Features

Into the ARC oven

The Australian Research Council is recruiting an ED for biological sciences, “one tough gig right now. For those who love the heat, this is the kitchen for you,” the learned Research Whisperer remarks.

U Tas taps the power of the press

The University of Tasmania journalism school is sharing premises with News Corporation’s Hobart Mercury, not your actual newsroom mind but close enough to smell the digital ink. Breaking news on the deal is here.

The paper thinks it is an excellent idea, editorialising “the university’s vision to better connect academics and students with the community is a welcome and overdue idea that will benefit generations of Tasmanians.” Note to VCs everywhere, convince the nearest News Corp editors that your university can help their readers’ grandchildren.

Tough turkey

It was turkey-lurkey time yesterday so the UoQ library tweeted Thanksgiving greetings to the university’s US staff and students. Good-o, but the turkey in the picture looked rather like an Australian brushturkey, a touch scrawny for American tastes

Peak science lobby says enough already with ARC grant delay

People sweating on research grants supposed to start on January 1 still do not know if they have funding, complains Science and Technology Australia.

STA says it “understands” the problem is Education Minister Dan Tehan wanting a new national interest test for research grants. If so, STA suggests the worst on record delay in an Australian Research Council announcement isn’t on.

“Researchers already describe the benefits of their research and align their work with national priorities as part of their application, and this is considered as a part of the peer-reviewed assessment process,” president Emma Johnston says.

Less anybody miss the point she added late yesterday, “researchers across the nation have put so much time, creativity and intellect into their ARC applications – peer-reviewers have put the same into their constructive feedback and evaluations – after nine months both groups deserve to know the result, (via Twitter).

Un-boughed but not broken at UWA

A giant Moreton Bay Fig at the University of Western Australia suddenly lost limbs on Monday, serendipitously caught on video,  here. It’s quite a sight, a surprising one as an arboreal autopsy (sorry) found no rot or damage.  Expert opinion inclines to a run of hot days and cold nights being too much for the grand old tree. The timber that came down is to be turned into a sculpture or furniture, with the foliage off to the zoo – apparently, giraffes and elephants consider MBF big on flavour. Hopes are the still substantial remains will survive – putting UWA one up on the University of Sydney. When its iconic Jacaranda  went over in 2016 it was all dead wood.

Deakin promotes Owens before she arrives

Deakin University has promoted Julie Owens before she has started work there.

Back in August Deakin U announced Professor Owens was joining as Associate DVC R, moving from Uni Adelaide where she was PVC research strategy (CMM August 31). But yesterday Deakin VC Jane den Hollander told staff that “following a national search and subsequent interview process” when Professor Owens starts work on December 3 it will be as DVC R.

Professor den Hollander did not mention current DVC R Joe Graffam, who is said to be on leave and overseas. A further announcement is expected when he returns to the university.

Land of education opportunity, India isn’t entirely

The prime minister has responded to the Varghese report on economic links with India, just not the prime minister that commissioned it. Malcolm Turnbull asked Peter Varghese to write the strategy in 2017 and now Scott Morrison supports in-principle its 20 priority recommendations.

There isn’t a lot for education and training in the Varghese report, which was frank about what is possible in India ( CMM July 13) and it showed in the government’s head-line response yesterday. There was no mention of expanding study links and the research programme mentioned is grants up to $500 000 to “solve challenges faced by both nations.”

Campus free speech is complicated: ANU wants to explains

With the government holding an inquiry on free speech on campus, ANU announces a “summit” to address errors. “The surrounding debate … lacks nuance and conflates freedom of speech with academic freedom while excluding discussion of academic autonomy and integrity.”

Speakers will include Carmen Lawrence and the university’s chancellor Gareth Evans, with a key-note by some bloke called Glyn Davis.

University of Sydney counsel Richard Fisher has already had a go at this, at a conference on campus free speech (CMM yesterday). He set out carefully calibrated cases on when and why, or not, the university will welcome controversial speakers on campus.  Whatever Education Minister Tehan does when he receives the review universities will have their lines ready.

