2013 - The year that was
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Lee Astheimer has congratulated Deakin University’s researchers on another year of growth and achievement.
"In 2013, we have taken a number of important steps in growing our research base and profile,” Professor Astheimer said.
“This has only been achieved through a lot of hard work across the University, in our two Institutes, our Strategic Research Centres and in the other research initiatives we have across Deakin."
“There is no doubt that 2014 offers us a whole new range of challenges as we become more strategic about the way we go about our research."
“I congratulate everyone on their efforts in 2013 and look forward to us working together again in 2014.”
Highlights from 2013
Continuing our investment in technology, the new plasma research laboratory at the Institute for Frontier Materials in Waurn Ponds combines plasma and thermal energy to offer researchers a sophisticated testing platform.
In February, the Deakin community was privileged to hear Nobel Peace Prize-winning panellist Dr RK Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Director General of The Energy Resources Institute (TERI). Hosted by the Alfred Deakin Research Institute, Dr Pachauri delivered a lecture on promoting sustainable development and tackling climate change.
Deakin’s research achievements throughout 2013 reflect our values of providing research that makes a difference to the communities we serve.
Along with several collaborators, the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, which is part of Deakin’s Population Health Strategic Research Centre, received $3 million from the US National Institutes of Health.
Other outstanding work in this field is being undertaken by Dr Kylie Hesketh, Senior Research Fellow from the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, who was acknowledged twice this year by the Australian Research Council, with both an ARC Future Fellowship (Level 1) and an ARC Discovery Grant.
Further community benefits will result from the Ophelia Victoria project that was launched in August.
At an international level, more research success has been achieved by Deakin’s high performing Strategic Research Centre, Pattern Recognition and Data Analytics (PRaDA). The TOBY Playpad, an iPad app created for children with autism, was among the winners of the inaugural Victorian International Education Awards announced by the Premier at a special ceremony at Government House in Melbourne.
The TOBY Playpad was originally developed for Western cultures, but is now being applied successfully in India, where PRaDA is working with the Tamana School of Hope in New Delhi, providing an accessible, affordable tool to a country where thousands of children and their families will benefit.
Deakin achieved a significant international coup early in the year with the appointment of Professor Fethi Mansouri as the new UNESCO Chair in Comparative Research on Cultural Diversity and Social Justice.
Throughout 2013 Deakin researchers have continued to make outstanding advances in technological fields, in areas such as carbon fibre, fibre and materials. An historic moment occurred in November when the 20-ton pilot scale line at Carbon Nexus produced its first carbon fibre. This facility has tremendous potential for the economy of the Geelong region.
Another innovative Deakin project that aims to solve a problem that affects millions of people has been developed by researchers from Deakin’s Institute of Frontier Materials (IFM) and the Ear Science Institute Australia (ESIA), as part of an ARC Linkage project.
Dr Rangam Rajkhowa and Dr Ben Allardyce are using the natural properties of silk fibres to produce an artificial eardrum which could be implanted in a simple outpatient procedure. This project received an NHMRC development grant, and clinical trials in humans are expected to begin in 2014.
More technological leadership from Deakin occurred in December when our Centre for Intelligent Systems Research successfully hosted the first Annual Autonomous Ground Vehicle Competition, AGVC 2013. Sponsored by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, the competition aimed to stimulate robotics-related research in Australian tertiary institutions. Deakin’s two teams, Order 66 and Aperire Incognatum, gained first and third places, with the University of New South Wales coming second.
An exciting initiative that saw several small Deakin research projects gain funding arose from a Deakin collaboration with crowdfunding site, Pozible. Professor Deb Verhoeven, who instigated and led the Research my World project, was named one of the top five research innovators in Australia by "Campus Review" for this initiative.
Not surprisingly, the initiative has already been embraced by several other universities. Hopefully, further Deakin research can achieve funding this way during 2014.
A number of Deakin researchers must be congratulated for their outstanding award success during 2013. One award highlight was the presentation of one of Australia’s most prestigious research prizes, the Australian Corrosion Association’s Corrosion Medal, to Professor Maria Forsyth. This medal is bestowed for outstanding scientific or technological work in the field of corrosion in Australasia.
Continuing a recent run of success, Dr Lana Williams, from IMPACT, took out the Karingal Living with a Disability Award for her research into psychiatric disorders, psychotropic agents and bone health.
Ending the year on a high was the announcement that Deakin University was part of a successful proposal for the establishment of a $4 million ARC Industry Transformation Research Hub and a cutting edge new ARC Centre of Excellence that will receive $25 million in funding across a number of universities.