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Paul Royce's PhD field is perhaps not the expected science-oriented research. He is looking at how communities engage new knowledge. It is an example of how the CRC welcomes PhD students from beyond the traditional disciplines.


Paul's undergraduate degree was in Science (Youth Work) from Edith Cowan University and he recently completed a Masters in International and Community Development at Deakin University.


He says it was a case of a chance conversation with the right person at the right place at the right time that led him to the opportunity to be the CRC's first PhD student.


"I couldn't possibly refuse such an opportunity he says. Not only does it give me the chance to further my research skills in an area I'm passionate about but it also allowed me to live in a very beautiful and unique part of the planet."


Paul's research is based in the Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA) - some 11,700 hectares of irrigable land that produces much of Australia's cucurbits, mangoes, grapefruit, sugar cane and chickpeas. ORIA produce is free from many of the pests found in other Australian agricultural areas so a significant incursion would have serious and detrimental implications for current and future farming and tourism industries in the region.


Paul and his partner decided that living in the Ord region was a pretty attractive proposition. They rented out their house in Darwin and bought 4 acres of land in the small community of Crossing Falls, 15 minutes from Kununurra.


"We have a beautiful place complete with 70 mango trees, a lime and grapefruit orchid, a big veggie patch, frilled neck lizards and giant water monitors, a boat ramp on to the Ord River and access to some of the most beautiful countryside imaginable," says Paul.


Coming from farming family on the (very windy) mid-west coastal region of WA, agriculture (and all the joys and hardships it brings), means he really understands how important biosecurity is to Australia.


"My project is a nice mix of all the important influences from my early childhood, my significant interest and previous work with local communities."