29 October 2013 

 ARC CEO Professor Aidan Byrne

Image courtesy: Photography by Norman Plant


In the first ARChway since the federal election, I would like to welcome our new Minister, The Hon. Christopher Pyne MP. Following the machinery of government changes post-election, the ARC has moved from the Industry portfolio and is now part of the Education portfolio, with The Hon Christopher Pyne MP as our new Minister. This change does not affect our day to day operations, but is a good opportunity for us to develop new links and alignments with the education portfolio. Education Department Secretary, Ms Lisa Paul is excited to be working with the ARC and indeed it is not for the first time as the ARC has been part of the Education portfolio previously.

A number of ARC officers recently spoke and participated in the annual Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS) conference in September, and I noticed twitter was active in promoting the many talks and events on the day. The conference theme this year was Stimulating Change, and the many transformative forces that are changing the way we do research and the way we manage it. I am keen that we stay in close alignment with our sister agency, the National Health and Medical Research (NHMRC), in as many areas as we can. One area in which we have already worked closely is on open access and I spoke on a panel on Open Access with NHMRC CEO Warwick Anderson at the ANU recently. If you are interested the talk is available on the ANU’s YouTube channel as it deals with many of the issues that are in people’s minds regarding open access.

The ARC has also recently hosted delegations from Japan, Europe, China, Bangladesh and Indonesia. I am looking closely at what we are doing to enhance and illuminate international and domestic research collaborations, as Australia has a lot to offer and a lot to gain from these collaborations. I myself benefited earlier in my research career from a Humboldt Fellowship, so have a first-hand experience of the significance of this kind of international experience both to the individual researcher, and the wider community that they engage with. I’m keen that the ARC is a driver for more of that kind of valuable engagement.

On the international front, I would like to congratulate Professor Geoff Fincher on his recent award of the prestigious Thomas Burr Osborne Medal and naming as a Fellow of the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) International. Professor Fincher is the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls at the University of Adelaide.

In this edition of ARChway we feature a story on Professor Fincher along with a number of other articles on the great outcomes and research efforts from a number of our ARC Centres of Excellence. We also profile one of our inaugural Discovery Early Career Research Awardees, Dr Tomera Ventura, on his fascinating research on lobster gender switches. I do hope you enjoy reading these great outcomes from some wonderful researchers.