Alumni Profiles

Chemistry opens doors to rewarding careers

Many of our graduates have devoted their careers to research and technology – working on improving society, health, and our environment – while others have found fulfilling careers as teachers, entrepreneurs, patent attorneys, in corporate roles, and in jobs far away from the laboratory. 

Whether their career paths were research-focused or not, most of our alumni found their scientific training to be a valuable asset to their current roles.

RACI Centenary 100 Faces of Chemistry

In honour of the centenary of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI)  in 2017 – the oldest scientific society in Australia – we are showcasing the varied career paths our past students have taken. Read about their journeys since graduating from UNSW Chemistry, and be inspired by their stories.

100 faces of chemistry banner

We'd love to hear from more past students of #UNSWChem.

Please contact Professor Martina Stenzel to have your profile included.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

Edith Chow

I am a Senior Research Scientist in the Nanosensors and Systems Team at CSIRO. My research revolves around gold nanoparticle-based chemical sensing technologies, both from a fundamental and applied perspective. My vision is to make these sensors accessible (portable, affordable and simple-to-use) to all those who require it, whether it is for water pollution monitoring, or point-of-care disease diagnostics. This will enable improvements in the quality of our lives by having a more rapid, efficient means to assess the quality of our water, or the health of an individual.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I completed my BSc(Hons) in Chemistry (2002) and PhD in Chemistry (2006) at UNSW with Scientia Prof. Justin Gooding and Prof. Brynn Hibbert where I developed expertise in electroanalytical chemistry and chemical sensing technologies. I joined CSIRO as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2006 where I brought my expertise to co-invent one of CSIRO’s platform technologies, chemiresistors for liquid-phase operation. I was promoted to Research Scientist in 2008 and to Senior Research Scientist in 2010.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Attracting funding to continue to support the ongoing research, and to grow the team has always been challenging. In addition, balancing between keeping up-to-date with the latest advances in the field, writing publications and grants while doing benchtop research can be challenging too. However, in order to grow to be a successful researcher, one has to deal with such challenges and learn to be resilient to setbacks, such as unsuccessful grant applications, and to better prioritise tasks and set goals.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

A successful scientist is one with a curious mind. Be open to as many ideas as possible and don’t be afraid of failure. Show your passion and inspire others to follow you.

What are your interests outside of work?

I have a bit of a creative flair, and love design and photography. Some of these interests blend into my work; one year I made Christmas cards out of gold nanoparticle films and I have designed two front covers for journals.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Females are underrepresented in science so I would like to encourage more female participation at an early age. Females add diversity to ideas, and tackle problems in different ways. If you have a passion for science, and a sense of curiosity, then go forth and consider a career in science!

BSc (Hons), PhD (1992)

Maram Kassis

What is your current position, and what do you do?

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (January 2000-current)
Berkeley Lab is a member of the national laboratory system supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Science. It is managed by the University of California, and is charged with conducting unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines.
Environmental Health and Safety Manager:

  • Responsible for managing functional activities of a team of environmental professionals ensuring compliance with local, state, and federal hazardous waste regulations.
  • Implementation of quality assurance processes that reduced institutional liability and risk related to the safe and compliant management of hazardous waste at the onsite Treatment Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) and waste generator areas (Research Laboratorie).
  • Launched a successful technical documents process to support a compliant Waste Management programs.
  • Managing the renewal of a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Part B TSDF permit, leading negotiations with regulatory agency and LBNL legal team.  
  • Managed the contracting of accredited laboratories, interpreting and validating analytical results relating to EPA acceptable methodologies.
  • Ensured all waste management processes are in accordance with DOE directives, orders and standards as applicable to a range of lab operations including but not limited to radioactive and hazardous waste.
  • Successfully administered EHS Division’s ES&H program by reviewing, investigating injuries, reporting safety data, facilitating self-assessment process, revising and updating the Integrated Safety Management (ISM) Plan.
  • Responsible for all external regulatory inspections of waste practices and operations and development of corrective actions addressing identified deficiencies and observations.
  • Successfully developed working documents and oversaw waste management compliance practices for demolition/construction projects.
  • Responsible for managing Waste Management training program and successfully led development and execution of new Operations Division staff training.
  • Extensive experience in RCRA and TSCA regulations as applied to TSDFs and construction/demolition projects.
  • Accomplished chemist with extensive experience in bench top and theoretical research.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

My science degree afforded me the ability to apply for the role I have now. I traveled to the U.S with the goal of pursuing a postdoctoral position. However, the first position offered was in the hazardous materials/environmental regulations field. I have been in the Environmental Management field for over 25 years. My degree allowed me to work in the academic, industrial and government research settings.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Work life balance and acquiring management skills. Gender differential in pay and respect. Having had to travel outside Australia to start my career, missing being in Australia and missing my family.

What achievement are you most proud of?

  • My three beautiful children, respect as a subject matter expert in the field of hazardous materials in a highly respected research laboratory.
  • Qualified auditor for the U.S. Department of Energy Consolidated Audit Program (DOECAP) in the functional areas of Quality Assurance, Data Quality for Inorganic and Wet Chemistry, Hazardous and Radioactive Materials Management.
  • Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM)
  • Completed a University of California Extension Program certification in Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) regulations
  • Member of the University of California Hazardous Waste Action Group
  • Member of Energy Facility Contractors Group (EFCOG) Waste Management Working Group (WMWG

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Enjoy what you are learning for the sake of learning. Sometimes the career you end up with is not what you originally planned but can still be rewarding.

BSc (Hons) (1977), and D.Phil from Oxford University

Emery Severin

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am currently in between roles, since my retirement from Nuplex late last year, after the company was sold to a private equity firm from Germany. Based in Sydney, Nuplex was a global specialty chemicals company with a 65 year history. Its origins were from New Zealand, and the company was listed on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges. Nuplex had 17 manufacturing sites scattered across the globe and traded in over 80 countries. Nuplex primarily produced polymer resins for use in the global industrial coatings industry, as well as producing products for decorative coatings, composites, paper, inks and textiles. Today my career is in transition, and I’m considering options in another CEO role, or some non-executive directorships, as well as becoming involved in more not-for-profit organisations, such as the UNSW Foundation.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

When I completed my D. Phil. in physical chemistry at Oxford University in 1981 I was committed to returning to service in the Australian Army as a signals corps officer so could not pursue a research career at the time. I did have the opportunity to return to research and academia when I left the army some years later, but instead decided to pursue a career in management and leadership in manufacturing industry, so I joined BHP in 1986. I held various roles in manufacturing, then general management in BHP, then Boral, before joining Nuplex in 2010. So it took me around 30 years to finally get a job as a chemist!

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your work?

Chemistry, like any of the physical sciences, provides a sound base for rational thinking and complex problem solving - necessary skills for all leaders and managers. It provides a frameworks to break problems down into their fundamental elements and drivers. Understanding those elements and drivers enables good solutions to be developed.

What are your interests outside of work?

Outside of work I have a small vineyard in South Australia and supply one of Australia’s highly regarded boutique winemakers. I enjoy carpentry, painting and keeping fit.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

My advice to students starting out in science is that if you choose the right combination of rigorous subjects, then you will build a great foundation of critical thinking and get practical skills that will enable you to pursue just about anything that your passions may lead you towards doing.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Work-life balance is a bit overrated - it’s all about being able to making conscious choices about what you want to do and how much time you want to spend doing it. Some people actually like to spend the majority of their professional (non-family) time working because they actually enjoy it!

D.Sc. 1968, Ph.D. 1959, M.Sc. 1953, University of Technology (this was the evolution of Sydney Tech to UNSW then) B.Sc. Hons 1954, ASTC, Sydney Tech College.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am Emeritus Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Melborne. I act as senior advisor to Professor Greg Qiao who, after spending postdoc time with me, became a convert to Polymer Science, and took over the group on my retirement.

Previously, I was Head of the School of Chemistry at University of Melbourne, Chief of the Division of Applied Organic Chemistry at CSIRO, Senior Research Scientist in CSIRO, leader of Polymer Science at Dulux.

Describe your study/employment pathway.

I worked full-time with time off to study. With ASTC this meant 3 Nights and one afternoon, and it was a five-year course. We covered at least as much science as the University of Sydney, but also some engineering and Industry visits. I gained invaluable industrial experience during this time and this was vital to success of the Banknote project.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Finishing my Ph.D., was married and had great support from my wife. I was given one day a week from my firm, Dulux, to work at University, and I spent weekends at Uni. It was unusual since I had developed my own interest in Polymer Chemistry, and had invented new systems, which my employer wanted me to go to UK to further develop. AS soon as I finished my Ph.D., they sent me to UK for one year.

What achievement are you most proud of?

The work on Free Radical polymerization, which resulted in the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. The invention of the Plastic banknotes, now used worldwide was also significant. And of course my AC, Companion of the Order of Australia.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

To think outside the square. For example, when I wanted to start work on Polymers, senior scientists in Australia and overseas considered they knew it all. Turns out they were wrong. The clues to this were in polymers used in paint systems

What are your interests outside of work?

Fishing, and previously, farming Angus cattle.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Do an excellent science degree. It is not restrictive in what path you can take through life. I have students who are winemakers, university staff, financial planners, patent Attorneys etc…
My Industrial experience was essential in developing the World’s first Polymer (plastic) banknote with optically variable devices.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am Drug Discovery (Chemistry) Program Manager at Novogen, an oncology-focused biotechnology company based in Sydney. I design anti-cancer drugs, manage their synthesis and screening, analyse structure-activity relationships, model drug-target interactions, maintain the compound database and make sure that new intellectual property is appropriately covered by patents.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I graduated from Flinders University in 2003 with a B.Tech. in Forensic and Analytical Chemistry and BSc. (Hons). It was my Honours project (Peptide-Appended Porphyrins as Anti-Cancer Agents) that got me hooked on the idea of using chemistry to solve biological problems. Shortly thereafter, I found a job as a research chemist at Novogen, where I was making isoflavonoid compounds for drug discovery efforts focused on oncology, anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular indications. In 2009, I returned to university for a PhD in organic chemistry at UNSW, building on my work with isoflavones. In 2013, I started my current role, at a newly reorganised Novogen.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

I believe a good scientist needs to be driven by curiosity, backed up by the grit and determination to drill deep into a problem.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

I remind myself that I’m at my most productive when I’m well rested, so I make it a priority to give my brain some time off after a strenuous day at work. Plus, I find that often the best way to solve a difficult problem is to step away from it for a while. Some of my most important ideas pop into my head when I’m running, on the train or otherwise not working!

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Get good at talking about your work. Learn to tailor your communication style for a variety of audiences: other chemists, scientists from other disciplines and non-scientists.

Is there anything you would like to share?

One of the things I love about working in drug development is how much I’ve been able to expand my knowledge base outside of my original specialisation. I started out with a synthetic organic chemistry background, but I’ve since learned a lot about intellectual property, GMP manufacturing, the biology of cancer and the regulatory requirements for getting a drug into the clinic. It’s also extremely fulfilling knowing that we’re working towards improving the lives of cancer patients.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I’m a Patent and Trade Marks attorney for Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick. I work closely with inventors and large research organisations/corporates to help them obtain Intellectual Property (IP) rights, both in Australia and around the world. I help clients obtain patent rights through drafting and prosecution of patent applications – in the chemistry and life sciences technologies – and provide strategic advice to assist them with commercialisation of their inventions.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I completed my BSc (Honours) in Nanotechnology (2008) and PhD in Chemistry (2013) at UNSW with Prof. Pall Thordarson. After completing my PhD, I moved to Melbourne to work full-time as a trainee patent attorney doing on-the-job practical training as well as completing a Masters of Intellectual Property Law, at the University of Melbourne part-time. After registering as a patent and trade marks attorney in 2016, I transferred within the firm to our Sydney office.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Juggling between working full-time, studying IP law part-time and being retrained in IP law was a steep learning curve.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Working closely with clients and helping them achieve strong IP protection. It’s great being able to report to a client that they have granted patents for their inventions, which are hopefully then commercialised.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Perseverance, adaptability and communication skills.

What are your interests outside of work?

Golf, photography and swimming. Being primarily in the office, I love going out for scenic walks and hikes on weekends.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Learning to be efficient and being able to prioritise work.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Australia is in need of STEM graduates, and these skills are applicable to a number of industries. A degree in Science can broaden your career opportunities outside of Chemistry.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I hold a joint position between CSIRO and Monash University, and lead a collective research team that is spread across the both organisations. We undertake fundamental scientific research, as well as applied and commercial activities with industrial partners. We have recently started a spinout company called MOFWORX, and I have a role directing the science within that as well.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

After completing my PhD at UNSW in Chemistry, I undertook a postdoc with CSIRO followed be secondments to University of California, Berkeley, and University of Colorado at Boulder. After this I established my own team. In 2016, I accepted a joint role with Monash in an effort to bridge the divide between fundamental and applied research.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Transitioning from pure research to applied and then commercial activities has been tricky but fun. In my view, the closer you are to an application as a scientist, the better your fundamental research will be, as you develop a better feel for the problem.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Probably the successful development of other scientists, watching them first flourish in my team, and then in other fields of employment. It pleases me that whilst some have stayed in research, many have found opportunities in other areas.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Technical excellence in the field is a given, but after that personal attributes such as resilience, strategic thinking, trustworthiness and open-mindedness seem important.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

I am fortunate to still undertake a large amount of chemistry in my role. However, more generally, I learnt useful problem solving and strategic thinking skills as a student, and these skills as crucial in my present role as a leader.

