The cold never bothered them anyway

Uni Tas hosts the 12th Polar Law Symposium in Hobart next week, in cooperation with universities in Iceland, Lapland and Finland. There is no word of a symposium screening of Frozen II.

There’s more in the Mail

Lambert Schuwirth (Flinders U) on the five deadly disruptions universities have a decade to deal with, here 

 Part Four of Gretchen Dobson and Dirk Mulder on the international alumni opportunity, here.

Commissioning editor Sally Kift on Connectedness 2.0 – the best chance for all in higher education, here.

And on Monday, Kylie Colvin on research rankings –the why (or not) in investing for results .

Making the political most of medical research funding

Health Minister Greg Hunt was in fine form when he spoke to the conference dinner of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes

The sort of fine that occurs when there are buckets of research money to mention and great achievements by people in the audience to applaud. The rivers of research gold that flow from the National Health and Medical Research Council and Medical Research Future Fund gives the minister bully pulpits just about every day and he speaks from them with gusto.

Shadow minister Chris Bowen, not so much, so he worked with what he had  – policy 

Addressing the conference, he celebrated work funded by the NHMRC and said there should be more of it; “if we are to have an honest discussion, we cannot pretend that we are taking medical research as seriously as we might as a country if applications to our premier funding body are being rejected for budgetary reasons.”

Mr Bowen had another message that goes down well with researchers unhappy with ministerial influence over the MRFF. He set out concerns with the setting of priority areas, awarding grants without a competitive process and “patchy reporting” of funding announcements.

“One of the things I am interested in considering is how to better combine the government’s role in determining priority areas with the rigour of NHMRC processes.
For example, as the current government has already done in limited instances, governments could identify research priorities to be funded by the MRFF, and then ask the NHMRC to identify the most efficacious bids for research in that field.”

Sound familiar? It will to everybody who remembers Warwick Anderson’s farewell address as head of the NHMRC, at the National Press Club, where he said the then PM had assured him the council would have charge of the “vast majority” of MRFF money before warning, “vested interests are already circling like sharks” (CMM April 16 2015.

New research model for QUT

 While Margaret Sheil’s changes to QUT’s executive team were attracting attention, a new plan for research was in the works

The university will establish nine research centres that consolidate existing strengths, to focus on, “strong external engagement.” The nine are to cover, * future enterprise, * digital media, * “the digital child” * health outcomes, systems, services * biomed tech *data science * materials science * robotics, and * agriculture and bio-economy *

QUT’s VC set out her thinking on research planning last year, (CMM July 3 2018).  While the centres will sit within faculties funding arrangements “are still being finalised.”

The new research model follows her substantial leadership changes – in her first 15 months all but one of her direct reports changed. She also moved to ensure QUT was its own institution, withdrawing from the Australian Technology Network and setting up its own digital programmes for external students.

Since taking over in February 2018, Professor Sheil has carefully built on the solid structure she inherited from predecessor Peter Coaldrake. “Most staff below professor don’t realise the full extent of the changes,” a Garden Point observer says.  “She wants QUT to have the skills to support her ambitions.”

Dolt of the day

In yesterday’s email edition, Western Sydney U DVC Denise Kirkpatrick was mis-named Fitzpatrick

Appointments, achievements of the day

Ross McLennan is to be Griffith U’s director of the research office. He will move from Uni SA. He is also the new president of the Australasian Research Management Society.

Aboriginal health researcher James Ward is leaving the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute for Uni Queensland, where he will be a professor of public health.

 The Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes announces five new members of the board, * Helen Christensen, Black Dog Institute. * Thomas Kay, St Vincent’s IMR * Sarah Robertson, Robinson Research Institute * Peter Schofield, NeuroScience Research * Alison Venn, Menzies IMR. They join continuing members Jonathan Carapetis (chair), Elizabeth Hartland (Hudson Institute of MR) Maxine Morand (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre)

Flinders U announces its VC’s early career research awards

* Rami Al-Dirini  (biomedical engineering) * Tully Barnett (cultural policy) * Monica Cations (ageing, aged care) * Johanna Conterio (European history) * Kacie Dickinson (nutrition) * Ashley Hopkins (clinical epidemiology), Julie-Ann Hulin (clinical pharmacology) * Gorica Micic (psychology) * Farzin Shabani (vegetation modelling) Emma Tonkin (public health)

 Victoria U announces VC awards. Individuals and teams are;

Engagement: Maurice Guerrieri (Sustainable Industries, Liveable Cities)

Student engagement: Julie Madden (VU Polytechnic)

Learning and teaching (HE): Fotios Sidiroglou (First Year College)

Learning and teaching (VET): Donald Divendran Gordon  (VU Poly)

Enhance learning: the 22 student and staff members of the Connected Learning team

Early career research and research training: Sarah Volsin (Sport and Health)

Professional services and innovation: * the four members of the Connected Learning Team * the four members of the First Year College office

Appointments, achievements of the week

Wilma James joins KPMG from Uni Queensland’s commercialisation team.

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education announces its 2020 fellows, * David Eckstein (Swinburne U) * Tim Pitman (Curtin U), * Janine Delahunty (Uni Wollongong) * Andrea Simpson (La Trobe U)

Peter Noonan (Victoria U) receives the Vice Chancellor’s Career Achievement Award

Erin Rayment is leaving Uni Southern Queensland for QUT, where she will be ED, for industry and engagement. She is one of the Commonwealth’s 2019 women Superstars of STEM (CMM December 11 2018).

Science and Technology Australia announces its new executive committee, working with previously announced new president Jeremy Brownlie (Griffith U); Tanya Ha (independent consultant) Judith Dawes (Macquarie U), Lee Constable (science communicator) and Mark Bazzacco (CSIRO).

Andreas Strasser and David Vaux (Walter and Eliza Hall) win the CSL Florey Medal for their research on cell death triggers in treating cancer

The Australian Academy of Science announces the 2020 Australia-India early/mid career research fellowships are here .

The ANU achievement awards are here

The National Transport Award winners are, here.

 QUT announces the VC’s awards for excellence,  here.

 And the Royal Australian Chemical Institute named its 2019 medallists,  here.

 The University of Adelaide announced staff achievement awards this week, here.