Andrew Siebel

Introducing Andrew

Recently, Dr Andrew Siebel jumped on board as our Platform Manager, helping the team to foster inclusiveness, collaboration, technical innovation, and good spirit from the get-go. Here we learn about his pathway in human and animal biology and a life-long passion for diversity.

Andrew, firstly, thank you for captaining this vessel of many sails.

It’s a privilege and a passion, thanks Jo.

Can you share your career path and the perspective you bring to MDAP?

I completed my undergraduate BSc (Hons) degree in Zoology and Physiology at The University of Melbourne (1996 — 1999). I had my Ph.D. passed in 2014 working in the field of Reproductive Endocrinology (Department of Zoology and Howard Florey Institute, University of Melbourne) under the supervision of Professor Laura Parry. I then received a prestigious NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowship (2005-2009) to work in the field of developmental programming of adult disease in the Department of Physiology with Professor Mary Wlodek.

I moved to the Baker Heart & Diabetes Research Institute to work in the Human Epigenetics laboratory (2009-2010), then the Metabolic and Vascular Physiology laboratory (2010 — 2015) as a Senior Research Officer.

Since moving back to The University of Melbourne as a Research Manager (Melbourne Integrative Genomics – MIG), Academic Convenor (Computational Biology Research Initiative – CBRI), and now Manager (Melbourne Data Analytics Platform – MDAP), I have moved into the fields of Genomics, Computational Biology and Research Data Analytics as a research enabler. I was also Assistant Dean, Diversity & Inclusion in the Faculty of Science in 2018 — 2019 and a member of The University of Melbourne Athena SWAN self-assessment team.

A consistent theme throughout my career has been science advocacy, inclusion and representation, particularly of early-mid career researchers. My personal motto is:

“Encourage inclusive thinking, embrace diversity, always lead by example and strive to make science more inclusive.”

What I hope to bring to MDAP are strong University networks, an open communication style and inclusive leadership.

What about an interesting or challenging problem in your time with MDAP?

For me as the Platform Manager, the most interesting and/or challenging problem is working out how I can help support the team so that they can get on with their exciting work. This is a constant challenge, but it is what gets me up in the morning (and awake at night sometimes). I am also trying to juggle (Prof Turpin will like that) the transition from my role as Research Manager at MIG to my role at MDAP. Time management, discipline and focus are things that I am working hard on in a role that requires me to continually problem solve across operational, administrative and human resource issues. Dealing with the latter is my favourite, without the quality of people and colleagues, MDAP would not be the success it is!

What are some of the solvable, difficult and wicked problems on your horizon?

Equitable engagement across the Faculties in our MDAP Collaboration rounds is solvable, as is mastering the art of communication by GIFs on Microsoft Teams. I find it challenging to connect with the team during this COVID-19 pandemic — Zoom is great but nothing beats face-to-face, in real life! And finally, I wonder whether organising the MDAP wiki is perhaps a wicked problem!

Tell us about your latest adventure, or next planned one outside of MDAP.

I plan to go out into the backyard later today…

Seriously, I don’t know and that is one of the hardest parts of COVID-19 and the current lockdown restrictions. We had planned a family holiday to Singapore and Thailand for July which is now not an option. I like to plan an overseas holiday with my wife and two kids every year, but in these uncertain times it all seems like a pipe dream! I might organise a virtual holiday at some stage, set the tent up in the backyard, look at photos from previous trips, anything to keep us all sane.

In the context of a rapidly evolving global environment and UoM’s research strategy, what would you most like to explore, challenge or innovate in your work in the future?

I would like to explore how research enablers and 3rd spacers can find a united voice locally, Nationally and Internationally.

“Working together in a Community of Practice is really important for part of feeling part of something bigger.”

This is essential for our MDAP staff who are forging careers as Academic Specialists in an ever-changing environment. I enjoy the challenge of bringing researchers together across disciplines and am passionate about early-mid career researcher support and training. MDAP can do it!