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New fellowships to retain the best postdoctoral talent

27 November 2017
Tenure-track positions for outstanding early-career researchers

The University has launched a new fellowship program to support and retain our best early-career academics.

An initiative of the 2016-20 Strategic Plan, the Robinson Fellowships create a pathway towards continuing teaching and research positions at the University. The structured, four-year program includes salary, up to $150,000 each year for research costs, and mentoring support.  

We know it can be extremely difficult to get a break as a young academic, no matter how good you are.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison said fellows will be identified on the basis of merit and potential, as well as their ability to help the University achieve its strategic vision, including our commitment to excellence, engagement with the community and realising the attributes we seek to develop in all of our academic staff to build a high-performing research culture.

“We know it can be extremely difficult to get a break as a young academic, no matter how good you are," Professor Ivison said. "The Robinson Fellowships are part of a series of programs (along with SOAR and the Sydney Fellowships) to recruit, retain, recognise and develop outstanding young scholarly talent, giving them a future at Sydney.”

Named after Nobel Prize winner Sir Robert Robinson, the fellowships sharpen the University’s focus on research excellence.

Sir Robert, who joined the University in 1912 as a 26-year-old organic chemistry academic before returning home to England in 1915, made significant contributions to the knowledge of how atoms are arranged in molecules such as morphine, papaverine and narcotine. These discoveries led to the successful production of certain antimalarial drugs and, in 1947, Sir Robert was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Dr Andrew Black, Director of Research Development and Collaboration in the Research Portfolio, said envisages 10 fellowships will be awarded every year over the remainder of the 2016-20 Strategic Plan, with at least 50 percent awarded to women as part of the University's commitment to gender equity across all disciplines. 

“One of the important aims of this program is to support outstanding younger academics – who most likely will be on fixed-term appointments funded by external fellowships – at critical points in their careers when balancing scholarship and family commitments can be particularly challenging,” Dr Black said.

“The Fellowships not only provide salary and research funding, they also provide one-on-one mentoring to ensure fellows are equipped with the skills they need to transition into a continuing academic position that contains teaching and research responsibilities.”

“This is part of a wider program of work we are developing in the Research Portfolio – mentoring support and a complete training program for academics at every stage of their careers, including how to build and lead teams, how to approach potential partners in industry, government and the community, or how to conduct a high-quality clinical trial.”

Eligible candidates will hold an externally or internally funded fellowship that is due to finish in the next two years, and be less than 12 years post-PhD.