Clever possums

ANU’s Fenner School wants to know (via Twitter)  “How does personality, behaviour, and foraging ecology of possums vary?”  It’s “looking for PhD students to help us find out.”  Who knew- postgrad possums!

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on problems – they can expand to occupy all available brain-space but good scientists chose ones they can solve.

plus James Guthrie (Macquarie U) on the University of Adelaide’s strong 2020 financials (and yet there are more cuts).

and Sally Patfield and Jenny Gore on a Uni Newcastle programme to assist university teachers with no training in teaching. It’s Sally Kift’s new selection for her celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.”

Room at the new Adelaide inn

A 725-student bed student accommodation is close to completion, close to Uni Adelaide, Uni SA and the Lot Fourteen “entrepreneur hub”

It’s a project by Yugo (the Student Housing Company that was) which already has student accommodation in Perth and Melbourne. They will be ready to open the doors early next year.

Sounds flasher digs than the Parafield Airport quarantine accommodation now specified for the proposed pilot of incoming internationals, when, or if, that ever happens.

There is also talk of locals ex-Adelaide moving in to Yugo– the city rental market is tight.

Physicists lose in ARC pre-print shambles

On instruction of the Senate, the Australian Research Council reported yesterday on grant applications ruled ineligible for breaking the rule against including any reference to pre-prints

17 Future Fellowship applications were excluded out of 675 and 15  out of 996 were cut from consideration for the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award.

All excluded applications were either in astronomy/space science or (mainly) from four FoR categories of physics.

The Australian Research Council responds to criticism of its rule, designed for a world where open access is not the biggest thing in research publication, with a non-response. “We appreciate your contribution to the discussion. We are looking into the issues raised and will respond as soon as we can,” the agency blands.

There are people who will be hoping that “soon” is quite a while awayresearch office staff in universities where DECRA applicants included references to pre-prints. The ARC says the rule is in the rules and was mentioned in briefings (CMM August 20).

But it appears word did not reach some researchers who needed to know. As Danny Kingsley points out (CMM August 23) physicists have been using pre-prints for 30 years. “Why were the serious implications of this requirement only noticed at the point where applications were excluded?” she asks.

Big jab of community

Hooray for UNE for sending its medical centre team on AstraZeneca vaccination tour

It’s done walk-in vax in home-town Armidale and adjacent Inverell and on Saturday will be in Moree. Regional unis bang-on about being at the core of their communities. UNE is making the point.

Keeping an eye on TEQSA

A parly committee wants the agency to make nice with private prviders

The Commonwealth Parliament’s Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit oversights Australian National Audit Office reports on agencies. After considering the ANAO’s recent review of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency the committee wants action from the agency, including;

* an update on progress to ensure timely registration and re-registration of “low-risk” providers

* to be told the results of the next TEQSA stakeholder satisfaction survey, “including a detailed analysis and comparison” of responses from private providers and universities

* for the agency to be empowered to extend the time for providers to supply required information. The committee wants this, “due to the high percentage of matters that are either resolved after an appeal is lodged or successfully appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal”

This is a win for private providers, some of whom think TEQSA is way too-focused on the way universities work. Thus, the Joint Committee “highlights the importance of TEQSA building positive relationships with all types of providers. The Committee is interested in seeing TEQSA’s steps to improve relationships with private providers.”

Appointments, achievements

 of the day

Cassandra Pybus wins the National Biography Award for Truganini: journey through the apocalypse (Allen & Unwin)

 of the week

Rachel Buchanan becomes deputy head education at Uni Newcastle’s (new) College of Human and Social Futures.

Peter Derbyshire will become policy director of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. He moves from Science and Technology Australia.

Griffith U announces Liz Burd will become the inaugural provost in January. She joined the university in February this year as DVC E, moving from Uni Newcastle. She will be replaced in the education portfolio by Shaun Ewen, who moves from Uni Melbourne.

Paul Hetherington (Uni Canberra) wins Uni Southern Queensland’s Bruce Dawe Poetry Prize

William Isdale (Uni Queensland) wins Federation Press’s Holt Prize for his manuscript, Compensation for Native Title.

The Jian Zhou Medal for “rising stars” in translational medical science goes to Sherene Loi (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre) and Di Yu (Uni Queensland).  The medal was established in 2019 by the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. It honours the memory of the late Dr Zhu, who worked with Ian Frazer on the Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines.

MTP Connect, the Industry Growth Centre for pharma, announces fellows in its Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry programme; Ewan Miller (NSW Health) and Cindy Chia-Fan Shu (Uni Sydney, Royal North Shore Hospital)

Michelle Simmons (UNSW) is the Royal Society’s 2021 Bakerian lecturer and medallist. That’s the Royal Society, as in the original, not the RS of somewhere or other. Professor Simmons is honoured for, “seminal contributions to our understanding of nature at the atomic-scale.”

Rachel Thomas ( becomes a professor of practice at QUT’s Centre for Data Science.