Plus Chief Scientist Finkel back from the future

And the heads up on the week’s winners at work

How losers on QILT could cover the winners and why WAPA is about to find out how many pianos a bloke needs

Life of Pie

Flinders VC Colin Stirling will cop a pie in the face as a fundraiser for the Childhood Cancer Association. He joins Uni SA VC David Lloyd in accepting a challenge from Uni Adelaide VC Warren Bebbington who went first, (CMM May 26).

Friday copy

UNSW leaders lined up

Vice Chancellor Ian Jacobs has completed his senior management structure at the University of New South Wales with three new positions on the management board. The university will recruit for a new DVC Enterprise position, which, “reflects the growing scale and importance of our interactions with the community, business, industry, NGOs and government in the context of our innovation agenda.” Eileen Baldry, formerly acting and interim dean of arts, joins the board in her new job, Academic Lead for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. PVC International Fiona Docherty becomes vice president international with responsibility for international education, partnerships and global development. The university’s top management now consists of nine people, including senior DVC Les Field whose portfolio is “staffing, “integrity matters” and three social-justice projects. Sounds like he will have plenty to talk about with Professor Docherty, (CMM February 22).

Corker of an idea

The University of Adelaide is establishing a business incubator in Châlons-en-Champagne, which “will provide the basis for University of Adelaide alumni, research students and staff to commercialise their research innovations in France. Students from the University of Adelaide as well as from French universities will also be able to undertake internships in entrepreneurial start-up businesses,” Uni Adelaide DVC Pascale Quester says. Sounds like a hardship post to CMM.

Overs and out

Sports scientists at Australian Catholic University have created an algorithm to improve the sustainable performance of fast bowlers using new wearable monitoring technology. The monitors will read the effort involved in each delivery and the programme will translate it into performance stats. “Automated measures of bowling workload and intensity provide an opportunity to enhance the monitoring of fast bowling preparation for both injury prevention and performance outcomes” says ACU’s Dean McNamara. ACU says while the technology will work with all sorts of sports it is particularly important to cricket, given its three formats mean bowlers play year round.


App of the day

Well tomorrow. Mike Kent and Curtin U colleagues have won a grant to investigate smartphone apps to help people with disabilities. They will run a pilot with mobility and vision-impaired participants in Perth, “to identify key areas for future research.” They will do this using, um – an app.

Future from Finkel

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel was not painted in Braveheart blue and he did not bang on about FREEDOM! when he addressed the Australian Academy of Science the other night, but he knows how to gee up the troops. In some ways the address came in the standard Finkel format, erudite and entertaining full of intriguing ideas about where Australia will be in 2030.

Dr Finkel presented himself as ambassador for the future; “I think about the future. I talk about the future. I call for investment in the future. I stop the occasional war breaking out with the future…All of the things that your standard, time-bound ambassador would do for their country,” he said.

And from his time traveller perspective he reeled off a list of applied research examples, which will make Australia’s states rich and sustainable. Financial services in Sydney, battery technology in South Australia, the Square Kilometre Array in WA, med tech in Melbourne, sustainable agriculture that has kept the Reef alive in Queensland, for example.

But it only happened, the ambassador explained, because Australia embraced a seven point science programme: * wise investments in education at all levels, * pre-requisites for advanced mathematics for engineering, science, commerce and all other relevant degrees, * fantastic national scale science equipment, funded through an enlightened long-term plan, * universities and publicly funded research institutes that reach out to industry and other end users, *companies that are smart enough to hire science PhDs they meet through the intern programs they fund, * reforms to tax settings that enable investors to take intelligent risks, and * bold science diplomacy that marks our place as a confident and capable partner of choice.

Above all, Finkel from the future put science at the centre of the policy agenda. “In 2030, when a minister wants to know something, she thinks of the Academy first, with the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering perhaps in equal first place. For complex problems demanding farsighted advice, backed by rigorous analysis, across a range of disciplines, the minister will call the AAS – or the AAS as part of the Council of Learned Academies.”

Stirring stuff, which left his audience wondering where the woad was. But it left CMM with a question, if Future Finkel is a  doc back from 2030 who will be Marty McFly, Simon Birmingham or Kim Carr?

DIGITAL MARKETING Strategies for Higher Education

Piano man

The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (at Edith Cowan U) has received an extraordinary gift of no less than 130 “historically significant” pianos. They come from the Sydney based collection of Stewart Symonds, who must have decided to clear out his shed. One of the pianos came to Australia with the First Fleet, as detailed in Geoffrey Lancaster’s two volume study from the excellent ANU Press (download for free, here). The scholar and performer of 18th century keyboard music has just joined WAPA as a professorial fellow, CMM April 15) – Professor Lancaster is never going to run out of pianos to practice on.

Wrapped in QILT

CQU is promoting its QILT performance, pointing to the way it out exceeds elite institutions on a bunch of student and graduate attributes. “Unlike some other ratings that are out there, the QILT data is based on actual percentages and dollar figures and so can be compared directly from institution to institution,” VC Scott Bowman says. A bunch of his colleagues from other universities without ivy on the sandstone/bluestone are saying the same. This is exactly why the feds created the Quality Indicators of Learning and Teaching – for markets to work consumers need comprehensive information. But will VCs of institutions who sell on their research achievements turn QILT against universities like CQU? CMM can hear VCs suggesting that young universities that are strong teachers should stick to that and abandon research.

Heads up: winners of the working week 

Ford is first

Pauline Ford is the new head of the University of Queensland’s dentistry school, the first woman so appointed in Australia and New Zealand according to UoQ. Professor Ford is a UoQ graduate and joined the school’s staff in 2005.

Going to the Gong

Charles Areni is moving to the University of Wollongong where he will commence at the end of next month as executive dean of businessProfessor Areni is a marketing academic with consultancies ranging from the Commonwealth Bank to the Houston Astros. He is now a professor at the Macquarie Graduate School of Management.

Cribb continues at ANU

Professor Robert Cribb, is not leaving ANU, despite being named in staff cuts at the School of Culture History and Languages. The move to retrench the prominent historian of Indonesia (and orangutans!) created an international furore but word is Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt has suggested Professor Cribb  transfer to the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.

No more Tony at Teqsa

The ever-polite Tony Mithen is leaving the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency at the end of the month. From then the Agency’s polite “no comment” to most inquiries will come from Lynda Edwards.

Super Simmons

Michelle Simmons (UNSW) has won the 2015 nano technology Feynman Prize for work in “the new field of atomic-electronics, which she created”. CMM cannot imagine a more impressive citation


Smiler Byrne strolls north

Australian Research Council chair Aidan “smiler” Byrne is leaving before his term ends, to become provost at the University of Queensland. Big win for UoQ and as big a loss for research policy.

21 Fab fellows

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel is one of 21 new fellows of the Australian Academy of Science. The others are; Ian Allison (glaciologist), David Bellwood (coral reef ecologist), Benjamin Eggleton (nanophotonics), Geoffrey Fincher (cereal chemistry), Simon Foote (antimalarials), Justin Gooding (chemistry), John Kirkegaard (agricultural science), Anna MG Koltunow (plant reproduction), Geoffrey Lindeman (cancer research), Alexander McBratney (soil science), Patrick McGorry (youth mental health), Neville Nicholls (climate variability), Stephen Nutt (cellular science), Sarah Anne Robertson (reproductive health), Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop (laser physics), Susan Scott (gravitational waves), Daniela Stock (structural biologist), Fedor Sukochev (non-commutative analysis, geometry and probability), Toby Walsh (artificial intelligence), and Naomi Ruth Wray (statistical geneticist)