What are your interests outside of work?

I’ve played golf for many years, and have reached a level of mediocre competency that gets me out in the fresh air. Over the years, I’ve been on the boards of a few not-for-profit companies, which has been enjoyable, but I’m still holding out for the call to say I have been chosen for the Australian cricket team, which I know will come one day, my age and lack of talent notwithstanding.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Being able to delegate is the only way I have found. Sure, someone else might undertake the task differently to how you might, but if you insist on everything being done ‘your way’, then you’ll never get home at the end of the day. Of course, I have had the advantage of a wife working part time to allow me more time in the office.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Immerse yourself in the research side of science as soon as possible. Passing exams and going to lectures is one thing, but research, where you can do everything right, but still not get a result, because, well, it’s research, is a different concept. Some students love it, others not so much. Familiarising yourself with research early allows you to get a sense of what a career in it might be like.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

Professor of Protein Chemistry, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, the University of Sydney. I run a research group at the University of Sydney, where we focus on trying to understand, at the molecular level, how sets of proteins come together in different combinations and permutations to bind DNA and switch genes on and off. When these processes work properly they lead to normal development and healthy lives, but when they go wrong they can cause disease, including cancers. I also give lectures and have recently gotten more involved in some more management roles

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I carried out my BSc UNSW Hons I (1989) co-majoring in Biochemistry and Chemistry, with an honours year in Chemistry; PhD from University of Cambridge (1995) in Biological Chemistry (Protein folding); Postdoc at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Melbourne (1994-1998) looking at protein folding and protein-protein interactions in cytokine signalling. I moved to the University of Sydney in 1998 and established my own group in 1999 in what was then the Department of Biochemistry.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Dealing with rejection when papers aren't accepted or grant applications don't get funding, and having to tell people that they are out of a job because their salary hasn't been funded.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Seeing my research students excel and then make the transition to independent research careers.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Persistence, precision and hard work. Having great ideas is also important, but in reality the other attributes take most of your effort.

What are your interests outside of work?

It varies - bushwalking is usually up there, some sort of art or crafts, and right now circus arts (hula hooping and static trapeze - sometimes together, you are never too old to learn new things, right?).

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Having times when I switch off my email, taking time to enjoy things, and learning new skills or hobbies that are about doing and reacting and creating that are (mostly) away from a computer.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Do what you are passionate about, be prepared to work hard, and listen to feedback.

B Med Chem (Hons) (2015)

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am currently an analytical chemist/first aid officer at Advanced Analytical Australia/Symbio Laboratories. My main responsibility is to carry out the extraction and quantification of marine biotoxins in seafood produce before they are sold to the general population.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

Graduating with a medicinal chemistry background, I was first employed as a quality assurance officer at a complimentary pharmaceutical company. Here I would be dealing with the routine check-up on raw materials, manufacturing environment and instruments. The data collected during the check-up would be typed into a report for external auditors to assess and hopefully give us the green light to continue manufacturing. With a particular eye for detail, I moved on to become an analytical chemist where I first learnt how to extract marine biotoxins from the sample matrix. I was fortunate enough to learn the instrumentation, and report filing after 6 months of perfecting the technique in extraction. The laboratory also offered a lot of unique work experience where I would be able to help in different areas, including microbiology, inorganic, first aid, and quality assurance. From where I am now, I am looking to transition into a laboratory manger, later on when I progress further in my career.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I am proud of the work that I do, and how I keep Australia’s seafood produce safe for the population to consume.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Passion for your work, tenacity for the challenges, and creativity to think of a solution out of the box. I genuinely believe that when an individual has all these qualities they are able to overcome any problems they may face in their life time.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

It is a common saying that satisfying your mind, body and soul gives you great fulfilment. Once I started working I quickly noticed how little time I get to spend with others or my hobbies. So I’ve set myself a goal to organise one interesting event every weekend, weather that is to catch up with friends or go hiking to fulfil the “soul” aspect of the trinity. I spend the rest of the weekend to rest up my mind and complete mindless tasks such as chores around the house. Finally I engage myself in some form of sport, to keep myself fit, whenever I can find the chance to.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

While the theory and practicals you learn and experience at university are without a doubt important. I found that it was the friends that I have made, and the supervisors I’ve followed during my time at university that shaped my career the most. Therefore, I would advise students to make friends from multiple different disciplinary and keep close contacts with the supervisors they have chosen.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am currently appointed as an ARC Future Fellow at the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences, and work closely with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) at Macquarie University. As a bioanalytical chemist, I am leading a team conducting trans-disciplinary research at the nanoscale, with a specific focus on nanoparticle-based biosensing and bioimaging; and the development of biocompatible and biodegradable devices that can operate in the body at a cellular level. I undertake fundamental scientific research, as well as applied and commercial activities with industrial partners, to create reliable, low-cost and non-invasive diagnostic tools for cancers and other diseases.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

After completing my PhD in Chemistry in Prof Justin Gooding's group at UNSW, I undertook postdoctoral research at CSIRO and at UNSW before I accepted a Faculty position as Associate Professor at the Central China Normal University. I also gained experience with industry as an R&D Manager in China (2011-2015), developing medical devices at AgaMatrix Inc. Before I was awarded the ARC Future Fellowship in 2016, I worked as a Research Fellow at the CNBP for two and a half years. As such, I have been fortunate to accumulate extensive research experience in both academia and in industry, and within multidisciplinary environments, which has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my research career to date.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Chinese born, the biggest challenge I’ve faced to date, has been maintaining my desired levels of productivity while living in Australia, which has a different culture and language. It takes time, but I’ve found that I’ve adjusted to Aussie life pretty well! Adjusting to a life as a mother of three while maintaining a research career has also been a significant challenge—a challenge faced by many women in the University environment; a challenge which has turned into a benefit for my time spent at the CNBP and its focus on a trans-disciplinary scientific approach. This has opened up new avenues in my nano-focused research, as well as provided new networks, which has greatly assisted the scope of work that I do.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

I think the greatest attributes of a successful scientist include diligence, curiosity, resilience, and cooperation.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

Chemistry plays an active and essential role in my trans-disciplinary research. The skills and knowledge I have built up in this space are able to be used, in conjunction with elements from other disciplines, to help solve large scale problems related to sensing, imaging and exploring within the body, a notoriously difficult environment at the cellular and nanoscale level. Bringing together chemistry with biology and physics, and taking the best that all these disciplines have to offer, has assisted me in expanding my research thinking, focus and outcomes!

What are your interests outside of work?

I am a plant lover with an interest in the art of flower arranging. I find it extremely enjoyable to design nicely styled floral arrangements for the home and I find this hobby helps me to relax as well as spark my imagination and creativity. I am also a big fan of photography and take shots whenever I can.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Managing time wisely and family support helps me achieve a reasonable work-life balance. I have three young kids so obviously, it can be a bit of a challenge at times. I tend to dedicate the early morning for my reading and writing, this really helps me keep my productivity levels up.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

My advice would be 1) to be clear what you want to achieve and then strive to become excellent at it; 2) to learn as many techniques as you can, but always with a critical mind; 3) to improve your communication skills—you will have to discuss your science, not just with colleagues but in the grant writing process, or in networking, collaborating or taking advantage of other opportunities that might come your way.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Maintaining scientific excellence takes a lot of effort especially for women who may be juggling a career with family responsibilities. However, if you have a passion for advancing science, and a willingness to develop your potential, and a work-hard ethic, you can achieve great things, regardless of your gender or background. Believe in yourself and you can absolutely make it!

BSc (Hons) (1995)

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I’m the Managing Director of gemaker, an award-winning technology commercialisation company. Researchers and inventors create innovations with potential to solve real-world problems and make life better for all. My role is to find the right market for these innovations, educate the market about their benefits, and connect the innovators with funding, customers and other intermediaries to turn their ideas into realities. I also mentor the next generation of technology transfer professionals. I do my best to help innovators achieve their optimal commercial outcome, whether this is a spin-off from a research organisation, growing sales of their product or service, licensing agreements, or sale of a business. By promoting technology transfer from the lab into the world of commerce, I help to create and grow the next generation of Australian industries and jobs, and to enhance lives with new and improved products and services.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

Local jobs in chemistry were rare when I was living in Wollongong, so I looked for roles that required my broader skill set and work experience. I applied for a role in the marketing department of the University of Wollongong, which involved leading a team of university students to visit schools and careers expos, to talk with high school students about life at uni, as well as arranging tours of the campus. Meanwhile, I completed a Masters in Commerce (Marketing), which I thoroughly enjoyed. Later, I took up a role at ANSTO that combined technical work with business development. I operated a surface science instrument for three years, and then spent seven years helping ANSTO researchers to grow businesses taking new technologies to market. I founded gemaker in 2011, because I knew that technology transfer is generally under-resourced in Australian research organisations.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

A chemistry degree is intellectually rigorous and gave me an excellent grounding in problem solving skills, plus the ability to analyse information and write reports. I use these skills daily to address the challenges faced by gemaker and our clients. When I started my first marketing role, I ran all of my marketing events and programs like a science experiment. I: (i) conducted background research into my hypothesis (idea), (ii) ran the event and collected data to measure its success, (iii) analysed the data to evaluate the event (what worked and what didn’t), and (iv) made recommendations for improvements. I see good marketing as a science based on careful study of consumer behaviour.

What achievement are you most proud of?

My proudest achievement has been proving that I could develop a successful business with staff working from home, around their life. gemaker’s flexible employment model is project-based, not hours-based, so we employ qualified and experienced people who don't want rigid jobs, but still seek meaningful careers. gemaker brings untapped STEM talent – mostly women – back into the workforce to grow new Australian industries. My core staff is based in Sydney, but other team members have home offices around Australia. Consequently, gemaker is more agile than competitors, matching the makeup of our project team, and the quality and scope of our services, to each client’s circumstances. I've proved that this progressive business model is sustainable, and I strive to inspire others to adopt it.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

A science degree is fantastic for understanding the world better and learning how to solve complex problems, analyse situations, think logically, and base your opinions and decisions on facts. A science degree can take you anywhere. You might end up in research, or you might work in industry, create a start-up, or become head of product development or CEO in an established company, or you might seek to influence science policy and end up as Prime Minister! Anything is possible.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

Currently I am employed as a PostDoc in the CropScience division of Bayer AG, located at their research laboratories in Frankfurt, Germany. I am part of an international collaboration with the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) of Australia, working to develop the next generation of herbicides to combat resistant weed species, and secure the food supply of our increasing global population. For me, this involves the design and synthesis of molecules, interpretation of structure-activity relationships and further optimization of lead structures.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I completed both my BSc and PhD at UNSW, and was fortunate enough to find this position with Bayer shortly after submission of my thesis. During my PhD studies, I also performed casual work as a demonstrator in undergraduate laboratories and doing outreach activities to promote chemistry in the community.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

So far, the biggest challenge I have faced in my career was deciding what path to pursue, once I had obtained my PhD. I had to decide whether I wanted to do research, teaching, scientific outreach, scientific policy, publishing, or something entirely different. Ultimately, I chose to start down the path on a career in industry, which has brought its own challenges, not least of all moving overseas and having to learn a new language!

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

The ability to think not only logically and critically, but also imaginatively: to think not only in terms of what is possible, but what do we want to make possible. I also believe that scientists need to be passionate and compassionate, since we have such an important role to play in helping society progress by not only making discoveries, but also in the dialogue between experts and non-experts about the interaction of science and society.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

As my work involves mostly synthetic chemistry, I employ all of my practical skills on a daily basis. I am also able to implement the many leadership and communication skills that I developed from studying chemistry, be it in educating or supervising more junior colleagues, participating in interdisciplinary discussions with other chemists, computational chemists, biologists and biochemists, or through interactions with the public.

What are your interests outside of work?

Outside of work I like to read books, play guitar, go for walks through the woods and mountains, cook, play cricket, travel to new places and spend time with the people close to me. Oh, and learn German!

