“I’m sorry Dave, you really can’t wear that”

Want to make friends and influence people? AI can do it

Sean Sands (Swinburne U) and colleagues report that social media influencers can be human or an artificial intelligence creation – the distinction is not important to people’s intention to follow. Indeed AI influencers can have  “a greater effect on consumers who have a high degree for uniqueness.”  Which does not say a bunch about the influence of humans who influence for a living.


There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Angel Calderon (RMIT) on  the QS subject rankings – Aus unis are ok, for now.

plus Tim Winkler (Twig Marketing) wanted to ask about masters courses and so he asked Victorian unis’ recruiters. But while he sought he did not find.  He reports what happened and what marketers could do to improve.

with Paulomi Burey (Uni Southern Queensland) on the case for HASSing STEM.

and not in CMM this morning. Merlin Crossley’s (UNSW) new paper on research on researching Sickle Cell Disease using CRISPR, – it’s way too sciency for CMM but for readers who will understand, it’s at https://crossleylab.wordpress.com/ 


The research road more travelled

The National Research Infrastructure Roadmap is out – the direction is where the government wants to go

In case anybody missed the research commercialisation paper, Ministers Stuart Robert (Acting Education) and Melissa Price (Science and Tech) mention the roadmap, “supports and encourages greater translation and commercialisation of research by allowing industry and other research end-users to engage more effectively.”

The Roadmap endorses applied research in government priority areas, defence, space, modern manufacturing. And it calls for NRI, “to be more visible and accessible to industry and the mutual benefits from closer collaboration should be further promoted.”

There is also a make-nice for humanities, which are feeling a little left-out in the research commercialistion push. “Research in HASS areas is fundamental to understanding people, their interactions with the world and the ways in which their lives, the economy and the environment can be improved through evidence-based interventions.”

But that’s not that – with the next government set to shape where the roadmap leads. For a start an investment plan must follow.

And the Roadmap recommends an advisory group, to advise on infrastructure integration, workforces and a business model. If  this is actually appointed it will surely be after the election –  membership will indicate what the government wants.

CSIRO in the driver seat to commercialise research

The agency has a big role in the researcher accelerator programme – it’s making more of it

The plan is for the agency to run stage three – where uni research is made market-ready. There’s $150m for CSIRO’s Main Sequence Ventures, “to continue the channel for high-value opportunities to be taken to market,” (CMM April 1).

But the agency is interested in engaging earlier – it’s looking for somebody to support “researchers to identify and develop suitable projects, maintain a pipeline of potential projects and triaging enquires across the ecosystem.” And presumably who will get along with the eight experts in the national manufacturing priorities who the plan states will work with researchers and report to the accelerator’s advisory board. Unless CSIRO wants to hire them as well.


Maths missing out

It’s not just HASS taking the hit on research commercialisation

“Business and government investment in mathematical sciences research and development remains minimal compared to other disciplines,” Jan de Gier (national university maths partnership MATRIX), Tom Keegan (MATRIX) and Maaike Wienk (Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute) argue in a new paper.

They base their case on grant allocations across various programmes. Their figures for ARC and NHMRC programmes don’t strike CMM as all bad. However on total government R&D for separate STEM fields, maths sciences has consistently rated close to 0 per cent since 2008-09, maxing at 2.68 per cent in 2018-19. Its lower for business investment, the best being 0.61 per cent in ’17-18.

It reflects the trend away from pure basic research and strategic basic research in higher education research funding.

“Against the background of the recent emphasis on research translation into commercialisable outcomes, we note that the vastly increased university funding for research this last decade is already mostly flowing to applied research … despite the need to ensure that basic research is properly supported for Australia’s long-term prosperity,” they warn.

Research diplomacy

Just ahead of caretaker kicking in, the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources announces the $60m Global Science and Technology Diplomacy Fund

The two-stream project was announced in last year’s budget, but is happening now.

