Name: Professor Janeen Baxter

Job title: Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course

What is the best thing about your job?

The people I work with –both professional and academic colleagues. They are all smart, hard-working and fun to be around. It makes coming to work each day a pleasure.

What would you most like to change about your job?

The feeling that the more I learn, the less I know. I actually love my job and having the opportunity to lead an ARC Centre of Excellence and to bring issues of disadvantage into the spotlight and have some impact in this area is a fantastic opportunity.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A librarian because I loved reading and I imagined, wrongly of course, that working in a library would mean I’d get to sit and read books all day. Nowadays I daydream about owning a coffee shop combined with a bookstore where I can chat to friends, read lots and drink good coffee.

Who has had the biggest influence on you?

I’d have to say my parents of course, particularly as a family sociologist. They really encouraged me to believe I could be anything I wanted to be. That self-belief has carried me a long way.

Which book changed your life?

I can’t think of one that I could single out. But I do remember reading a lot of feminist literature as a student (Including novels by Margaret Atwood) that had a huge impact on my future research directions and research interests.

What is your favourite piece of music / song?

It changes from week to week – at the moment Nina Simone’s, “Sinnerman”. Amy Winehouse is a favourite too, and I’ve got tickets to the Adele concert.

What is your earliest memory?  

I remember being cross because I had to wear an apron over a dress that I loved while having a family portrait taken with my sisters. I refused to smile for the photographer as a result. I was about 3 at the time.

Which living person do you most admire and why?  

Both of my parents. My father has just turned 90 and is still going strong. I hope I have his longevity genes.

What is top of your bucket list?

I’m too young to have a bucket list! But probably some kind of tame adventure tour that involves cycling, good food, wine and nice hotels.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Is this about my favourite actress – if so, Meryl Streep? But given my accent it would probably have to be an Australian – so Toni Collette. She’d do a good job playing me.

If you were Dean for a day what would you do?  

Give all professional staff a pay rise.