Tuesday, 23 May 2017

What does industry want? (Interview with Greg Sheehan)

What is it that industry wants from graduates?

This question occupies a lot of air-time in higher education circles, and the push is on from the Australian government to foster closer collaborations among universities, industry, and graduate researchers.

You'd be right in thinking that not getting on top of these new research priorities could set your career planning back a step or two!

This week's 'Careers Month' post is an interview with Dr Greg Sheehan, Director and Principal Process Engineer with Hatch Ltd. Hatch is an international consultant engineering and project implementation company with offices in ten countries.

Greg graduated with his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Queensland.

"I graduated at a time when the engineering sector, particularly in my field of Chem Eng, was very different, " he said. "I got my first job at MIM Holdings straight after graduation, started at the company the following week, and was on-site in Mount Isa in a day! I've been with Hatch now for nine years."

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Growing into a career (Alex Lugg)

The useless tree  |  Image sourced from
http://www.conures.net/stories/tree.shtml
 
I help academics apply for and manage their grants.

This involves putting together a year-long grant development program for the highly subscribed Australian Research Council schemes, as well as providing ad hoc support for less popular schemes.

I work closely with College Associate Pro-Vice Chancellors (Research) to identify potential candidates for fellowship schemes and coax them into applying for them.

Our office also provides resources to assist academics write their funding proposals. Aside from that, there’s also a bit of problem solving- should anyone have misspent their funds, breached the agreement with their funding body or so on. It’s my role to help resolve these issues.

I didn’t set out to do this sort of work when I began my PhD.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Your PhD – Lasers and Pocket Knives (Geoffrey Guilfoyle)

Photo by Alvin Trusty | www.flickr.com/photos/trustypics
Shared here via CC BY-NC 2.0

CC BY-NC 2.0

I was recently talking with a new graduate researcher who was worried whether their intended research topic would get them a job.

I reflected on the number of research candidates I’ve met who focused on asking ‘What have I got by the end of my degree?’.

It’s reasonable enough to focus on the core of your research, and to wonder how many employers will be interested in the deep and narrow laser-beam of knowledge you’ve uncovered. It might feel a bit like having only one string to your bow.

In my experience as a careers counsellor, graduate researchers often expend a lot of energy worrying about only one side of the equation.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

My Top 4 career tips, as an Early Career Researcher (Sam Manna)

Photo by Martin Reisch | unsplash.com
I have written a few blogs for the RED unit, but when I was asked to talk about the career decisions I'd made and provide advice, it really stopped me in my tracks!

I guess this was my Imposter Syndrome making me think I didn’t have anything significant to contribute to a such topic!

As I started writing, however, it became clear that I was going to have trouble sticking to 800 words!

Here are my Top 4 pieces of career advice, based on my recent experiences as an Early Career Researcher:

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Things I’ve learned about putting together large grant applications (Rachel Winterton)


Elephant in knitted suit plus child | Photo by Kim Tairi
www.flickr.com/photos/angels_have_the_phone_box
Given that I work as a research-only academic, pulling together large grant applications is something that I do a LOT of.

When I started my job as a research officer back in 2009, my contribution was limited to chasing up bits and pieces for senior colleagues who were submitting grants. I was given tasks like adding up budgets and finding references.

Now, I lead my own grant applications (mostly Australian Research Council grants, but occasionally large tenders for industry or philanthropic grants). I collaborate with national and international colleagues, as well as industry partners.

I've had more failures than successes (which applies to just about every other researcher I know) but, regardless of the outcome, there are things I’ve learned over the years about making the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Here are my key tips for your grant writing pleasure!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

iThenticate - it's here to help (Helen Young)

Photo by Jimmy Chang | unsplash.com
We all know not to plagiarise, but managing ethical publication isn’t as simple as saying ‘don’t copy’ like we got told in primary school tests.

Anyone can make a mistake, get a reference wrong, or forget to put quote marks in their notes and think the passage is a paraphrase months later. And what about quoting and citing yourself?

