Science with a community benefit

Created date

Friday, June 7, 2013 - 11:56pm

‘Social benefit’ was the buzz phrase out of the 2008 review of the national Cooperative Research Centres program. Finally, Public Good CRCs were acknowledged for their long struggle for attention and ongoing support in a funding program renowned for supporting technological breakthroughs in the manufacturing, mining, medical and agriculture sectors.

Recent events indicate that scientific impact for social benefit is being. The Australian Government has now re-funded the three major Public Good CRCs that were scheduled to finish this year. At the start of the year, $47 million was allocated to a new Bushfires and Natural Hazards CRC for an eight-year research program. And in recent weeks, the CRC for Antarctic
Climate and Ecosystems and the CRC for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health each received $25 million for five years funding to continue their important work.

Last month at the annual Cooperative Research Centres Association annual conference in Melbourne, three Bushfire CRC projects were singled out amongst the finest in the country.

PhD student Mika Peace was one of six finalists in the Showcasing Early Career Researchers award. Mika, from the Bureau of Meteorology, gave a five minute presentation via Skype from the Fire Weather Workshop in Busselton WA, on her research into the interactions between fire and the atmosphere. Although she didn’t win, there were 51 entrants in this category so it was a great feat for Mika to get this far.

Two Bushfire CRC projects were short listed as finalists in the Excellence in Innovation Awards: the Community Safety research conducted through Professor John Handmer at RMIT University, and the PHOENIX bushfire modeling research under Dr Kevin Tolhurst at the University of Melbourne.

Again, we didn’t win but our short listing was a major breakthrough for science with a community benefit.