Flinders Research NewsInnovation Case Studies for all

National Innovation Case Study Collection

Innovation has long been key for research and teaching at universities. The Innovative Research Universities (IRU) group, of which Flinders is a member, has been working to showcase innovative practices that support student and graduate success. In line with our current series around impact and engagement, which again features in this edition, innovation is an important contributor to ensuring research impact that goes beyond the academic to make a difference in society.

Flinders will host the unveiling of the IRU’s National Innovation Case Study Collection at the end of July. This collection showcases the valuable work of the Innovative Research Universities in Australia by putting the talents of our researchers on the national and global stage. Each of the case studies provides a detailed summary of the rationale for the innovation, description of the activity, and the impact this work has on students, institutional activities and on the community. The collection can be browsed via the IRU website and if you have a case study that could be added to the collection, there is an online submission template.

New OpportunitiesAusBiotech 2017 registrations now open

AusBiotech 2017

Registrations are now open for AusBiotech 2017 to be held from 25-27 October 2017 at the Adelaide Convention Centre. Early bird registrations close on 14 July 2017. AusBiotech is Australia’s biotechnology organisation which provides representation and services to promote the global growth of Australian biotechnology.

AusBiotech 2017 will feature presentations from Charlie Day, CEO of Innovation and Science Australia, on the Innovation, Science and Research System and strategic plan development, and from Tim Oldham, CEO of Cell Therapies, on inventing supply chains, and other presentations from industry and research leaders from around the world.

Register at the AusBiotech 2017 registration page.

New OpportunitiesCall for Research Fellowships and Conference Sponsorship


The Co-operative Research Program (CRP) of the OECD has launched its call for funding research fellowships and international conferences (workshops and symposia) in 2018. Applications are invited from research scientists working in agriculture, forestry or fisheries and who would like to conduct research projects abroad, and/or for funding towards a conference (or workshop, symposium, etc) to take place in another member country of the CRP.

The aim of the Research Fellowships is to strengthen the international exchange of ideas and increase international mobility and co-operation among scientists working in these areas. The Conference Sponsorship scheme is to inform policy makers, industry and academia of current and future research, scientific developments and opportunities in these areas.

Applications for both should fit into one of the three following research themes:

  • Managing Natural Capital for the Future
  • Managing Risks in a Connected World
  • Transformational Technologies and Innovation

The deadline for submission of applications is 10 September 2017, (midnight Paris time). The guidelines and forms can be found on the OECD website.

2017 OECD CRP Brochure

Seminars Conferences and WorkshopsResearch Grants and Contracts Drop-in Sessions - July 2017

Research Grants and Contracts Drop In Session - July 2017

The first Research Grants and Contracts team July drop-in session for interested academic and professional staff will be held on Tuesday 11 July 2017.

These twice monthly sessions are designed to allow staff to receive one-on-one assistance or advice on any aspect of the services provided by the Research Grants and Contracts team, including: assistance with research grant applications, searching for funding, grant budgets, establishing collaborative contracts and other research related contracts, terms and conditions of award, confidentiality and material transfer agreements etc.

Research Grants and Contract staff will be available from 12 PM to 1 PM on Tuesday 11 July 2017 and Tuesday 25 July 2017. Participants are encouraged to register at ienrol if they are interested in attending either of the sessions and are asked to please email research.grants@flinders.edu.au to give RSO staff advance notice of the nature of the assistance they require.

Seminars Conferences and WorkshopsResearch Data & Systems Drop-in Session - July 2017

Research Data & Reporting Drop In Session - July 2017

The next Research Data and Reporting Team’s monthly drop-in session for interested academic and professional staff will be held on Tuesday 18 July 2017.

The aim of the session is to provide one-on-one assistance to staff who want either a refresh on the research data systems used at Flinders or to learn some new skills.

Research Data and Reporting staff will be available from 12 PM to 1 PM on Tuesday 18 July 2017. Participants are encouraged to register at ienrol if they are interested in attending.

Seminars Conferences and WorkshopsThe most open and honest grant writing workshop

RiAus ECR Network workshop - July 2017

You'll never go to a workshop as honest or useful as this. Find out from a grant examiner just what they look for, and what they don't bother reading. It'll be frank and fearless, but you'll learn from the best and find out what makes a successful grant application.