There’s funding for collaborative research with international partners in four fields, advanced manufacturing, AI and quantum computing, hydrogen production and RNA vaccines and therapies. There appears to be $42m in total. Partner countries differ across the four streams but the US is in all except hydrogen and the UK in manufacturing and AI. China is in none of them.

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering and the Australian Academy of Science share $18m to manage the fund. They will use it on international collaborations so Australian businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers can “capitalise on international opportunities” in research and commercialising, “cutting-edge products and services.”

The overall fund consolidates China and India research collaboration, covered by a previous programme.

Appointments, achievement, exit

Of the day

Matthew Harding is appointed interim dean of Uni Melbourne’s law school for 12 months. He replaces Pip Nicholson who moves to DVC People and Community.

Troy Heffernan (La Trobe U) is leaving La Trobe U, moving to the University of Manchester’s Institute of Education.

 Of the week

 The new Australian Research Council advisory committee: Chris Moran (DVC R – Curtin U) is chair. Members are, * Calum Drummond (RMIT) * Mark Hutchinson (Uni Adelaide) * Mark McKenzie,  (Council of Small Business Organisations Australia)  * Mirjana Prica (Food Innovation Australia) * Michelle Simmons UNSW) * Deborah Terry Uni Queensland) * Maggie Walter (Yoorrook Justice Commission)

The Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology announces its 2022 honours. MedalsMichael Lazarou (the IMR formerly known as Walter and Eliza Hall and Monash U), Leann Tilley (Uni Melbourne). AwardsWael Awad (Monash U), Saw Hoon Lim (Uni Melbourne). FellowshipsJacinta Conroy (Uni Queensland), Chris Horne (also Walter and Eliza Hall), Tess Malcolm (Uni Melbourne), Yanxiang Meng (the IMR formerly known as Walter and Eliza Hall).

 Bob Cowan (Uni Melbourne) wins the lifetime achievement award from Cooperative Research Australia (the CRC Association as was). The hearing researcher and audiologist led the HEARing CRC, 1992-2019.

Andrew Fraser will become Griffith U chancellor in September. Mr Fraser is now in business, after serving as deputy premier and treasurer in state Labor governments.

Ian Fry (ANU) is the UN’s inaugural Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change.

Alan Gamlen (social scientist specialising in human migration) joins ANU’s School of Regulation and Global Governance. He moves from Uni Oxford.

Michael Green is in-coming CEO at Uni Sydney’s United States Studies Centre. He moves from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Catherine Grummer joins Charles Sturt U as COO. She moves from corporate services head at TAFE NSW.

Lucy Johnston joins Uni Canberra as DVC Research and Enterprise. She moves from PVC in a similar role at Murdoch U.

QUT Chancellor Xiaoling Liu will step down in June for personal reasons. Deputy Chancellor Peter Howes leads the search for a successor.

Vanessa McDonald (Uni Newcastle) receives the Thoracic Society of ANZ’s 50th anniversary medal for education and training.

Sebastion Marx returns to Uni Sunshine Coast as Manager, Future Students.

David Cameron-Smith starts at the University of Newcastle at the Ourimbah campus, in  the new role of professor of food innovation. He moves from the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences.

Julie Quinlivan becomes Curtin U’s Dean of Medicine.  She is now an adjunct professor at Uni Notre Dame Australia and chair of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology ACT Committee.

Winners in the Victorian Premier’s Awards for Health and Medical Research are, Rebecca Goldstein: health services (Monash U) * Xiaodong Li: basic science (Monash U) * Rachel Nelligan: clinical researcher (Uni Melbourne) * Angela  Dos Santos: Aboriginal researcher (Australian Stroke Alliance) * Roshan Selvaratnam: public health (Monash U) *  Christina Zorbas: public health (Deakin U)

The 2023-24 Whitlam-Fraser professors of Australian Studies at Harvard U are Brenda Croft (ANU) and Katie Holmes (La Trobe U).