Simone Ciampi

What is your current position, and what do you do?
I am Lecturer in Chemistry at Curtin Uni, Perth. I lead a small research group of 4-5 young researchers interested in electrochemistry. I also teach undergrads, a small and very enjoyable part of the job.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far
After my PhD, and a few years of post-doccing with a great man at UNSW (Justin Gooding), I picked up my own swag and moved out of Sydney. I spent 3 very productive years at University of Wollongong (UoW) next to another great man (Gordon Wallace), under a UoW research fellowship. I decided to stay away from crowded areas and I started looking at specific aspects of heterogeneous catalysis (electrostatic catalysis), and now I have moved with this and other research lines to even greener pastures in the west (Curtin University).

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?
Not many. This is the only job where you do 95% of the time what you love and 5% what you have to do. The downside is that it seems that this is a nomadic life, and that academia is a reminder that the only permanent thing in life is death.... Permanent positions are now an illusion and keeping up the research momentum while constantly having to relocate is by far the biggest challenge of all.

What achievement are you most proud of?
I am very proud to the degree to which I can welcome failure. I reached this conclusion very early in the career and I did it against the advice of more senior people (who seem to be put down by failure). Picking up small clues among a pile of “bad” data is what I think gives me both pleasure as well as a continuous source of inspiration.
Daily small things makes me proud. A student excited at a tiny little result/detail pointing to an explanation of something bigger, this is priceless.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?
Being a professional sceptic (it is a capital sin to theorize before facts…) and knowing the difference between knowing the name of something (e.g. faraday law) and knowing what that thing means in practical terms. As I said above, one also has to welcome failure to achieve something.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?
I seem to use daily about 10 elements out of the 118 I was made to memorize from the Periodic Table….jokes aside, every bit of science (chemistry, maths, physics) I picked up over the last 25 years seems to come in handy daily in research.

What are your interests outside of work?
Did not understand the question

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?
My wife`s whip

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?
Think about the “people type” you will have to work with/for for the following 40 years. Lawyers vs scientists…

Is there anything you would like to share?
Move to Curtin

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