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8 May 2013
Eight Deakin University researchers are going direct to the people in a bid to find money for their research projects.
They will be using the crowdfunding site Pozible.com to fund a range of interesting projects including a study of the impact of salinity on marine invertebrate species, such as rock lobster, abalone, and sea urchins and the development of an app that will allow Melbournians to walk in the steps of immigrant Australian photographer Mark Strizic and reshoot his images of their city.
The Deakin-Pozible project called Research My World is believed to be the first time an Australian university has used crowdfunding to pursue research funding.
Under the Pozible funding scheme, members of the public have the opportunity to make tax-deductible donations to a range of unique research projects that appeal to their interests and concerns.
Deakin University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Lee Astheimer, said crowdfunding had been successfully used to foster innovation in a number of entrepreneurial fields and the question had been asked why weren’t universities trying it.
“Well now we are,” she said.
Professor Astheimer said the Deakin project propositions ranged in funding needs from $5,000 to $20,000 and had been chosen from a wide range of disciplines.
Professor Astheimer said that the Pozible experiment is consistent with Deakin’s reputation as an innovator in higher education.
“We also have a reputation for seeking to find real world solutions for the communities we serve.
“This partnership with Pozible allows the community to help us identify what problems they feel need solving, then provides a unique way to help to solve them through funding support.
“For example, Dr Julie Mondon’s project is looking at the impact of changing ocean salt concentration on marine invertebrates.
“This will have particular relevance as society debates the issues raised by climate change and the impacts of desalination plants.
“Associate Professor Karen Campbell’s project will resonate with parents; She is hoping to raise enough funds to develop a free web-based resource for parents and carers to provide information about healthy eating and active play in toddlers.
“Associate Professor James McArdle’s project builds on Melbournians’ love of their city.
“He hopes to develop an app that will help users to find the original locations in the Melbourne photo collections of immigrant Australian photographer Mark Strizic, reshoot them, see how the city has changed. These will be donated to the State Library of Victoria’s archive.
“Dr Euan Ritchie is hoping to undertake the first comprehensive camera trapping study of endangered species in Papua New Guinea.
“He will be looking at the presence and behaviours of two critically endangered mammals, the Tenkile or Scott’s Tree Kangaroo and Weimang or Golden-mantled Tree Kangaroo.”
“Dr Chris Moore is looking for people whose children might be sharing their latest reading achievement on the ABC's Reading Eggs, or people who are slicing virtual fruit with their fingers for his project which is looking to understand the value people place on game play.
“Sufferers of the Bairnsdale Ulcer will appreciate Dr Melanie Thomson’s project which hopes to investigate the use of Mighty Medical Maggots in its treatment, while Dr Daniel Ierodiaconou is looking for support to continue his work mapping the ocean floor off the Victorian coast.
“Currently we know more about the surface of Mars than we do about our coastal waters of Australia.
“Dr Alecia Bellgrove’s project will appeal to foodies. “She is investigating which species of local seaweed are the most palatable. “
The Project Director, Deakin’s Professor Deb Verhoeven, said the Deakin-Pozible partnership will be “truly transformational”.
“This initiative will establish new connections between researchers and the communities around them,” she said.
“The Deakin-Pozible partnership will ‘bring research home’ in the sense that it will encourage a greater community focus in research agendas and it will provide a unique opportunity for members of the public to support the research that matters most to them.
“In a sense, this initiative will ‘democratise’ research funding in Australia, opening it up to anyone who can successfully generate interest for a great idea or approach to solving a problem.
“Research success will be measured in terms of a project’s importance to the public and not just other academics."
Professor Deb Verhoeven
Pozible Project Director
0412 484 321
Image source: dpi.vic.gov.au
(Copyright Strizic estate) with the 2013 image by G. Neville
Image source: Tenkile Conversation Alliance
Watch the researchers here