We’ve launched the ‘Researcher Spotlight’ series to shine a light on the work and varied career journeys of the researchers who publish with us. We want researchers to be able to share their own personal stories and help others draw inspiration and extract learnings that can serve as a guide for the next steps in their own careers. These interviews will provide insights and advice from researchers in different career stages and fields, from those who are just getting started in research to more experienced researchers.
In our third interview, Dr Juergen Reichardt, Adjunct Professor in the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (James Cook University), with a long scientific career in biochemistry, molecular epidemiology, and human genetics, provides advice to young researchers, talks about research funding, the importance of societal impact in research and shares some of his career highlights.
Have fun doing your research and developing new ideas for you to pursue. Work hard and enjoy the comradery in the lab and with other scientists at meetings etc. Being social is of great benefit to your scientific career and as a human being as well.
Believe in yourself, your ideas, your capabilities and hard work. Seek advice from others as warranted and use it judiciously.
Have a good idea, start planning early and get some “wow” preliminary data. Involve colleagues as you see fit, especially critiquing your proposal, early on.
It is much better getting “bad news” from a friendly colleague before a grant proposal is submitted while it can still be fixed rather than from referees along with even worse news from the funding agency.
Consider a co-investigator as warranted to strengthen your proposals. They may add important science strengthening the application, they can critique your proposals and may even mentor you.
I am most proud of the successes of my students. I am happy and honored to have had the opportunity of working with them and learning from them.
Somewhat behind that, I am also pleased to have contributed to scientific advances in the biochemistry, genetics and genomics of human disease. Lastly, it has been an honor to also contribute administratively to make science and universities in particular better places for academics and scientific advances. Science and universities have been very good to me and I want to continue contributing to improving both, helping especially younger people. My success may have been in part good fortune, for which I am grateful, underpinned by hard work, listening to people, working with others and some ideas of my own. I am also specifically and forever indebted to my mentors in graduate school, as a postdoc, as a faculty member and even as an administrator. They all have helped me be better at what I do and hence helped to shape my career at various critical junctures. I am not sure I would change a whole lot: I was fortunate to have had a productive and highly enjoyable academic career in research, administration and mentoring. I plan to enjoy continuing with most of it in retirement.
We generally spend other peoples’ money as researchers, usually in the form of tax dollars, money from donations to foundations etc. As such, we should be thankful and accountable for what we do with these funds. Scientific research should also lead to the betterment of humankind. These are important societal impacts we should embrace and be proud of. They can also be powerful motivating forces for us scientists.
My academic legacy are first and foremost my students and I hope they will be successful and happy. I am proud of them and enjoyed working with them. Secondarily, my administrative work may also have helped some investigators, especially young ones. I hope to contribute building on this legacy working with and especially mentoring young scientists locally as well as throughout the world in various organizations and fora.
Juergen Reichardt recently rejoined JCU (James Cook University) as an Adjunct Professor in the AITHM (Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine) in retirement.
Juergen most recently served at YachayTech University, founded as the first research-intensive university in Ecuador, as the Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation, equivalent to the role of a DVCR in Australia or VPR in the US. He previously served as the Head of School, Pharmacy and Molecular Sciences, at JCU as well as in other functions such as Associate Dean, Research for the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Molecular Sciences.
Furthermore, Juergen has a long scientific career beginning in biochemistry and molecular biology which evolved further into molecular epidemiology as well as a long and enduring commitment to human genetics and human genomics.
Currently, Juergen serves on the International Scientific Advisory Committee for the HVP, the worldwide Human Variome Project, the Diagnostic Scientific Committee of IRDiRC, the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium, the management team of G2MC, the Glocal Genomic Medicine Collaborative, and the scientific advisory board of the Golden Helix Foundation. Juergen cofounded ERCAL a group of scientists and patient advocates working on rare diseases in Latin America and the Caribbean. Furthermore, Juergen also serves on some 10 editorial boards and regularly reviews grant applications in various countries.
Lastly, Juergen has lived in seven countries on four continents bringing a truly international perspective to his endeavours. He also enjoys swimming very much.