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

As passionate as I am about my work, I am quite fond of the old adage that you work to live and don’t live to work. When I am finished for the day, I try to leave my work in the office, and focus my attention on other things. The German culture helps a lot, since they generally keep work and home quite separate, and won’t call or E-mail you outside office hours. I also make sure that I take all the annual leave I am entitled to, and do as much travelling as possible.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

I would advise any young, budding scientist to follow their passion. Science is an incredible career, in that you get to do almost anything you can imagine. It is important to keep in mind that science degrees can be combined with degrees from other university faculties (Arts, Law, etc.), since many careers can benefit from scientific training. I would also advise them to study abroad, since science is a global pursuit that depends on collaboration. You gain a much greater perspective on things by being immersed in other cultures and viewpoints.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney, Initiative for Biomedical Materials & Devices (IBMD). My research is focused on development of technologies and devices for early detection of disease and screening of new therapies.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I have received Bachelor and Master of Biomedical Engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic) in Iran, and then pursued my research in the Biosensor field in the laboratory of Scientia Professor Justin Gooding at UNSW School of Chemistry, where I received my PhD in 2017. Straight after my PhD, I joined Prof. Dayong Jin’s group to further develop my research career. Recently, I participated in a mini MBA course on Medical Device Commercialisation Training Program (MDCTP) at CICADA Innovation which is designed to accelerate commercialisation of medical technologies.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Overcoming fears of making mistakes by completing my study in the Gooding group, and building up my self-confidence have been personality-wise my biggest achievements. Recently, while I was pregnant and working full-time, I completed the Medical Device Commercialisation Training Program’s flagship course, Ignition CORE, on how to translate the technologies from bench-top to market. Later, I performed the showcase of my product in front of the NSW Minister for Health, and Industry, and academic guests. What makes me proud is that the 12-week course was during my third trimester, and the showcase happened when my son was only three weeks old.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Passionate about research, creative, hard-working and paying attention to details.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

I could not catch and keep my current position without the trainings and lessons that I’ve received from my supervisors Scientia Professors, Justin Gooding and Katharina Gaus during my study in Chemistry at UNSW. I found this one of the most useful, though tough things that I ever could experience.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

As a married person, who has recently become a mum as well, it is an absolute challenge for me to hold the work-life balance. I found myself empowered with trainings that I have received from Justin on how to act professional at work to keep the efficacy as high as possible. Working with someone who is also family-oriented as a boss is absolute luck that I have had in my carrier so far. In addition to taking advice from my supervisors, I am a mentee of Professor Anthony Kelleher, a clinical immunologist. I believe being mentored by successful people is a key to achieve the work-life balance in academic.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Follow your passion and be thirsty to learn new things. There are many new enjoyable worlds that you can open their doors to by asking questions when you are a student. Also, from my personal experience, do not be afraid of making mistakes.

Is there anything you would like to share?

For international students, do not be afraid of language and cultural barriers, you will achieve what you believe, and Australia will make it even more pleasant for you. I would save a lot of time and energy for learning new stuff, if I could go back and put these kinds of fears away earlier than I did.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am the Vice General Manager of Shanghai Science Biotechnology, a manufacturer of dietary supplements and APIs in China. I am responsible for company strategy and planning, staff management, and overseas sales. I also take charge of evaluation of lab results, and development of new projects. The company has recently set up its distribution in the US and I will spend more time overseas for business purposes.

What made you decide not to pursue/to leave research?

I would not think I had completely left research. Industry also relies on research, new developments and new technology. What we are doing in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries has been greatly improved during the last decade, not only the way of considering organic synthesis, also the way of treating waste, and controlling potential pollution.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

Knowledge of chemistry is fundamental in the pharmaceutical and chemical industry, no matter which position you hold: management of routine production, cost control, quality control, quality assurance, planning and development of new projects, staff training, and even purchasing and sales. My PhD study at UNSW helps give me a better picture and overall understanding of good manufacturing practice regulation, which is compulsorily followed in the pharmaceutical industry, and I do enjoy my work.

What are your interests outside of work?

Gym. I have started to spend considerable time at the gym since late last year, and the return is enormous. I also had a dog and a couple of cats. Frequent travelling keeps me from having pets again, but I love pets.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

A science career requires passion, curiosity, skills and lots of hard work. Science can also combine with many other professions and create great roles.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am now working as an embryologist in an IVF clinic in Hong Kong.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

After finishing my degree, I applied for a Masters course in Melbourne, studying Clinical Embryology, and met my current boss who offered me a job to work as an embryologist in his clinic.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

What I used most during my Masters study and work are the soft skills that I gained while working in a chemistry laboratory, such as problem solving, organizing and planning, communicating and learning from other people. Even though I am not working in an area related to chemistry, these skills I gained are very useful for my current work.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Finishing my Honours and Masters degrees. The Honors year was very challenging, and I knew nothing about embryology before starting my Masters, so I am very happy for completing both.

What are your interests outside of work?

I cook, I bake and I really enjoy watching movies alone.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Hold on to any chances you get, gain as much experience as you can, even if it is not your favorite job.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Don’t be afraid of change. I changed from studying Medicinal Chemistry to Embryology. It was difficult at the beginning, but I am glad that I made the decision.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am a PhD candidate in Physics at the University of Cambridge in the UK. My research project explores how small molecules anchor on nanoparticles in devices such as Dye-sensitized Solar Cells, and the ramifications of the associated interactions on the device’s function. One interesting aspect of this is that these interactions occur at vastly different temporal and spatial scales simultaneously. The ultimate goal is to probe such interactions during the device’s operation to help design better molecules.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

During my Honour’s year as part of Dr. Neeraj Sharma’s group at UNSW, I was introduced to the idea of studying chemical processes in devices, such as lithium-ion batteries, during their operation. This is unlike conventional chemical characterisation techniques that take the device apart to study the effects of operation on its components after the fact. The disruptive potential of this idea fascinated me, despite being extremely challenging in practice. After leaving UNSW, I worked briefly on a technology start-up in Oman before joining the Molecular Engineering group at the Cavendish Laboratory and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory to continue learning about this idea.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

The two main challenges I have faced so far are deciding what to work on, and securing funding to work on it. There are many global challenges that require our attention but resources are limited; so, learning how to prioritise is important. This is not helped by commonplace misinformation in the public sphere and positively-biased scientific literature. So, I had to become better at taking arguments apart and seeing the implicit biases and assumptions. Secondly, I didn’t realize how difficult it is to secure funding for research projects and technology start-ups until I had to do it myself. I have been fortunate to have a supportive network of mentors who have helped me navigate these murky waters.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

The scientists I admire the most make their work about the world, not just the scientific literature, and are great communicators. They don’t only communicate findings but also vision and passion. They are also exceptionally good at combining ideas and blurring the lines between disciplines.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

The practical laboratory skills I learnt while studying chemistry have proven transferable to my current role as a physics student. For example, single-crystal growth and fabrication of electrochemical devices are routine tasks in my current project. Most importantly, the emphasis on practical skills during my chemistry training allows me to design experiments to test hypotheses efficiently, which allows me to gain deep insights from theoretical models since I get to see how each approach enforces the other.

What are your interests outside of work?

Too often, I spend my time pondering existential questions and learning the history of philosophy. I like classical Middle Eastern music and hope to someday learn the Oud. I also play football and enjoy learning football tactics.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

I like to separate my work environment from other activities, and tend not socialize with other scientists outside of work. This stops me from being drawn into one social bubble and keeps life interesting. Although I must admit that work takes the majority of my time.

Is there anything you would like to share?

  1. University years can be difficult and many are forced to suffer in silence. If you know anyone who is struggling, help them find help and spare them your judgment. UNSW CAPS are highly trained professionals who are always there to help.
  2. Soft skills are hard to learn so it is wise to invest some time learning them. UNSW has an amazing careers and employment service that I highly recommend every student to use.

What is your current status position, and what do you do?

I am a retired Associate Professor at the Pharmaceutical Chemistry Department, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Khon Kaen University (KKU).

Describe your study/employment pathway.

I was a drug analyst at the Department of Medicinal Sciences, Ministry of Public Health. Thailand, then moved to be a lecturer at KKU in 1988.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

I love research. Throughout my career, since I returned from Australia to Thailand in 1979, I devoted myself to do research even when we did not have any sophisticated instruments. I used my knowledge and experience I learned at UNSW to solve the problems in chemistry.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry?

In our research projects, I always took part in the chemistry aspect as well as the correlation between chemical structures and biological activities of new compounds; separation, identification and development of analytical methods for drugs and new chemical entities.

What are your interests outside of work?

Travelling, doing exercise (Body Combat, Body Jam, Zoomba, Yoga, Tai Chi and Swimming); drawing (not much nowadays); gardening around my little house; reviewing articles to be published for both Overseas and Thai Journals; and helping anybody who needs help, especially my former students.

What has helped you achieve a work-life balance?

I want to have good health both physically and mentally. Not to bother much on young generations. Anything I can do to return what I got in my previous life to Thailand, and countries which provided me opportunities in life-long learning, to the society and young generation. I enjoy doing it.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Chemistry can answer nearly all the questions. Be rational and not bias. Your bias will affect the fact and mislead younger scientists. Search and proof for the fact by doing research.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Give attention in whatever you are doing. Have time to relax and enjoy yourself. Being able to discriminate what is good and what is bad in your life.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

Health Care Consultant - Health Business Group

What made you decide not to pursue/to leave research?

I started my PhD in my late 20s - My PhD research did not work out, and the prospects then of getting a job were slim had I reworked the thesis. Most postdoc positions were age-limited, and I was already close to the limit, so reworking it meant I was out of range. While not my preference, I had to leave to find a job.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

Worked in banking for many years, then co-founded a neuroscience start-up, and then recently my current role.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying science, in your current role?

Science - pervades everything in a world that is technology-dominated. In banking, I worked during the time of the privatisation of the Telco sectors globally, and my science training helped me have no fear about the transitions happening. Same applied to all else I have done – not to mention how it dictates how you think.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Doing a start-up, and all that is entailed in commercialising science (very tough, and it still needs much education on both sides).

What achievement are you most proud of?

Doing this start-up, and completing a BSc Honours year, after initially working as an accountant.

What are your interests outside of work?

Currently revisiting doing my PhD – I have a supervisor, but not yet enrolled.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

This is a big topic. May sound trite, but if possible only do what you enjoy as you have to spend a lot of time at work - whether science or something else. While there are exceptions, most careers I know have a random walk element in them. Need to be flexible, and critically need to find good mentors to help you on the way.

Is there anything you would like to share?

We need as many honest productive scientists as we can get.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

Schlumberger Professor of Geobiology

Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

I lead a research team that studies the history of life on the Earth, starting with the earliest geological and geochemical records of life on this planet. We use molecular and isotopic techniques to study ancient microbial ecosystems, the formation of petroleum, the emergence of complex animals and plants, mass extinctions and environmental factors that influence the exceptional preservation of fossils. We look for chemical and genomic clues about these issues in modern environments including hydrothermal ecosystems as well as marine and lacustrine environments. I also teach classes in these subject areas.

Describe your study/employment pathway

The basis for any career in research is a sound grounding in one of the basic sciences, engineering or math. For me this was in chemistry for which I earned BSc and PhD degrees from the UNSW, while attending the Wollongong University College, the fledgling campus that is now the University of Wollongong. Towards the end of my time at Wollongong, I became interested in mass spectrometry as an analytical tool, and went on to learn more about how to use mass spectrometers, and carry out simple chemical synthesis procedures during a postdoctoral fellowship in the Genetics Department at Stanford University. It was here that I also gained a grounding in biochemistry and, most importantly, how to interact constructively with scientists from other disciplines.

After Stanford, I was fortunate to spend 9 productive years at the Australian National University – learning more about mass spectrometry, and using it to address questions in microbiology and plant physiology, and deepening my research skills, knowledge and experience in ways that set me up for a rewarding career in the biogeosciences.

In 1983, I secured a position as senior research scientist at the Baas Becking Geobiology Laboratory in Canberra, where my role was to research how microbial physiologies and biogeochemical processes underpin the formation of petroleum and certain kinds of mineral deposits. Sadly, this organization no longer exists. I was then subsumed into the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, which was transformed into The Australian Geological Survey Organisation, and then Geoscience Australia. During these 18 years, I was most fortunate to be able to conduct fundamental research on the role that microbes play in shaping the planet that Earth is today.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

In 2001 I was offered the professorship that I now hold at MIT. The challenges were to leave Canberra, and the relative security of working for the Australian Government at GA, to start a new research group from scratch, to learn to write the kinds of research proposals that would attract funding in the competitive US academic system, and to learn to teach undergraduates and graduate students that are invariably smarter than I am. Facing these challenges was, in large part, made possible with help from like-minded collaborators, some of whom I continue to work and interact with after more than 30 years.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Functioning effectively for 17 years, and still counting, in academia in the USA. During this time I have been fortunate to voyage to the bottom of the ocean in the submersible Alvin, to be Principal Investigator for two large teams of scientists with funding from the NASA Astrobiology Institute (http://www.complex-life.org/) and to have been a Participating Scientist on the Mars Science Laboratory Mission which operates the Curiosity rover on Mars.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Curiosity and passion are, without doubt, the drivers. In this day and age, the other essential attributes are the will and wish to work with, and learn from, others through collaboration.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

Chemistry underpins everything. Daily, at MIT, we use the principles, logic and systematics of organic and analytical chemistry to address questions and solve problems in environmental science and geoscience.

