Early Career Researchers

The Centre was committed to providing a network of support for our Early Career Researchers (ECRs) to enhance their career progression. A range of initiatives were delivered, including professional development, mentorship, funding opportunities for conference travel, lab exchanges, and collaborative experiments. ECR interests were represented through the ECR Executive Committee, with the first committee established in 2015 and re-elected annually.

Beginning with a cohort of seven ECRs in 2014, our network grew to support over 115 funded fellows and scholars, with an additional 141 affiliate ECRs, all of whom were invited to participate in, and benefit from the various initiatives organised by the ECR Executive Committee each year.

Workshops and Retreats

Each year, the ECR Executive Committee organised events including a two-day mid-year retreat, and an end-of-year workshop aligned with our Annual Meeting. These successful events fostered collaboration and supported career development through sessions covering grant writing, science communication, industry engagement, entrepreneurship, and work-life balance.


In 2019, a mentorship program was established to connect ECRs with each other, and with Chief Investigators and Associate Investigators. This voluntary program gave many ECRs support, encouragement, and advice to help navigate their individual career goals.

Seed Funding Grants

In 2017, the inaugural ECR Pitch Competition was launched and later became known as the Three Minute Fellowship. This event saw ECRs pitch their project proposal to a panel of judges. The winners were awarded independent seed funding to conduct a pilot experiment or a proof-of-principle study that could lead to future grant applications. This highly competitive program awarded $55,000 to ECRs to conduct independent research programs.

Travel Awards

The ECR Travel Award program was the ECR Executive Committee’s longest running initiative, and over $50,000 was awarded to support ECR travel.  Travel Awards were determined on a competitive basis and assisted with national or international travel to facilitate a lab exchange, collaborative research, or to attend a conference.