Early Career Academic Network (ECAN)

Early Career Academic Network (ECAN)
We are a trusted peer-led professional support group for ECAs, that provides advocacy, development opportunities and networking.



* Enabling ECAs to make strategic and informed decisions about their career trajectory and goals, and to enhance their research, teaching, and academic capabilities.

* Promoting and facilitating ECA leadership across the key strategic areas of academic and research excellence, social engagement and global impact.

* Providing space for ECAs to network and share knowledge at both the faculty and university level.

* Connecting the wider UNSW community with a valuable ECA population.

* Representing the voice of ECAs.


ECAN Events
Upcoming Events

ECAN Day - Scientia Series Event 2022 & Communal Artwork Session

How can Early Career Academics change the world?

The Early Career Academic Network (ECAN) will be hosting an ECAN Day on Friday 18th of November 2022. This day will bring together our Early Career Academic (ECA) community for a day of thought-provoking discussion, painting, food, drinks, relaxation and conversation. The day will be split into two separate activities and you are invited to join us for one or both.
Seventh annual Scientia Event from 10 am - 11:30 am 
Law Theatre G04, Law Building (F8)
Welcome to Country with Aunty Maxine Ryan from La Perouse Aboriginal Community.
The seventh annual Scientia Event will be held in a hybrid format in the Law Building (Law Theatre G04), followed by morning tea. The discussion will focus upon, ‘How can Early Career Academics change the world?’ and will be moderated by author and journalist, Jessie Tu. The panellists will include:

  • Scientia Professor Rose Amal AC from the School of Chemical Engineering at UNSW; Leader of the Particles and Catalysis Research Group and the NSW Power Fuel Network
  • Professor Gabrielle Appleby from the School of Global and Public Law within the Faculty of Law & Justice at UNSW; Director of the Judiciary Project at the Gilbert+Tobin Centre of Public Law 
  • Professor James Arvanitakis a Director of the Forrest Research Foundation and is also an Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University 
  • Professor Melissa Crouch from the School of Global and Public Law within the Faculty of Law & Justice at UNSW; Founder of the Southeast Asia Law & Policy Forum

Morning Tea from 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Law Theatre G04, Law Building (F8)
Communal Artwork from 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Level 1, Law Building (F8)

This Communal Artwork session will be moderated by Aunty Maxine Ryan, who is an educator and artist from the La Perouse Aboriginal Community whose family are renowned shell artists going back many generations. She loves sharing her knowledge of Aboriginal art and stories with her family.
This workshop is organised around creating communal artwork founded in place, the UNSW Campus. This artwork will be happening on Level 1 of the Law Building. Catering and craft supplies will be provided. Attendees can drop in and out during the two hours.


Coming soon.. stay tuned!

Previous Events

ECAN Scientia Series Event 2021

Big business or an institution for the public good: what is the future of Academia?

It is increasingly said that universities are ‘just another business’. They earn income, provide a service, employ thousands and compete against one another for prominence in the market. Yet, to what extent are the parallels drawn between universities and businesses true? The word ‘university’ historically referred to a community: a place where teachers and students, sharing a common pursuit of scholarship gather together to contribute to the public good. Do these qualities still distinguish universities, or have they become ‘just another business’?

The Early Career Academic Network (ECAN) run its sixth annual Scientia Event on Tuesday 23rd of November 2021 with a panel discussion on ‘Big business or an institution for the public good: what is the future of Academia?’ Invited panellists debated the role of universities in contemporary society, particularly in the current climate with the COVID-19 pandemic and constrained government funding. Our panellists include:

  • Professor John Dewar AO (Chair of Universities Australia)
  • Professor Gigi Foster (Professor in the School of Economics)
  • Associate Professor Melanie White (Deputy Head of School (Education) in the School of Social Sciences)


Coping with COVID-19: A mental health seminar for early career academics

About this event

Previous surveys conducted by UNSW ECAN clearly show that COVID-19 has led to increased teaching/service workloads, anxiety, and feelings of isolation, mental fatigue and “overwhelm” among Early Career Academics (ECAs). While a number of resources are available at UNSW, we believe ECAs have been particularly impacted by the pandemic and thus, require additional and targeted support. This event brings together experts on well-being, work-related stress and working through uncertainty and precarity.

