Jess, 28, is a PhD student at the University of Melbourne and tutors at the university, Medley Hall and The Murrup Barak, Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development. Jess lives in East Melbourne with her partner, Keith.
“I started off studying Arts/Science, but found that science is what I was really interested in, so I discontinued Arts, finished my Science degree and went into a Masters of Science. Now I’m close to finishing my PhD in fundamental chemistry.
I’m researching how molecular cages can form and how they can hold other molecules, which could allow chemical reactions to occur that aren’t possible without these cages. They also have the potential to capture other molecules, which might be useful for cleaning up spills and unwanted chemicals in the environment.
My partner Keith is also in science, and we’ve been talking about whether we can afford to buy our own place. But with the government cutting hundreds of jobs in science, friends I’ve studied with are being forced to move overseas to find work. I feel like I need to step away from research if I want to stay in Melbourne and have any sort of job security that would let me take on a mortgage with Keith.
I love what I study and want to stay in science, but it’s scary not knowing if I’ll have a job when I finish my PhD. I’ve invested years of my life into training as a scientist and I feel like it could go to waste if I’m forced to stop researching because the government has cut so much funding for science and research.”
George, Researcher and post-Doctoral fellow
George, 45, started his academic research career at the University of Melbourne in 2003, after completing a Bachelor of Science and PhD at LaTrobe University and, a post-Doctoral fellowship in the USA. His research career included a 5-year fellowship through the Australian Research Council (ARC) which ended in January 2015, during which more than 40 publications in international scientific peer-reviewed journals were achieved. After close to 12 years in research at the School of Chemistry in Melbourne, George was forced to hang up his lab coat.
“The ARC Future Fellowship scheme, which would have been the next step in my career, appears to have been all but scrapped.
Last year, I was waiting for the application rounds for the Future Fellowships program to open but they never did.
And when my fellowship ended in January this year, there was still no information about the program and no permanent position available at the university. In fact academic positions Australia-wide are very scarce.
I looked at moving overseas, but I live with my partner here in Melbourne. We have a mortgage. My whole life is here, I didn’t want to leave.
Now, after 18 years in research, I’m out of the research sphere and have started a small business, hoping to create myself a job.”