A message from the outgoing EMCR Forum Chair

Yee Lian Chew


Outgoing EMCR Forum Chair Dr Yee Lian Chew. Photo: supplied.

Oh 2021. The year when it felt like all the reserves of our strength and fortitude were finally running out, and yes we just had to keep on going. 

The EMCR Forum definitely kept going in 2021, and wow did we do a lot! The highlight of the year was our conference Science Pathways 2021, which was meant to be in 2020, but came back bigger, bolder and better in hybrid and online form. We contributed to policy (like the University Research Commercialisation Scheme), continued to engage with research funding bodies (like ARC and NHMRC) through targeted consultation and open dialogue, consulted with other peak bodies in Australia (like the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia) about promoting career sustainability for EMCRs, and supported other events aimed at driving positive change in the sector, including Theo Murphy Initiative–sponsored meetings targeting EMCRs, including Reboot STEMM.

Our advocacy theme was Sustainable Careers, which could really mean so many things. To me, it means having the opportunity to work in an inclusive and equitable sector, to have clearly defined and transparent steps towards promotion and progression, to have a healthy work–family–life balance, and to be happy in your job. The pandemic has made increasingly clear the structural inequities of the current research ecosystem, with burnout and mental health crises becoming more and more common, and we risk losing much of the DEI progress made in STEM sectors in recent years. ‘Sustainable Careers’ will always be a key priority of the Forum, and we look forward to engaging with our members on our 2022 activities – so watch this space!

Yee Lian’s summary of the EMCR Forum’s achievements at the hybrid launch event for Science Pathways 2021, captured at the Western Australian hub event for SciPath21. Photo: Raffaella Demichelis

It was a huge year – worthy of the Forum’s 10th anniversary (or birthday?) – and it certainly was not a one-woman show. I’d like to take the opportunity to shout-out all the 2021 members of the EMCR Forum Executive for their incredible efforts in yet another challenging year – I am so very grateful for everything you contributed, especially co-deputy Chairs Dr Zsuzsa Banhalmi-Zakar (completed tenure in 2021) and Dr Timothy Lau (ongoing). Plus, the Forum Exec is truly Hotel California (you never truly leave) and we were grateful to have the support of many past Executive members in our activities this year, including at Science Pathways. I’d also like to acknowledge the support of the Australian Academy of Science, particularly our Committee of Council Chair, Professor Ian Chubb, and our wonderful program manager Laura Navarro, who has since moved to a new role. Thank you all so very much!

Finally, a warm welcome to our new Executive members, and to any new EMCR Forum members in 2022! We look forward to working with and collaborating with you. Here's to 2022 – it’s not going to be easy, in fact, it may be very, very hard – but it will be a much lighter load if we gently lean on each other and, most importantly, remember to be kind to ourselves and others.


© 2022 Australian Academy of Science