After completing her PhD at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Professor Richards spent 11 years in the USA, as a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute and then as a group leader at The University of Maryland Baltimore. She returned to Australia in 2005, and was subsequently awarded an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship in 2006, followed by promotion to Principal Research Fellow in 2011. In 2015 Professor Richards was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences in 2016. Since 2017 Professor Richards has been Chairperson of the Australian Brain Alliance and in January 2018 she became a member of the International Brain Laboratory Advisory Board. She became the President of the Australasian Neuroscience Society in 2016. Currently she is a Professor and the Deputy Director of Research in the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland.
The defining goal throughout Professor Richards' career has been to understand how the brain is wired during development. Her current research investigates the mechanisms regulating how, callosal axons cross the interhemispheric midline and find their target in the opposing hemisphere.
Professor Richards is also passionate about promoting new discoveries to the public. She is a scientific advisor to the patient support group AusDoCC (Australian Disorders of the Corpus Callosum) and founded the Australian Brain Bee Challenge in 2006.