What are your interests outside of work?

The science of rocks knows no borders so the travel for field work and scientific meetings has taken me to all continents except Antarctica. That is still on my wish list. Gardening, music and fishing are pursuits where I hope to spend more time, one of these days.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

I am fortunate that my family has kept me grounded (as best they can). My spouse, Elizabeth, has supported me unfailingly. She often comes with me to meetings and travel, including road trips in the USA and Canada, and this has become a primary pastime together. We are also fortunate to be able to spend a couple of months of each year in Australia, given today’s communication tools and ability to work remotely.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Stay grounded in a basic STEM topic. However, interdisciplinary approaches are needed to understand and solve the most complex problems we face today. So, follow your intellectual interests but be prepared to learn from others.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

Professor Ronald J Quinn AM,

FTSE Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering

Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery, Griffith University

Describe your study/employment pathway.

I did a BSc and PhD in Organic Chemistry at UNSW. This training was of the very highest standard. My first post-doc in the US at Arizona State University introduced me to the fact that chemistry could be applied to treat disease. I worked towards a total synthesis of camptothecin. During this period camptothecin failed a clinical trial resulting in the project being closed. It is interesting that two camptothecin analogues have now become anti-cancer drugs. I spent 7 years working in the Pharmaceutical industry before taking an academic position.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Two things: training the next generation of scientists and witnessing their career progression; and contributing some thoughts and results to provide new approaches to natural product chemistry.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Perseverance and working on projects that you believe are important.

What are your interests outside of work?

I like photography, and it has been a long-term hobby. While I played cricket for UNSW and on return from the US in Canberra and Sydney, eventually some wear to my knees (probably as a result of being a wicket keeper involving crouching and standing for each delivery) I took up cycling to avoid surgery (successfully) and developed a strong liking for cycling. I completed the bike leg in 12 Noosa Triathlons (team event). This year I walked the Camino Portugues (250 kilometres carrying a pack)

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Family, including 7 grandchildren, contributes to keeping a work-life balance.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Understand your skill base, think about what you like doing. It is hard to predict the best choice during a career, go with what excites you rather than too much analysis of career options.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I’m a Junior Chemist at Ceramisphere. We develop a range of products for the encapsulation, transport, delivery and controlled release of molecules using sub-micron or micron sized ceramic spheres. I am involved in the research and development work in the Healthcare projects.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) majoring in Chemistry at UNSW. Straight out of uni I worked for 3 months at Sydney Water as an analytical chemist, and then accepted my current job at Ceramisphere.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Achieving First Class Honours. Honours was a challenging year and I am glad my hard work paid off in the end.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Perseverance and resilience.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

In general, most of my wet chemistry skills have been essential in my day-to-day lab work. However, the main skill I took away from my studies was how to do research, i.e. how to gain new knowledge in foreign fields. This was essential for moving into an entirely new field of chemistry.

What are your interests outside of work?

My main love is field hockey, but my other guilty pleasure is video games.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

For the most part good planning and high efficiency - being able to plan my work ahead of time and carry it out efficiently is essential for ensuring that I'm able to maintain my work-life balance (Don't start an experiment at 5pm!).

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Make sure you know that you love science if you want to commit to a career in science. While it can be one of the most rewarding experiences, it can at times be difficult if none of your experiments are working.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

Founder, President & CEO of Hager Biosciences. Hager Biosciences provides innovative pre-clinical therapeutic leads and candidates for the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, through operationally agile & effective drug discovery chemistry platforms & services

What made you decide not to pursue/to leave research?

I didn’t really leave research completely, but I reframed myself to be an entrepreneurial scientist/ researcher

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

I was a Principal Scientist with Pfizer working on various therapeutic drug discovery programs where I recognize first-hand what the pharma industry needed, and I moved on to start Hager Biosciences.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

In general, studying chemical sciences provided me a mechanism to have measurable and tangible goals, which has been very important for self-reflection and to clearly see what has been achieved or not. As such, I set any goals, organizational, individual or teams, to be clearly measurable for effective assessment and performance improvement.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Starting Hager Biosciences and the required adjustment

What achievement are you most proud of?

The founding of Hager Biosciences

What are your interests outside of work?

Spending time with my family, playing soccer with my daughter and friends, and biking

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Follow your passion and cultivate a habit of being a rational optimist

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Planning my time and never procrastinate

Is there anything you would like to share?

Work hard, take risk and be you

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Imperial College London. I’m working on a few projects here, broadly falling under the category of using nanomaterials in translational medicine.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I received my B.Sc. in Nanotechnology (with first class honours) and a Diploma in Innovation Management from UNSW Australia in 2010. For my Ph.D., I joined Prof. Justin Gooding’s lab in Chemistry at UNSW where I explored the potential of using porous silicon microparticles as devices to detect an eye inflammatory disease, uveitis.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Stepping out of my comfort zone, that is, leaving UNSW and Sydney after 11 years to relocate and establish myself in a completely new environment.

What achievement are you most proud of?

During my Ph.D., I had to conduct some in vivo experiments, and coming from a Chemistry department, no one in the school had ever taken the sole responsibility of doing experimental work involving animals. With immense help and support from Justin and Peter (my co-supervisor), I not only managed to get our ethics approved in one go, but also complete the preliminary animal work required for my Ph.D. thesis.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Besides having confidence in yourself and the ability to think critically and creatively, I believe, for one to be a successful scientist, one needs to have patience, perseverance and a pervicacious, yet versatile, personality.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

My current research work involves the use of knowledge from an amalgam of chemistry, cell biology and optics, all of which were integral parts of my work during my Ph.D., and have helped me bring versatility to my problem-solving skills, and the way I design experiments.

What are your interests outside of work?

If I weren’t a scientist, I would be a dancer. I am a trained classical dancer and have been dancing from the age of 4! It’s something, I’m very passionate about. Besides dancing, I love doing landscape and street photography along with going for long hikes and learning new languages.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Having interests and hobbies outside of science.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

As a scientific researcher, always be driven by the unanswered questions in science and our society!

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am currently Vice President and Head of the Technology Development Centre at Xinova. Xinova is an innovation services business which helps clients understand and solve their most pressing challenges. We brainstorm and innovate with our clients to future-proof their businesses by developing and investing in early stage technology.

What made you decide not to pursue/to leave research?

I decided early on in my PhD that I would not pursue becoming an academic. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my PhD, the uncertainty of a career in academia solidified my desire to follow a different career path.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

After my PhD, I joined a small consulting firm, and worked as a consultant for about a year. The role at Intellectual Ventures (now Xinova) popped up, and I’ve been with the company for the last 5 years.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

The fundamentals of chemistry teach us to see the world in a different way. We’re taught that everything is made up of atoms, so we focus on the details. Yet zooming out, we’re taught that combining atoms builds molecules, which form elements, of which, everything in the world is made of. So, we’re also taught to see the bigger picture. The ability to look at both the details and see the bigger picture has guided me in my career and it’s something that I look for in others.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Transiting from academia to industry. It was definitely a risk, and having to start from the bottom was challenging, but it has certainly paid dividends.

What achievement are you most proud of?

How far I’ve made it at Xinova, and succeeding in a very male-dominated industry.

What are your interests outside of work?

Travelling and hunting for good food/coffee.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

A career in science is borne out of love. It can be incredibly frustrating and uncertain, but if science interests you, just go for it. The world needs more scientist.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Having goals and scheduling time off to look after myself – whether it be blocking off a few hours a week to go to the gym, or making sure I utilize my leave, so I get a physical and mental break from work.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Being female and a leader in a technical role is tough. There aren’t many of us around and we certainly face more challenges then our male colleagues. However, don’t let that discourage you from giving it a go. Whilst hard, it has been incredibly rewarding, and the more females out there in technical industries the better. I want to encourage as many women as I can to do STEM subjects, and to pursue a career in industry or academia.

BSc (Hons) 1994

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am an entrepreneur, the principal of DCS Technical Consulting. Through DCS Technical, I also co-manage two additional businesses, Access RnD Tax Solutions and Rod Campbell & Associates.

DCS Technical provides technical consulting services to a range of domestic and international clients in the minerals processing and industrial waste recycling industries. We are the world’s leading consultancy in the field of mixed halide hydrometallurgy, and are the official provider of technical services in relation to the commercialisation of the Intec Process.

I am responsible for the strategy and planning, corporate deals, staff management and technical leadership. I conceive the experiments for the development of new innovations, these are implemented by staff and contractors, and then I lead the evaluation of the scientific data. As part of this work, I travel approximately 6 weeks a year, both domestically and internationally. In the last ten years, I have visited 34 countries for business purposes.

In addition to the revenue generating activities, I am also active in the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, I run the RACI Mentoring Programme for Young Chemists, I lecture at universities around Australia on how to make the transition from uni into the workforce, and I write monthly feature articles for Chemistry in Australia magazine.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

I was very fortunate to land a great commercial role from the beginning of my career. But then I worked very hard, I offered myself up to every opportunity, and I made sure that I always paid attention to the bigger picture. It wasn’t enough to do my job, I always wanted to understand the commercial context of my job, and the drivers that created value from my job.

After a few years in industry, I then went back (part time, while working full time) to get a business degree. This significantly broadened my commercial understanding. Much of the rest of my career has been spent at the nexus between the technical and business paradigms of each company I have worked for. I was effectively a ‘translator’ between staff of the two quite differing skill sets. Success in business is in many ways scientific. The scientific method involves the systematic and logical evaluation and testing of ideas. These are fundamental strengths in business.

What are your interests outside of work?

I am a husband, father and businessman – in that order. My own needs occupy a very distant fourth place in the hierarchy. But when I can find the time, I carve stone as a hobby. I love the tactile nature of the work, and the fact that it requires me to set aside all other thoughts – just concentrate on the stone. Stone is unforgiving. I also do standup comedy. One of the great epiphanies of adulthood was that regardless of my failings and my limitations, I am great just as I am – as long as I am happy with myself. With nothing to lose, I can get up in front of an audience and have a go.

Secret talents? I can hold a pen and write with my feet. :)

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

The biggest piece of advice is ‘The Power of YES’. The best possible thing that you can do in your career (and your life) is to be relentlessly positive. Can you help with this? Yes! Can you give this a go? Yes! Grasp every opportunity, and give your best every day. Within three years of beginning my career, I went from (literally) bucketing mud from place to place in a pilot plant to running an R&D lab by always keeping an eye on what the company needed done, then volunteering to do it. It gave me enormous opportunities to learn and grow, and the status and pay quickly followed.

Also, for the women: There is a meme that says ‘Women should be like mediocre men’. In simple terms, it says that a mediocre man, when faced with an opportunity for which he has 60-70% of the skills or experience required, will say ‘I’ll give that ago’. Many women will wait until they have 100-110%, but they should try to be like the mediocre bloke. It’s just another version of the power of ‘yes’.

There is a lot of great advice available through your school, through the university careers services, and your professional associations – particularly the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. The ‘Understanding the Job Market’ video series and other useful materials are available at the Young Chemist Group YouTube Channel

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am currently the President of Aqaba University of Technology (Aqaba-Jordan), a position I hold currently as I am on leave from Mutah University (Jordan). Based in Aqaba City, Aqaba University of Technology is the first private university in the south of Jordan, attracting students from all over the southern areas of the kingdom and overseas.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I have been through a non-stop journey of study and employment since the age of five! A journey full of life events, vicissitudes, and adventurous paths.

After graduation from Yarmouk University with a B.Sc. degree in Chemistry in 1991, I decided to continue in this field as I had realized that I would surpass in this field. I started my research journey in 1991 in the field of Organic Chemistry by pursuing higher education at Yarmouk University. This of course was not the end of the journey, as I followed my research path even further by considering a higher degree of education. I started my Ph.D. at The University of New South Wales in 1998 until 2003, a period in which I was granted a postgraduate scholarship from the Australian Research Council and then a postgraduate fellowship from the University of New South Wales. Upon completion of my Ph.D. degree, I was immediately granted a postdoctoral fellowship at ICES & A*STAR in Singapore. Just after the completion of this fellowship, I moved to Saudi Arabia to work as an assistant professor at Taibah University alongside a senior technical advisor position at the International Cement Traders in USA, then to England to work as a senior technical consultant. Since 2007, I moved to Jordan where I was appointed as a faculty staff member. On September 9, 2017, I was promoted to the rank of Full Professor of Chemistry.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

The greatest challenge I've faced in my career to date has to be the key role I played in helping my work-places survive the different difficulties that come-up through recent years. I learned a great deal from the experience. It was a great challenge. While we certainly did have a tough time of it, we successfully rode out the crises we faced, and the cost control measures, which I personally devised and implemented, ultimately resulted in a significantly healthier bottom line than we had had before the crises.

