Doctor Who characters as STEMM role models

Do Doctor Who’s scientist characters role-model careers in STEMM fields? Why not spend 3 years talking about Doctor Who with fans to find out?

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Dr Lindy Orthia
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Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction television show in the world and has reached countless millions of viewers across the globe since its inception in 1963.

During that time it has featured hundreds of scientist, engineer, mathematician and medical practitioner characters, so it has the potential to role-model STEMM careers and personas for viewers. Some such characters have appeared only once, while some are recurring, offering different representations of life and work as a STEMM professional. At times the show’s central character, the Doctor, has also characterised themself as a scientist or engineer, and they have frequently been identified as a scientist role model by STEMM advocates and commentators.

The question is, do Doctor Who audiences respond to the show's characters that way? Previous research reveals Doctor Who has inspired some fans to pursue study or work in STEMM fields, but exactly what part have specific characters played in those decisions? And have any characters turned people away from STEMM careers? What does a good Doctor Who STEMM role model look like?

In this project you will conduct audience research with Doctor Who viewers to explore these questions. You will document and analyse viewers' experiences with the show through interview, focus group and/or survey methods.

The project forms part of an ongoing research program examining science in Doctor Who under lead researcher Lindy Orthia.


Successful candidates must obtain admission to a relevant HDR Program in the ANU College of Science. First class Honours (or equivalent academic qualifications) is a prerequisite for appointment.

You may apply for an Australian Government Research Training Program (AGRTP) PhD Scholarship or similar ANU PhD scholarship of $28,092 AUD tax free (2020 rate for 3 years) if you intend to study full time. Part time applicants will also be considered.

Further information regarding eligibility for admission to a PhD program can be found on the ANU website:

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Interested individuals are invited to submit an expression of interest to Dr Lindy Orthia along with academic transcripts, a CV and details of any relevant experience. Promising candidates will be supported through the application process.



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