We are handing over our blog to women working in the health and medical research field so they can share their personal and professional stories with us. This is a way to get to know other Franklin Women, learn about different health and medical research related careers (not just academia!) and promote the great contributions women make to the health and medical research field every single day! We will also use our blog as a way to share with you other important tit-bits as they come our way.
To see posts made by each of the authors, click on their name from the list to the left.
Franklin Women roving reporter Dr Louise Randall speaks with Julia Archbold on her career journey from medical research scientist to freelance editor. Want to connect with Julia? You can find her on Twitter or email.
You are on a new adventure and just started your own business. Can you tell us a bit about what it is?
My new business is in science editing and writing. The business is called Corrected. At the moment, I’m freelancing to three major science and medical writing companies. I also have some of my own clients. Typically, my clients are non-native English speakers. Some of the bigger companies send me manuscripts that they have translated from a different language, whether it’s Chinese or Japanese. It’s sometimes translated directly from that language into English, so the grammar needs correcting after that. For example, the Chinese language is very different to English. They don’t have verb tenses at all. In a science article, there needs to be past tense and present tense. So I fix that up. I also fix up the flow of the article. There are little things that you can change to improve the readability of the paper. And then I will proofread it. I have to be very meticulous. I also format it for submission to a particular journal if they ask for that. I’m loving it. It’s going really well. There’s been a little bit of a hurdle to get the clients but that’s starting to pick up now and I’m starting to get busy.
Before this you were a health and medical researcher with a PhD at Monash. What was your research area?
My research area was in structural immunology. I was looking at crystal structures of proteins involved in our immune system. My PhD was on organ transplant rejection and graft versus host disease, and trying to understand at the molecular level how that all happens. Structural biology was my training. More...
Louise: We are so excited that a medical research scientist is to be the Chief Executive Officer of the National Health and Medical Research Council. Your research career started in immunology with your PhD at the University of Melbourne. Can you tell us about what got you into health science and how your research has evolved over the years, please?
Anne: I was always interested in science at school. My mother was a scientist before she had a family. She was from a different time when most women stopped work when they were married or when they started to have children. She really introduced me to biological sciences and I thought it was really cool when I was a kid. I was particularly interested in microbiology because it was a whole microscopic world that you couldn’t normally see. I got the idea that I should be a microbiologist and that’s exactly why I enrolled in science and majored in microbiology. But then during the third year, I found the lectures that were the most interesting and the most challenging were those on immunology. So then I did my honours year and PhD with Bill Boyle who was the reader in immunology in the Department of Microbiology at that time. So that early interest as a child was carried through and I was very happy with that choice. Looking back, there were many areas of biological science that I would’ve loved just as much. Perhaps, if I was starting again now, neuroscience would’ve been the equivalent of immunology back in those days. Immunology is still very exciting but neuroscience feels like the next frontier. Perhaps I would make a different decision today.
Louise: What made you first take on executive roles in the health and medical research field, such as the Director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Vaccine Technology and then Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza?
Anne: I was a very happy bench scientist. I enjoyed that very much. I didn’t at first deliberately plan to move away from being a full time bench scientist. But, when I was about SRO level, I was at the WEHI and I started to get involved in other things like the Australasian Society of Immunology (ASI) and I was eventually President of that society. I was involved fairly early on in the Australian Research Council biological sciences panel, which also really broadened my view of biological sciences. If you are only ever involved with NHMRC, you have a relatively narrow view of what biological science is about but that really broadened my view a lot, realising the huge diversity of work that is done in Australia funded by the ARC. So from starting to be involved in some of those external roles and getting a broader view of what science was all about, I started to think more about my place and how I could contribute most. I then moved to the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR). I set up a lab there and got involved in other things like the International Union of Immunological Societies. I started to think that I was getting involved in a lot of external committees, which was very interesting but piece meal and not very substantial, and that I would quite like to have a go at doing something on a bigger scale. Then, when Michael Good resigned from the directorship of the Cooperative Research Centre for Vaccine Technology (CRC-VT) to become Director of QIMR, I applied for the Directorship of CRC-VT, got More...
Hi Franklin Women! I am Yosephine, a new member of FW. Unlike with other FW’s blog, I would like to share a rather different story - my personal story of transitioning from a job in industry back to academia!
Part 1 - Multiple pathways lead to a successful career. I finished my PhD in protein engineering in 2010. I was working on improving the desired property of enzymes so that they could be useful for industrial applications, ranging from pharmaceuticals to bioremediation. I had always thought that I was not suited for a traditional academic career as I preferred doing applied rather than basic research. I was lucky enough that my main PhD project was applied however I also had side projects that were more around deepening basic knowledge. When an opportunity to work in industry came by after finishing my PhD (a former colleague who went to industry following her post-doc offered me a position in her company) I knew I had to take up my dream job as Product Development Manager. My key responsibilities in this role were to develop ideas and new formulations for product launches, to prepare and present the concepts/product prototypes to customers, to generate preliminary costs for new products and reformulations and to maintain knowledge on regulation issues and competitor business. In addition, I had to monitor efficient working of all projects and ensure compliance to project plan/timeframe and allocate appropriate resources for project and prioritise them. Phew...a lot!