UniMelb to roll out flexible teaching programme

Transformative teaching is ready to roll at the University of Melbourne with a learned reader reporting the Flexible Academic Programme will start in the new year.

The university is funding eight streams for five years, including student engagement in large classes, digital teaching technologies in live-lectures and student-centric services in class time-tabling. (CMM October 9 2017).

This is a big deal indeed, in development since 2015 a great reform of the Glyn Davis era.

Appointments and achievements

Of the day

Science and Technology Australia has new executive committee members. Jeremy Brownlie is president-elect (taking over at end 2019).  Sue Barrell is VP, Sharath Sriram is policy chair, Sumeet Walia is early career representative.  Darren Saunders is re-elected as secretary.

SA Tafe has new board leadership, with resources executive Jacqui McGill appointed chair. Other new directors are Joanne Denley, Judith Curran, Jennifer Cleary and Andrew Marshal. They join Sam Scammell and Craig Fowler (ex head of the estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research) on “the revitalised board”.

 The University of Adelaide has announced its Stephen Cole the Elder* awards for excellence in  teaching and learning support: Corinna Van Den Heuvel, (med school). Elizabeth Koch, (music). Claudia Szabo, (computer science) and Christophe Fumeaux, (electrical engineering).  *The awards are funded by the estate of a descendant of colonial settler Stephen Cole.

University of Canberra sociologist Deborah Lupton has received an hoc doc from the University of Copenhagen.

And of the week

 Heiko Spallek steps up as head of school and dean of dentistry at the University of SydneyProfessor Spallek became pro dean in 2016 and has acted as dean and school head since early this year.

Guang Shi will be the inaugural head of the University of Wollongong’s School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life SciencesProfessor Shi will move from Deakin U to UoW in March. The school was created following a restructure and commences in January.

Caroline Mansfield will be the new dean of education at the University of Notre Dame AustraliaFreemantle. She will move from Murdoch U and start in February.

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel has received the Engineers Australia award for outstanding service to engineering. Marlene Kanga (boards of Academy of Technology and Engineering, HEARing CRC among other roles) is professional engineer of the year.

James Cook U has awarded an hon doc to Bonita Mabo for her advocacy for indigenous schooling and the rights of Indigenous Australians and Australian South Sea Islanders.

Ingrid Day joins the Australian Institute of Business, (“the practical business school”) as academic dean. She moves from the University of Adelaide where she was ED teaching, learning and student experience in the professions faculty.

 The Victorian Young Tall Poppy science awards for 2018 are announced, including;Kathryn Backholer (Deakin U, policy to improve diet), Bianca Brijnath, (depression, dementia diagnosis in older migrants, National Ageing Research Institute), Andy Casey (Monash U, chemicals in distant stars),  Tim Doherty, (Deakin U, wildlife ecology,) Nishar Hameed (Swinburne U, strong, light materials), Roslyn Hickson (Uni Melbourne, maths models of disease spread), Megan Lim (Burnet Institute, public health), Yen Ying Lim(Alzheimer’s, Florey Institute), Erin McGillick (Monash U, fetal lung development), Gemma Sharp (Monash U, women’s body image),  Michelle Tate (Monash U, influenza).YTP of the year is Scott Griffiths (Uni Melbourne, eating  disorders),

The National Health and Medical Research Council has announced membership of its Health Innovation Advisory Committee, to serve until 2021.

 Chair Katherine Woodthorpe, is also in the NHMRC’s overall advisory council. Other members are; Matthew Cooper (UoQ), Dean Moss (health and biotech investor), Anna Lavelle (chair, Medicines Australia), Robyn O’Hehir (Monash U), John Prins (Melbourne Medical School), Ashley Bush, (Melbourne Dementia Research Centre), Julie Phillips (director, MTP Connect), Rebecca Davies (chair, Heart Foundation NSW), Laura Thomson(Aboriginal health leader), Ruth Stewart, (James Cook U), Jennifer Herz (biopharmaceutical industry executive).