An inspirational lecturer (ecologist/philosopher) at University of Queensland got me excited about research. Alas, he went on sabbatical so I did an honours year in marine biology not rain forest ecology but research journeys do take some unpredictable turns! With my honours year yielding two journal papers, I chose from three research jobs, and opted for a new field in Australia, aquaculture, and specifically prawn farming.
I then turned my job into a very broad, external PhD at University of New England with help from three terrific supervisors. Both the three months spent investigating the centuries old Japanese aquaculture industry and my conservation activities were formative. With a PhD and many more publications, I got the chance to commercialise my research through a funded pilot prawn farming project. This was successful and stimulated my new commitment to creating and improving industries through research, farmer advice, profitability models and sound environmental practices.
An offer of a Senior Lecturer position at University of Tasmania led me to work on oysters, clams and abalone, often in genetics, bio-economics and sustainability. These nine wonderful years of working closely with industry and students, including teaching writing skills, then led to a research manager position in Fisheries WA in Perth where I also worked on abalone, marron and rock lobsters and did a huge amount of editing. We built this remarkable group of staff and research students to about 50 but, after more research than commercial success, government wound down its aquaculture research activities. Our family decided to stay in Perth as my sons were commencing their career training and I then found my job at ECU. Two years later, my understanding of research strategies has broadened exponentially and I find helping research students and staff with their writing skills to be more fun than management ever was! Clearly, the emphasis at ECU on community engagement fits well with my career.
Most importantly, I have thoroughly enjoyed my research career. I have also made a good living from research and been able to travel widely.