I was initially satisfied with the work however after spending 1.5 years in industry I felt there was something missing in my career. Instead of applying for similar jobs in another company I re-entered academia by taking up a post-doctoral research position at The University of Queensland (UQ). To my own surprise, despite the pressure of having to publish and obtain grants, I now enjoy the privilege of doing research that I am passionate about (learning from the nature on the best ways of engineering enzymes, for example by resurrecting ancient proteins to create robust enzymes!). Unlike being tied to the rigid corporate structure, working in an university environment offers you appealing aspects that the job can offer - freedom (you can write, develop and even apply funds to support your own ideas/ passion) and working with students (which could be fun but also stressful which leads me to Part 2 of this post...) More...
Good systematic reviewers are highly sought after. My boss claims in the last 20 years (since systematic review really kicked off) he has never known a systematic reviewer not to be in demand. I was lucky to stumble across the job ad and subsequently get the position I am in. I honestly had no idea what I was really applying for. My company made a decision to recruit graduates so the ad was targeted to the skills they were looking for – the list matched my skills so I applied. Having held the role for three and a half years I am now involved in recruitment of new trainees and fully appreciate More...
You may have heard of or even read a systematic review however you may not be familiar with the ins and outs of the process. There is a great synopsis published by the ‘What is…?’ series which I recommend for some more details. In short, it is myresponsibility to identify all relevant literature pertaining to a particular research question so that a non-biased assessment can be made. In theory, you can design a research question to answer any question (a personal favourite: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials assessing how effective parachutes are at preventing death!). In my role I most frequently answer clinical questions so would be looking to identify all clinical trials relating to a question. However, other common reviews include identification of evidence related to cost-effectiveness, health related quality of life and epidemiology. A systematic review can be broken down into the following steps: defining the research More...
If you have spent any time in the twittersphere lately you may have come across the NatureJobs social media campaign #ScientistOnTheMove. The aim of this campaign is to demonstrate and promote the mobility of science i.e. the different jobs out there for those with traditional science training. Talking about the different careers outside of academia that value the skills acquired through science PhD training is something I am very passionate about. It was actually one of the main inspirations for Franklin Women. Hence, when I came across the shout out from Nature on twitter for scientists who have made a move from academia, I put my hand up! In their latest blog post NatureJobs showcased 4 researchers who have transitioned into non-academic roles (but still in science), and I am one of them (hoorah!). You can read the post here. They also put together a storify where you can see all the tweets using the ScientistOnTheMove hashtag to follow the conversation.
The NatureJobs blog gives you a snap shot of each of these researchers and their career moves but I thought some might be interested in the nitty gritties. So below I have copied my full responses to NatureJobs that go into where I started, where I am now, and all the factors that contributed to what happened in between. Although it was extremely hard at the time, I am now proud of my achievements since leaving academia and hope others might relate to my personal journey (though acknowledge many are on a completely different journey, and won't).
I am Juliette. I graduated in 2010 with a BSc in Microbiology from the University of East Anglia (UEA, UK). In between the parties, the contact hours would be recognisable to any biology graduate; lectures, seminars and lab work. My dissertation included a 10 week lab placement and write up attempting to determine one of the pathways associated with vancomycin resistance. I also took the opportunity to conduct 10 week lab placement during a summer holiday looking at the influence of various substances on muscle degeneration.
I enjoyed my three years at UEA greatly and left with three aims: (1) to never work in a lab, (2) to find a job where I could use my degree and (3) go travelling. After spending most of my life in education travelling was a high priority so done and dusted first. A year after graduating I started the job More...
If you are in the field of genetic research in Australia then you are no doubt aware of the Lorne Genome Conference held annually in Lorne, Victoria. Registrations for the 2015 meeting are now open, as are applications for numerous awards offered as part of the conference. These include the usual Travel, Student and ECR awards. However, this year they have launched a new award to acknowledge a women researcher within 10 years of PhD (full-time equivalent) who is excelling in the field of genome organisation and expression (and there is a $1000 prize!). The Lorne Genome Conference Women in Science Award will be awarded at next years conference in February.
It offers a wonderful opportunity to promote the excellent research done in this area by many female scientists. The financial prize will also be useful to assist in carrying out research or to attend a conference. At Franklin Women we are all about celebrating the wonderful contributions made by women in health and medical research and encouraging women to put themselves out there for the accolades they deserve - so what are you waiting for, get going on that application!!..
They close soon on 31st October. All the information can be found on the conference website and it has also been added to the list of resources in the members area of the FW website.
Good luck! FW
You totally should. Here are some things to think about before you do.
How do you become a medical writer?
There aren’t any specific courses or qualifications you need to do to become a medical writer. You just need to be able to write, have a medical or scientific background and a desire to spend hours staring at a screen, rather than down a microscope.
However, I would definitely recommend doing some kind of professional writing course. I did a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing at TAFE. I thought I could write pretty well before I started it, but what the course first taught me was that actually, no, I couldn’t. Professional, technical writing is a skill like any other that can be practised and developed. Believe me when I tell you that you have to be taught it. You might also find it helpful to learn or refresh your grammar and punctuation skills. More...
There’s something to be said for having a nice, defined profession or vocation. When I used to work in the lab, I could answer the question, ‘So, what do you do?’ with ‘scientist’. It’s a nice, easy label. Most people know vaguely what a ‘scientist’ does, and they might even think you sound interesting. However, since I gave up the pipette for the pen, whenever I get asked the inevitable question regarding occupation, I find myself hesitating. The conversation then usually runs like this: More...