Exciton Science congratulates Dr Carol Hua as a recipient of both the Women in Science Emerging Researcher (WISER) Award and the RACI Alan Sargeson Lectureship.
Launched by the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Science in 2020, the WISER Award aims to address the issue of high attrition rates among female staff in the early stages of their career, leading to low representation of women in senior leadership and research roles.
WISER highlights two early or mid-career researchers each year and provides them with the resources to further their career. The award recognises research excellence, leadership capacity and potential, and engagement with outreach activities.
“During my undergrad, I think nearly all my professors were male,” Carol said.
“One of the few female professors, Professor Barbara Messerle was my Honours supervisor.
“I also had a female supervisor in my PhD, Professor Deanna D’Alessandro. When I started with her, we were her first PhD students. Now she’s Director of the Net Zero Initiative at the University of Sydney. It is inspiring to see the success that she has had.”
“I think having role models is extremely important because they show it is possible to succeed in academia, and in the traditionally male-dominated area of chemistry, as a woman. That is it possible to balance a research career with family commitments.”
Carol returned to the University of Melbourne and joined Exciton Science in early 2023. As she begins to assemble her own research group, now it’s her chance to show younger students a path to professional success.
“I'm conscious there are still few women,” she said.
“From a cultural diversity point of view, I'm one of the few Asian women among the academics.
“It's a bit humbling to be thinking that I'm in the role of inspiring the next generation, but it's also such an important part as well.”
While some important progress has been made, Carol remains well aware that further structural change is necessary to enable academics to enjoy a better balance of work and life.
“I'm conscious that if you were to take any time off, it's very difficult to keep a research career going due to the loss of momentum,” she said.
Carol also received the Alan Sargeson Lectureship from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI).
The Lectureship is a prestigious early career researcher award in the form of a lectureship that acknowledges significant and innovative individual contributions to the field by researchers within ten years of the award of their PhD.
Former winners of the Lectureship include Exciton Science Associate Investigator Colette Boskovic.
After a period of time at Deakin University, Carol is now a colleague of Colette at the University of Melbourne once again.
She joined Exciton Science to continue her work on the development of metal-organic frameworks as chemical sensors and stimuli responsive materials.
“It's been really great to be back at the University of Melbourne,” she said.
“The transition was much smoother than I thought it would be.
“The Centre has been fantastic, especially for the opportunities to meet new people and branch out into new areas of research.”