Dr Gloria Karagianis
Chartered Chemist & Entrepreneur
Who says you can’t have a scientific brain and be wildly creative? Gloria was one of the few PhDs in the male-dominated scientific field and has a successful career as a Chartered Chemist. She also uses her right brain by getting out the knitting needles and selling her own brand of chunky knits.
What work do you do?
I’m a Chartered Chemist and I consult to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and agrichemical manufacturing industries. I also run a small craft business specialising in handknitted chunky merino blankets and knitwear.
What are some of the things you do every day?
I have two strings to my bow. As a Chartered Chemist, I get to work on various projects, but I mostly focus on conducting quality assurance audits and writing product registrations. In my spare time I knit, knit and knit! At the moment I’m concentrating on my craft business, so I’m doing lots of designing, knitting and digital marketing.
Did you know what you wanted to do when you were at school?
I had various “dream” jobs in mind, including being a flight attendant (I love to travel) or fashion designer (I love creativity and fine clothes)! But I guess my love for all things science inspired me to head down that path, and in my HSC year I did chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and english.
How did you get started in the knitting business?
My craft business came about when I couldn’t find work in Tasmania in my field of chemistry. I started to knit again after an absence of 30 years! to keep myself occupied and re-connect with my creative mind. I also noticed that there was a trend emerging in super-chunky knitting, so I decided I would concentrate my craft business in that.
What do you love most about what you do?
Well, I love both my jobs for different reasons. Science is an amazing field to work in, it provides us with new information and a perspective on our place in the cosmos. It gives us a better understanding of ourselves as human beings.
In my knitting business, l love the creative process. Everything I do is my own ideas and designs. I make everything myself and at my own pace. Knowing that I made your clothes is a very rewarding thing!
Is there anything you don’t like about either of your jobs?
Yes, in my job as a consulting chemist, it annoys me when companies don’t act on my scientific advice, and then get themselves into issues that could have been avoided. In these cases, I console myself by telling myself I have done my job to the best of my ability.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
Being able to contribute to the global scientific community through the publication of my research work in science journals. Mentoring postgraduate students and seeing them become professional scientists.
Who helped you get to where you are today?
Mostly my parents, who lovingly supported me through my university studies, which was eight years in total. The rest was up to me, and some luck!
Did you have any failures along the way?
Not winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry! Seriously, not having more research publications under my belt. This would have helped me in obtaining a permanent academic position – something I have been unable to achieve in my career.
Do you have any advice for girls thinking about a career in your industry?
Just do it! Science is incredibly rewarding, both professionally and socially.
What are your thoughts about the future of work in your industry?
In science there are no boundaries, just opportunities! There are excellent prospects for careers in science, especially in the biological sciences (genetics) and health sciences (virology).
In your wildest dreams, what would you love to do and get paid for it?
Professional tennis player or Formula 1 Driver!