STEMM PROFILE: Professor Elizabeth Sullivan | Public Health Physician and Epidemiologist | University of Technology Sydney | Sydney | NSW
“… seek out an early career researcher program and mentors, to be open to opportunities for collaboration and networking and to work in an area you are passionate about”
Professor Elizabeth Sullivan is a public health physician and one of Australia’s leading perinatal and reproductive health epidemiologists. She is Assistant Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Professor of Public Health at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS); and Conjoint Professor Perinatal and Reproductive Health at the University of New South Wales. She is internationally-recognised for her innovative program of population health and health services research focusing on vulnerable reproductive populations.
Elizabeth’s research is driven by a passion to eliminate health inequity and inequality among mothers and their infants. She is Principal Investigator of the Australasian Maternity Outcomes Surveillance System – AMOSS, a national research system she setup in 2009 that researches the epidemiology, treatment, outcomes and patient journey of complex conditions in pregnancy in Australia and New Zealand; and internationally with the International Network of Obstetric Survey Systems (INOSS).
Elizabeth is fully committed to gender equity and diversity and the promotion of women’s leadership in research in STEMM. She is part of the university research leadership team and Chair, Self-Assessment Team, University Technology Sydney as part of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Pilot of Athena SWAN in Australia.
She is a Chief Investigator of six National Health and Medical Research Council grants and a Centre for Excellence including three as lead Investigator. Elizabeth is currently a Member of the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Medicare Benefits Schedule Obstetric Clinical Committee Review Taskforce and the Research Australia University Roundtable. Previously, she has served on national committees and World Health Organisation technical consultations as well as working groups related to maternity.
What is the biggest challenge to all women pursuing a career in STEMM?
Gender inequity is the biggest challenge, as it puts women at significant disadvantage in their career trajectory and in opportunities to develop as future leaders in science.
Work life balance too – that is balancing competing priorities for excellence and equity in your career and success and happiness in your personal and family life.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to women just starting their careers in science/STEMM?
To seek out an early career researcher program and mentors, to be open to opportunities for collaboration and networking and to work in an area you are passionate about.
How do we keep more females engaged in scientific/STEMM careers? How do we retain women?
By providing an inclusive workplace for women that recognizes and celebrates what they have to offer STEMM through development and leadership opportunities, tenure of position, flexible career pathways, mentors and support while on and when returning from carers leave .
What inspired you to medicine? Have you always liked medicine? What do you love most about medicine?
Curiosity, discovery, and a profession that seeks to make a difference at an individual, community and global level.
What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful leader?
An ability to inspire passion, curiosity, and a sense of inclusiveness, values and commitment to a common vision.