Great advice from a 'Careers in science' panel (Jemma Gasperoni, Jordyn Thomas, and Keaton Crosse)

This project, supported by the Intellectual Climate Fund (ICF), is a great example of how a few scholars can collaborate and create a tailored event that's of value for the area's graduate researcher cohort. Thanks to the convenors for sharing their event report and the gems of advice from the panel about careers in science. 

This scheme is currently open for applications and closes 4 May. We'd love to see what you come up with - get creative! 

For academic staff, the Research Culture Fund (RCF) has similar aims and exactly the same deadline! 


After about 20 years of schooling and tertiary education, making the next BIG step into full-time employment can seem daunting for many graduate researchers!

Recognising this common anxiety among graduate researchers, the PAM HDR student society organised a Careers in Science and networking evening with the aim of helping their peers assess options for their post-graduation life.

One of the main objectives of the night was to showcase how diverse the postdoctoral careers of La Trobe's College of Science, Health, and Engineering alumni are. We wanted the participants to see just how many different pathways their current studies could take and provide them with some tools to make the transition process from study to employment a little less daunting.

The panellists provided thought-provoking recollections from their postdoctoral experiences and how the important yet scary choices they were forced to make along the way changed their trajectories.

Importantly, the panel also addressed how they had managed to juggle their careers and personal life, and the times when this balance was off. While these panellists each began with different PhD projects, which has resulted in very different career paths, there was a consensus in the advice that they gave to the graduate researcher audience.

The essence of their advice for graduate researchers as they progress into their careers included:
  • When you have a task at hand, if you can do it fast, get it done fast.
  • Be prepared.
  • If you choose to do something, buy into it and be dedicated.
  • Don’t be afraid to make decisions that other people may not like.
  • Be able to distinguish the personal from the professional.
  • Learn when to stop, when you need to delegate, and how to work with the people that you need in order to achieve your goals.
  • Think about what you want to do and use all the tools at your disposal to work it out.
  • Be respectful and listen to people.
  • Have the confidence to back yourself.
  • Don’t be too risk averse.
The final thoughts, echoed by all the panellists, were the encouragement to take opportunities as they come (they don’t often come around twice), and if you have a choice to make, follow your heart, but make sure you give yourself a chance to think about it first!

Many thanks to our wonderful all-woman panel for the night! Our guests for the event were:
  • Dr Claretta Dsouza, who works for MTP connect, MedTech and Pharma Growth Centre
  • Dr Peta Stringer, a forensic scientist for Victoria Police
  • Professor Dena Lyras, Deputy Director Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and lab head, Functional Biology of Bacterial Pathogens, President of Australian Microbiology Society
  • Professor Annabelle Duncan previously Vice chancellor at University of New England, currently Chair of the NSW Physical Sciences Fund, Chair of the Australian College of Learned Academies Expert Work group on Rural and Regional Research Excellence and a member of the Board of the Regional Australia Institute
  • Professor Marilyn Anderson, Professor of Biochemistry at La Trobe University and Chief Science Officer and Director of Hexima
If you didn't make it to this event last year, follow the events of the PAM HDR Society to stay in the loop for upcoming events in 2020!


Jemma Gasperoni, Jordyn Thomas and Keaton Crosse are PhD researchers in the School of Life Sciences, La Trobe University. Their research areas include developmental biology & neuroscience, inflammation in hypertension and kidney disease, and the innate antiviral response, respectively.

When they are not in the lab, they are busy organising activities for the Physiology, Anatomy and Microbiology (PAM) HDR Student Society (Twitter: @PostgradsOfPAM).

Jemma is on Twitter at @JemmaGasperoni, and her lab is @DworkinSeb.
Jordyn is on Twitter at @JordynMThomas, and her lab is @VBIG_lab.
Keaton is on Twitter at @keaton_crosse, and his lab is @HelbigLab.