Friday, 29 June 2012

Research leaders from seven international universities - the Matariki Network - have mapped a path for the future. They plan to harness their collective expertise to tackle global issues such as peace, cyber-security, energy and resources.

Last month Professor Robyn Owens, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, met at Durham University with her counterparts from the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU) to discuss how this could be achieved.

The seven Universities in the network are high-quality research-intensive universities, which pride themselves on the quality of their undergraduate programs and the student experience. The initial focus of the network has been on the undergraduate experience.

Their representatives' exploration of possibilities for collaborative research focused on seven primary research themes. Overall responsibility for each theme will be taken by one of the Universities in the network.

Otago University (New Zealand) will lead research into the brain and mind (integrative neuroscience); Tübingen (Germany) will focus on quantum science; Uppsala (Sweden) will concentrate on peace and conflict; Durham (UK) will steer research into disaster resilience; Dartmouth (UK) will guide studies on cyber-security; energy, resources and environment research will be led by Queen's (Canada); while UWA 's special areas are Medieval and Early Modern thought and affect, and digital support for the Social Sciences and Humanities.

Each of these seven themes is multidisciplinary and intended to be inclusive, although not every University in the network will necessarily be involved in all seven.

The network members will aim to host a workshop on their themes in the next two years and will report on the collective capability within their themes across the network.

The structure of the workshops will be guided by the principles that the network should add value, that the topics considered should be innovative, and include opportunities for early career researchers. Long-term plans should be explored, including provision of external funding.

Potential sponsors of international networks and exchanges, fellowships and funders of collaborative research have already been identified.

The group is discussing the possibility of shared access to research infrastructure, with the initial focus on field stations.

Professor Owens said the MNU members' collaborations would have a strong global impact. "And our existing research at UWA is enhanced by these collaborations too," she said.

UWA academics who are currently collaborating with MNU members on any of the listed themes are strongly encouraged apply for a UWA Research Collaboration Award (research.uwa. which provides a grant of up to $20,000 to help facilitate ongoing collaborations, leading to enhanced institutional ties, and opportunities for publications, grants, and training opportunities.

If you are working in one of the listed priority areas and would like to explore the possibility of establishing a collaboration with a researcher/s from an MNU university, please contact Associate Professor Judith Berman .

(Matariki is the Maori name for the group of stars called the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters.)

Published in UWA News , 25 June 2012


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