After a sell out event in 2016, Professor Alan Cooper (Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA) is back to reveal the secrets of writing a killer grant application to Australia's Early Career Researchers.

Presented by RiAus (the Royal Institution of Australia), as part of their ECR Network which offers workshops and networking events for Early Career Researchers, this event is now open for booking.

The event will also be livestreamed at Australia's Science Channel - australiascience.tv

Research Engagement and ImpactFossil finds bring Australia's evolutionary history to life

gogglemap-Lake PinpaLake Pinpa (red marker) in the Frome Downs area with the Flinders Ranges to the left. (google maps)

What is so important about the Oligocene period, and, especially, about fossils here in South Australia? It was the period during which most of Australia’s modern marsupial families evolved. The end of the Oligocene period, about 25 million years ago, was also the time of transition to a global greenhouse from the cooler conditions created when Australia separated from Antarctica. By looking at fossils from this period, it gives us greater understanding of the effect that global climate change had on this fauna. For the first time near-complete koala, kangaroo and bird skeletons have been discovered from the area around the southern end of Lake Frome.

Excavation site at Lake Pinpa. Fossils are found in a thin clay layer close to the surface. Photo by A. Camens
Collecting fossils at Billeroo Creek, South Australia. In the foreground, from right to left, TH Worthy, Warren Handley and Elen Shute are excavating a rich layer of bones to collect bulk material for processing in the lab. Photo by A. Camens
Top: Excavation site at Lake Pinpa. Fossils are found in  a thin clay layer close to the surface.
Bottom: Collecting fossils at Billeroo Creek, South Australia. In the foreground, from right to left, TH Worthy, Warren Handley and Ellen Mather are excavating a rich layer of bones  to collect bulk material for processing in the lab.

Photos by Aaron Camens

Past the Flinders Ranges and heading toward the border with New South Wales, the Frome Downs area has been of interest to palaeontologists since an American Museum led expedition in 1973, which found abundant fossils exposed on the bed of Lake Pinpa. Some of those finds are only just now being identified. In 1975, rain washed sediments from the nearby dunes onto the lake bed, and those fossils still in place have remained hidden since. In 2006, Professor Rod Wells with future Flinders palaeontology researchers Dr Aaron Camens and Associate Professor Trevor Worthy visited the lake, considered then to not be productive for fossil finds, and the nearby Billeroo Creek. At the creek a large hoard of fossils was found, including two new species of cormorants in the genus Nambashag.

The group travelled again to the region in 2015 to revisit the sites found in 2006 and to locate new ones. What was discovered included the first articulated or associated skeletons of a new raptor, a basal kangaroo, and a koala in the genus Madakoala. The funding from the Sir Mark Mitchell Research Foundation in late 2016 has allowed the group to continue and expand the expeditions to the area.

The two week expedition in March 2017 had the group re-examining many of the sites from the first 1970s expeditions. A large number of new fossils were found, including another extraordinarily well-preserved koala skeleton complete with the first skull known for any late Oligocene koala. This skeleton is part of an Honours project for Amy Tschirn. Lizard fossils found are contributing to a PhD project for Kailah Thorn.

Most of the finds are still awaiting preparation in the Flinders Palaeontology Laboratory, but further rare discoveries are anticipated. “This research programme is contributing greatly to the inventory and reconstruction of the late Oligocene fauna, which provides a key insight into the evolution of Australian’s modern fauna,” said Trevor.

Time-lapse vision was kindly provided by the Flinders University Palaeontology Society.

New OpportunitiesHave you dug into Australia's treasure Trove?

SHAPE program

The National Library of Australia in Canberra is looking to highlight researchers who have relied on Trove to undertake their research. If you have, or know someone who has used Trove to access books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archives, etc, please contact Jane Clayton, Communications Advisor in OCE in order for the research story to be shared for promotional purposes.

The aim of sharing these stories is to encourage other cultural organisations to contribute resources to Trove and help expand the digital archives. The National Library is keen to include Flinders stories in their upcoming Trove Roadshow event at the 27 June at the State Library of South Australia and then in future blog posts on the Trove website.

New OpportunitiesNeed help getting products to clinical trial?