What achievement are you most proud of?

In less than a year, and based on my research and academic excellence, I was promoted to Dean of Scientific Research, followed by President of Aqaba University of Technology.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

I believe that the successful scientist is the one who contributes to the academic community of his field through genuine and original publications, and findings that can help open new areas for research. Additionally, the successful scientist should share his knowledge with fellow scientists, students, and with the community.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

Studying chemistry has not only enriched my knowledge about elements of nature, but it has also augmented my analytical skills of nature, resources, and people. The skills through which I was empowered to manage research and human resources.

What are your interests outside of work?

Reading, traveling.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

I would not be able to achieve any balance between work and life without the continuing help and support from my two daughters; they have been encouraging me to go further and higher.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Never underestimate the power of will. Love what you do, and you will achieve the impossible.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do. Study hard, pick an excellent country, an outstanding University, a hot topic, and a supportive supervisor.

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 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

What was your position, and what did you do?

I am happily retired, enjoying travel, gardening and grandchildren after 30 years spent developing and managing my own analytical laboratory

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

I completed my PhD in 1964 at UNSW, studying the chemical structures of insect secretions followed by employment as a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Chemistry Department. As was usual in the 1960’s, I left my job when my son was born. Maternity leave had not been invented. With encouragement from family members, and in collaboration with colleagues, as a commercial venture, I developed a series of lectures and practical exercises teaching atomic absorption spectroscopy, gas chromatography, and other new instrumental techniques to industry. Shortly after, I set up a small laboratory, Analchem Bioasay Pty Ltd, which provided analytical services for mining exploration. The business expanded and diversified under my leadership over the next 30 years.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Matching analytical chemistry and microbiological testing services to industry needs.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Developing and sustaining an enthusiastic and skilled staff. Contributing to professional life as President of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Vice-President of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and membership of government and university committees.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Anything is possible. Be alert for opportunities and follow them up. Being a scientist is wonderful.

Doreen was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1997 for services to science and to education

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am Senior Research Fellow at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia. My group is interested in nanobiotechnology, nano/molecular electronics and chemistry of self-assembled systems. We study the chemical, physical, and biological properties of nanoscale materials and systems, ranging from nanostructured materials to small organic molecule, and biomolecules, individually or at small quantity. Our research is highly multidisciplinary and involves surface chemistry, electrochemistry, chemistry of nanomaterials and biotechnology. One goal of our research is to explore and understand new chemical phenomena, properties and functions at the nanoscale. The other goal is to transfer the research discoveries into practical devices and new applications that are relevant to promoting health and environments.

Describe your study/employment pathway

I received my PhD in Chemistry from the University of New South Wales in2002 with Prof. Justin Gooding and Prof. Brynn Hibbert, and my PhD project focused on peptides thin films based electrochemical biosensors for ultrasensitive detection of metal ions. I then worked as a CSIRO postdoctoral fellow in the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology group from 2002 to 2005. Working at CSIRO was an invaluable experience, giving me new insights into translating basic research into industry-relevant applications: one of my discoveries resulted in a patent. I moved back to UNSW as a postdoctoral fellow in 2005, working on electron transfer at the nanoscale for biosensing devices with Prof. Justin Gooding and Prof. Michale Paddon-Row. In 2007, I was awarded a University Research Fellowship and moved to the University of Sydney, where my research was focused on functionalization and characterisation of carbon nano-materials. I joined in Deakin University in 2010, and currently I lead a research group with 2 postdocs, 5 PhD and 2 visiting scholars at Deakin.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

At this stage, attracting research funding to continue to support and maintain the ongoing research.

What achievement are you most proud of?

It is a great joy when my students share their good news with me, in particular, when they move forward in their own careers. And the most exciting is to train and mentor each student in a manner unique to their personality, and to help make them successful.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Curiosity, Passion, Creativity and Persistence.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

Currently I'm Scientia Associate Professor here at UNSW with a joint position across the School of Chemistry and the School of Materials Science & Engineering in the Faculty of Science. I was Associate Professor of Bioengineering and Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA with affiliations in the Micro+Nanotechnology Laboratory and the Institute of Genomic Biology. My laboratory is interested in how the properties of the microenvironment in tissues influences normal and pathological processes. We explore fundamental questions in biology using engineered extracellular matrices to discern how our body’s cells “read” materials, and convey this information into functional bioactivities. Our biological focus is on stem cell biology for regenerative medicine, and cancer biology to devise new treatment strategies. This work is highly interdisciplinary and involves surface chemistry, polymer science, cell and molecular biology. I am also Associate Professor in a new engineering driven College of Medicine where we are integrating engineering principles into the curriculum to train the next generation of doctors in technology development and translation.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemistry from the University of Washington in Seattle WA, in 1999 and 2003 respectively. Thereafter I worked for Merck Research Labs in Seattle in the Methods Development group from 2000-2004 before travelling to Sydney to do a PhD in chemistry with Justin Gooding at UNSW. My doctoral research involved the development of nanostructured porous-silicon based photonic crystals and their chemical modification for optical biosensors and biomaterials. In 2007, I joined the laboratory of Milan Mrksich at the University of Chicago in the USA as a NIH postdoctoral fellow to investigate new methods for directing the differentiation of stem cells. I joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering in 2011.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

My biggest challenge by far was the establishment of my laboratory at Illinois. As you start a faculty career you are expected to wear many hats. In the USA, academia is centred on three pillars – teaching, research, and service – which essentially involves doing three jobs at once. Managing these responsibilities and the time needed to be successful at each is an incredible challenge. In addition, while I was confident in my research, I was teaching for the first time, and I found it very difficult to prepare and deliver lectures while working in the laboratory with a team of graduate students, serving on committees, organizing activities for student outreach, writing grants and papers, etc. It can be very difficult to manage such a complex schedule.

What achievement are you most proud of?

The accomplishments I am most proud of are, by far, the students I have trained and mentored as they move forward in their own careers. While my primary driver to go into academia was research, I find that working with students, and guiding them towards reaching their goals is incredibly satisfying. I am very proud of the undergraduates and postgraduates that I have influenced as they develop themselves and make impacts in their chosen fields

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

A scientist needs many things to be successful: intelligence, rigor, passion, the list goes on. In my view, curiosity and creativity are the greatest attributes of a scientist; always asking questions, and coming up with innovative ways to answer them is what makes science fun, and ultimately leads to impactful discoveries.

What are your interests outside of work?

Outside of the laboratory I spend most of my time with my family, often playing whatever game is in fashion at the time with my kids. I also enjoy anything that gets me outdoors, e.g. hiking, camping, snowboarding, etc. I have played drums for many years, and while I’m no longer expecting label reps to call, I still enjoy getting together with other musicians to improvise.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

In order to ensure curiosity and creativity, I find it incredibly important to have a good work-life balance. Scientists are not very good at “turning-off” and I find that science is always on my mind. However, relaxing and keeping up on hobbies is a great way to take a breather while the new ideas take shape in the background. There are always crunch-times where work has to take centre stage, but I think many of my best ideas have nucleated outside of the office and lab.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Don’t give up! Scientific research is challenging, and negative results are more often the norm. Enjoy the process, maintain a positive outlook, feed your curiosity and creativity, and all will be well.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am currently working as a Medical Writer at Pfizer CRDC (China Research and Development Center). My job involves drafting ICH (International Council for Harmonisation) compliant regulatory clinical trial documents.

What made you decide not to pursue/to leave research?

I wanted to explore the scientific world outside of research, to broaden my experience and horizons.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

My first job was a sales account manager with Merck Millipore, that gave me an opportunity to learn more about the commercial aspects of science.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

Chemistry plays a big part of my current role as it helps me to understand how and why a drug candidate works in the human body.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

The challenge was relocating back to China to pursue my current job as there weren’t many clinical research opportunities in Australia.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I am proud of being able settle well into my current job and being able to act as an English trainer for a cross-functional English training project.

What are your interests outside of work?

Playing guitar, swimming and painting.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Follow your heart and be brave when making decisions.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Understanding that having time to relax helps me concentrate better at work.

Is there anything you would like to share?

It's probably not easy to find your dream job after graduation, but it's important to have fewer boundaries, and try out jobs that might not be your first choice. Having the proactive attitude will help you go further.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am a Product Manager in the Marketing Department at Kemin Industries. I work closely with our customers in the animal nutrition and health sector around Asia Pacific, to improve the quality of life with our products and services. At Kemin, I am responsible for strategic marketing, new business development, as well as product and project management within the foundation products platform. I help our customers find solutions to keep animal feed nutritional values and protect their quality.

What made you decide not to pursue/to leave research?

I have always wanted to enter the commercial settings, to see how the innovation we create in the laboratory can be transformed into something useful that can be applied in the industry and benefit the world. Hence, I started my career at Kemin Industries as a Scientist in the Research & Development Department. I developed a number of new products during those 3 years. The products were launched, and I have seen the first sales of these products.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

I changed roles at Kemin Industries from Scientist to the Marketing Department, to manage the customer laboratory. Here, I work alongside with the sales team and their customers to help them understand about our company's products and how it can be applied for their purpose. Today, I have transitioned to the Product Management role where I am in charge of the feed quality platform.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

After graduation from UNSW with my PhD in Chemistry, I gained problem solving skills. As chemists, we are able to break down a problem, correlate, evaluate and solve problems.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

My biggest challenge, career wise, is understanding veterinary and animal science.

What achievement are you most proud of?

My success in moving from research to marketing.

What are your interests outside of work?

I enjoy sports and spending time with my young daughter.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

My daughter! She is a big factor as to why I should have a good work life balance.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Enjoy the process and be passionate about what you do. Start dreaming on where you want to be after 5 years!

Is there anything you would like to share?

Studying chemistry is fun and the world is all about inspired molecules.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am currently an American-Australian Dow Chemical Company, and a Endeavour Postdoctoral Research Fellow, at Northwestern University in the United States. My project here involves the design and synthesis of multidimensional porous networks (nanomaterials) that exhibit magnetic properties at high temperatures. A particularly interesting aspect is the ability to turn the magnetic properties of the materials “on” or “off” in response to an external stimulus.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I completed a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) at UNSW, where I undertook my honours project under the supervision of Prof. Barbara Messerle on the development of rhodium, iridium and ruthenium hydroamination catalysts containing N,N’-donor ligands. I really enjoyed research, so I went on to complete a PhD at the University of Sydney working on the development of multifunctional materials containing triarylamines under the supervision of A/Prof Deanna D’Alessandro. After my PhD, I undertook a short postdoctoral position at the University of Sydney before moving to a postdoctoral research position at the University of Limerick, Ireland. I started my position at Northwestern University in May this year.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

This would definitely have to be moving from Australia to Ireland, and then the United States within a year and having to adjust to the different work environment and culture in each place.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I was honoured to be awarded the Cornforth medal in 2016 for the best PhD thesis in the chemical sciences in Australia, as well as being awarded two postdoctoral fellowships which have enabled me to conduct research overseas.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Resilience, persistence and an awareness that there is always more to learn and discover. There are many days (or even weeks and months) in research where things will not work or go as expected – it takes persistence and resilience to continue forward during these times.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

Being in chemical research, all the cumulative experimental, technical and critical thinking skills I have learnt throughout my undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral studies are constantly used in my current role.

What are your interests outside of work?

I really enjoy reading, experimenting in the kitchen and travelling – there are still so many places in the world that I would love to see!

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Setting a routine and sticking to it. I try to ensure that I have one day off each week from work where I don’t think about work at all (this doesn’t always happen though). On weekdays, I take an hour out of my day to exercise which helps me to maintain a healthy mind set, manage stress and keep things in perspective.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

If you are interested in working in research, try to spend time with a research group, observing research students, and take every opportunity to get some hands-on experience (summer scholarships are a great option). In general, find what you enjoy in science and pursue that – your curiosity and passion will be greatly enhanced by working in an area that you are genuinely interested in.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am the founder and CEO of Australian Food and Pharmaceutical Industries (AFPI).

What made you decide not to pursue/to leave research?

Limitations in employment, as well as my own interest in a wide range of other fields. Unfortunately, there are not many organisations that allow the flexibility to jump between branches, despite the significant interconnections between them.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

I was the founder and CEO of a similar manufacturing plant that I established in Iran 30 years ago. I established AFPI in January 2015 after my contract was not renewed by UNSW Faculty of Medicine.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

My Master’s in Food and Drug Analysis has proven to be invaluable in the AFPI laboratory, and in daily operations. All of our innovations have been approached and tested scientifically. I still make use of the same practical books (modified by myself/my staff).

What achievement are you most proud of?

I never compromised my integrity.

What are your interests outside of work?

Medicine, Biotechnology, Mechatronic and Martial arts. Although I’m not fit enough to perform the Karate katas, I still enjoy my nights at the gym and weight lifting.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Enjoy it! Love it! Use it and be innovative!

