Bubbing with ideas

The University of Queensland reports researchers have found a relationship between brain size and how bitter people find the taste of tonic water. Presumably, they controlled for gin.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning David Myton looks at the top six trends set to impact higher education.

Science and Tech Australia calls for a STEM future fund

A $2.4bn research translation future fund leads Science and Technology Australia’s budget-submission. Other asks include:

*  in common with other groups, for national R&D to be 3 per cent of GDP

* 4 per cent increases for four years for national research funding agencies

* a 20 per cent collaboration premium in the R&D tax incentive

* the reinstatement of the demand driven system for funding undergraduate places

* grants to incentivise the Australian film industry to present characters who are female STEM professionals

STA points to the success of the Medical Research Future Fund as a reason to create a similar resource “aimed at complementing the curiosity-driven scientific research supported by the Australian Research Council.” The lobby suggests funding it from savings from “efficiencies and improvements” to the R&D Tax Incentive Scheme.

“Experience around the world and here in Australia has shown that public investment in science reaps large returns. If science and technology are to play a part in Australia’s prosperity, the time to invest is now,” STA president and UNSW dean of science, Emma Johnston says.


Up in lights

“There’s expected to be plenty of lightbulb moments at the University of the Sunshine Coast when the Australian Utility Pole Conference gets underway,” USC announcement, yesterday.  One works with what one has got.

Uni Melbourne leads click-rate league table

Spain’s research council has released the first of its two 2019 rankings of 11 995 universities, which is based on on a bunch of fairly standard indicators, but as measured by www presence and visibility.

Critics claim this is no measure of merit at all, supporters suggest it is no worse than asking people which universities they rate. As the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas argues, “ if the web performance of an institution is below the expected position according to their academic excellence, university authorities should reconsider their web policy, promoting substantial increases of the volume and quality of their electronic publications.”

Whatever, the CSIC’ results are generally in-line with other rankings, at least for top performing institutions. This year the world top 50 is just about all from the anglo-sphere, the same as just about every year.

The first uni from outside North America and the UK is Tsinghua U at 42nd. The first ANZ institution in the global top 300  is – who would have thought?- the University of Melbourne, at 55 (60 in last August’s edition), followed by UNSW at 63, UofQ at 66, UniSydney at 72, ANU at 77. Monash U at 88 rounds out the locals in the global top 100.

Uni Adelaide is first in the second century (126), followed by UWA (149) and Uni Auckland at 153. The next ANZ entrant is Curtin U, at 248, followed by QUT  at 259, Macquarie U at 262, UniWollogong at 284, UTS and Griffith U (=294), and RMIT in 299th place.

Capacity crowd

The Australian Council of Deans of Education is holding a forum for everybody interested in lifting the status of teaching. It’s on March 29, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground – should be enough room for everybody interested, just.

Detail in the data: a new approach to archived research

Once researchers write up the results of clinical trials, cohort studies and registries the data is too often dormant, which the Australian Research Data Commons says is a waste of money, well, what the ARDC actually says  is data sets are “inaccessible and isolated, with significant untapped latent value,” but you get the idea.

Quite a lot of money, ARDC suggests Australia spends $1bn pa on clinical trials.  So, the Commons in cooperation with CSIRO, wants to encourage a “nationally supported approach to data storage, enhanced access, curation, provenance, standards, analysis, sharing and reward systems.”

There is a meeting in Canberra on March 6 to have a yarn about it all.

Queensland unis to host Chinese medical study tours

Queensland universities and TAFE have a deal to provide courses for doctors and hospital administrators from Guangdong, Shanghai and Zhejiang in China. The plan is for Chinese practitioners to come to Queensland for two-week bespoke courses. Universities involved are;  Bond U, Griffith U, James Cook U, QUT, U of Queensland, Uni Southern Queensland and Uni Sunshine Coast.

Appointments: Crisp moves from UNSW to Uni Canberra

Dawn Freshwater from UWA is the new chair of the Group of Eight. Peter Rathjen (Uni Adelaide) is deputy.

Carolyn Evans has started as VC at Griffith U. She moves from the University of Melbourne. With her appointment, the genders of Queensland uni VCs are now in balance. Nick Klomp also commenced yesterday as VC at CQU.

Professor Cheryl Dissanayake, will hold La Trobe U’s inaugural Olga Tennison chair of autism research. Professor Dissanayake is founding director of the university’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre.

Geoffrey Crisp moves from PVC Education at UNSW to DVC Academic at the University of Canberra. This is a big loss for the former and win for the latter. A very learned reader at UNSW says Professor Crisp is the “mastermind” of the Digital Uplift project, which is transforming lecture content there.