Dr Julia Ellyard has been presented with the inaugural Judith Whitworth Fellowship for Gender Equality in Science at The Australian National University (ANU).
It is Australia’s first major fellowship designed to support early to mid-career scientists who have experienced significant career disruption as a result of maternity or parental leave.
“It’s a very lovely thing to see a bright young person like Julia having an opportunity to do even better,” said Emeritus Professor Judith Whitworth, after whom the award is named.
“What has excited me most is the fact that this local initiative has spread its tentacles all around the country with people in institutions talking about what they can do in a similar way.
“Society puts a lot of investment in training and educating these enormously talented people. We as a country can’t afford to throw that talent away.”
Dr Ellyard is an early career researcher at The John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR). She works in the department of Pathogens and Immunity looking at the causes of autoimmune diseases.
The Fellowship is based on merit and will provide Dr Ellyard, who has three young children, two years of salary plus research support of up to $50,000.
“I feel very honoured to be the inaugural recipient of this fellowship. It will give me the security to focus on generating the results and data needed to further my career without the pressure of securing funding,” Dr Ellyard said.
“It is hard coming back to work when you’ve got small children, it can take 1-2 years to get back to where you were before.
“I hope that this will be a long tradition of supporting early to mid-career researchers to allow them to really focus on what they are best at.”
The period will enable Dr Ellyard to re-establish scientific projects, strengthen her track record and regain national and international competitiveness when applying for independent external research funding.
“In research, if people have had two to three years off in the last five years raising children, they are not competitive,” said Director of The John Curtin School of Medical Research Professor Simon Foote.
“Julia is a fantastic researcher and the fellowship will allow her to build up her CV without having to worry about anything else and get back on track.”
The Fellowship is named in honour of Professor Judith Whitworth, past director of the JCSMR, and is supported by JCSMR, The John Curtin Medical Research Foundation, and ANU Workplace giving program.