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

The balance between work and life is a must, and can be achieved in so many ways. The minimum is to have little breaks as often as possible. Perhaps a nice cup of coffee, or simply playing with your kids. It could be taking the time to watch a movie, play sport, meditate, pray, and of course go away on holidays with those important to you.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Leaving my medical students at UNSW in January 2015 was heavy and devastating. It took me some time to get back on my feet. But my drive for innovation and science kept me going. By the end of January, I had established AFPI, and bought a former food factory in Bomaderry, NSW. Before I knew it, our first product, Mast Chew (our plant based, organic chewing gum), was ready for the market in November. We are now producing seven products, with more to come. However, my focus on academia will never waver. I will be giving a keynote lecture in Singapore (2018) to argue the ban on chewing gum, and to consider our biodegradable, plant based chewing gum as a healthy and clean alternative. Challenges can often open new doors and paths, it’s important to persist and follow your passion.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am working in National Measurement Institute (NMI) as a chemist. My job is to assign purity value for materials which can be used as standards for analytical laboratories in Australia and around the world.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I received BSc (Hon) in 2002. My honours project was on development of synthetic strategy towards synthesis of aromatic analogue of Himbacine, a natural product with a potential to become a diagnostic agent for studying dementia. I received PhD in 2007. My PhD project was on studying properties and examining potential use on a class of alkaloid. In terms of employment, I started in National Measurement Institute the year I submitted my PhD thesis and have been there since.

What made you decide not to pursue/to leave research?

The decision was made at a late stage of my PhD candidature as post-doc required an oversea placement for a few years. I was not ready mentally and logistically at that stage. Hence, I changed my mind and worked in industry instead.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

The biggest challenge I have encountered so far is to assign purity values for materials which are used by laboratories around the world for an international comparison study. The outcome of each participant is hinged on the purity value I assigned for the reference materials of interest.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Humility and willingness to adopt new approaches.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

Materials for measurement are most useful when if there are any impurities. Hence, purification techniques such as chromatography and recrystallisation are essential to reduce the amount of impurities. Establishment of identity of a material requires different spectroscopic techniques learnt in undergraduate.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

I have adopted a “no weekend” policy for chemistry.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Career development is a life-long process, beyond obtaining a BSc, MSc and PhD. There are times which the focus is on developing in-depth knowledge of science. There are other times which the focus is on harnessing general skills.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I’m a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Bioengineering at Harvard University, working with Professor Samir Mitragotri. I’m working on uncovering the secrets of ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents, to enable them to solve big problems in biomedicine.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

After completing my undergraduate degree at UNSW Chemistry in 2012, I completed a DPhil at the University of Oxford in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry under the supervision of Professor Richard Compton, with a focus on nano-electrochemistry in ionic liquids in 2016. I remained at Oxford for an additional year as a postdoctoral research associate, before moving to Harvard in October 2017. My research here focuses on using ionic liquids in biomedical applications.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

I’ve been very lucky to have extremely supportive mentors and supervisors who have been there to encourage me when non-scientific life has gotten in the way! For me, it’s a combination of having to move to new countries and cultures, and dealing with grief and mental illness. I lost my Mum in the final year of my undergraduate degree, and have grappled with depression from a young age. Science has always been a great escape for me in this way!

What achievement are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my work mentoring and supervising younger scientists. Seeing their progress is almost as good as discovering something brand new in the lab!

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

I think how you deal with failure and set-backs has a lot to do with your success as a researcher – you need to be able to turn up every day and climb back up on the horse to try again. Being able to be wrong, and learn from others is critical. Finally, I believe that a burning curiosity, and a passion for seeking the truth are essential.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

I use the principles of physical chemistry to investigate how ionic liquids operate in a biomedical context in order to better design them for clinical use.

What are your interests outside of work?

I love singing, and have recently joined a queer choir in Boston. I’m passionate about creating a world where everybody is welcome and feels safe, and work actively to dismantle white supremacy, racism, homo/bi/transphobia, and patriarchy wherever I go.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

It’s so important to be able to leave the work at work – especially when things aren’t going well that day! My life is made up of wonderful people, including those who dedicate themselves to things other than science, which I think helps.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Fully embrace the opportunities given to you. If you’re considering research, get yourself into a real research laboratory as early as possible to see if it’s for you. Seek out mentors and cheerleaders and listen to them!

Is there anything you would like to share?

For those considering a scientific career but who look around thinking ‘there isn’t anyone who looks like me’, you deserve to be here! You have a valuable perspective – find the people who will champion you in the face of structural adversity.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at UNSW Chemistry. My research involves developing antibacterial coatings/surfaces to prevent bacterial infections on medical devices.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I completed my BSc (Hons) in Nanotechnology at UNSW in 2008. It was during my honours year that got me interested in research. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on a project that I found really interesting and had potential to make positive changes the world. I then continued with the research and obtained my PhD in Chemistry at UNSW in 2013 under the supervision of Prof. Naresh Kumar. After that I was offered a position to continue the research at UNSW and have been working here ever since.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

My biggest challenge is to get into doing Microbiology and animal experiments with minimal biology background. I was very lucky to have very supportive mentors and colleagues to help me throughout.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Once I have acquired some knowledge in Microbiology, I was able to design an experiment to prove a concept that no one has done before, and the result has led to a publication in a high-impact journal.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

I believe a successful scientist should be passionate about Science, be creative, persevere, able to think critically and be open to learn new things in other disciplines.

What are your interests outside of work?

I love to travel and bake cakes.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Family and great friends. I can always count on my friends for stopping me from getting too stressed out from work.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Be open-minded about learning new things. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to people outside your social circle.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am the Director of the Chemistry Section of the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)

What made you decide not to pursue/to leave research?

I have been a regulatory scientist for over 23 years and I have spent about 10 years in the pharmaceutical industry on top of this time.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

I undertook a Masters in Chemical analysis to gain recognition and qualification in chemistry that I had been doing for a very long time. The Masters I gained from UNSW was so much fun, I had a great time and learnt lots and also provided some knowledge from industry that was lacking in the course.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

I use my knowledge on a daily basis by providing expert chemistry advice to both internal stakeholders and industry representatives. I have not stopped learning, but my knowledge has again exceeded my qualification.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Dealing with individuals that have zero risk appetite. Very frustrating, especially when those individuals are in seats of power and are too comfortable.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I have represented the Australian Government on two OECD committees developing international standards. It was surprisingly well organised and collaborative.

What are your interests outside of work?

I am a 2nd Dan Black belt in Judo, a former Australian Title holder and represented Australia. I also fly remote control aircraft.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Be patient, learn new techniques and especially have a good understanding of those techniques and why they are being used. Once you do this you can take your skills to the next level.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Resilience and the ability to say 'no' with respect.

Is there anything you would like to share?

One of the most important talents you can learn now is to be a great manager, take note of those managers you will have over the life of your career. Take note of the good and bad. When you become a manager, take the best of each manager and don't emulate those that didn't stack up. You have a choice to be the best manager, and mentor others to be better than what you were at the same stage of your career. Recognise talent, recognise those that no other person notices, they are worth the time and effort.

BSc (Hons) 1965, PhD 1968, DSc 2001 (all from UNSW), Dip.Ed (Monash) 1976, FRACI, C.Chem

What is your current position, and what do you do?

As an Honorary Fellow in the School of Chemistry UNSW, a position I have enjoyed for the past 14 years, I have been able to continue my research in the field of essential oils chemistry, combining this passion with tutoring and working on practical classes within the School.

Describe your study/employment pathway.

I commenced a Science degree at the University of New South Wales in 1961. At that time, chemistry was still being taught at the old Sydney Technical College at Ultimo. I was awarded my BSc, with first class honours researching natural products.

In 1968, I was awarded a PhD in organophosphorus chemistry, also at UNSW. I then did postdoctoral research in insect chemistry at UNSW, in photochemistry at the university now known as the University of New Orleans, and back at UNSW, where I helped set up the second gas chromatography mass spectrometer in Australia. In 1971, I moved to Monash University as a Senior Tutor, where I remained for 5 years.

Apart from teaching (which I really enjoyed) I was involved in mass spectrometry, photochemistry and synthetic chemistry. Following this period, I took a Diploma in Education at Monash University, and I returned to UNSW as a Professional Officer, and have remained here ever since. The techniques involved in insect chemistry also apply to essential oils analyses, and as time went on I did more collaborative projects in essential oils chemistry. I have collaborated on essential oils projects with botanists and foresters at CSIRO and botanists at various herbaria around Australia, as well as with chemists and botanists overseas, mostly in South East Asia.

I retired in 2003 as a Senior Project Scientist, and became an Honorary Visiting Fellow to complete unfinished parts of the overall work. As the amount of bench work lessened I have been able to do more teaching. My first paper was published in 1966 during my PhD, and in 2016 my 300th paper was published. During these 50 years, there have been 3 books, the award of a Churchill Fellowship in 1983 to study insect chemistry in USA and UK, the award of a DSc in 2001, and the RACI Archibald Ollé prize in 2015 for my part in the book on the genus Melaleuca. I have been a NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) laboratory examiner, and am still on the editorial board of the Journal of Essential Oil Research.

What achievement are you most proud of?

The more than 30 years work on essential oils research. I like to think that we know much more about some of the plant families and their economic potential as a result of this work.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Being able to adapt. A lot of the techniques that I have used in my research career I acquired more or less by accident in the course of other work. As I have told the students – there is nothing that a trained organic chemist cannot do.

What are your interests outside of work?

The family, even if they are mostly all adults now. I like reading, and music, and used to play in the Sydney Flute Choir. We always had a dog (mostly a golden retriever), and I used to enter obedience trials, more or less for relaxation. I met my wife at these competitions. These days it is just fun to take the dog (still a golden retriever) for walks.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

In my essential oils work, none of the areas of expertise needed did I formally study at university but picked them up along the way (e.g. mass spectrometry, gas chromatography and botany). So, if you are really interested in an area of science don't be put off by a lack of formal training, if you work at it you can acquire the skills as you work in the area.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

Supervisor Control Execution (Fixed Plant) for Integrated Remote Operations Centre (BHP Coal) for another 4 days, and then I will transition to Specialist Operational Design (BHP Olympic Dam). I was involved in the implementation of the Coal Integrated Remote Operating Centre (IROC) from project to execution to business as usual, by on-boarding and leading a team of 18 controllers who remotely control the processing plants for Coal across QLD and NSW. My new role will be on the project team for the Olympic Dam IROC that we are establishing in Adelaide.

What made you decide not to pursue/to leave research?

I wanted to try something different.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

Applied for the BHP Graduate Program in the Processing Team.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

Problem-solving and thinking outside of the box is a key part of every role that I have had. Studying Chemistry taught me to look at things differently, analyse it from a different angle, seek ulterior solutions, follow my instincts, and not always assume that the first solution is the best solution.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Proving that my skills are relevant in the Coal industry.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, and completing my PhD would be on par.

What are your interests outside of work?

Hockey, hiking, travelling, volunteering with Camp Quality.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

It’s as fun as you make it!! Seek out the good lecturers, those you aspire to be like, or are inspired by, and find a mentor who challenges you to be better and think differently.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Good friends, travel (turn off the tech!), volunteering with kids as they remind me of the simply joys in life. The best advice I’ve been given is to be present and focus on what is at hand, whether it’s a meeting, playing with the kids, or a conversation with a friend. The meeting isn’t going to benefit from you planning your kids lunches in your head, and the kids aren’t going to benefit from you checking your emails on your phone.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Have fun and don’t stop laughing. If it’s not fun then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am the current Molecular Spectroscopy Product Specialist of Thermo Fisher Scientific (TFS) in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ). I am overall accountable for the molecular spectroscopy technology of the company (FT-IR, NIR, NMR and Raman) in ANZ.

What made you decide not to pursue/to leave research?

I wanted to be able to apply the technologies which I have used for my research to solve real world problems. While I was doing my PhD at UNSW School of Chemistry, most of our work dealt with proving new ideas and concepts. In my current work, we deal with applications of validated methods in resolving real world problems (e.g. such as the use of our technology in the medical diagnostic field, mining industry, manufacturing)

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

Thermo Fisher Scientific needed someone with expertise in molecular spectroscopy (FTIR and Raman spectroscopy). It was through professional networking (colleagues and Academic Supervisor) that I was made aware of TFS’s need.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

My research topic highly involves the use of the technologies (FTIR and Raman), which I now manage for Thermo Fisher Scientific in ANZ.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

My current role required “business and marketing skills”. I attended workshops and mentorships to learn commercialisation skills and combine them with my technical background.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Being recognised by peers for being able to give outstanding performance and business growth to the company’s product portfolio.

What are your interests outside of work?