Given that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on mental health and fundamentally changed the way academics work, what can ECAs do to improve their mental health and maintain wellbeing in this ‘new normal’, and how can UNSW support ECAs to have good mental health?   

This seminar will provide insights from an esteemed panel of experts about how to optimise wellbeing including:  

  1. Why wellbeing matters at work.
  2.  What is ‘burnout’?  
  3. Support available to UNSW ECAs to improve wellbeing .
  4. Practical tips for ECAs to identify mental health issues and address them .
  5. When to raise a mental health issue with your manager, and how to do this .
  6. Workplace health and safety obligations relevant to mental health 

Panel members:

  • Liza Poppert - Wellbeing Consultant, UNSW Wellbeing
  • Michelle Steel - Head of HR Business Partnering, UNSW HR
  • Dr Samineh Sanatkar - Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Workplace Mental Health Research Program, Black Dog Institute
  • Dr Sarah Gregson - NTEU UNSW Vice President (Academic), Senior Lecturer, School of Management, UNSW Business School

The event date/time was Tuesday 7 December 2021, 12 – 1pm AEDT. 


Challenges faced by early-career researchers in STEMM

Through a mixed methods study, Kate Christian explored the challenges faced by early-career researchers (ECRs) in the sciences in Australia and the effect of those challenges on their careers. In this webinar, she presented her findings, as well as a series of recommendations which could lead to a change of culture and benefit the wellbeing of ECRs in STEMM without incurring significant cost.


ECAN supporting ECRs in a time of change

In response to the recent COVID-19 Survey report feedback from the ECAN community, including insights that 80% of ECAs were concerned about job security, and more than 1 in 3 respondents are feeling disconnected and isolated, suffering from mental fatigue and/or overwhelm, ECAN hosted a series of three consecutive events on 23rd July 2020 to offer support and insights on managing oneself during these times.

A total of 130 ECRs from UNSW Sydney and UNSW Canberra joined research and industry experts in the insightful ‘Resilience in a Time of Change’, ‘Navigate Your University Canberra’ and ‘Navigate Your Career Pathway’ sessions. 

The ‘Resilience in a Time of Change’ session included a panel of experts (Dr Carlo Caponecchia, AD EDI (Science) and Researcher, School of Aviation, UNSW Sydney; Dr Monique Crane, Researcher, Department of Psychology, Macquarie University; Georgia Smith and Lana Alshawa, UNSW HR Consultants). The session included an engaging Q&A with the panel and moderator, exploring the perception of resilience in the time of COVID.

For the ‘Navigate Your Career’ session, Director of Researcher Development, Cecilia Stenstrom drew on her extensive career experiences and career coaching expertise to share insights on how ECAs can showcase their skills to prospective employers and navigate their career through difficult circumstances. The session was highly interactive, utilising a variety of audience engagement techniques and resources to ensure participants had a range of useful and tangible takeaways 

The workshops were well-received and many ECAs praised the sessions their ‘empathy’, for allowing participants to ‘see what others value compared to [themselves]’ and to gain an ‘insight on the employer point of view’. They also valued that the speakers ‘listen[ed] to ECAs, [were] honest with them and care[d] for their welfare’ and that ‘the workshops covered topics of high importance for career progression, careers outside of academia and well-being given the current circumstances.’ 


Resilience in a Time of Change (panel Session with Q&A): View event recording.

Navigate Your Career Pathway (interactive workshop with Q&A): View event recording

Navigate Your University (Canberra): View Event Recording.



ECAN Scientia Series Event 2019

Slow Vs. Fast Scholarship: Navigating the Tension

ECAN is thrilled to announce that our flagship Scientia Series event returned for the fifth time in 2019. The topic: Slow vs. Fast Scholarship: Navigating the Tension. 

With increasing pressure from universities for higher publication rates and metrics, there seems to be less space for slow scholarship. However, because of the evolving nature and speed of academia, it is worth evaluating the merits and consequences of slow scholarship in such a climate. Who benefits from slow scholarship? Does it sustain research impact? Given this tension between job demands and personal academic growth, how can ECA’s successfully navigate this new terrain?

Watch the livestream recording here.

Our 2019 Scientia Lecture Series included a lively panel discussion about the viability and importance of slow vs fast scholarship in the current academic climate. The panellists discussed how they have navigated the tension between slow and fast scholarship and provided critical insights on how ECAs entering the world of metrics and rankings may do the same. Following the panel session, attendees enjoyed refreshments while networking.


