. It was cool to have validation from a spiritual aspect of culture,” he says.

After several years working in various roles related to the environment, regulation, policy and Indigenous issues in government, and consulting, an unexpected turn of events brought Brad and his family to Canberra.

“I was a consultant in 2008 and then the global financial crisis hit and all of a sudden, I was unfortunately out of a job,” says Brad.

“I went home, filed all my paperwork for Centrelink and was stressing about how I would handle having a mortgage and two kids – but at the same time, I had met someone at CSIRO who had given me a business card, so I decided to give him a call.

“A couple of days later, I was in Canberra having a chat with the Head of CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy Country National Research Flagship, and I was very fortunate to be offered a job as a Senior Indigenous Water Researcher.”

Bradley Moggridge at the 2024 UC graduation ceremony

Brad has been in Canberra since 2009. He moved between different organisations before another unexpected twist in his journey ultimately led him to the 69蹤獲.

“There was a corporate restructure at my workplace which left me in limbo again. I talked to Professor Peter Radoll who was the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous at UC at the time and I had a meeting with him and Professor Ross Thompson and somehow, we got to a point where they suggested that I should pursue a PhD,” says Brad.

So, a decade after completing his Masters, Brad was back in university, this time doing his PhD in Indigenous Knowledge and Water Resources Science.

Part of the reason he keeps pursuing research in the space is to promote and validate Indigenous knowledge in the lens of Western science. Brad cites the invaluable nature of the knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have lived in Australia for more than 60,000 years.

“We Aboriginal people, who are living on the planet’s driest inhabited continent, have already survived climate change – through our stories, our connections, our history,” says Brad.

“From the early days of the colony, a lot of our stories, songs and observations were always perceived as fiction. As the stuff of myths and legends.

“But they’re not. They should instead be part of the evidence to understand Country and our water systems better, because that knowledge comes from generations of lived experience.”

Eight years after starting his journey at UC – and through the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding lockdowns – Brad has completed his PhD.

Along the way, he picked up a gig as an Associate Professor in Indigenous Water Science at the Faculty of Science and Technology’s Centre for Applied Water Science (CAWS). With a smile, he says he “broke the system”, getting an Associate Professorship before completing his PhD.

“I’m thankful for my experience here at UC. It’s allowed me to explore opportunities such as attending and being a speaker at conferences domestically and internationally, being on boards and committees, and being seen as an ‘expert’ in my field,” he says.

“The Centre for Applied Water Science has been my biggest support system throughout this. Pete and Ross, my two doctoral supervisors, really pushed me to go on especially during COVID, when I was close to walking away and getting a job. They helped me see this through and allowed me to really do some cool things in the process.”

Brad intends to stay on at UC, at least for the foreseeable future or until his contract ends, and perhaps move from being an Associate Professor to Professor. He has grand plans.

“In five years, I probably would have dominated Australia – so it’s world domination next,” says Brad half-jokingly.

Turning serious, he says his focus is on continuing to learn so that he can keep conducting research that is meaningful to society.

“My mission in life is to be part of a system where I make an impact for my people, and if I'm having an impact, I'm happy. I'm changing people's perceptions, but also informing them. And the aim would be to build evidence in my study area to actually change policy and legislation,” says Brad.

“So in five years, if I’m continuing on that path, I'll be happy.”

Words by Mike Verzosa. Photos by Liam Budge.

This March, the 69蹤獲 congratulates the graduating class of 2024.

We are so glad to celebrate this milestone with you. You have overcome challenges with grace and resilience, and grown in remarkable ways.

Many of you are already making an impact in your chosen fields, and others have embarked on their postgraduate study path – we look forward to seeing what you achieve in these next steps in your amazing journeys.

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