John Rivers

Posted: May 15th, 2019


When John Rivers received his PhD from The Australian National University (ANU) it marked the end of one journey and the beginning of another. Even before finishing up the PhD John had his eyes on moving toward a position that bridged academia and industry. "I became fascinated in the specifics of how ideas get out - who do I talk to? Who can help me turn this idea into something that can benefit society?"

It was during his time as a student with PEB that John’s major chance to engage with industry arrived, after winning the 24 hour Australian French Entrepreneurship challenge as part of the ANU team. The grand prize was a tour of innovation and entrepreneurship sites in France.

At this time he said “the visit broadened my perspective about how my experience in a STEM PhD might be applied in the real world. There is much more work for people in France acting as mediators between academia and industry, for example. Now I know this job actually exists, it is what I want to do post-PhD: helping plant scientists to interact with industry and commercialise.”

With a clear vision of the area he wanted to move into, and exposure to real life examples of people in those positions, John set out to find his own opportunity. It didn’t take long. A chance meeting with Lauren Du Fall from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GDRC) would set the stage.

“We had a chat in the lab, and I indicated an interest in being closer to industry applications on the science-industry pipeline. That resulted in a temporary position, which was supposed to end in March 2018, but the need was still there, so they offered me a permanent job.”

As a Genetic Technologies Officer on the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) Statistics for the Australian Grains Industry project, John is achieving what he set out to do - working at the intersection between science, industry and society.

Image courtesy of Sharyn Wragg, ANU