Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CQUniversity to invest $7m in establishing Adelaide research presence

I am delighted to announce the appointment of renowned human factors and safety researcher Professor Drew Dawson as CQUniversity’s inaugural Engaged Research Chair.

All year I’ve been saying that 2011 is going to be the year of research at CQUniversity and following the acquisition of the former CSIRO laboratories in Rockhampton (see previous Blog), we will now be establishing a research centre in Adelaide – the Appleton Institute.

The Appleton Institute will be a hub for South Australian research talent including the Human Factors & Safety Research Centre headed up by Professor Dawson which will help to establish a strong, credible and locally relevant presence for CQUniversity in South Australia.

With the ‘power of place’ offered by CQUniversity, Professor Dawson and his team (including lead researchers Associate Professor Sally Ferguson and Associate Professor Greg Roach) will now be able to more effectively apply their cutting edge research to tackling hot-button issues in theresource-rich Central Queensland region as well. The team are considered to be world leaders in the field of sleep research, with expertise in the areas of human sleep, biological rhythms, sleep disorders, workplace fatigue and risk management.

With a physical presence in South Australia and a strategic link to Queensland’s mining heartland, this appointment really is a win-win for academia and industry in both states.

This is not just about expanding CQUniversity’s geographic footprint – it really is about CQUniversity leveraging the best research talent in the nation, to address issues that have a direct impact on the communities we serve.

I am pleased we had the opportunity to acknowledge CQUniversity’s first Vice-Chancellor, the late Dr Arthur Appleton, with the naming of the Appleton Institute. Dr Appleton had strong ties to South Australia through his role as Head of Metallurgy at the South Australian Institute of Technology (now UniSA). The Appleton Institute will occupy the site of the former Royal District Nursing Service headquarters at Wayville and will house a state-of-the-art sleep laboratory and cognitive performance facility.

Plans to recruit up to 10 Engaged Research Chairs across a number of disciplines are underway and I look forward to sharing more exciting news with you as progress is made.


Anonymous said...

A lot of the staff at CQU think that it is very disappointing that there is not the same degree of support for those already employed as researchers. There are many under-utilised research facilities at the existing CQU campuses. As someone pointed out - $7 million would enable 90 postdoctoral fellows to be employed for a year.

Vice Chancellor - CQUniversity said...

Thank you for your comment. CQUniversity is fortunate enough to boast a world class ranking in three areas of research (Engineering, Medical and Health Sciences and Nursing), and with continued hard work we will see this expand to a number of other disciplines. However, when we see an opportunity to partner with an existing researcher or researchers on a mutually beneficial basis, particularly where said researchers have the capacity to greatly improve the university’s research output, quality and status, we should take it. In addition, the presence of such research activity within CQUniversity can only elevate and inspire our own ‘homegrown’ research talent.

In terms of funding for the Adelaide group, please be aware that the stated figure is the total cost of personnel and facilities over five years, and is largely subsidised by the group’s own earnings from industry partners. Over the five years, the employment of the group will essentially be cost-neutral for the university thanks to the group’s entrepreneurial efforts.

If there are ideas for better utilising CQUniversity’s existing research facilities and personnel, I would love to hear about them – please post these within the Great Ideas Forum on the CQUniversity Staff Portal -
and they will be reviewed by VCAC in due course.

Anonymous said...

I am inclined to agree with the anonymous comment. Reseachers at CQU are lucky if they can get $7000 in funding from the university, let alone $7,000,000. I doubt that the people in Adelaide are so much better than existing researchers that a margin of this difference can be justified. Years of under-funding research does need to be addressed, but I think there are better ways to do this. It would be good to see a sizeable parcel of funding made available to those already here and trying their best with meagre support.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to the Power of Place concept? Many thought that the university was going to give priority to research areas particularly significant to our geographical location. Some suggestions could be Great Barrier Reef issues and issues relating to coal seam gas exploration and production. Gladstone and Mackay are at the heart of major extractive industries - can we please consider similar investments in linking to these.

Sleepless in Gladstone.

Vice Chancellor - CQUniversity said...

The Human Factors & Safety Research Centre has a strong strategic link to the Central Queensland region and is having a direct impact on the communities we serve.

The appointment is very much about the ‘power of place’ offered by CQUniversity and about the practical application of the Centre’s research in addressing issues in Central Queensland and beyond.

We are very fortunate to have a number of outstanding researchers already focusing on locally relevant topics such as reef and coral, water quality (including coal seam gas) and shift work and fatigue which are contributing to the University’s research agenda.