As part of the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) work to support a nationally consistent approach to the way human research is conducted, the NHMRC is piloting National Scientific Committees (NSCs) to provide advice to researchers on clinical trials involving medical devices and complex genetic research.

The NSCs will provide advice and a report to sponsors and investigators on the scientific merit and integrity of a product information and a research protocol.

This report can then be used as further justification when submitting an human research ethics committee application to commence clinical trials.

During the pilot (ending 30 June 2017) applicants will not be charged for this service.

Please contact NSC today at nsc@bellberry.com.au or phone 08 361 3222. More information is available at the link above.

New OpportunitiesCall for Papers-ECR Polar Oceania Symposium


The Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) Oceania, is holding their first Research Symposium, Addressing future Antarctic challenges from an Oceania perspective, during Polar Week, September 2017.

 What can the Oceania region do to help address future Antarctic challenges and in what way can we contribute to perpetuate the aims of the Antarctic Treaty and the Protocol for Environmental Protection? The 1st APECS Oceania symposium aims to bring together early career Antarctic researchers from across Oceania to address these questions and highlight what our region can contribute to tackling future Antarctic challenges.

Call for Abstracts is now open and will close 30 June 2017. Further information and the link for abstract submission is available here.

Research Engagement and ImpactTracking the marine ecosystems in South Australia

Onkaparinga estuary

How can some of the smallest marine organisms, even down to the plankton level, help monitor water quality? Researchers at Flinders will be creating a record of zooplankton and copepods, small crustaceans, communities in the Coorong and Onkaparinga estuaries. By recording these communities, this will enable researchers to, firstly, have the first organised record of the biodiversity of the estuaries, and secondly, a recording of some species habitat ranges. Both of these records will enable researchers in the future to better track water quality.

Copepod cultureCopepod culture and preparation before dissection

Zooplankton communities are more susceptible to changes in water quality, and because they are at the base of the aquatic food chain any effects on those communities will trickle up the food chain. By creating that record of these communities, it will allow researchers in the future to be able to make qualified judgements on the changes to water quality, pollution, and human caused change to our local estuaries. The focus on recording both the types of organisms and their habitat ranges will also allow conservation, monitoring and future modelling of change.

Copepods have been used by researchers as indicators on biodiversity in water bodies previously. The Coorong is home to several copepod species that are unique to South Australia. One of those species is very close to another species from Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. So close, that they are considered to be allopatric sibling species. DNA barcoding of the Coorong Acartia cf. fancetti copepods, which only occur and grow in a vastly different habitat range from their Port Phillip ‘cousins’, will be compared to those ‘cousins’ for the first time. The aim will also be to identify other species in the estuaries that have distinct habitat ranges.

Sampling and analysis started in November and December 2016 with funding from the Sir Mark Mitchell Research Foundation. The Flinders team of Mr Deevesh Hemraj, and Associate Professor Sophie Leterme, with Dr Russell Shiel (Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide) aim to finish the analysis and sampling by December 2017 and have a number of manuscripts prepared for submission to peer reviewed journals.

New OpportunitiesFlinders access now granted for European datasets

SHAPE program

Flinders has recently signed an agreement with the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat) to allow our researchers to access 12 new datasets. This agreement now joins our existing arrangements with the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Social Services.

Many of these datasets are longitudinal. Futhermore, they are collected in the majority of European countries. Access to the data is free of charge for Flinders' researchers, but this access requires the researcher/s to sign the Deed of Confidentiality, and for the researcher/s to provide to Eurostat a very detailed description of the research project, variables to be used, etc.

The datasets now available are:

  • European Community Household Panel
  • European Union Labour Force Survey
  • Community Innovation Survey
  • European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions
  • Structure of Earnings Survey
  • Adult Education Survey
  • European Road Freight Transport Survey
  • European Health Interview Survey
  • Continuing Vocational Training Survey
  • Community Statistics on information Society
  • Micro-Moments Dataset
  • Household Budget Survey

Researchers who wish to apply for the data, need to contact pawel.skuza@flinders.edu.au in the first instance.

Further details about the data sets can be found on Eurostat Microdata website. Additional information about access to ABS, DSS or Eurostat data can be found at the Flinders Restricted Access Data webpage.

