Jacqueline Phillips is a Professor of Neurophysiology and Deputy Chair of Academic Senate at Macquarie University.
With a lifelong passion for animals, it was a high school work experience placement with a local vet that cemented Jackie’s interest in undertaking her undergraduate studies in the field at the University of Sydney.
Throughout her degree, Jackie was fortunate to be involved in several opportunities that significantly influenced her career direction – including a CSIRO Research Scholarship and a 6-week intensive leadership training program at Cornell University in America.
The period of intense learning and collaboration at Cornell University saw Jackie be mentored by Research Leaders – expanding her horizons and inspiring her to consider a career in research. A highlight of the experience was being recognised on a Nature paper, a milestone she didn’t completely grasp the significance of at the time.
Following the completion of her undergraduate degree Jackie spent 2 years working as a Veterinarian. Through this fulfilling role, Jackie got to work with animals and see the joy and benefit they brought people both in good times and bad. But her Cornell experience was still top of mind, which saw Jackie actively seek a career in research.
Jackie embarked on basic neuroscience based PhD at the Australian National University, with the culmination of her PhD resulting in three significant milestones; submitting her PhD on the 1st September, celebrating her 30th birthday on the 2nd and welcoming her first child on the 3rd. Following her PhD, Jackie took up her first research position as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Auckland, NZ.
Jackie recalls celebrating with collaborators and her team as highlights of her career – whether on papers, grants or when a significant breakthrough was achieved through identifying an important genetic mutation.
In addition to her research, Jackie has been engaged in learning and teaching for undergraduate and postgraduate students; being awarded a Vice Chancellors Award for teaching and a nationally competitive Carrick Institute Award for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. Jackie also holds senior leadership roles with a focus on governance and strategic direction.
During times of transition and growth, mentors have played a significant role in Jackie’s career. From the ‘brilliant scientist’ who was her postdoctoral supervisor who taught her the importance of supporting others to ‘find their feet’ – to the 30-year mentoring relationship Jackie has maintained with Professor David Fraser who supported her visit Cornell.
To form a strong mentoring relationship, Jackie believes trust is integral and ensuring the approach is tailored to the mentees stage of life. Jackie aims to foster an environment for frank and open discussions, recognising the importance of having a sounding board from someone who is not a direct line of report.
Jackie has also seen the value of more informal group mentoring; such as the network of Professorial female academic colleagues she meets with monthly.
Away from the office, Jackie loves the release she gets from exercising – whether enjoying a swim or training for her next marathon. On the weekends Jackie can often be found with family at her local beach or volunteering for Surf Life Saving Australia – a role she gets significant satisfaction from.