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: 

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:

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.