The Courier-Mail - Career One - - Learning Curve -

Name: Pro­fes­sor Deb White PhD FFSc (RCPA) Po­si­tion: Di­rec­tor of Cancer Re­search, South Aus­tralian Health and Med­i­cal Re­search In­sti­tute; Pro­fes­sor in Medicine and Pae­di­atrics, Univer­sity of Ade­laide. Skill tips: To be a re­search sci­en­tist you‘ll need a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence de­gree, usu­ally with Honours. Most people em­ployed in my lab have PhDs.

To un­der­take a ca­reer in sci­ence, you need pas­sion – it is a ca­reer, not sim­ply a job. Be­ing a suc­cess­ful sci­en­tist re­quires a cer­tain level of in­tel­li­gence and a healthy cu­rios­ity.

You need to have good pow­ers of ob­ser­va­tion and be very ded­i­cated to your re­search. It’s not a 9am to 5pm, five day a week job – in many in­stances, it can con­sume most of your wak­ing hours.

I think it also is im­por­tant to be able to self-crit­i­cise and ac­cept crit­i­cism from oth­ers.

It is a lot about work­ing as a team to en­sure you achieve the best out­comes. You need to as­sess the way you’ve ap­proached some­thing and un­der­stand if that’s go­ing to an­swer the ques­tion.

Suc­cess­ful sci­en­tists have well-de­vel­oped oral and writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. Pa­tience also is an im­por­tant as­set. It needs to be fun, I’m not say­ing it’s a call­ing but you re­ally need to want to make a dif­fer­ence.

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