Prof Eileen Baldry, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Equity Diversity and Inclusion and Professor of Criminology at UNSW Sydney
Prof Ana Deletic, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Professor of Water Engineering at UNSW Sydney
Prof Andrew Martin, Scientia Professor and Professor of Educational Psychology at UNSW Sydney
Prof Joel Pearson, Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Future Minds Lab at UNSW Sydney
Prof Mattheos Santamouris, Scientia Professor and Anita Lawrence Chair Professor in High Performance Architecture at UNSW Sydney
Prof Sean Emery, Senior Vice Dean - Research and Operations and Professor of Medicine at UNSW Sydney

View the 2019 ECAN event 'Navigate Your University (Kensington)' which took place on 1 August 2019 (below). 
ECAN Faculty Subcomittees
Science ECAN

Science ECAN provides a supportive platform to assist Early Career Academics (ECAs) in the Faculty of Science to pursue successful careers at UNSW. Click here for more information.

Engineering ECAN

Engineering ECAN is a network that exists to support Early Career Academics (ECAs) in the Faculty of Engineering. Click here for more information.

Medicine and Health ECAN

Medicine and Health ECAN provides a supportive platform to assist Early Career Academics (ECAs) in the Faculty of Medicine and Health and affiliated centres to pursue successful careers at UNSW. Click here for more information.


ADA ECAN represents and advocates for Early Career Academics in the Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture. Click here for more information.

Law and Justice ECAN

Law and Justice ECAN represents and advocates for Early Career Academics in the Faculty of Law and Justice. 

Business ECAN

Business ECAN represents and advocates for Early Career Academics in the Faculty of Business. 

Canberra ECAN

Canberra ECAN represents and advocates for Early Career Academics at UNSW Canberra. 

Early Career Academic Support Guideline

ECAN has been closely involved in developing the ECA Support Guideline, which offers a framework for ensuring ECAs at UNSW are provided with a supportive and collegial work environment, and are well positioned to pursue a successful academic career. You can read the Guideline online here.

Early Career Academic Support Policy

This Policy outlines the fundamental principles to guide the relationship between Early Career Academics and the University. Find it here

Research training for Early Career Academics

As one of Australia's research-intensive universities, UNSW is committed to training and developing our researchers to be the best in their fields. The Division of Research & Enterprise has designed a range of training programs and professional development courses to help you succeed within today's highly competitive global research environment. 

The Research Training and Development Hub provides ECAs with access to all the available programs and courses provided by each unit in the Division. 

Become an ECAN Member
Am I Eligible to Join ECAN?

To become an ECAN member, simply subscribe to our Mailing List (below). Membership is open to UNSW Early Career Academics (ECAs) who meet all of the following criteria:

  • UNSW Academic staff within seven years (relative to opportunity) of having been awarded a PhD or recognised equivalent;
  • Appointment is at Level A-C.

The term ECA includes any employee who fits the requirements above, irrespective of whether the employment is:

  • in a research-focused role, an education-focused role, or a combined research and education role; and
  • in a continuing or fixed-term position.

Additionally, you must also take into account your relevant career opportunity and interruptions.

If you have any questions, please email us at ecanexec@unsw.edu.au

Follow ECAN

Follow our Yammer group for regular updates about opportunities, events and to celebrate the achievements of your fellow ECAN members. Feel free to post directly to Yammer to share any relevant information with the community.

ECAN LinkedIn

ECAN is now on LinkedIn too! If you are a LinkedIn user and would love to learn about ECAN updates on LinkedIn, please follow our page! We endeavor to keep the page updated with ECAN and other interesting academic info. 


Subscribe to the ECAN Mailing List

You must click "Subscribe" to submit your application. Please check your email address is correct before registering to ensure you receive all notifications.

You will receive an email confirmation of your membership application within 48 hours. Please note all Early Career Academic Network events are publicised via ECAN website and invitations to our events are sent via MailChimp mailing list and our ecanexec@unsw.edu.au mailbox.

Once you register, your name will be added to the mailing list and a confirmation email will be sent via MailChimp. This email will contain instructions on how to unsubscribe in the future, should you wish to terminate your membership. 


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  • Arts, Design, and Architecture