Archived News for Research Sector Professionals - July, 2012
The world’s largest full-service restaurant company has invested US$900,000 in research being conducted into seafood sustainability by the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS).
Orlando, Florida-based Darden Restaurants owns and operates more than 2,000 eateries, its best known brands being the Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse chains.
UTAS’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Paddy Nixon, welcomed the announcement and said that the funds would help establish an experimental aquaculture facility. (The Australian Government announced on June 1 $5 million in funding for two new UTAS research centres, one being the aquaculture facility).
Sea levels could rise significantly faster than previously thought, according to research conducted by the Australian National University, who’s researchers have used fossil corals to understand how warmer temperatures have impacted on polar ice sheets.
Research and development will be one of the key issues addressed in consultations on the Federal Government’s National Food Plan green paper which presents a series of policy options for Australia’s food future.
CSIRO has been contracted by the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) to produce antibodies on a large scale that will be used in the development of a new, safe, affordable and effective vaccination against rotavirus, a major cause of severe and fatal diarrhoea in young children worldwide.
Former Chief Defence Scientist Professor Robert Clark has been appointed to the newly created Chair of Energy Strategy and Policy at the University of New South Wales.
Griffith University's Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre has been awarded $1 million in research funding by the State government to develop production processes for a silicon carbide microchip.
A report published by the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) has found that stronger links between astronomers and industry is critical driving innovation in the area.
The Federal Government has opened the $200 million Clean Technology Innovation Program (CTIP) to provide grants for Australian businesses to find and develop innovate ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Australian National University has announced internationally recognised scientist Professor Andrew Roberts as the new Dean of the ANU College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
The Federal Government has launched the new $1.1 million Australia-China Clean Coal Technology Partnership Fund, aimed at accelerating the deployment of low emissions coal technology to reduce emissions from coal-fired power stations.
Internationally recognised chemist Professor Andrew Holmes has been awarded the prestigious Royal Medal from the Royal Society London, the only Australian in 10 years to receive the accolade.
The Federal Government is aiming to foster relationships between research bodies and educational institutions by establishing a new $16 million multidisciplinary Science of Learning Research Centre.
The Western Australian Government has announced $6 million in funding over three years to deliver climate and marine research under the Integrated Marine Observing System.
The CSIRO and Australian based healthcare company Medical Developments International (MDI) have signed a technology deal to develop a new production process for the drug methoxyflurane, the pain-relieving ingredient used in Pentrox™, commonly known as the ‘green whistle’.
Observations from the CSIRO’s Australia Telescope Compact Array have confirmed the existence of the first known “middleweight” black hole, three years after it was first discovered.
The South Australian Government has announced that applications are now open for the SafeWork SA WHS Commissioned Research Grant Programme, aimed at improving work health and safety (WHS) outcomes throughout the state.
Researchers from The University of Queensland (UQ) and Monash University have used the principles of ecology to explain why women are being driven out of academia.
The results of the study, published in the ecology peer-reviewed journal Oikos, reveal how a gender imbalance in science and academia is maintained by institutional barriers.
Dr Kate O'Brien from the UQ School of Chemical Engineering said in ecology a species can only establish itself and develop if the population exceeds a certain threshold.
“It's similar for researchers and academics who need to reach a certain point before they can attract more funding, more students to teach and high quality collaborators which can increase their research productivity,” she said.
“Yet there are barriers which prevent women from reaching this point.”
One of these barriers is the tendency of female academics towards part-time work in order to balance family and work commitments.
Working part-time is rare in academia while university managers find it difficult to assess the research performance of part-time staff using traditional methods.
The performance of academics and researchers is increasingly assessed using set metrics such as the number of papers produced in a year or the number of citations the research generates.
While these metrics can promote research output within an organization, they can also undermine diversity, which in ecological terms is fatal to a species as it underpins resilience.
“To use the ecology analogy, research productivity is similar to the birth rate of a new species,” Dr O'Brien said.
“Both need to exceed a critical rate if the population is going to grow and survive, or the academic is to become established in their field.
“However, research metrics are strongly biased towards full-time continuous employment and penalise academics who take time off before they become established.”
The ecological model also suggests that if women have children before becoming established as an academic, they will struggle to remain competitive with their full-time peers.
This explains drift of women from research into teaching, where performance is assessed on current rather than accumulated historical performance.
To address the gender imbalance Dr O'Brien and Associate Professor Karen Hapgood suggest that women who go part-time should be strategic and concentrate on either research or teaching.
In turn university managers should be cautious in judging success using metrics, and implement schemes to ensure that part-time work and career breaks are not “one-way tickets” out of research.
“The ecological approach demonstrates that any system which operates on a narrow criteria, be it a forest or a faculty, undermines itself by reducing both diversity and the pool of talent from which our researchers are drawn,” Dr O'Brien said.
“In a working environment dominated by those working full-time women need to be brave and be prepared to be the odd ones out.”