Monday, 4 September 2017

Early and Mid-Career Researcher mentoring and personalised grant writing advice now at MHTP

Professor Rosemary Horne
An interesting fact you may not know about Professor Rosemary Horne is that one of her first jobs was as a biologist, studying the diet of hares in New Zealand and then penguins in Antarctica.  With a fascinating career spanning four decades, and one of our most successful researchers at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP), Rosemary has a new position as ECR Advisor and Mentor at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS).  

Originally from New Zealand, Rosemary had aspirations to become a vet.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t successful in gaining admission (where it’s more competitive than medicine in her native country) so she completed her Bachelors and Master’s degrees in zoology. 

Rosemary in Antarctica
After moving to Australia in 1978, Rosemary found a job with the Australian Antarctic Division as a biologist.

“I counted sea birds and studied the diet of penguins,” Rosemary said.

“If you wonder how you do that, you put a tube down their throat and fill them up with water.  Then you turn them upside down over a bucket, so they vomit into the bucket, and you can see what they’ve been eating.”

Rosemary’s extremely successful career as a sleep scientist began when she did her PhD at Monash University in the 1980s, investigating arousal responses in lambs in relation to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

A mother of three, Rosemary is very familiar with the challenges of raising a family and pursuing an academic career in science.

“I was working full time as a Research Officer at the Centre for Early Human Development (now known as The Ritchie Centre), and completed my PhD part time over six years,” Rosemary said.

“During my PhD I also had my daughter, and I submitted my thesis two weeks before my son was born.”

Rosemary worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Bernie O’Brien Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital, the Howard Florey Institute and Deakin University before returning to the Department of Paediatrics at Monash University in 1995.

“I worked part time for fifteen years but maintained my output by publishing two to three papers per year consistently,” Rosemary said.

“It isn’t easy because working part-time, you still have to be productive and show that you’re better than the rest.”

“One of the best pieces of advice I received was to set up my CV with the time fraction I’d worked every year, showing that I’d worked part-time and still been productive.”

“The other advice I received at that stage of my career was to apply for an NHMRC Fellowship—I did and was successful.”

Rosemary has had continuous NHMRC funding since 2004, including an NHMRC Senior Fellowship for 11 years.  She has also received project and philanthropic funding, and has had NHMRC interviews every year for the past four years.  She is a member of many prestigious international committees in her field.

“We are certainly the leading paediatric sleep research group in Australasia and second in the world, in terms of publications,” Rosemary said.

“We’ve had a very productive relationship between clinicians in the sleep lab and basic scientists.”
Rosemary has published more than 150 papers, and successfully supervised twelve PhD students (with another three due to complete this year), and over 30 honours students.  She is proud that all have finished in minimum time.

Rosemary brings a wealth of experience to her new role as Early Career Researcher Advisor and Mentor.

“My expertise is 30 years’ in the NHMRC system, writing grants, writing fellowships and mentoring,” she said.

Rosemary said she’s thoroughly enjoyed her career, the students, the science, the international travel and colleagues around the world.  Now she is very excited about helping young researchers develop their careers in science.

“I’m very passionate about passing on my experience and expertise to early and mid-career researchers, particularly in the current environment of shrinking grant opportunities,” Rosemary said.

Rosemary is available at for anyone seeking advice, assistance or mentoring.  Or you can visit her in her office, Department of Paediatrics, Level 5, Monash Children’s Hospital.

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