Scaly subjects

A learned reader reports Monash U is recruiting a lizard specimen assistant. It is not, the LR remarks, based in the journalism school to assist students study reptiles of the press.

Departing DVCs at UWA and UTas

After four years Kent Anderson is giving it away at UWA, which he joined as DVC community and engagement in 2014.  According to VC Dawn Freshwater’s advice to staff, Professor Anderson says he is, “looking forward to recharge and is super-excited about exploring an unconventional and innovative direction in his future career.” Given he moving to Canberra CMM suspects finding that sort of work may not be easy.

The existing community and engagement portfolio will become part of a new “global partnerships” role.

University of Tasmania DVC Global Monique Skidmore is also leaving. VC Rufus Black says she will go in the middle of the month after “nearly two years”. “Professor Skidmore developed a major campaign to support the new university degree offerings and provided strategic guidance to assist the university raise its international standing,” the VC added last night.

Waiting on Craven

There wasn’t much critical commentary of Stephen Parker’s proposal for a unified post-school education system yesterday. As a learned reader points out, education thought-leadership has not made it until ACU VC Greg Craven is critical in an op ed in The Australian.

University of Queensland wins big with laureate fellows

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has announced Australian Research Council laureate fellowships.

The University of Queensland dominates the elite awards, with its academics winning six of 16.

The new fellows and funding are;

Jonathon Barnett (UniMelb): communities adapting to climate-change on low-lying islands ($3.2m)

Christine Beveridge (UoQ): genes and processes that control plant shoot architecture ($2.9m)

Tamara Davis (UoQ): theoretical analyses of dark matter and energy ($2.8m)

Marilyn Fleer (Monash U): STEM learning in early childhood ($3.2m)

Stephen Foley (Macquarie U): carbon, water, nitrogen in plate tectonics ($3m)

Julian Gale (Curtin U): quantitative prediction of crystallisation ($2.5m)

Karl Glazebrook (Swinburne U): scientific computing to observe galaxy formation ($2.8m)

Hong Hao (Curtin U): multi-hazard-resilient infrastructures for construction ($2.2m)

Jolanda Jetten (UoQ): how human groups adjust to change ($2.7m)

Bostjan Kobe (UoQ): understanding innate immunity to disease ($2.7m)

Dan Li (UniMelb): ion transport in nanoscale channels for industries including water energy and biomedicine ($2.5m)

Hanns-Christoph Naegeri (UoQ): creating a molecular quantum simulator ($2.8m)

Madeleine van Oppen (UniMelb): microbes to enhance climate resilience of coral ($3m)

Peter Visscher (UoQ): big data on the genome to understand human traits ($3.4m)

James Whisstock (Monash U): in situ structural biology ($2.9m)

Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh (RMIT): applications for liquid metals ($3.1m)

Classic penguins before Happy Feet

Penguin publishing paperbacks probably did more for access to ideas in the 1930s than the Internet did 60 years later and good on Monash U for honouring the orange-backed books. The university library has acquired the Christopher Barling collection of the first 5000 plus titles Penguin produced, 1935-65.

This is a great contribution to commemorating seriously popular culture in a 20th form. It rivals Murdoch U’s archive of SF and speculative fiction in print.


Where the Future Fellows are

Of 100 hundred new ARC Future Fellowships announced this morning two-thirds go to Group of Eight universities; Monash U (13), UniMelb (10) ANU (nine), UNSW (nine) UWA (eight), UoQ (seven), UniAdelaide (six), UniSydney (six).

Science perspectives in parly house

The first ten scientists charged with advising MPs on STEM are named. The new Science and Technology Australia programme is intended to “build in-principle support among Australia’s political leadership for a thriving Australian STEM sector,” but not lobby for partisan or pet causes ( CMM May 3). STA will support its ambassadors with training sessions on how to speak to a politician.
The first ten are: Robert Acres (Australian Synchrotron), Bryony Horton (NSW Office of Environment and Heritage), Sarah Chapman (Queensland Department of Education Queensland), Candice Raeburn (Engineers Without Borders), Kenneth Silburn (Casula High School, NSW), Simon Mutch (UniMelbourne), Peter Howley (UniNewcastle), Shafique Pineda (Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science), Charity Mundava (WaterNSW) and Helen Blanchard (Griffith University).
They will advise are eight Labor and two Coalition MPs, Nationals Luke Hartsuyker and assistant minister for training, Karen Andrews. This isn’t party preference, it reflects the allegiance of MPs who put their hands up for an informal advisor.

Exchange of NTEU views

On the National Tertiary Education Union website yesterday La Trobe U branch officials Virginia Mansel Lees and Gillian Stacey hopped into union branch presidents Melissa Slee (RMIT) and Paul Adams (Victoria U) about the relative merits of enterprise agreements on other campuses and comments about a dispute with LT U management.

Last month LT U IR staff announced the new enterprise agreement meant academic staff had to account for all working hours and need specific permission to be off campus. This was quickly hosed down by union state secretary Colin Long (CMM July 6) but it seems the memory is still fresh among critics.

While Ms Mansell Lees and Dr Stacey do not mention the election campaign now underway, Dr Slee leads a ticket contesting Victorian division positions against Dr Long, who is running for a third term.

Third restructure at USQ

The restructure rolls-on at the University of Southern Queensland, with a plan for a new higher degree administrative system, “to minimise duplication and improve HDR programs in terms of efficiency, quality assurance, and the student experience.” The idea is to combine the present 14.9 FTE staff now spread across two units and the faculties in a single team. As to redundancies, all USQ announces is implementing the new structure “may include”, “as a last resort, processes associated with positions no longer required.”

This is the third restructure in the works at USQ with a change process to the office of teaching and learning announced in June and a library review last month.

Appointments, achievements

Tim Colmer is the successful candidate in an expression of interest process at UWA to become PVC R. The plant biologist starts his six months on Monday.

Jeremy Kilburn will be PVC for Curtin U’s faculty of science and engineering. He moves from the University of Aberdeen.

Aksnay Venkatesh is one of the four winners of this year’s Fields Medal. The Indian-born, Perth-brought up mathematician is set to join the Princeton based Institute for Advanced Studies, from Stanford U, in a fortnight. The Fields Medal is awarded annually to two to four mathematicians under 40 as recognition of “outstanding mathematical achievement for existing work and for the promise of future achievement.”  UWA says it thinks he is one of the university’s youngest ever graduates. Professor Venkatesh’s interests include; “automorphic forms representation theory,” (sorry, no idea).