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Getting to know... Pat Vickers-Rich

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2 May 2012

Professor Pat Vickers-Rich
Professor Pat Vickers-Rich

Name: Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich
Title: Personal Chair, Paleontology and Founding Director, Monash Science Centre
Faculty: Faculty of Science for the Personal Chair, Office of the Vice-Chancellor for the Directorship
Dept: School of Geosciences and Monash Science Centre
Campus: Clayton

How long have you worked at Monash?
35 years.

Where did you work prior to starting at the University?
Columbia University (New York) and Texas Tech University (Lubbock).

What do you like best about your role?
It is flexible enough to allow me to follow a profession that I am passionate about – teaching students of all ages (tertiary to kindergarden), and having some real input into what the role and the outcomes are – be it putting together exhibitions about research and travelling them globally, teaching students about past and present crises and how they have been handled and leading expeditions to far away places, like central Saudi Arabia and the highlands of the Andes.

Why did you choose your current career path?
I loved field work, geology and zoology and communicating science and the arts to others. I followed what I was absolutely passionate about and this helps when one must deal with boring and not very productive pursuits that come with most jobs.

First job?
Packing tomatoes and apples for shipment to markets and working at a petrol station as a mechanic on the one hand and a bookkeeper on the other to earn enough to support my eduction.

Worst job?
Anything beaurocratic that seems to be going nowhere. My mother always told me that no matter what the job, you can make it interesting – I was really amazed at how many different patterns in the packing one could make of tomatoes.

What research projects are you currently working on and what does it involve?
You can see one online at the Faculty of Science website.

Others include remote area field work, writing up the outcomes with a multinational team, serving on the UNESCO International Geosciences Committees (both as Australian CEO and as head of the Global Change Head in Paris) to raise and distribute funding, and as Director of the Monash Science Centre, which I founded in 1993, disseminating the results of this research.

What is your favourite place in the world and why?
Any remote area on the planet – the high country of the Chilean and Argentine Andes, Central Arabia, the highlands of Timor-Leste, northern Siberia, the deserts of Namibia – hard to make a choice.  Just remoteness!

What is your favourite place to eat and why?
Remote areas of the world – food is home cooked and varied.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and follow your passion, though there might not be great wads of money in it.

Tell us something about yourself that your colleagues wouldn’t know?
My colleagues know everything – “you see what you get,” as I say to them.

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