Meet the new EMCR Forum executive members for 2017

You can read their official bios or the announcement of their appointment to the EMCR Forum executive, but if you really want to know about the new members representing you this year, here are some interesting facts direct from them.

Dr Roisin McMahon
Postdoctoral researcher
Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery

The hardest thing I have ever done professionally was to write up and defend my PhD thesis whilst starting a new position in a different research lab. It stretched me to the limit, but on the plus side I discovered a new personal capacity for discipline and time management! Outside of work, I would say that the hardest thing I have ever done is run the Sydney marathon.

The pieces of advice that I have found most useful in my career are that:

  1. networking is really just talking to new people
  2. it is not a good idea to open your email inbox unless you have the time and headspace to deal with them immediately.

The best thing about my job is that I am always learning. I find that personally extremely rewarding. Something most people don’t know about me is that I have an appalling sense of direction.

Dr Amber Beavis
Senior Researcher
Office of the Chief Scientist

In my spare time I do a lot of grass-roots science communication, working with schools and community groups to help folks develop a love of science inquiry. I mentor a small number of really amazing people who are just embarking upon their careers, which I think is one of the most important things I do to address inequity in the sciences. Otherwise you’ll find me and my husband training our new puppy; her name is Ruby—after the late, great Ruby Payne Scott—and while I’m sure she’ll eventually follow in the steps of her namesake and build a radio telescope in our backyard, right now we’re focusing on the basics!

The hardest thing I have ever done is deciding to change careers in my mid-30s. One day in 2014 I looked up from my microscope and was shocked to realise that I wasn’t enjoying my research the way I used to. So at the end of the day I went home and I wrote a list of every time I felt energised in my work. I was surprised to see that everything on my list related to science communication and museum governance. So I made some changes. Over the next 18 months I would develop a science communication portfolio, be named as one of the ABC Radio National ‘Top 5 Under 40’ Scientists in Residence, quit my job, move across the country, and commence my current position in the Office of Australia’s Chief Scientist. I wouldn’t change a thing about my career path, varied as it is. But making the shift to science policy advice and communication is—without a doubt—the best decision I have ever made, and I’ve never looked back!

The piece of advice I have found most useful in my career is that it’s important to be capable of adapting to changing conditions, and to be resilient in the face of challenges. This guiding principle has helped me at every stage of my career, from wrangling data and writing grant applications to being marooned on an (habited) equatorial island in the Pacific for six weeks.

Dr Jackson Thomas
Assistant Professor
University of Canberra

I chose to work in pharmacy because I wanted to find a field that would allow me to work directly with the public and make a difference to other individuals’ lives. I enjoy seeing the impact that we have as academic scientists—whether it is training the next generation of scientists or being part of interdisciplinary research teams working to improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people such as Indigenous Australians.

The piece of advice I have found most useful in my career is… ‘never follow the crowd... go where it is empty.’

Something most people don’t know about me is that I aspire to be a writer when I retire. I love to write stories and share ideas and thoughts to better interact with other people.

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