19 June 2015

CEO Professor Aidan Byrne 

Image courtesy: Norman Plant Photography.

Welcome to our Winter edition of ARChway. As always we have a range of stories from across our grants portfolio and we hope you find it an interesting read!

There is a wealth of activity at the ARC and the team here is now entering one of its peak periods.

I wanted to flag with our readers that this will likely be the last time you are directed to ARChway stories on our current ARC website. In July we will launch a new ARC website. The new website has been under development for some time and our goal is to produce a more accessible, user-friendly and informative resource for our stakeholders. We will be releasing more information in the coming weeks about the new website, so stay tuned!

It’s been an exciting first half of 2015 in the research sector. A highlight for the ARC was in May when Minister for Education and Training, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, announced that the Government will proceed with a 50 fellow round of the ARC Future Fellowships scheme. This smaller round will take place while debate continues in parliament on the higher education and research reforms. This is a critical scheme for mid-career researchers and we are expecting that this round will be heavily subscribed by the sector.

Also in May, the Prime Minister announced new national Science and Research Priorities (more information is available from the Science.gov.au website) to ensure our high performing science, research and innovation system delivers maximum benefit. The nine cross-disciplinary priorities are food, soil and water, transport, cybersecurity, energy, resources, advanced manufacturing, environmental change and health.

The ARC continues to work closely with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and in February we signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the NHMRC-ARC joint Dementia Fellowships. This cements the work we are progressing with the NHMRC on the Dementia Research Development Fellowships Scheme, which will provide opportunities for postdoctoral researchers to undertake advanced training in the health, medical, fundamental sciences, social, economic and cultural fields relevant to dementia. And in April we released a joint statement to strongly encourage all researchers applying for ARC and NHMRC funding to have what is known as an ORCID identifier—or an Open Researcher and Contributor ID—to identify the authorship of research outputs and assist in streamlining research administration and reporting.

I had an opportunity to discuss the introduction of ORCID with the sector at the Reinventing University Publishing international symposium, which was host to a feast of interesting discussions at the Australian National University in March. This event is an initiative of the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) and I am a strong supporter of what CAUL is trying to do in this space. It is largely thanks to CAUL that some of the issues around open access and publishing are receiving a good airing throughout the sector. The international agenda is also progressing very rapidly and I expect we will see changes in the publishing world over the next year or so.

Our Industrial Transformation Research Programme (ITRP) continues to go from strength to strength, with new ITRP Hubs and Centres launching across the country. In May, the Minister for Education and Training, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, announced $40 million in funding in the latest round under the ITRP. These centres will add to the already impressive network of linkages that are building between researchers and industry thanks to this scheme, which complements the Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. In May, the Government also released its strategy for Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research.

Of course several of the ARC’s core funding schemes under the Linkage Programme are designed to stimulate industry connections and attract industry co-funding. Many partners collaborating on projects are global partners. There were many fruitful discussions around the interconnectedness of global research at the recent Global Research Council, which I attended in Tokyo.

While referring to the Linkage Programme it is timely to highlight that the next round of the ARC Centres of Excellence scheme is now underway with the call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) open till 22 July. I am constantly reminded of the reach of this prestigious scheme—most recently on a journey down a mineshaft in Stawell, Victoria, where I visited the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory. This project involves both our ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale (CoePP) and ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO), and will be working in tandem with a similar underground detector on the other side of the world in Italy in the hunt for elusive WIMP particles.

There are more exciting stories like this one in this edition of ARChway, including the story of Jackson Tan, a PhD student from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, who is now working for NASA; recent developments with gravitational waves and the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory (commonly known as aLIGO); along with innovative practices in place at The University of Adelaide to bolster the wine industry.

I do hope you enjoy this edition of ARChway.

Happy reading!