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Winter 2015 Issue
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Leadership comes from within

Professor Julie Owens

Professor Julie Owens
Professor Julie Owens is uniquely suited to drive the University of Adelaide’s research strategy, with a brilliant career in medical science, a deep understanding of the campus developed over decades and enormous experience at the interface of inquiry and administration.

And she is very keen to use all of her experiencein a research leadership role. “I was looking for this sortof position, luckily it came up right here at Adelaide,”she says.

Professor Owens became Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Strategy) in May. It’s an enormous, important job but significant work, and lots of it, is something she is used to. Previous to this appointment she was Head of the University’s School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of Health Sciences, as well as co-director and research leader of the Early Origins of Health and Disease Theme and Group in the Robinson Research Institute.

She is also the author of over 170 refereed articles and book chapters and is experienced in assessing research through her membership of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Academy and the Australian Research Council’s College of Experts.

However, for all her credentials in health and medical science, Professor Owens is no silo-scholar: “Having being a member of the ARC College of Experts helps you get across other disciplines more easily.” And she points to the importance of multi-discipline research, “sociology and anthropology can provide important insights into the origins of the modern obesity epidemic”, she says.

“The real challenge now is to make explicit choices on using resources across the University to have both economic and research impact, as increasingly expected by government and the community,” she explains.

And you cannot focus on the former without investing in the latter. “Look at the University’s core mission –  it’s about increasing the body of fundamental knowledge and ensuring that translates into benefits for the wider community,” she says.

A challenge for sure, but it also remains a great opportunity, especially for young researchers at the University contemplating different career options. “My advice to any aspiring researcher is always to leap in and make the most of your opportunities and talent and see where it leads.”

Just as Professor Owens is doing.

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