Written by Tamsin Collins 

Published September 2021


Welcome to the WA RACI Branch September Newsletter!

September is typically the time of year when our students, our future scientists, are thinking about their options, how they are going to make their mark on the world. What with the changes in the workplace brought about by Covid, the fast-changing attitudes on climate change, diversity and sustainability as well as the explosion in new technologies, how does one decide what path to take? How do you support those having to decide? What is good advice?

Generally speaking, when one starts this conversation, whether it be with a parent, teacher, boss, or mentor, the first question asked is, well, what do you want to do? Personally, I always found this response challenging, as, how was I supposed to know if I didn’t know what my options were? Would I even be starting the conversation if I knew what I wanted to do?

Well, today the future is a blank sheet, the options are quite possibly endless, and I am afraid to say, it really does start with each one of us deciding what we want to do and how we want to contribute. But, how do we go about getting an understanding of what we want to do? A book that I found useful to is called ‘Career Leap’ by Michelle Gibbings. It is an easy read that guides you through the four phases of the invention or the reinvention cycle and the 12 key steps to help launch you on chosen career path.  

The options for each one of us will be very different depending on our personal circumstances and the opportunities that arise. No matter where we find ourselves, we can all make our mark.

See below for stories of a few inspirational individuals working to make their mark.

Dr Julia Reisser is a graduate of UWA, where she completed her PhD in plastic pollution and also completed an MBA in Entrepreneurship & Innovation. During her time at UWA she mapped the ocean plastic pollution in waters around Australia for the first time, publishing and presenting her findings widely in journals such as Nature and presenting to audiences such as at the UN headquarters in New York. During her PhD she served as Chief Scientist for the Ocean Cleanup Project, leading projects to map the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Currently she is working on a new project called ULUU where she and Michael Kingsbury are developing an ocean material that’s carbon negative, home compostable and able to replace plastic at scale. They are making great progress and are looking to expand their team with the right people.

Who gives a Crap – Danny, Simon and Jehan set up ‘Who Gives a crap’ - a B Corp business to tackle the fact that 2.4 billion people around the world did not have access to a toilet, leading to a sad fact that one child every two minutes dies due to poor water and sanitation.  Their ambition is to ensure everyone has access to clean water and a toilet within their lifetime. To get them going Simon, the one from Australia, sat on a toilet in a draughty warehouse until they raised $50,000 through crowdfunding on IndieGoGo (See video here). Today the number of people without access to a toilet is 2 billion and Who Gives a Crap has donated $10.8M AUD (50% of their profits) to their non profit partners

Dr Len Humphreys and Prof Thomas Maschmeyer, two Sydney based Chemists, are the co founders of Licella which has over the last 10 years developed the process of Cat-HTR. This exciting technology, hydrothermal liquefaction, takes mixed end of life plastics, including flexible and multilayer plastics, melts and pressurises them, mixes them with water, then liquefies them into a valuable new base produce plasticrude, enabling a circular economy for previously non recyclable plastics. Len and Thomas are getting global attention to bring this process into reality. Prof. Thomas Maschmeyer gave his perspective on this in our second Chemical Speaking podcast.

Whilst inspiring, there is no expectation that we will all become trial blazers, but we can take a look at where we are, what resources we have (not forgetting the RACI Mentoring Program and the Career Development Program) and consider how we can best contribute to make our own mark.

Where are you finding your inspiration?

Tamsin Collins

RACI WA President


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