Like dogs? You’re better already

People who have a dog for live-in company were less lonely in lockdowns

Jessica Oliva (James Cook U) and research colleagues suggest this might be because people who have dogs are more “mindful,” able “to keep the mind attending to what is occurring in the present moment, and calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations,”  which “alleviates or prevents loneliness.”

Good-o, although in CMM’s experience there is nothing calming about life with a border collie.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Trudy Ambler (Macquarie U), Jayde Cahir, (Macquarie U) and Anna Rowe (UNSW on the  benefits of academic mentoring. New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.

plus James Guthrie is making a submission to the Tasmanian Legislative Council’s inquiry into the state university’s Act. With the uni’s 2021 annual report not out until next month he researched what is – here’s what he found.

and Merlin Crossley went to the Universities Australia conference. He liked what he learned.

La Trobe U casual pay saga still not over

Management and union have different takes on why

On Friday VC John Dewar told staff  the university will pay  casuals owed money for this financial year by month end.

However this does not include money owed for marking, although LT U has  “almost finalised the complex and detailed assessment around marking payments.”

This delay, Professor Dewar adds is due to the National Tertiary Education Union lodging a dispute over marking payments to casuals, in the Fair Work Commission. A conference is scheduled for Thursday week.

“While this further delay in back paying our casual staff for marking is disappointing, it is of course important that we continue to work cooperatively with the NTEU and the processes of the Fair Work Commission,”  he says.

Good-o however the union argues there have been dispute meetings and “a significant volume of correspondence” over casual marking payments over six months but that LT U management “has recently attempted to sideline staff and the NTEU and avoid engaging with the (Enterprise) Agreement’s dispute settling process.”

Flinders U sinks the ship

The university replaces its crest with a new logo

The colours, yellow and blue, are the same, representing the elements on the original, sun sea and sky but the sailing ship, on the crest, is gone.

Elements of the logo “symbolise the many lands upon which Flinders University operates, across both South Australia and the Northern Territory, including the coastal hills described by Flinders in his journal as he mapped the coastline of the country he would name Australia.”

But what is gone is the sloop on the original crest which Royal Navy officer Matthew Flinders used to sail around Australia.  The university announcement does not mention that, but does state, “the first Australians on these lands predated Flinders by millennia and their lands were never ceded.”

The new livery will roll-out of time as existing print stocks expire. Digital art is available today.

Helping Indian subcontinent students adjusting to study

Monika Kansai (CQU) and colleagues asked academic and professional staff what they can do to assist students from Indian subcontinent countries – there’s a bunch to be done, including by managements

They report focus-group findings in a new journal paper which demonstrates academic and professional staff both recognise they need to engage with student understandings of teaching and learning, including in academic cheating.

“The ‘colonial hangover’ model of higher education, whereby the onus on acculturation is solely on the student is unsuitable as all participating staff considered themselves to have a significant role to in alleviating subcontinent students’ cross-cultural challenges,” they write.

The research identified key areas, where they and their employers can help, * institutional actions to alleviate cross-cultural challenges * peer to peer mentoring * skills and mental health support services for subcontinent students, and * staff training in cross-cultural awareness.

And then there is one up that it is all up to institutions to address.

“Recruiting subcontinent students seeking immigration opportunities via university enrolment was a significant finding of the focus groups.

“Focus group participants suggested that a greater effort needs to be made by universities to ensure overseas agents and recruiters are providing the right information to potential students, including the temporary nature of their legal status in Australia and the requirement to observe the conditions of their student visas.”

Four ways to increase medical research grants for women

“No model can achieve equal funded rates, equal numbers of grants and equal total funding for women and men at the same time”

The National Health and Medical Research Council has long struggled with gender-imbalance in grants, particularly apparent in its Investigator programme, introduced in 2018, to fund “highest performing researchers” at all career stages.

Over the programme’s three years to date men received 62 per cent of awards.

“The gender disparities in funding outcomes in the Investigator Grant scheme reflect the systemic disadvantage faced by women in health and medical research, made visible by the attrition of female applicants at more senior levels of the scheme. This disadvantage cannot be offset by individual ‘relative to opportunity’ adjustments,” the paper states.

Early this month the council committed to providing options and now it has released a discussion paper, which models outcomes of four options ahead, of open forums next month

I increase structural priority funding from 8 per cent to 20 per cent of the $365m Investigator pool This funds “near-miss high-quality applications” in four priority areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers • Women chief investigators • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research • Health services research

Modelling finds no gender parity in number of grants across categories and leadership levels

II as above, plus all research support packages are awarded at the $400 000 max This would not achieve gender parity in number of grants or total funding

III equal grants by chief investigator applicant gender This produced a higher funded rate for women than men at every leadership level, although funded rates were lower for women than men in the two emerging leadership levels, “reflecting their higher application numbers”

IV equal total funding by chief investigator applicant gender The modelling suggests a similar outcome as (III) but for the senior researcher category, it “was unable to resolve the large gender difference in outcomes at the L3 level because of the much larger application numbers from men”

But the NHMRC paper warns, “no model can achieve equal funded rates, equal numbers of grants and equal total funding for women and men at the same time”


Appointment, achievements

Tracy Chalk becomes head of marketing and comms at UTS. She moves from Uni Newcastle. reports its take on top physics researchers based on an H index it compiles using Microsoft Graph. Bunch of work for no apparent motive other than the stated aim of identifying experts and “inspire scholars, entrepreneurs, and decision-makers worldwide to explore where leading experts are heading.” The H threshold is 70 and on the list just announced 82 Australian based physicists make the cut.

Those with an H-index (yes it is arbitrary of 100 and up ) are * Joss Bland-Hawthorn (Uni Sydney, 206th in world, H 149), Yuri Kivshar (ANU, 215, 148) Karl Glazebrook (Swinburne U, 269, 142),

* Ken Freeman (ANU, 309, 137) * Simon Driver (UWA, 397, 129) * Matthew Colless (ANU, 414, 128) * David McClelland (ANU, 427, 127) * Dennis Stello (UNSW, 455, 125)  * Warwick Couch (Swinburne U,  501, 121) * Michael Dopita (ANU, 513, 121)

* Timothy Bedding (Uni Sydney, 566, 118) * David Coward (UWA, 612 115) * Bruce Peterson (ANU, 618, 115) * Brian Schmidt (ANU 650, 113) * Susan Scott (ANU, 709, 111) * Ilya Mandel (Monash U, 737, 110) * Ben Eggleton (Uni Sydney, 755, 109) * Lisa Kewley (ANU, 784, 108) * Geraint Lewis ( Uni Sydney, 822, 107) * Gavin Rowell (Uni Adelaide) 927, 104) David Moss (Swinburne U, 1015, 102) * John Norris (ANU,1016, 102)

*Jamie Stevens (CSIRO, 1036 101) * Simon Johnston (CSIRO, 1037, 101) * Matthew Bailes (Swinburne U, 1051, 101) * Paul Lasky (Monash U, 1053, 101) * Mark Krumholz (ANU, 1088, 100) * Scott Croom (Uni Sydney, 1095, 100)

Yes it’s that Brian  Schmidt.