University works to halt departure of researchers

More action is needed to halt a brain drain involving early to mid-career researchers, Dr Sian Halcrow says.

Dr Halcrow is a University of Otago senior lecturer in anatomy and is co-convener of the university's O-Zone group.

This group comprises leading early to mid-career Otago researchers, and it advocates for research, both within the university, and also in broader Government and industry circles.

Dr Halcrow said some positive steps had been taken, including establishing Rutherford Discovery Fellowships for top early to mid-career researchers.

But more needed to be done, because of the looming retirement of many researchers, given New Zealand's ageing workforce.

If New Zealand was to continue to develop its scientific capacity, it needed to have a plan for the whole developmental path from recruiting graduate research students through to job opportunities for them in industry, CRIs and universities.

More postdoctoral fellowships and research grant opportunities were needed to enable more excellent early career researchers to be attracted and retained in this country, she said.

Dr Halcrow accompanied five Otago researchers who last month made presentations about their research at Parliament.

Among those researchers were three based in Dunedin: law senior lecturer Jessica Palmer, tourism lecturer Dr Tara Duncan, and anatomy and psychology Research Fellow Dr Andrew Clarkson.

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