"My mum used to wonder when I would leave University and get a real job.
In recent years she has read in newspapers of our fundamental research being applied to the medical field… I think she is ok about it now!"
Can you tell us about your time at Deakin? Is there anything you especially remember?
It was a time of change for Deakin. Research was becoming more important. Chemistry was led a young dynamic professor Alan Bond, supported by other legends 󠄡ryl Tucker, Henry Hudson, Peter Kavanagh, Roger Gillard etc. The PhD times were legendary working in a small group where nothing was impossible!
What has been your journey since finishing your course? Briefly outline your career path prior to your current role.
I joined University College Cork straight from my PhD. After 2.5 years, I returned to the University of Wollongong where I have been since. I was appointed a Professor in Chemistry at age 32 in 1990. I have held a number of ARC fellowships culminating in an ARC Layerate Fellowship. I have served as Director of an ARC Centre of Excellence for the past 10 years. Deakin is part of the Centre.
What has been the biggest influence on your career?
Key people I have had the privilege to work with: Alan Bond – mentioned above; Leon Kane Maguire – head of UoW Chem Dept for many years; Ian Chubb – DVC Research at UoW and later Australia’s Chief Scientist; Graeme Clark – bionic ear fame; Alan Macdiarmid – Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry; Dame Bridget Ogilvie – Chair of our International Advisory Board for the past 5 years. There are many, many more…
Have you always wanted to pursue the kind of career you have embarked on? If so, when and how did you realise?
I decided I wanted to do research that would have clinical application in Year 11. I had excellent Chemistry and Physics and Maths teachers at Oberon High School in Belmont. It took me a long time to realise my dream. I had to establish research credibility with no funding. It was my meeting with Graeme Clark and the start of collaborative activities (maybe 20 years ago) and things started to change.
What advice would you give graduates wanting to pursue a similar profession?
You need a dream – a vision – lots of patience – lots of hard work and lots and lots of luck. Always listen and respect the opinions of others – they just might be right.
What do you believe Deakin University has shown you/given you as a person?
Everything is possible if you work hard enough and learn to work with others. During the PhD degree we took on many things together that could not have been done individually.
What are your passions outside your work?
My family, Soccer, AFL - The Cats, Guitar, Singing tunes.
How would someone describe you?
Hardworking, Humorous (I hope), a collaborator, a friend… oh, and an absolute bloody idiot sometimes.
Is there any advice you would give to a person who is starting out in your career?
The world of research is now inherently multidiscipline – as well as being at the cutting edge of your field you need to develop the non-technical skills needed to build teams.