Outside work, I spend most of my time with family and friends. I enjoy going outdoors (e.g. camping, swimming, climbing) and travelling to new and exciting places.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Aim high and keep your options open! A degree in Science will open multitudes of opportunities outside the university. As I am aware, it can lead to various professions such as being a lawyer, businessman, and even be an actor! :)

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Family and quality friends! It’s also a bonus that I get to travel a lot for work as this keeps my day-to-day job exciting and enjoyable.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Increase your professional network. The more people you know in the industry the greater chance you’ll know of career opportunities that are available.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I head an instrument facility that is part of the Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre at UNSW Sydney. My team of 11 scientists specialise in chemical analysis, X-ray diffraction and surface analysis.

Describe your study/employment pathway.

I studied applied chemistry at UTS, PhD in synthetic organic chemistry at UNSW, and did postdoctoral research at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, and then the University of Nottingham in the UK. I came back to Australia to work as a computer programmer, then eventually running a manufacturing business making printing ink and surface coatings for the paperboard industry. I finally moved back to UNSW ten years ago to help build our Analytical Centre.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

After my second postdoc in the UK, I felt I had done enough scientific research and needed to reinvent my career. In order to make the move back to Australia, I took a computer programming job that eventually lead to a management role.

What achievement are you most proud of?

My part helping to build our Analytical Centre at the University of NSW. In ten years, we have created some world-class laboratories, and help facilitate some great science with UNSW researchers.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Creativity, optimism, problem solving skills, an appetite for new ideas.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

Chemistry provides insights into many disciplines like materials science, engineering, geology, and biology. Researchers in all these areas use our instruments, and this gives me an opportunity to collaborate with experts in those fields.

What are your interests outside of work?

Surfing, more a passion than a talent.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

When busy at work it’s good to be just as busy away from work - travel, surfing, family, travel, music, cooking...whatever. It rebuilds your creativity and enthusiasm.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

One of the best skills you receive from an undergraduate science degree is the ability to learn complex new ideas, not just in science but in any field. This can lead to new opportunities in science and beyond.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Many people in the middle of their career tell me their younger selves would not have imagined what they are doing now.

June Clare Griffith was not only the first female student to graduate from Chemistry, but she was also among the first cohort of graduates from UNSW, in the 1950's.
 
After she graduated from undergraduate studies and Masters in Chemistry, she obtained her PhD at another university in 1958, and then worked in Wool Science at CSIRO.
 
June returned to UNSW School of Chemistry in 1966 as a teaching academic, and was soon appointed the Director of First-Year Teaching in Chemistry. In 1978, she died after a long battle with cancer – she was only 54.
 
Annually, we award the June Griffith Memeorial Prize to our top performing level 1 Chemistry students to honour this legendary and inspirational teacher. The Faculty also award a June Griffith Fellowship for Academic Women in Leadership to provide support for women in Science.

JG’s Café – just in front of the School of Chemistry, in the Dalton building – is named after June.

Former Head of School, the late Professor Stanely Livingstone, wrote in his A History of the School of Chemistry, UNSW:

"In her position as Director of First Year Classes, Dr Griffith worked continuously long hours, and with great enthusiasm. Her prime concern was the welfare of the students to whom she always referred as 'the paying customers'. The number of First Year students in any one year varied between 1500 and 2000, yet Dr Griffith tried to know each one personally. Her devotion to her position went far beyond what is even regarded as exceptional in a dedicated teacher. In committee she was eloquent in defence of the students, and the teaching aims of the School of Chemistry."

What is your current position, and what do you do?

Education Support Manager at UNSW

I used to be Student Support Manager, UNSW School of Chemistry. I helped administer the First Year Chemistry Program in the School, managing the online learning platform and run assessment tasks. I provided advice for students and teaching support for academic staff. I helped run outreach events, and I was the venue coordinator for the RACI National Titration Competition.

What made you decide not to pursue a research career?

I’ve always had a passion for communications and education. My honours year was quite tough in many ways, but predominantly because I spent most of my time doing science in the lab and not enough time talking about science. So, once I graduated, I chose to pursue Science Communications instead of research and I’ve never looked back. I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for those who are passionate about research, but I discovered for myself that you don’t have to love doing scientific research to still love science.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

After my Honours year at UNSW, I studied at ANU for a year to do my Graduate Diploma in Science Communications. I spent a lot of time working for Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre. It was from here that I broke into the world of being a Science Presenter. I spent a few years performing with (and, in later years, coordinating) an outreach program that travelled around Sydney, and toured the country presenting Science shows for schools and the general public. From there, I was keen to reconnect with tertiary-level science again. This conveniently brought me back to UNSW to my current role, where I am now able to help communicate more complex scientific concepts.

What are your interests outside of work?

I recently became a dad, so I’m currently passionate about re-learning all the old Play School songs. But, other than that, I’ve always been involved in amateur theatre companies and performance groups. It’s not only something that interests me, but I find having “artsy” hobbies provides a good balance to working in a predominantly “sciencey” headspace from 9 to 5. I'm also back as a part-time UNSW student completing my Masters of Education by Research which is equal parts for personal interest as it is career development.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Don’t stress too much over how your undergraduate coursework has/will determine your career path. If you choose subjects that interest you and motivate you to learn, your career will unfold organically from the skills and knowledge you pick up along the way.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Looking back, some of the most valuable career advice I was given was towards the end of my degree when I did a workshop on resume writing and job applications. It really showed me just how many skills I had been developing over my undergraduate degree and, more importantly, how to communicate these skills to prospective employers. A Science undergraduate at UNSW will equip you with such a huge number of skills that are transferable to a range of career paths, but it can be very difficult to articulate this while you are still studying. So, take advantage of support services on campus (such as the resume writing one or other career-readiness training workshops). They don’t take up too much time, and they can make all the difference in providing you the guidance and clarity you need to succeed beyond your studies.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am currently in the final year of my candidature for a PhD at the University of Western Sydney Parramatta. My thesis revolves around the topic of high throughput chromatographic separations, exploring supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC) as an environmentally friendly high speed chromatography technique. As well as the exploring the limitations of high velocity separations in high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and Ultra-HPLC with regards to the generation of heat through viscous frictional heating.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

After graduation from UNSW with a Bachelor of Science (Honours in Chemistry) in 2012 I found employment as a research scientist at Phenomenex Australia. My primary role was method and application development in HPLC, UHPLC and SFC. After 3 years of employment, I decided to look for other opportunities to continue my development. Through Phenomenex I was able to establish a connection with Andrew Shalliker, a Professor as the University of Western Sydney, who took me on as a PhD student looking into high through-put separations and its limitations. I am currently on track to complete my candidature by the 31st of March 2018.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

The biggest challenge career-wise for me has been developing confidence in my expertise. I often forget that I am well versed in my field of science, and that I am capable of the doing the task that have been set for me or the ones I set for myself. I find one of the best ways to overcome this is to present your work to others as it gives an insight to how much you really know about your topic.

What achievement are you most proud of?

At RnD topics 2016, I presented a poster comparing the selectivity, separation and speed of the chiral separation of FMOC-amino acids in HPLC and SFC; evaluating economic and environmental impacts. The poster and my presentation of it won 1st place.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

A successful scientist needs to be flexible with regards to their skill set and expertise. That is, they should not be afraid to learn or develop techniques that are foreign to them. This not only includes different areas of chemistry e.g. synthetic vs analytical but also across all scientific disciplines (chemistry, biology, physics, etc.)

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

My honours project was synthesis based, with an aspect of analytical chemistry that involved the use of liquid chromatography. The experience with chromatography largely opened up the door to my first job outside of University, which ultimately led to my PhD candidature. However, the biggest skill acquired from studying chemistry is learning skills, the concepts learned in undergrad formed the foundation of my knowledge, but being able to learn and implement new techniques and concepts has been the greatest tool.

What are your interests outside of work?

I play Senior Ice Hockey for my local club every weekend during the winter and summer seasons. Although I found a sport a bit later in life, I’m quite glad to have found it in the first place.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Understanding the difference between work and home, and allowing yourself to leave work behind when I am at home or during the weekends. Understandably, sometimes it is difficult to separate the two especially, when deadlines have to be met, but don’t let your life at home be an extension of your work.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Be open to all potential opportunities as they come, apply for “that job” even if you don’t think they will hire you because of “lack of experience”. In the selection process of my first job it came down to me and another candidate who had a lot more experience than me, in the end I got the position because I was more suited to the role regardless of my limited experience.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Don’t shut the door on higher opportunities because you don’t think you have what it takes. If I had done that I would have never done my honours year, and ultimately wouldn’t be in my current position. Expect there to be some difficult times yes, but nothing worth doing was done because it was easy.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am a postdoctoral research fellow in the research group of Prof. Roberto Quesada in the Department of Chemistry in the Faculty of Science at the University of Burgos (Spain) in order to investigate the design, synthesis and biological properties of novel small molecules for the treatment of cystic fibrosis (mucoviscidosis), a rare genetic disease that is mortal at the current stage of medical sciences development. The main goal of the collaborative research undertaken by our consortium is to find a molecule that might not only prolong patients’ lives, but also improve life quality.

I am also a Sigma Aldrich advisory board member, and as organic chemist I participate in the development and commercialization of their new products.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

In 2010 I obtained a M.Sc. in pharmacy (including industrial specialty) at the Wroclaw Medical University (Poland), and I was employed as an oncology pharmacist in the Laboratory of Cytostatic Drugs in the Hospital Pharmacy in the Public Hospital in Jelenia Góra, my hometown.

I moved as a UNSW Tuition Fee Scholarship (TFS) recipient to UNSW Australia (Sydney) and received a Ph.D. in chemistry under the supervision of Prof. David StC. Black and Prof. Naresh Kumar in September 2015. As a Ph.D. student I worked on the design, synthesis and biological evaluation of novel inhibitors of bacterial transcription initiation complex formation as innovative antibacterial drug candidates as well as on the discovery of a new method for the synthesis of indole-based macrocycles. During my Ph.D. candidature I was also employed as a casual research assistant and laboratory demonstrator in undergraduate laboratory classes in the School of Chemistry at UNSW Australia.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

There has been a plenty of such challenges, but all of them have been overcome successfully. The first one was securing a UNSW Tuition Fee Scholarship in 2011. It was a hard time full of uncertainty.

Also, it was not easy to complete Ph.D. thesis writing sharing a six-bedroom apartment with five undergraduate students in UNSW Village. That time I promised myself that I would not share anymore any apartment with random people. Finally, looking for a job after getting a Ph.D. was a very tough, exhausting, time-consuming, disappointing and frustrating experience.

What achievement are you most proud of?

The first project molecule synthesized by me in 2016 was selected as one of a few lead compounds in our project due to its exceptionally high anion transport activity compared to its overall cytotoxicity. Currently our collaborators from pharmaceutical industry are developing a suitable drug form for this molecule. Moreover, a patent application for this compound has been submitted.

I also developed a new method for the delivery of two structural isomers of a small molecule building block of high interest in medicinal chemistry. This innovative method is scalable, reproducible and might have potential industrial application.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

In my opinion patience, creativity, paying attention to details, diligence, persistence, ability to think independently and in an abstract way, honesty, modesty, imagination, planning skills, good organization of work, excellent time management, high motivation and determination levels, accuracy, expressing ideas in a clear and approachable way in oral and written reports are essential and highly desired in research work.

What are your interests outside of work?

Travelling is definitely my greatest passion and, to some extent, a kind of addiction as well. Alpine skiing, mountain biking, swimming and hiking are my favourite sports and I practise them regularly. Driving, especially during holidays spent in the Canary Islands, relaxes me a lot. I aim high not only in research done in laboratory, but also hiking in the real mountains. The highest peak that I have reached so far is Pico del Teide (3.718 m) on Tenerife.

Now I am thinking about Demavand (5.610 m) in Iran, hiking in the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan and perhaps even in Karakorum in Pakistan.

Learning foreign languages is one of my passions, too. And I enjoy cooking as it requires lots of creativity as well as banking as it relies on strategic thinking, planning and risk analysis.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

No matter if you are a bachelor, Master´s or Ph.D. student, try to be as independent in your studies, especially during laboratory classes, and in further research work in laboratory as possible. Listen carefully to the people who have greater experience in the field than you. Always aim high, no matter what is your goal, but be realistic and humble. Plan well in advance and evaluate potential risks you might encounter on your way. Be consistent and diligent in your work.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Do not postpone too many things for ‘later’ or closer unspecified future as life is very short. Enjoy it now since after years you will regret much more the things that you have not done than the things that you have done. And remember that some chances are offered only once.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

Postdoctoral researcher at The Heart Research Institute, Sydney. My current research focuses on the discovery of biomarkers that may have clinical utility (e.g. by providing better diagnostic markers of obesity-driven metabolic disease, such as insulin resistance, diabetes and fatty liver disease etc.) using metabolomic, genomic, and transcriptomic profiling, which should allow earlier intervention by predicting future disease.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I received my B.S. and M.S. degree in Chemistry from Universiti Sains Malaysia, in 2009 and 2012, and I then travelled to Sydney to do a Ph.D. in chemistry with Assoc. Prof. Shelli McAlpine at UNSW in 2013. Since I graduated, I have been working at The Heart Research Institute as a postdoctoral researcher, based at The Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

I think my biggest challenge is to understand how chemistry interfaces with biology, and to expand beyond my comfort zone to work in different research branches.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I am very proud of being a recipient of the prestigious 2013 Prime Minister's Australia Asia Endeavour Award.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

In my opinion, the key qualities that define successful scientists are to always have a keen learning mind, and never be afraid of embracing change.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

I am currently using my background in chemistry to make new discoveries in biology. My research involves the use of chromatography, mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy to discover new markers and predictors of disease and to uncover new targets for therapy.

