The 83 positions will include 50 at early career researcher level, 25 at mid-career level and 8 at senior, or laureate level. The program comes with a price tag of $215 million over four years.
The ARC will contribute the researcher’s salary plus project costs up to $150,000, for junior roles, salary and project costs of up to $290,000 for mid-career roles and salary plus project costs up to $1.5 million, or salary or stipend support for up to four postgraduate and postdoctoral positions.
Ms Zielke said the roles would extend across science and technology, but also into policy, government and not-for-profits.
While adjunct professorships have existed for many years, universities are increasingly seeing the benefits of bringing in highly skilled and well-connected individuals who may not have the academic credentials to be a professor but have the life and work experience to add value.
Australian National University is one which created the title of professor of practice some years ago. On Friday, it announced that former politicians Natasha Stott Despoja and Tim Smith had joined the ranks of 19 who are currently on the university’s books in a range of capacities from professors, associate professors and senior fellows.
These are paid positions that include research, teaching, mentoring and engagement.
Ms Stott Despoja, who is a principal at Deloitte and an elected member to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, is familiar with the university having sat on the council for five years until.
While she has been appointed as a professor in practice of politics, Ms Stott Despoja said she expects her expertise will be used across the university in areas as diverse as the gender dimensions of national security.
‘We can enrich Australia’
“I love the idea of professor in practice, the idea that you bring real-life skills and expertise in a field – bring it to life for the benefit of others,” she said.
Brian Schmidt, ANU’s vice chancellor, said the roles were a way of connecting the university’s research and expertise with the wider world.
“It is equally vital that we take the experiences of experts beyond our campus and build that into what we do,” Professor Schmidt said.
“Their experiences enrich what we do. Together we can enrich Australia.”
At the University of Sydney, Emma Johnston is creating an entirely new tenure track career path that will reward researchers’ mobility between pure research and hands-on experience in industry. Such movement, with the exception of a small number of industry-based PhDs, is rare, says Professor Johnston, who is deputy vice chancellor of research.
“There are some things we could do to lubricate the boundaries between academia and industry,” she said.
“I’m working on creating an enterprise-focused academic stream where staff can get from early-career researcher to professor entirely based on their engagement with industry, IP disclosures and spin-offs rather than publications.
“I do think there’s a role for identifying a career opportunity from really early stage. And we all know, some students are totally motivated by an entrepreneurial approach but they tend to get lost in the system. So we are looking to encourage them as part of the university all the way through their career, but moving in and out of industry.“
Professor Johnston hopes this will be a way of keeping some of the best brains and their IP in Australia instead of pushing them to move overseas in search of opportunities.
The university’s recently announced $480 million biomedical accelerator will be one such place which will encourage the movement of its 1200 researchers between “bench and bedside”.
“In reality, it will be bench to bedside and then back again to the bench where you can really birth new ideas and hone innovations in an integrated matter.”