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Thursday 10 December 2020 was my last day at UTS as the eResearch Support Manager. The position was declared to be redundant under the "Voluntary Separation Program". I guess the corporate maths works for UTS and it works for me. Thanks COVID-19.

This is the third redundancy for me, and apart from fleeting feelings of uselessness, bitterness and mild despair being redundant, and of no use to anyone any more, has worked out fine for me in the past.

I've enjoyed working at UTS for the past nearly six years - this year was challenging for a lot of people, but working from home suited me.

My colleagues and I built a good strong eResearch team, developed an eResearch strategy, and worked towards it, reporting as we went (see last year's update on 2019). The team provides "full-stack" support - from racking and stacking servers to policy and strategy development; from one-on-one help with coding problems to faculty research committee meetings about data management planning. Every one of the team works directly with our stakeholders from research students to Deputy Vice Chancellors. As I leave, UTS has a new joined-up Research Systems Strategic Plan to which we all contributed ready to go, and the team has clear strategies for Research Data Management and computing support.

So why did I go for the "separation"?

  1. I get a decent amount money, so I can have a break and have a think about what to do next, which I think will involve working on similar eResearch things internationally, nationally and for individual organizations. Job number one, a small but I hope impactful international consulting gig is reaching the contract stage. I'll also keep working on the Research Object Crate (RO-Crate) spec and on the Arkisto research platform. So, if you have any eResearching that wants doing please get in touch.

  2. To spend more time with the family. Actually that's not really a major factor with the eight kids Gail McGlinn and I have between us all grown up, but the dog will appreciate having me around and we are taking a road trip North to Cairns in March with visits to family and friends, pandemic willing.

  3. To avoid a "non-voluntary separation"; there are several not unlikely scenarios under which this might have happen in 2021.

I have accepted an honorary position as a Visiting Fellow in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, within the Faculty of Science so I can keep working with some of the research teams on data management and analytical pipelines, and will sit on an advisory committee that I'll tell you about next year.

The core eResearch team had an end-of-2020/bye-bye-Petie get together. A couple of people couldn't make it but the rest of us chartered a double-decker and had a bit of a tour of the upper Blue Mountains followed by fully catered lunch. I can only hope that I came half way to the standard of the UTS Ariel Function Centre with my humble efforts at the stove, and some knife work from Pascal and Anselm (pictured below) on the side dishes.

It's not often the Explorer Bus comes down this particular little street - we had to fight our way out through the overhanging trees with machetes. And I'd forgotten how much Coach Captain banter eclipses mere dad jokes - and our captain Michael has been coach captaining for 34 years so he has all the good patter.
Nine people in front of a valley view
And here's the obligatory team snapshot at Cahill's lookout. Left to right - Fiona Tweedie, me, Sharyn Wise, Moises Sacal, Anselm Motha, Simon Kruik (front), Pascal Tampubolon, Michael Lake and Weisi Chen. (Mike Lynch couldn't make it)