Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Interview with Associate Professor Lisa Amir (Judith Lumley Centre)

Lisa Amir (left), Miranda Buck (centre) and new family at Royal Women's Hospital

This week, we interview Associate Professor Lisa Amir from the Judith Lumley Centre (JLC; on Twitter at @LTUJudithLumley).

The JLC is a multidisciplinary public health research centre with programs focused on mothers, parents and their infants.

It's great to see Lisa's enthusiasm for her topic shine through.

And the fact that she and her team tried five times before landing that big grant? A perfect demonstration of how persistence is as necessary in academia as expertise!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Reading, Writing, Supporting (Anthony Condon)

They say a PhD is a lonely road.

It’s all too easy to spend all day behind the computer, in the lab or deep in the archives. But we’re social creatures and even if we’re alone in our topic, it doesn’t mean we need to be alone in our shared experience.

Do you want to read, write and be supported in a group environment?

I’ve gotten a lot out of the two regular Shut Up and Write! sessions I attend at the Melbourne campus.

One's on Tuesdays 9.30 - 12.00 in the Postgraduate Study Area (aka The Qantas Lounge) on Level 2 of the Library and the other is on Thursdays 9.30 - 12.00 in the Teaching and Learning Commons (TLC), room 114. I've also been a part of the 'how to write a journal article in 12 weeks' workshops (get in touch with Kirsty Duncanson to know when the next one will start up). I like the social aspect of sharing what we’re writing, as well as remaining accountable to a group to keep our work going.

It's for these two reasons that I’ve decided to start a reading, writing and peer support group (snappy name pending a group decision). This initially started out as a reading group. In the History department, we have many reading groups, but I wanted something where I could focus on what I was reading rather than something general. I also wanted to hear what other people in other fields thought about the things I was reading. In return, I thought I’d be able to offer the benefit of my context for other peoples’ reading and gain insight into a broader range of topics.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

INTERVIEW with Dr Emma Sherry (Centre for Sport and Social Impact)

Photo courtesy of Emma Sherry
This interview with Dr Emma Sherry shows that sport research is about more than just the sport!

Emma's research is a great example of engaged, sustained academic work that has outcomes directly applicable to improving various developing communities' quality of life.

As an added bonus, she sounds like she has a great time doing it all!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Get your butt off the lawn (Lucie Semenec and Jen Wood)

Some areas of our campus are still beautifully undamaged by our waste. Let’s make all of our campus look like this! (Photo courtesy of Oonagh Bodin)
Although we see litter on our Melbourne campus every day, it's probably not something we actively notice anymore.

Maybe we’re just too busy studying or socialising, or perhaps we’ve become desensitised to it because it’s always there. Or maybe we know it’s wrong but turn a blind eye because it’s just easier to think of it as someone else’s problem.

Those of us who create the litter may not fully understand the problems it causes, and those of us who just see the litter as a problem don’t really know how to go about fixing it! But surely we can all agree that it doesn’t look nice!

This is why like-minded individuals from the Department of Microbiology decided to take action on this litter problem and clean up our campus! This is the story of our experience and what we discovered.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Mastermind groups: Creative tactics for thriving as an ECR (Marcella Carragher, Rochelle Fogelgarn, Hannah Robert)

Graphic conversation | Image by Marc Wathie
Being an Early Career Researcher (ECR) can feel a bit like being Red Riding Hood setting out into the dark forest.

We're armed with our basket of goodies (our research qualifications and experience) and we know where we're supposed to be going: heading for Grandma's house (i.e. working towards becoming an established and productive researcher).

But, like Red Riding Hood, the path is by no means clear or without hazards. That was certainly how we felt when we attended a RED-hosted ECR Career Planning day in 2014.

Little did we know that one of the strategies that emerged from that planning session, Mastermind groups, would become a central part of our own research career planning!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Interview with Dan Bendrups (Research Education and Development (RED))

Image: Rapanui dancers at the 2012 Festival of Pacific Arts, Honiara (Photo D. Bendrups) 
In this week's RED Alert, we interview Dan Bendrups, who recently started with the RED team at Bendigo Campus. Dan talks candidly about his research background and offers some great advice to Early Career Researchers.

