20 Octber 2014

 CEO Professor Aidan Byrne

Image: ARC CEO, Professor Aidan Byrne.
Image credit: Norman Plant Photography.

 

It’s hard to believe October is here already. There has been a great deal of activity across the higher education and research sector this year and of course there is still much to achieve prior to the Christmas/New Year period.

Welcome to this edition of ARChway, which includes information about many of our recent funding announcements along with some feature articles on some of the great research currently being undertaken by ARC-funded researchers.

It has been a busy period for the ARC since our last edition. The ARC has launched two special research initiatives in recent months. The Special Research Initiatives for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes along with Tropical Health and Medicine are now underway. I was pleased to attend the launch of the Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes SRI in Adelaide and speak with a number of families who are living and dealing with this auto-immune disease daily. A feature article on the launch is in this edition of ARChway.

Two of our Fellowships schemes have also been announced—in July the Future Fellowships (funding commencing in 2014) were announced at The University of Adelaide, while in August 16 new Australian Laureate Fellows were announced. There is more about these announcements in feature articles also in this edition of ARChway.

It has also been an important period for the ARC with the launch of many of our new Centres of Excellence (funding commencing 2014) and also our Industrial Transformation Research Training Centres and Hubs.

Since July, eight ARC Centres of Excellence (from a total of 12 which were awarded $284.9 million commencing 2014) have now officially been opened and commenced work in cutting edge research:

Some of our first research hubs and training centres, funded under the Industrial Transformation Research Programme, to open include:

These are important events for the ARC as they mark the commencement of new research programmes that have the potential to deliver great benefits to the nation. The research activities within these Centres and Hubs are also important mechanisms for enhancing collaborations—between universities, business and industry—creating a ‘critical mass’ of research talent to tackle challenges and nurture our next generation of researchers.

There is also a great deal of work ongoing to prepare for ERA 2015. The ERA team at the ARC has been busy engaging with personnel at universities around the country and is currently working on details around the Research Evaluation Committees for ERA. More information about the committees will be released in the coming months.

Our RMS team has also been busy liaising with Research Offices implementing the new RMS 2.0 grants management system. RMS2.0 is an important project within the ARC as part of our streamlining activities. The upgrades from RMS to RMS 2.0 make for a more user-friendly and flexible grants management system. The main reasons for the update to RMS 2.0 are to:

  • ensure the grants management process is handled by a stable and flexible platform
  • make improvements in response to the needs of researchers and research offices
  • meet Australian Government Web Content and Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0)
  • improve compliance with the Information Security Manual.

I’d like to thank those in the sector who have been providing valuable feedback to the ARC about RMS2.0.

Some notes of congratulations also in this edition. While it is impossible to congratulate each and every one of our ARC-funded researchers who win many and varied awards, I would like to note a few in particular. The 2014 Eureka Prizes were awarded in September and a number of ARC-funded researchers were awarded on the night, including:

While still on the subject of awards, I was honoured to present the 2014 Scopus Young Researcher Awards at the Australasian Research Management Society conference in September where four out of the five winners were also supported by ARC funding. Congratulations to all five winners: Associate Professor David Lubans (ARC Future Fellow), Professor Ajayan Vinu (ARC Future Fellow), Dr Shulei Chou (Australian Postdoctoral Fellow), Dr Kerrie Wilson (node leader at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and ARC Future Fellow) and Dr Tracey Burrows.

A note on some of the feature articles in this edition of ARChway. During NAIDOC week Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson visited the ARC to speak about her experiences as a pioneering indigenous researcher. In this edition we write about the important work of the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network, at which Professor Moreton-Robinson is Director.

Another of our feature articles focusses on an inaugural DECRA recipient, Dr Sandra Tanz. What I find most interesting about her story, apart from the importance of her research project, is the interconnectedness of the ARC’s funding schemes and how this can help to achieve even greater research results.

Dr Tanz highlights the importance not only of her DECRA but also her involvement as a Research Assistant at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at The University of Western Australia. Her experience highlights the importance of two of the ARC’s funding schemes.

One of the important features of the ARC Centres of Excellence scheme, apart from duration and scale of funding, is that it provides for high-quality postgraduate and postdoctoral training environments for the next generation of researchers. In addition, the DECRA scheme supports our best and brightest young researchers. Training excellent young scientists is a core activity of any advanced country and as CEO of the ARC I take our part in this activity very seriously.

I hope you enjoy this edition of ARChway.