What are your interests outside of work?

In my free time, I like to cook and paint.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

I pace myself when I get too overwhelmed at work, regularly keep in touch with close friends, and organize weekly social meet ups.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Follow your passion, never afraid of changes, and challenge yourself to keep learning new things in science.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

My current position at CETEC is Principal Consultant. The work I do is varied, but my main tasks is to deal with anything related to Dangerous Goods, ranging from providing advice for laboratory design, safe storage of dangerous goods, flammable vapour hazard zoning, etc. Projects which I have been involved in, and have provided input towards the design are:

  • SAHMRI (Adelaide)
  • Charles Perkins Centre (USyd)
  • Illumin8 (Adelaide Uni)
  • LEES (USyd)
  • RSPE (ANU)
  • Robertson Building (ANU)
  • C-Block (QUT)
  • Building B upgrades (SCU)
  • AFP Forensics (Majura, ANU)
  • New Royal Adelaide Hospital (Adelaide)

What made you decide not to pursue/to leave research?

I completed my undergraduate studies at UNSW Chemistry, including honours (with Prof Michael Paddon-Row) and PhD (with Prof Roger Read). After completing my studies, I completed three post-docs, one at the University of Sydney, and two at UNSW. As I didn't want to be an academic, and when the opportunity arose to work with CETEC I applied for the position.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

I started down the bottom and slowly worked my way up, my role still involves a lot of problem solving and sometimes a firm understanding of chemicals helps immensely.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

With my knowledge in chemistry, I'm able to understand chemical properties and apply that knowledge in my consulting services for laboratory design, safe storage of chemicals, etc.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

One of the biggest challenges is the initial start and finding something which is enjoyable to do.

What achievement are you most proud of?

My current role gives me the advantage of understanding the properties of chemicals, and I am able to apply this to the consultancy in providing advice to non-scientists.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Try to understand where you want to go early on place yourself on the correct pathway, otherwise you may be treading water.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Family and work keep me busy, but I try to devote appropriate time to both.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

Currently, I am a PhD student under the supervision of Professor Richard Payne at the University of Sydney. My project surrounds the design and synthesis of novel anti-tuberculosis drugs.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

From my experiences in both undergraduate and postgraduate research, the biggest challenge has been transitioning from the structured undergraduate lab classes to independent hands-on research, and getting used to the independence and work demand. Without the hands-on experience I received from the undergraduate summer research program that UNSW offers, I think I would have had a lot of difficulty coping with Honours and PhD.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Achieving First Class Honours.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Being able to keep a balance between work and leisure. As demanding as doing research is, it is still very important to have your own external life to balance out the stress. Good time management skills. Being able to accept that chemistry/science experiments don’t always work. A lot of the time, things in the lab do not go according to plan. Being versatile and being able to deal with each situation is important for a scientist. Being passionate about what you do, this applies to any field you work in. The effort that you put into your job is based on how much you enjoy what you do.

What are your interests outside of work?

Rock climbing, cooking, and reading.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Managing my time properly to make sure that I get enough work done throughout the weekday so I can relax during the weekends. Join the gym on a membership also ensures that I go to the gym, since I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting money.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

If possible, find an area of science that you are passionate about and you can see yourself doing for many years. I know this isn’t easy to do, due to the competitive nature of science careers, and in that case, try to find a job in the science field and do your best to build up your network. Most science jobs require some form of collaboration and so make sure you utilise those collaborations as chances to meet people in different areas and different companies.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am a Patent Hearing Officer and Patent Examiner with the Australian Patent Office (IP Australia), located in Canberra ACT. As a hearing officer, I am responsible for conducting patent opposition hearings and issuing decisions on disputes relating to the granting or refusal of patents in accordance with the Patents Act 1990. Oppositions are typically conducted based on evidence and written submissions. A hearing may be held orally or by written submissions. After the hearing, a decision is issued which will include the outcome of the opposition, a statement of reasons, and an award of costs. Copies of all of Australian Patent Office decisions since 1983 are available on the Australasian Legal Information Institute website. (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/APO/recent.html) If either party disagrees with the decision, an appeal may be made to the Federal Court of Australia.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?

I completed a BSc (Honours) in Nanotechnology in 2009 at UNSW. My honours project, entitled "Random Lasers with Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles" was supervised by Professor Sean Li and Dr Thiam Teck Tan. In 2010, I enrolled in the Masters of Intellectual Property Law at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and graduated in 2014. I joined IP Australia in 2012 where I undertook a full-time competency based training program to attain the appropriate legal training to become a Patent Examiner. In 2016, I undertook further training to become a Patent Hearing Officer.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary science. While studying at UNSW, I undertook courses in (for example) physical chemistry, organic and inorganic chemistry, surface chemistry and biochemistry. In addition to the chemical sciences, I also undertook courses in physics, materials science and biology. Having a background from the different sciences has greatly assisted my technical understanding of patent applications across a broad range of technologies rather than being limited to a single field. This also means that I have been able to pick up new concepts relatively quickly.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Balancing full-time work while studying intellectual property law. I also had to reprogram my mind from thinking like a scientist to become more legally focused.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Graduating from UNSW and UTS. More recently, becoming a qualified hearing officer.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Follow your passion. The last thing you want to do is be stuck in a job you hate. I would also recommend keeping an open mind as the skills taught in science can be applied across a wide range of different industries.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Work smart, not hard. Learn how to prioritise tasks, and know when to leave work in the office. Never make work your life.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I'm currently working as a senior scientist for Wuxi Biologics in Shanghai. Our team develop, optimize and scale up cell culture process for biopharmaceutics.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I graduated from East China University of Science and Technology with Bachelor of Bioengineering and Master of Materials Engineering. Then I joined the Gooding Group in 2012 and received PhD in 2016. In Feb of 2017 I joined Wuxi Biologics.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Learning new things is always the biggest challenge, as well as my biggest interest. To be able to utilize what I have learned in school further in my career, I have to keep myself absorbing new knowledge. So far, my background of bioengineering and material chemistry help a lot for me to fit in my job. However, the process of getting new information has never stopped.

What achievement are you most proud of?

This has to be finishing my PhD research under Justin's supervision, and accomplishing the single molecule imaging paper, which we are submitting to a high-profile journal. Developing a new method, or a new product, which solves a real problem in life.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

The foundations of biology are chemical reactions. Most of our projects are making monoclonal antibody drugs for our clients. The experience in surface chemistry and molecular biology helped a lot in understanding my responsibility for my current work.

What are your interests outside of work?

I was involved in a school band as a lead singer, and school basketball team as a point guard.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

My wife and son.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

Start to understand how research works as soon as possible, and get to know anything related to your work as soon as possible, ideas will come next.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Make friends with the wonderful staff in Chemistry and talk to them.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

My current position is Faculty Project Coordinator/SciQuest Officer at Macquarie University. My job is a mix of rolling out Jaggaer (SciQuest)– the new reagent management system – for the Faculty of Science & Engineering, while also coordinating and providing support across a broad range of Faculty-specific projects, such as refurbishments and new laboratory builds.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

After finishing high school I worked in hospitality for two years (2002-2004) and undertook a traineeship that was run within the business. Following my hospitality stint I decided to study a Diploma in Accounting by correspondence, through TAFE NSW, while working full time at GE Commercial Finance as an Account Executive (2005-2006). By this point I had decided that the Finance industry wasn’t suited to my interests or career path, and so I decided to follow my passion for science and made the decision to commence a Science degree at UNSW, majoring in Chemistry (2007-2010). Naturally, this progressed directly into a PhD under the supervision of Barbara Messerle (2011-2014). Upon completion of my PhD, I then moved to Macquarie University with Barbara as a Research Associate (2015-2016), and at the end of my contract was offered a position to manage the rollout and implementation of Jaggaer ERM across the Science Faculty at Macquarie University.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

My biggest challenge was deciding on a career path that I would enjoy. Finding job satisfaction has been difficult in the past, particularly when there aren’t opportunities to grow within a company, or there are no opportunities to help develop and improve upon processes, etc. Being provided with challenges and different tasks keeps the mind fresh, and the role interesting and enjoyable!

What achievement are you most proud of?

Apart from my family, academically, it would definitely be completing my PhD and having it all published.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Initiative - Without out taking initiative you become lost, and lose sight of what you are trying to achieve, progress slows and you become disinterested. Persistence – Giving up yields nothing, if you try to give your 100%, and push through those seemingly impossible experiments, instead of giving up, you will eventually be rewarded, even though it may seem like it will never come to fruition.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

Skills such as logic, persistence and critical thinking have helped tremendously with my current role. There are a lot of challenges in trying to provide a software solution to a Faculty where there are large differences between departments, which are structured and managed completely differently. The knowledge from studying chemistry for 8 years has also helped with the Jaggaer reagent management system role, considering a large part of the software is tied to chemical health and safety.

What are your interests outside of work?

Taking my kids to the park, pool and beach. Soccer is my passion, but unfortunately takes a back seat these days, however, I still get to enjoy SciFi movies and series.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

Fortunately, my current role is flexible with starting/finishing times. This allows me to start earlier than a normal office job so that I can get home at a reasonable time, and spend the late afternoon/evening with my family. Universities are quite flexible with work arrangements so they are fantastic to work at when you have a young family!

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

If you are unsure where you want to take your career, think outside the box there are many resources online that can guide you down a pathway that isn’t your stereotypical scientific career.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, particularly when working in a lab! Asking questions demonstrates you are thinking about what you are doing and not going in blind hoping for the best and potentially making a mistake.

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at UNSW Chemistry, undertaking research focused on understanding how cancer spreads throughout the body. I am able to achieve this through a device that I developed during my Ph.D., which allows me to isolate cancerous cells from the blood. Where my work differs from existing technology is that I am able to then separate these cancerous cells individually, so I can investigate the role each cancerous cell has towards the spread of cancer.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

Pretty standard academia… undergraduate… Ph.D…. postdoc

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Trying to figure out what is most likely to get me out of bed every morning. I feel that I am actually at quite a vital stage of my career presently, so trying to figure out where I want to go next, and how I will get there is quite challenging.

What achievement are you most proud of?

That moment I got the letter saying “Your Ph.D. has been conferred”

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

Resilience and persistence, as well as great problem-solving skills and the ability to critically think about the benefits of your work. However, I feel I can’t emphasise resilience and persistence enough.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

Well seeing as I am still in a role very much applicable to my degree, I use a lot of the technical skills of analytical and spectroscopic chemistry daily.

What are your interests outside of work?

Sport…in particular skiing and golf

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?

I avoid doing work on the weekends…it makes sense, but you would be surprised how many scientists do not do this. I also see exercise as an important aspect of life, even if it is just a brief walk, I feel it has a positive effect on my mental wellbeing

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?

People will say “Do what makes you happy” to which I reply “I am young, how am I supposed to know what makes me happy?” I think a better way to think about it is “What will I learn when undertaking this venture?” You will find you will have more motivation to show up to work if what you will potentially learn excites you.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Don’t be afraid to give something a try. The more you realise something is not for you, the one step closer you are to finding the thing that is.

BSc (Hons 1) 1998 and PhD 2002

What is your current position, and what do you do?

I am the coordinator of the Bachelor of Pharmacy program at The University of Sydney.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far

I’ve had the most round-about career. I started as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy one month after finishing year 12. While at the Australian Defence Force Academy (UNSW) I completed a BSc and PhD in chemistry. After my study, I held appointments in a variety of military units including the Joint Health Support Agency and the Sea Power Centre – Australia. When I left the Navy, I worked at Western Sydney University as a research-focused senior fellow, which was followed by a lectureship in the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. I started my current academic role in 2012 as a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Pharmacy at Sydney University.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?

Acquiring overseas experience to secure a permanent academic position back in Australia. It’s a hard decision to pack up your life and your family and commit to living overseas for 2-5 years.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Biggest achievement (or lack of achievement) has been the publication of 80 research papers, patents and book chapters to date without ever obtaining an ARC or NHMRC grant.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?

The most important attribute a scientist needs, beyond a love of scientific discovery, is the ability to write. So much of the job requires this skill: preparing lecturing slides, writing grant applications, authoring research articles. A scientist who can’t right well, or quickly, has no time left to actually do science.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?

Chemistry underpins everything to do with pharmacy and medicines. The skills I have learnt in my chemistry degree I put to good use in my research designing new drug molecules and drug delivery systems.