Student and ECR Retreat in Glenelg

Student and ECR Retreat attendees.

The future looks bright for the mathematical sciences in Australia, at least if you look at the group of researchers who attended the 2019 ACEMS Student and ECR Retreat in Glenelg, South Australia.

More than 80 students and ECRs attended the retreat which was geared to making sure that those who attended could get ready for whatever comes up next in their career. It also included sessions to help them deal with their current challenges as well.

One of the highlights of the retreat was an industry panel discussion which included researchers from various fields of industry:

  • Research Scientist: Emily Hackett-Jones (Centre for Cancer Biology and LIFELENZ - SA)
  • Data Scientist: Jonathan Carroll (Genentech - SA)
  • Research outside academia: Hamideh Anjomshoa (IBM Research - VIC)
  • Mathematical Consultant/Applied Mathematician: Steven Donaldson (Polymathian - QLD)
  • Industry: Steven Barry, Airservices Australia

Steven Barry also led a workshop on how to write your CV, with tips when applying for opportunities in industry.

"His guide is based on the experiences of an applied mathematician who has recruited numerous mathematics, engineering, and technical staff at a large corporation," says ACEMS Chief Investigator Tim Garoni (Monash), who chaired the session.

There was also a very lively academic panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities of working in academia.  Panellists were:

  • Professor Matt Roughan (UoA)
  • Professor Matt Wand (UTS)
  • Dr Melissa Humphries (UoA)
  • Dr Petra Kuhnert (CSIRO)
  • Vanessa Haller-Bull (QUT)

The panel had a lot of good advice for the group. It included useful information for students on how to get through the rest of their PhD.

Click to watch the Data Camp Video.2019 Retreat Academic Panel Session. Click image to play

In addition to these panel discussions, the retreat also provided some beneficial workshops. Research Fellow Robert Salomone (UNSW) ran a workshop on ‘Automated Differentiation and other Computational Tricks’. Associate Investigator Jono Tuke (UoA) ran a workshop titled ‘Hack to hand-over'. It focused on R programming skills aimed at helping students write and produce open-source packages at a high standard that can accompany published work.

The retreat also provided an excellent opportunity to see what other research was going on around the Centre.

“At this retreat, we introduced a new style of ‘pitch’ talks where students and ECRs presented their research in three minutes to a small group. Groups then rotated, and presenters repeated their talk to different audiences. We received feedback that this session was effective in collecting and incorporating constructive comments more quickly,” says Aline Kunnel, a PhD student with ACEMS at UoA, and Chair of ACEMS’ Student Committee.

There were also more informal ways for group members to get to know each other, including a networking event with industry representatives and a scavenger hunt.

“The retreat provided us with the opportunity to create and maintain relationships with students and ECRs from other universities. These relationships are essential when working in research and allow for future collaboration,” says Aline.

One final feature that helped was that the retreat had its own website. PhD student Behrooz Niknami from ACEMS at The University of Melbourne created the site. It was a great way to advertise the retreat’s Code of Conduct, program and share updates among attendees and those who were unable to attend.

Congratulations to all students and ECRs who contributed to this important and successful event, especially the organisers – ACEMS’ Student and ECR Committees -- led by Aline, and Rachael Quill, the Chair of ACEMS’ ECR Committee.

There were 94 retreat attendees:
Student 59
Research Fellows 11
Associate investigators 12
Industry partners/Affiliates 5
Chief Investigators 4
Professional Staff 3

Retreat photos Click to view full photo

ACEMS Student Committee

(back row) James Yu, Tim Garoni (CI liaison), Behrooz Niknami, Dennis Liu, (front row) Jiesen Wang, Aishwarya Bhaskaran, Aline Kunnel, Vanessa Haller-Bull