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Early Career Initiatives in the Ecological Society of Australia

The Ecological Society of Australia has had a long-term commitment to supporting members of our Society through the awarding of . To date engagement with early-career researchers within the Society has focused on postgraduate students. Each year the Society offers two competitive rounds of grants supporting research conducted by student members. Postgraduate and honours students conducting field or laboratory-based research may apply for these Student Research Awards to cover expenses such as field travel, research assistance, equipment or consumables. The Society, in collaboration with other bodies, also awards two scholarships annually:

Student members are also eligible to apply for travel grants to assist in costs of attending our annual conference where the Society has had a longterm commitment to student participation through keeping concession registrations low and offering student members a wide range of prizes recognising excellence in spoken and poster presentations at the ESA Annual Conference. In the last few years the ESA has come to the realisation that post-student Early Career Researchers (ECRs) are under-represented in the membership. In addition, the current opportunities to engage with ECRs or provide services for them are limited. In 2010 ESA council commissioned a working group to develop an approach to engage with, and provide value for, ECRs within the ESA. As a result, a strategy has been developed that will deliver on the long-term aims of the ESA to engage with and provide value for ECRs and provide genuine support their professional career progression. This strategy will encompass a range of approaches over time including network and collaborative opportunities, but the primary focus initially will be providing professional development opportunities focussing on areas such as grant writing, manuscript preparation, higher order communication skills, time management and strategies for supervising graduate students. These are skills we believe are critical in any successful ecology career but ones that are often pushed to the background or not effectively delivered across Australian universities. A pilot professional development workshop is to be held in conjunction with the in November 2011. This workshop will focus on manuscript-writing skills and linking ECR’s with professional mentors, and is sponsored by Wiley-Blackwell, the publishers of the Society’s journals. While this is a small step, we hope it is a step in the right direction to commence the development of an effective Early Career Ecology network, provide greater value and recognition from their professional Society, and provide a platform to further implement a much broader ECR program. by Andrew Hayes, Ecological Society of Australia Council member

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