O A Phabler arrives

No, it’s not a Damon Runyon character

In fact, an open access Phabler (photonics enabler) can print 10,000 lines of text on an area the size of a human hair to store research data. The images it produces are used in many research ways, including detecting cancer. The Phabler is part of the Australian National Fabrication Facility.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Amanda-Jane George (CQU) and Julie-Ann Tarr (QUT) on the big issues in uni-industry collaboration. There’s way more to it than demand- and supply-push incentives or commercial returns

 Marnie Hughes-Warrington (Uni SA) and Andrew Klenke (Swanbury Penglase Associates) on what 19th century Adelaide as testlab shows us about innovation. “If we want translation and commercialisation to grow, we need to spend more time thinking about what makes mixed systems work, and to support them. It is strange to focus on translation and commercialisation funding without addressing shortfalls in research funding, for example, and to not think about social as well as economic innovations.”

And Claire Macken (RMIT) on the last chapter of the tome-like textbook, and what can replace it.

Plus Mitch Parsell (Uni Tasmania) on the good, the bad and the ugly reasons to keep the lecture. This week’s addition to Sally Kift’s long-running series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Glancing back, gazing forward

Uni Newcastle announced former prime minister John Howard received an hon doc at a Wednesday graduation, after it occurred, and that former prime minister Julia Gillard would receive one at a ceremony on a date to be fixed, (CMM yesterday). “So John Howard is a man of the past and Julia Gillard is a woman of the future.  Clever timing by Uni Newcastle!,” a learned reader suggests.

Better and better at Uni Queensland

Uni Queensland VC Deborah Terry reports more good news

First semester census numbers are in and the VC reports domestic UG enrolments “remain relatively stable” but domestic PGs are up 16 per cent on 2019.  And international student starts are down only 10 per cent on 2019. Continuing international enrolments are actually up 4 per cent. Good news albeit not quite as good as Uni Queensland expected (CMM March 24).

“In appreciation of everyone’s tremendous efforts,” Professor Terry says fixed-term and continuing staff are getting an extra day of leave and management is looking for ways to similarly rewards casuals.

Innovating ATN

The Australian Technology Network’s “Innovation driven future” on-line conference is on next week, with three-themes covered over three days, collaboration, innovation ecosystems and globalising them.

There are bunch of ATN speakers, plus high-profile policy people including Chief Defence Scientist Tanya Monro and Education Minister Alan Tudge.  Want to know how the Europeans do itSign-on for the 6pm session on Tuesday with Arno Meerman, from the University-Industry Innovation Network.

Research open access: what the doctors may order

The NHMRC contemplates requiring new research it funds being immediate OA

The National Health and Medical Research Council invites comment on updating its open access policy to make publications and metadata based on research grants OA from next January.

If a journal won’t allow this the author’s accepted manuscript would have to be identified as being available in an institutional repository.

This appears intended to avoid publishers’ preferred “gold OA” method, where “pay to publish” replaces “pay to read.” For-profit publisher Springer has opened Nature to OA content, but will charge Euro 9500 per article (CMM November 26 and January 28).

NHMRC chair Anne Kelso points to the European OA Plan S and says the council wants to align, “with these principals and international developments.”

This is the second big OA move in weeks. Last month new chief scientist Cathy Foley said over half Australian research articles sre pay to read, which “hinders our capability to compete internationally.”  The Chief Scientist said she is “closely considering” an OA strategy.

As to the Australian Research Council, it is red-hot for open access, within 12 months of publication, except “in cases where this requirement cannot be met for any reason, including legal or contractual obligations.”

Work in the stars: feds fund pure research

The government announces $387m to build and operate Australia’s share of the Square Kilometre Array – it’s all about jobs

Sites in South Africa and thousands of dishes over remote WA combine to create a radio telescope 50 times more sensitive than any other, to pick up radio signals from space.

It’s pure research but this did not deflect Prime Minister Scott Morrison from his jobs message. SKA “will put the country at the cutting edge of science and technology research while creating hundreds of new jobs during the construction phase,” the PM said.

And did he mention it was about jobs? Yes, he did, “SKA means more jobs for Australia and it puts us in the driver’s seat for scientific discoveries.”

What was that about jobs? “As well as creating hundreds of local jobs, our economic modelling indicates the project will attract an estimated $1.8 billion in foreign income,” Industry, Science and Technology Minister Christian Porter added.

No faulting them for enthusiasm, unless of course the government is making the best of a deal it could not get out of – international agreements being what they are. But then again New Zealand exited SKA in 2019. And the government is not averse to other investments in blue sky, well dark matter, research – it’s funding a lab to research black holes and such, in an old goldmine beneath the Victorian town of Stawell.

If this is the strategy it takes to sell science good-o, but, immediately applied research SKA ain’t. Keith Bannister (CSIRO), with Adam Deller and Ryan Shannon (Swinburne U) used the SKA Pathfinder telescope to identify a single fast radio burst from 4bn light years away (CMM June 28 2019). Their discovery is honoured by the American Association for the Advancement of Science which thinks it, “could improve our understanding of the structure of the universe, as well as galaxy formation and evolution,” (CMM February 12 2021).

Of course, no one knows what caused the radio burst, but CMM bets if you asked the PM he would say it was jobs.

  Appointments, achievements

Of the day

 Stephen Foster becomes dean of engineering at UNSW. He has acted in the position since January 2020

Grant King is the new chair of the Commonwealth’s Climate Change Authority. He continues to chair its Australian Technology Investment Roadmap (a strategy to accelerate development and commercialisation of low emissions technologies).

Former Commonwealth education department secretary Lisa Paul will chair the federal government’s previously announced review of initial teacher education, (CMM March 12). She is joined by Malcolm Elliott, (Australian Primary Principals Association), Derek Scott – (2019 Australian School Principal of the Year) and Bill Louden education emeritus professor UWA)

Helen Sullivan becomes dean of ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific. She moves from director of the university’s Crawford School of Public Policy.

Of the week

 Denis Altman (La Trobe U emeritus) receives the eminent scholar award from the LGBTQA caucus of the International Studies Association.

Julia Gillard commences as chair of UK health and medical research foundation, Wellcome.

Kerri-Lee Krause has started at Avondale UC as provost. She moves there from Uni Melbourne where she was DVC Student Life.

James McCarthy joins the medical research organisation formally known as the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. His lab team will work on malaria.

Deakin U VC Iain Martin is the new chair of the Australian Technology Network (Deakin UUTSRMITUni SA and Curtin U). He replaces UTS VC Attila Brungs, whose two-year

 Michael Sankey is moving to Charles Darwin U, to join new VC Scott Bowman as Director of Learning Futures and Lead Education Architect. Professor Sankey leaves Griffith U, where he is Director, Learning Transformation.

New Austrade CEO Xavier Simonet is in-place. His appointment was announced in November. Tim Beresford has acted since Stephanie Fahey left (CMM June 15 2020).