What field do you currently work in? *
What is the highest degree in astronomy/physics you have received? *
What is/was your most recent academic position in astronomy/physics? *
Previously a post-doc at CSIRO; Currently an adjunct lecturer at UQ (unpaid)
What has been your career path since you completed your degree? *
Post-doc at CSIRO; Computational physicist at ETP Ion Detect + adjunct lecturer at UQ + Rhee Tae Kwon Do instructor
What were the most important factors that led you to leave astronomy and/or academia? *
Grant/fellowship writing sucks. The hours are ridiculous. I get paid so much more in industry.
What is the job title for your current position?
What is the name of your company/organization/institution?
ETP Ion Detect
What city and country do you live in and/or work in?
What is your social background? Are there any identifiers that you think are particularly relevant?
I grew up a dirt poor kid in the bush. I’m descended from convicts, free settlers, ten pound poms and holocaust refugees.
What do you do for fun (e.g., hobbies, pastimes, etc.)?
Movies. Video games. Power lifting. Martial Arts. Open source projects.
List your favorites. Band (or singer/composer/etc.), recent film, current TV series, food, color, pet.
If you’ve never seen `Big Trouble in Little China’, then you haven’t lived.
What’s something you greatly miss about grad school? What about something you definitely don’t miss?
I miss the unfettered intellectual freedom to pursue what interests me.
If you have made a career change, what was your age at the time?
What have been particularly valuable skills for your current job that you gained through completing your degree?
Programming experience. Statistical modelling and analysis skills. Data mining. My knowledge of physics.
What advice do you think advisors should be giving students regarding their career path?
The best advice I was given was, “If you’re going to be paid to research someone else’s ideas, then you might as well do it in industry for more money and a permanent position”.
What, if any, additional training did you complete in order to meet the qualifications of your current position?
What job hunting or networking resources or other advice/resources did you use to land your current position?
Describe a typical day at work.
I really don’t have a typical day. I might spend it building a database with a webpage front-end. Otherwise I might spend it discussing how to model condensed matter physics with other scientists. On other days I might spend most of my day in the clean room setting up experiments to run over the weekend.
How many hours do you work in a week?
What is your salary?
What is your level of satisfaction with your current job?
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job? Least enjoyable?
I hate writing documentation for software. I also hate that I can’t publish most of my work. I do enjoy that I don’t have to waste 30-40% of my time writing grants and fellowships that are unlikely to be successful. I also enjoy that I get to spend most of my time doing research.
What do you like most about your working environment? Dislike most?
It’s very similar to being a post-doc at CSIRO. Except without everyone worrying about our budget for next year.
What opportunities does your job provide to be creative and/or to take initiative?
Lots. I now run my own advanced concepts R&D team.
How satisfied are you with your work-life balance in your current job?
How family-friendly is your current position?
What advice do you have for achieving work-life balance (including having a family)?
I once read, “there’s no such thing as a lack of time, only a lack of priority”. I have embraced this philosophy and made sure that my wife and my son are my priority. I’ve found that work never stops screaming at me for my attention, and there’s always more of it. So I make sure to give my family what they need first, because they’re my first priority. That has made all the difference for me.
Do you still interact with people who work (directly) in astronomy and/or are you still involved in astronomy in some way?
Yes. I still actively publish papers in my now ample free time and am involved in several ASKA surveys.
Were there any emotional difficulties or social consequences to your career choices? Do you have any advice for those who are thinking of switching careers, but are wary of the side effects? Not for me.