In this day and age of impact and engagement, we often write about the same research more than once as we try to reach the biggest audience we can. It can be hard to find new words to do it in, especially when time is a commodity nobody has enough of.

So, what’s a time-poor researcher to do?

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The real reason I engage in scientific outreach (Charles Gray)

My best friend is a high school teacher and the question he gets asked the most is “What am I ever going to use this for?”

I would wager that the subject that gets this question the most is mathematics.

As a PhD student in mathematical statistics, I know that problems of today and the problems of tomorrow, such as climate change, income inequality, and cancer, cannot be solved without the mathematical sciences. But high school students don’t necessarily know this.

It’s this message that I, as a careers ambassador for the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute’s Choose Maths campaign, have been sharing with high school students around Australia.

In March 2017, we toured the country screening the movie Hidden Figures, a chronicle of three extraordinary female mathematicians who worked in the space program at NASA in the 1960s, to high school girls. At each event, we have women who work in mathematics-related fields speak and share their journey. This role developed from my work as a student affiliate with Women in STEMM Australia, for whom I curated a feature series on women studying STEMM last year, and various similar projects.

Why would I do something like this?

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

What's the Statistics Consultancy Research Platform? (Xia Li)

The consultancy offers statistical advice about research methods, experimental design and data analysis to improve the quality and impact of research outcomes. Services are available to La Trobe researchers and graduate research students across all campuses, as well as external organisations.

In this week’s blog, Xia Li (Statistics Consultant) shares with us some of her work on the platform, and the experiences of a researcher and student she assisted.

The RED Alert will feature posts on the experiences of each of the new research platforms over the coming weeks. These have been created to bring together capabilities, expertise and technology from across the university under defined structures to enhance how La Trobe researchers do their work, so we hope you enjoy learning about them.

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As the Statistics Consultant, I’m supported by a team of statisticians: Dr Leila Karimi, Dr Graeme Byrne, Dr Jerry Lai, and Dr Masha Fridman.

Our aim is to raise the quality of research by providing advice on experimental design prior to the conduct of research, as well as the analysis of data, so that more of the results are publishable.

We have experience in a broad range of statistical methodologies, and offer support across all disciplines of research.

Since the launch of our platform in September 2016, we’ve assisted researchers and students across nine schools.

Here's a breakdown of what we can do for you:

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Beer and Ideas: Presenting research to a general audience (Sarah Hayes)

Before the microphone at the pub
Photo by Marcella Carragher
As a historical archaeologist it's very easy to get stuck in the past. Being included in the ‘History Matters’ series for Melbourne Free Uni was an opportunity for me to reflect on the current relevance of my research and share it with an interested audience over a glass of wine.

But talking to a general audience was a new experience for me, and the preparation turned out to be quite different to my previous academic papers!

Suddenly, I found myself thinking much more about the audience, hooks, and narrative.

About unleashing my academic third person distance from what I was discussing and putting myself in the picture.

About being a little creative - gasp!

I thought I'd share a bit about my experience here.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

3 ways to fix those meetings (Tseen Khoo)

(Image origin unknown)
Every academic I know loathes meetings. Loathes them.

They view meetings as obstacles to (rather than elements of) work, wasted time, forced upon them, and – even worse – as forums for awful colleagues to showcase their awfulness.

Having attended many meetings in my academic and other professional lives, I can’t rally much of a defence for meetings. They are the bane of many working lives, academic or not.

Now, I’m not talking in this post about getting together with collaborators, new colleagues, or catching up with buddies under the guise of ‘meetings’. These could turn out badly, but they’re more likely to be energising and fun events. And they’re often by choice.

However, no-one’s ever said that of the majority of work meetings, particularly those regular committee and staff ones.

Despite initial appearances, this post isn’t just another long whinge about meetings!

This post is about how to try to fix the main things that are wrong with meetings. I want to help you help others make meetings useful. Yes, useful. As a baseline, you should be observing meeting etiquette no matter how cheesed off you are that you have to attend.