As part of the VU Research Festival an awards evening, hosted by Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Warren Payne was held to mark the recent achievements of the Collaborative Research Network (CRN).
In 2011 VU received a $6.14million grant from the Commonwealth through the CRN program, which aims to encourage higher education providers to develop their research capacity by collaborating with other institutions in areas of common interest.
As part of the CRN program, VU undertook research in three major areas alongside the University of Melbourne, Deakin University and Edith Cowan University:
- active living
- water management.
The awards night highlighted the achievements of those involved in the CRN.
- Outstanding Early Career Researcher: Dr Radhika Gorur
In Dr Gorur’s role as a CRN Postdoctoral Researcher, she achieved a high publication output; establishment of the Laboratory for International Assessment Studies with colleagues from the University of East Anglia and Lancaster University; a range of grants; multiple keynotes, lecture and panel participation; and the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research and Research Training Career.
- Excellence on Research Leadership: Professor Stephen Gray
Throughout the CRN, Professor Gray consistently demonstrated excellence in research leadership. His award recognises his strengths as a strategic, collaborative and responsive leader, highlighted by the successful implementation of CRN funding to set-up joint post-doctoral positions and subsequently championing of these early career researchers.
- Best CRN Project – Impact: Living Brooklyn
Professor Roger Jones and Dr Daniel Ooi developed a business case for an integrated water management strategy at Brooklyn Industrial Estate, used to suppress dust from the site – the subject of intense EPA monitoring and of great concern to neighbouring residents. Outcomes have included better recognition of the life-cycle of pollutions on the site, their cause effects and costs; strong media coverage; funding of $2million to Jones & Bunting Roads; financial support for the greening and tree planting; mobile monitoring of pollution within the site by the EPA; an invited presentation at the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand Conference in September 2015 and the EPA in March 2015.
- Best CRN Project – Collaboration: Metal Membranes
Joint CRN project funding for collaborative activities in metal membrane research was used to produce pilot data with Deakin University, ultimately leading to a successful ARC linkage project. This provides a further 3 years of funding for the team and is a prime example of the CRN programme objectives in action.
- Exceptional Achievement: Professor John Orbell
During the CRN period Professor Orbell has achieved 25 high ranking journal articles, 5 conference proceedings and 22 conference presentations. In 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Banksia Prize for developments in novel environmental technology and in 2014, a $250,000 grant to disseminate this technology internationally. He has also worked closely with Professor Stephen Bigger and Dr Matthew Stewart to establish a computational chemistry research platform at the ISI that has led to a series of seminal publications, laying the foundation for several pending ARC Discovery grant applications and supervised a large number of honours and postgraduate students.
- Additional Commendation – Outstanding ECR: CRN postdoctoral fellow Dr Evelyn Marin and PhD student Filippe Oliveira
Evelyn and Filippe worked on the CRN project “Born Small” with Professor Glenn McConell at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL). This project has unique and innovative experimental design, and the pair have been the first team to use the Footscray Park Animal Facility, and made strong contributions to Standards Operational Procedures (SOPs) and techniques not previously used at Victoria University, such as insulin and glucose tolerance tests and exercise in rats. Additionally, they were also the first research team to use the radiation room and implement the ex vivo insulin-stimulated glucose uptake technique.
- Additional Commendation – Collaboration: Exercise & Metabolism project led by Associate Professor Nigel Stepto
The CRN support for this program of research allowed Nigel to position himself as a named Associate Investigator on a successful NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome valued at $2.5 million. This has already resulted in successful research fund applications for 2 CRE PhD scholarships. Using CRN funding for this project, as well as his teaching relief time to dramatically improve his research record, Nigel has built strong and sustainable collaborations with colleagues at Monash University, leading to new external funding for VU.
VU congratulates all those involved in the CRN and is proud of the increased research standing and capacity developed through the program.