Cressida's doctoral research investigated the history of the removal and subsequent study of Indigenous human remains by European institutions in the 19th century and the rise of the reburial movement. Completing her PhD at the University of Southampton, UK in 1998, she continued working within the repatriation field for Indigenous communities and museums in Australia, Hawaii, New Zealand and the UK, particularly in the location and identification of Ancestral Remains through archival research. Cressida worked as a cultural heritage consultant until 2009, on a range of repatriation projects in the UK and overseas. She also worked on community projects in the UK, particularly in relation to local heritage, focussing on oral history interviews, museum exhibition, community publications, and online presentation and transmission of information. In January 2009 she joined the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) as its Coordinator of Research Publications and Public Programs.
She joined the ANU’s National Centre for Indigenous Studies (NCIS) as its Deputy Director in 2011.