One year on…

The 2017 Future Leaders Award was created to enable leaders to achieve their leadership vision. One year on, we hear from two scientists about how the award impacted their career.


Dr Lucy Sullivan

Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity

It was a tremendous honour to receive the WiSPP Future Leaders Award in December 2018. This award came at a critical point in my career where I am juggling the demands of maintaining career momentum and raising a young family. At this point in my career, it is challenging to sustain productive bench lab work, hence I proposed a PhD project for a new student to advance the experimental work. The WiSPP award allowed me to provide relocation funding for a talented PhD student from Iran. She commenced her research project under my supervision in July 2018 and already has made some exciting discoveries that will be shortly incorporated into a manuscript. I sincerely thank WiSPP for the opportunity to boast my research output at this critical juncture.

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Dr Jess Nithianantharajah

Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Melbourne

The WiSPP Future Award was a catalyst for being able to present at two major international meetings and re-engage with the international neuroscience community, my first attendance at an international conference since having my first child in 2015. The challenges of developing my independent research team after returning from abroad, at the same time as starting a family and having a partner with restricted flexibility in their job, created an extremely challenging environment within which to juggle research and academic career development. The inability to attend conferences and the lack of international travel has been a major barrier. Supported by the WiSPP Future Award which contributed towards travel costs, I attended the 2018 International Behavioural Neuroscience Society (IBNS) meeting in Florida, USA in June where I chaired and presented in a symposium. There were numerous benefits from this meeting including the formation of strong collaborative networks which has already fuelled joint research projects and proposals to other international meetings, the invitation to be part of the organising committee for the 2019 IBNS meeting, as well as the face-to-face chance to foster a closer collaboration with an Australian postdoctoral researcher currently based in the US and interested to return to Australia and join my team. Our conversations have stimulated joint application submissions for funding with the hope that I can help support an emerging female early career researcher in STEMM. The second conference was the 15th Meeting of the Asian-Pacific Society for Neurochemistry in August 2018 in Macao, China. I presented in an invited symposium with recent collaborators and this opportunity provided a unique chance to present unpublished work I have only recently generated, within a different area of research, and gain constructive feedback. Both these trips have been immensely valuable towards building my international track record, especially at this pivotal transition stage in my career, and for this I am truly grateful to WiSPP for their wonderful support.