ECR Workshop 2013

ARCCSS staff enjoy a break during the ECR workshop. 


CoE ECR Workshop, Melbourne, 13/14 November 2013
Organisers: Ruth Lorenz (UNSW) and Stephanie Downes (ANU)

Laura O’Brien organised our first Early Career Research (ECR) event, a social evening at Beer DeLuxe in Federation Square, Melbourne on November 13th. The night was a success, with about 40 participants, plenty of food and drink, and a good opportunity for ECRs to discuss the previous CoE Workshop in Lorne.

Sixty-five ECRs participated in the actual ECR Workshop, mostly PhD students and Postdocs/Research Fellows. The event was held at the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) headquarters in Melbourne. We appreciate the help of several BoM administration staff in helping with logistics.

Melissa Hart started the day by discussing the role of the CoE Graduate Director, and demonstrating how the CoE goals were aiming to address critical issues in climate research highlighted by the Australian government 5 years ago.

Scott Wales from the CMS team reinforced that scientists need to communicate their key tools, scripts, output, etc. to the CMS team so that some of these could be placed on a shared server/central repository and increase research efficiency within the CoE.

Tony Hirst (CSIRO) described the types of research jobs within CAWCR (CSIRO and BoM). He outlined the different type of positions, how one changes from one type of position to another, the structure of career paths in CSIRO and BoM, and how career levels related to the academic levels we currently hold.

Kevin Walsh (Uni. Melb.; J. Climate Editor) spoke about publishing in high impact journals, average manuscript rejection rates, the roles and responsibilities of the first author, the importance of describing the motivation and need for the research being published, and the role of the reviewer.

The final guest speaker was the CoE’s media officer, Alvin Stone. Alvin described the challenges associated with talking to skeptics and emphasized the importance of being prepared.

After lunch the participants joined one of three breakout sessions: publications, led by Kevin Walsh; presentations, led by Christian Jakob; and media, led by Alvin Stone. Each session required some sort of pre-workshop preparation. The goal of the breakout sessions was to further develop skills important in a science career by receiving constructive comments from experts and colleagues.

The ECR workshop concluded with a panel of four postdocs briefly describing their career path thus far, and then the audience asking them various questions about the Ph.D. and postdoctoral experience. The four panel members were Daniel Hernandez-Deckers (UNSW), Sophie Lewis (Uni. Melb.), Jennifer Ayers (UTas), and Jules Kajtar (UNSW). Some of the discussion points raised by the audience included: the advantages and disadvantages of doing an overseas post-doc; how international scientists view doing a postdoc here in Australia; what happens when your Ph.D. goes wrong and the role of postgraduate student associations and University counsellors; applying for post-doc positions; work-life balance; gender imbalance.

Overall, the ECR Workshop was a great success!

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