1. How did you end up researching in the field you're in?

I’d love to say that it was all part of a well-planned career strategy, but to be honest, my transition into a research career was part serendipity and part pragmatism. Like many current HDRs, I entered research from an industry or ‘practice’ background. My field of practice was music performance. When the opportunity arose to do a PhD with a scholarship (something quite attractive to a struggling musician), I took it, but without much thought for where it would lead. My doctorate considered the role of music in cultural sustainability on remote Easter Island (Rapanui). This led to further engagement with music and culture in the Pacific region, especially in Polynesia and Pacific-rim Latin American countries, where I already had some language and cultural knowledge. My emerging profile in this area led to my first real academic appointment in New Zealand, where Pacific-focused research is strategically significant to the nation’s cultural and research agendas. I maintain a specific interest in Rapanui as a primary research field, however, I have also been able to extend this to include topics in which Rapanui (and, for that matter, music) is perhaps more peripheral. At present, this is reflected in my work concerning trans-Pacific cultural phenomena, especially those that connect Oceania with Latin America.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Isolation (Nicholas Anthony)

Photo by Erlend Ekseth | unsplash.com
“I work with lasers.”

These four simple words regularly save me when some poor individual gets stuck talking to me at a party and makes the mistake of asking what I do.

I’ve tried to give the real answer, that I’m a PhD researcher developing a new technique that uses focused laser light to image materials and biological samples to high spatial resolution.

But who really wants to hear about that when you could imagine I'm on par with supervillains from James Bond movies?!

To my dismay, working with lasers isn’t as glamorous as the movies would have you believe.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The 101 on grants for graduate researchers (Clare McCausland)

Photo by Thomas Hawk
As the manager of the Graduate Research School (GRS), I’m keenly aware that one of the topics we’re often asked at the GRS is around grants and additional funds: "how do I find what’s out there and how do I actually get paid?"

We know that research can be expensive!

Apart from fees and basic living expenses, costs associated with research can add up. You might want to travel overseas to conduct your fieldwork, purchase useful equipment to get your project underway and, at some point, you’ll almost certainly want to attend a conference to present your research.

You can also work with your colleagues to build a better intellectual climate – invite a guest speaker, set up a Wiki, or run a well-catered (and therefore well-attended!) reading group or seminar to support the efforts of graduate researchers across your discipline.

Sometimes, it seems like there are floods of cash available for doctoral and research Master’s candidates, but finding it and then seeing the dollars materialise can take more effort than the research these funds are intended to support. That’s not the intention.

I’ve put together some questions and answers here in an effort to shine a light on the sources of funding available and what’s involved in getting paid.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Three minutes and not a second more (Kelly Farrell and Jason Murphy)

Jen Wiltshire. 2015 La Trobe Competition winner.
A graduate researcher with a story to tell. An audience primed to hear it. Three minutes and not a second more.

One of the University’s premiere research events, the Three Minute Thesis® (3MT®) is on again in 2016!

Started by the University of Queensland in 2008, this unique competition asks graduate researchers to flex their research communication muscles and present a clear and engaging account of their thesis to a non-specialised audience.

No jargon. No disciplinary double-dutch. And all in under three minutes.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Single quotation marks - for quoting ‘Mr Nobody’ (Teresa Iacono)

When I was young, I had a grandmother figure – that is, she acted like my grandmother, I loved her like she was my grandmother, and she took me to many places as though bent on imbuing a grandchild with cultural experiences.

As a result, I am probably the only person alive who reached the age of 6 having seen Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music three times!

This grandmother figure and I had no blood ties. She taught me a great many life skills, such as how to make a decent cup of tea (much needed for a first generation Australian of Italian parents who knew only how to drink stove-top coffee) and how to make lovely doilies using pin-point needlework (a great skill for a budding academic – not).

Even now, I can still remember how to blanket-stitch, even though I have never had the need to stitch blankets. Take note, ECRs, this is not a life skill, nor the first rung on the academic ladder to success, but it could be good practice for when…actually, I can’t think of any reason to practice this skill.