Professional Development Sessions

A central component of the ASMR National Scientific Conference in 2020 is focused on Professional Development.
These programs will equip early and mid-career medical researchers with vital skills
to increase their competitiveness and capacity in the sector

Day 1: 


Diversity, Inclusion and Allyship in Health and Medical Research – presented in partnership with QueersInScience in recognition of LGBT+ STEM Day


Our diverse backgrounds and life experiences shape the way we see the world, engage with it and approach complex and challenging situations. The health and medical research sector benefits greatly from diversity of people, ideas and problem-solving skills. However, the expertise that marginalised and intersectional groups bring to the table to achieve these outcomes has traditionally not been valued for its rich contribution to the workplace.

Join us for a session focused on exploring the importance of diversity, inclusion and allyship including discussions about;

(a) stereotypes about what it means to be a scientist and the importance of diversity and inclusion
(b) how biases in our research has significant implications for the way that we understand, treat and discuss both health and disease
(c) lived experience of diversity and intersectionality in STEM
(d) the importance of visibility for marginalised communities
(e) how to be an active ally for change both personally and professionally

This session will be delivered by Dr Erin McGillick (ASMR Diversity and Inclusion theme leader), Prof Vera Ignjatovic (ASMR Medical Research Week® Director) and Matt Coleman  from QueersInScience.

This session is being held in recognition of LGBT+ STEM day on November 18th which celebrates the lives and contributions of LGBT+ people in STEM.

If you’d like to learn more before the session you can;

  • read more about the importance of diversity and inclusion in health and medical research you can read the ASMR’s most recent newsletter
  • learn more about QueersInScience
  • read a recent nature publication about challenges LGBT+ scientists face in STEM

11:45 to 1PM

Building Psychological Capital For A Resilient Future in Medical Research

The world of STEMM can be a brutal place filled with rejection, failure, and aggravation. This often leaves us feeling despondent, pessimistic or hopeless. The constant round of applications, submissions, resubmissions and re-testing can be extremely challenging. This can lead to exhausted individuals scrambling towards the future, unable to achieve their long-term vision.

How can we survive in this environment and become resilient, empowered researchers, with the capacity to thrive and flourish? We need to build high levels of psychological capital incorporating the principles of Hope, Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism.

  • Hope is defined as ‘the perceived ability to produce pathways to achieve desired goals and to motivate oneself to use those pathways’ (Cheavens, 2009). Identifying and working towards positive future oriented outcomes.
  • Efficacy is stated as confidence in one’s ability that they can achieve a specific goal within a certain situation.
  • Resilience is about having the ability to adapt and bounce forward (not just back) from adversity or set-backs.
  • Optimism is belief that we can change our attitudes and behaviours to determine a positive outcome (Seligman, 2011).

Learning objectives for this workshop:

  1. To have an understanding of psychological capital
  2. To determine what is required to build each of the components
  3. To establish how to be a more resilient researcher in the future
  4. To create more constructive work and personal environments
  5. To build more tangible and sustainable collaborations

When we apply the principles of psychological capital (relating to human capital and social capital) to our research profession regardless of our job roles, we will build a flourishing future for ourselves and others in medical research.



Rand, K. L., & Cheavens, J. S. (2009). Hope theory. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford library of psychology. Oxford handbook of positive psychology (p. 323–333). Oxford University Press.

Seligman, M. E. (2011). Flourish. Random House, Australia.


Christine Burns and Dr Elizabeth Pritchard

Co-Founders, WALT Institute

Christine Burns is the CEO and Co-Founder of WALT Institute. As a former elite athlete in hockey for New Zealand, she has over 20 years of coaching, sport psychology and performance expertise which she brings to the arena of Authentic Leadership.

Dr Elizabeth Pritchard is Director and Co-Founder of WALT Institute.  She is a health professional, researcher and leadership coach, and brings over 20 years of coaching and training expertise to Authentic Leadership development.

WALT Institute specialises in coaching and training people in STEM throughout the world, who struggle with lack of confidence, compromised productivity, or not believing they have what it takes. Christine and Elizabeth are experienced leadership facilitators and game changers. They coach and train people to release their untapped potential and step into their true authentic power. As a result, people feel inspired, less stressed and determined to live their lives with resilience and authenticity to achieve their career, and life goals.


Day 2:

11:45 to 1pm

Science communication

Science Communicators translate valuable research into meaningful stories to connect with a public suffering information fatigue. This workshop will ask participants: What is your origin story? What first made you care about the research you do? And how can we make others care? We will spend some time thinking about who our audience is and identify what popular understandings of our areas of science are, and whether our task is to challenge, enhance, or change those existing perceptions. We will also think about how to bring our research to life, spike curiosity, and share our love of what we do through science communication.


Atlanta Colley

Science and Comedy


Alanta is a comedian, science communicator and storyteller from Melbourne. With a background in International public health, her first solo science comedy show ‘Parasites Lost’ sold out its entire run at Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2017 and has been enjoyed by audiences in Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and for the Gates Foundation in Seattle. Her second solo show ‘Days of our Hives’ about bee keeping and bee losing attracted more bee keepers than any other show at comedy festival.

She’s toured nationally with her science comedy debate series ‘Sci Fight’, was a recipient of the ‘Inspiring Australia’ Science Arts Grant in 2019, and is a regular guest on ABC radio. She’s appeared on ABC TV News and in Frankie Magazine. She also moderates for the Transitions Film Festival.



3:30 to 4:30pm

How do you begin to advocate for a sector? What makes someone want to join an advocacy group? Why is advocacy important and how is it done effectively? These are some of the questions we will explore in this unique session. Using the case study of Reproductive Health Australia (RHA), a newly formed advocacy group under the leadership of ex-ASMR presidents Sarah Meachem and Jock Findlay, we will explore the enablers and the barriers when mobilising an industry to effect change. During the session, RHA will present a 10 min pitch showcasing who they are, what they want to accomplish, and how they have attempted to achieve these goals. We then invite veteran industry advocates ASMR (represented by Professor Robert Ramsay, past president) and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU; reprsented by Dr Alison Barnes, National President) to appraise RHA’s approach.

The session will be moderated by the CEO of Medicines Australia Ms Elizabeth de Somer – working with government, the health sector and patient organisations to design and implement the right policy settings. If you want to understand the power of a people through organised advocacy, think there is need to effect change in your industry, or simply feel compelled to keep some pressure on our pollies, you’ll enjoy tuning into this NSC session.