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Q&A: Jim McCluskey


McCluskey returned in 1997 as chair of microbiology and immunology at the University of Melbourne, and became deputy vice-chancellor (research) in 2011.


Cosmopolitan Melbourne has changed dramatically since Jim McCluskey's last stint in the city — he worked as a researcher at Monash University between 1987 and 1990. McCluskey returned in 1997 as chair of microbiology and immunology at the University of Melbourne, and became deputy vice-chancellor (research) in 2011. A native of Perth, where he studied medicine, he has also worked in Adelaide and Washington DC.

What is it like working at the University of Melbourne?

We're surrounded by five major public hospitals, four independent research institutes and a large number of non-governmental organizations and agencies. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University is a few hundred yards away. Ten thousand biomedical researchers work here. You go for coffee, bump into people and have great conversations. We have around 20,000 international students (we have approximately 50,000 overall), and there are roughly 120 languages spoken on campus.

What attracts researchers to Melbourne?

There are great collaborations across disciplines. We also have the 'two-body opportunity' when someone's partner also needs a job, and having this diverse workforce means you can map jobs to skills much better. There are great schools and a growing public transport system. If there's a downside, it's expensive property prices.

What's the city like?

It is globally connected, cosmopolitan and dynamic, with great neighbourhoods, restaurants, theatres and music. The Yarra Valley wineries are nearby. My family and I spend a lot of time enjoying Port Phillip Bay. We have a weekend property just over an hour away. We're surrounded by birds and kangaroos there. When I get fed up reading academic board papers, I climb on the mower and cut the grass. It's a very Zen activity. At night the sky is inky and dotted with stars. It's wonderful.


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Interview by David Payne

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Payne, D. Q&A: Jim McCluskey. Nature 545, S36 (2017).

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