Research Engagement and ImpactBe Your Best for Impact

SHAPE program

Research can not only engage directly with a community, but can then impact beyond the immediate academic research outputs to society in general. The Australian Research Council (ARC) defines Impact as: ‘research impact is the contribution that research makes to economy, society and environment, beyond the contribution to academic research’ in their guidelines for the ARC Pilot Engagement Study.(1) In our continuing series on the upcoming Excellence in Research Australia round, we now look at what impact research at Flinders has had, starting with the Flinders-Panthers Be Your Best Program.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) lists a lack of physical activity as one of the 10 leading risk factors for premature death worldwide. Figures presented in January 2015 by the WHO provide the frightening statistic that one in four adults is not active enough. The effects of insufficient physical activity include heightening the risk of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

To further compound the problem, epidemiological research in Australia shows insufficient physical activity is often found in communities in low-socioeconomic areas where its effects are heightened by poor nutrition. Both physical activity and poor nutrition are major modifiable risk factors in the reduction of a number of chronic lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Research conducted by Professor Murray Drummond and the SHAPE (Sport, Health and Physical Education) team at Flinders University in partnership with a popular local sporting club, has designed and tested an innovative health project with schools in the local area to assist in modifying behaviours in young Australians and thereby promoting healthier choices.

The effects of engaging in increased physical activity for children go beyond the health outcomes listed for adults. Children and adolescents who undertake regular physical activity and enjoy good nutrition show greater personal responsibility and improved group cooperation than those who did not. Research conducted by Flinders SHAPE Centre showed child-focussed programs to enhance physical activity and improved nutrition were more successful when these activities were associated with inspirational individuals within a child’s community. So they set out to use this research to improve lives.

Flinders-Panthers: Be Your Best

The Flinders – Panthers Be Your Best program was designed to build on healthy living messages already in place at schools by regularly bringing fruit and vegetables, fun activities and local sports heroes (Panthers footballers) into the children’s school environment to promote physical activity and good nutrition as positive lifestyle choices. Run by University students together with Panthers footballers, the program enjoyed phenomenal success with the children and their communities. School principals hosting the initiative were excited by the response it received from both the students themselves and the parents and teachers supporting them. Working with the footballers gave the program a degree of ‘cool’ that working with teachers and parents did not have. The Flinders – Panthers Be Your Best program had a different role from regular school lessons, namely the promotion of key lifestyle concepts with positive reinforcement. In that way the children could engage with role models on a peer-to-peer basis rather than in a teacher-student way. These interactions inspired the children to a healthier lifestyle because it was something they had seen someone they admired doing, and that being healthy was ‘cool’.

"In terms of academic impact this research has resulted in a number of important research papers and international book chapters that will be accessed by scholars around the world to emulate the program in their own unique settings. From a practical and ‘real life' perspective we have impacted the lives of several hundred children by changing attitudes and behaviours associated with physical activity and nutrition in regions where these aspects of health are poorest. Through sport, and by utilising sport and PE students as agents of change, we have also played a role in promoting children's awareness in these low socioeconomic localities that university is a ‘cool’ place to be. The potential to be interrupt the cycle of education attrition is a real prospect for families where higher education is not a high priority," said Murray.

In addition to the predicted outcomes of the program, working with University students had unforeseen positive consequences for the children involved. All schools involved in the initiative are located in low socio-economic areas with few positive career and educational opportunities. By giving the children regular and positive contact with University students from similar backgrounds, the idea that there was more to life than school and possible unemployment was invigorating to the participants. Teachers reported that students engaged with the program expressed significantly increased interest in attending high school and seeking tertiary education as a direct result of engaging with the Flinders students in the Flinders – Panthers Be Your Best program.

By connecting children with accessible sporting role models in an environment focused on healthy lifestyle choices, the Flinders – Panthers Be Your Best program has been a great success. SHAPE director, Murray, is working with the South Australian National Football League to expand the program into additional schools and working with additional football clubs in the future to bring the impact of the program to a greater part of the society.


For further Flinders Research Impact stories, see the Research Impact section. For assistance in creating a Flinders Research Impact case study, contact Dr Brodie Beales.

(1) ARC Pilot Study overview information - http://www.arc.gov.au/ei-pilot-overview

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