STEMM PROFILE: Dr Angela Dawson | Public Health Scientist | University of Technology Sydney | Sydney | NSW
“Develop your ‘brand’ or your unique area of work and build a publishing profile there early on”
Dr Angela Dawson is a public health scientist with expertise in maternal and reproductive health service delivery to vulnerable populations in Australian and low and middle income country contexts. She is a senior research fellow with the Faculty of Health at the University of Technology Sydney. Her current research projects include studies investigating access to abortion and emergency contraceptive pills and the management and referral of women who have experienced domestic violence. She has recently worked on research concerning the prevention of female genital mutilation and the delivery of sexual and reproductive health services in humanitarian emergencies.
Angela has over 50 publications in peer reviewed journals and written numerous reports and options papers for governments and United Nations bodies. She has 17 years’ experience in Indigenous Australian and international primary health care service delivery, workforce development, health promotion and health communication. Angela was engaged in advising the capacity building of National Malaria Control Programs in five African countries, a Gates funded project with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has developed programs to stimulate dialogue and debate between journalists and health practitioners in the Asia Pacific region, across Africa and in the Caribbean.
Angela led the design of post graduate programs in Indigenous community health at the University of Sydney and has participated in the development and evaluation of indigenous health programs in diabetes, eye health and substance use disorders. Angela has most recently been a research fellow with the AusAID funded Human Resource for Health Knowledge Hub at the University of New South Wales where she led a program of work with the Burnet Institute focused on improving the provision of maternal, neonatal and reproductive health care at community level in Asia and the Pacific.
Who and/or what inspires you to achieve?
I am inspired by incredible achievements in public health where science has been effectively translated into policy and practice to reduce health inequity and saves lives. This motivates my research efforts to identify evidence-based strategies and engage the stakeholders required for action on universal access to reproductive health.
What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful leader?
The leaders that I have observed and consider to be most effective are those that are perceptive and responsive to researchers needs for capacity building. They are approachable, creative, committed to excellence and are aware of and can harness the talents of all team members.
What have you learnt during your career to increase your resilience?
I have learnt to keep looking forward, I try not to compare myself with others but have developed my own goals with multiple routes to achieving them. For example if a grant does not get up I have another plan for it. I celebrate my successes no matter how small.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to women just starting their careers in science?
A mentor is very important. Develop a research plan and identify key people in the field that can assist you to get there, not only from your own institution but nationally and internationally. Develop your “brand” or your unique area of work and build a publishing profile there early on.
What is your ideal holiday – and do you work on your holiday?
My partner and I have built a straw bale house in the bush north of Sydney. My ideal holiday is to go there with my family as there is no internet! We swim in dams, make bread in the pizza oven and shear the alpacas – I call this work.