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Curtin University
Note to staff

30 October, 2008


Australian Research Council (ARC) and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants

The Australian Research Council (ARC) and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants were announced earlier this month. These research grants are highly competitive and our congratulations go to all of the Curtin recipients and their teams listed below.

Curtin received 12 ARC Discovery Project grants, one ARC Linkage Project grant and one ARC Linkage International Fellowship. We also successfully secured six NHMRC Project grants.

ARC Discovery Project Grants

• Prof E Bakker; Prof R De Marco; Prof E Pretsch
• Prof RJ Donovan; Prof SR Zubrick; Prof DS Cross; Prof PA Howat; A/Prof R Midford; Mr G Jalleh; Ms DL Sullivan; Mr GJ Kirby
• Prof RJ Donovan; Prof DS Cross; Mr G Jalleh; Dr SF Pettigrew; Ms DL Sullivan
• Prof DL Fisher; Dr RBKoul
• Dr J Galbreath; Mr GJ Nicholson
• Prof JD Gale; Dr P Raiteri; Prof M Parrinello; Dr SL Price; Prof JH Harding; Prof PM Rodger
• Dr Z Lu; Prof M Hallin
• Dr L Meuleners; Prof J Semmens; Dr J Ng; Ms DV Hendrie
• Prof PW Newman; Dr SG Bond
• Prof B Rasmussen; Dr IR Fletcher; Prof A Bekker
• A/Prof PC Taylor; Prof DL Fisher; Dr E Settelmaier
• Prof DF Treagust; Prof BG Waldrip; Prof VR Prain; A/Prof MG Zadnik

ARC Linkage Project Grants

• A/Prof A Heitz; A/Prof CA Joll; Prof U von Gunten; Dr KL Linge

ARC Linkage international Fellowships

• Prof WE Featherstone; Emeritus Prof P Vanicek

NHMRC Project Grants

• Prof Peter A Howat; A/Prof Alexandra McManus; Prof Annie S Anderson; Ms Jonine M Jancey; A/Prof Satvinder S Dhaliwal; Dr Sharyn K Burns
• Prof Peter A Howat; Prof Andy H Lee; Ms Jonine M Jancey; Prof Annie S Anderson; A/Prof Deborah A Kerr; Mr Trevor R Shilton
• Prof James B Semmens; Prof Fiona M Wood; Ms Delia V Hendrie; Ms Suzanne Rea; Dr Katrina Spilsbury; Mr Dale W Edgar
• A/Prof Tony G Butler; A/Prof Peter W Schofield; Dr David B Preen; A/Prof Robyn L Tate
• Prof Leon M Straker; Dr Rebecca A Abbott; Prof Clare M Pollock; A/Prof Peter S Davies
• Prof John C Mamo; Dr Cheryl L Wellington; A/Prof Satvinder S Dhaliwal

A number of Curtin researchers are also part of projects not being administered by Curtin. I acknowledge their work and congratulate them on their success as well.

Former Vice-Chancellor receives top Malaysian honour

Former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lance Twomey, has been given the title of Panglima Setia Bintang Sarawak (Honorary). This highly prestigious Malaysian honour carries the title of Dato and was conferred by His Excellency the Governor of Sarawak at a special function in Kuching on 25 October.

I would like to extend my congratulations to Professor Twomey on this rare honour and am delighted to see his work in contributing towards Curtin’s recognition as an international tertiary institution acknowledged.

Professor Twomey was instrumental in developing a unique partnership with the State Government of Sarawak that resulted in Curtin establishing a highly successful offshore campus in Miri. This campus was the first foreign university campus on the island of Borneo, a reflection of Curtin’s reputation for excellence in South East Asia.

Professor of Health Economics, Gavin Mooney retires

Gavin Mooney, Professor of Health Economics and Director of the Social and Public Health Economics Research Group (SPHERe) retired from his position with Curtin University of Technology on Friday 24 October 2008.

Gavin has been with Curtin since 2000 and has been instrumental in establishing Health Economics at the Faculty of Health Sciences.

He has over 25 years experience working in health economics. Gavin was Professor of Health Economics and Director of the Health Economics Research Unit (HERU) at the University of Aberdeen, before moving to Australia and taking up a position with the University of Sydney in 1994 and then to his current position at Curtin in Perth.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gavin for his contribution to Curtin over the years and wish him well in his retirement.

A farewell function for Gavin will be held in late November, following his return from overseas. Details will be advised.

John Curtin Leadership Academy engages community with unique projects 

The Inaugural Karda Festival held in Alcoa Court on 15 October helped celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies. Feedback from those attending was very positive and it has been decided that the Karda Festival will be an annual event.

The Festival was conceived by a group of students from the John Curtin Leadership Academy (JCLA) who wanted to present Indigenous culture to a broader cross section of students and staff and encourage businesses and organisations that work with Aboriginal people to showcase what they are doing.

This Festival was the latest of several community based projects required of students participating in the JCLA. Already this year there has been an environmental awareness campaign "Plastic Ain’t Fantastic" aimed at reducing the number of plastic containers being disposed of on campus, as well as "Junior JCLA" which took seven disadvantaged kids on a leadership development camp at Woodman’s Point.

The last event of the year will be a fundraiser for Youth Focus that will be held at Fraser’s restaurant in King’s Park on 30 October. The students have a new Honda Hybrid car donated by Honda North to auction. Please contact Jarrad Brown if you are interested in attending this function. Youth Focus does a great job in helping to reduce depression and suicide in young people.

I congratulate the JCLA for all their hard work and encourage staff to support their events.

Emeritus Professor John De Laeter inducted into Australian Mining Hall of Fame

Emeritus Professor John de Laeter’s seminal research into mineral exploration technology which led to improvements in mining exploration practices has been recognised with his induction into the Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame.

Professor de Laeter’s induction recognises his contribution to geochronological research (the science of dating and determining the time sequence of events in the history of the earth). His work has been undertaken at Curtin in association with the Geological Survey of Western Australia.

The research, which was conducted from 1968 to 1993, centred on developing an understanding of the geological framework of the Yilgarn and Pilbara cratons and enabled exploration for minerals to be placed on a firmer, more scientific basis.

I would like to congratulate Professor De Laeter on this honour. It is a worthy recognition of his contribution to science education and the development of research, particularly in relation to mineral science.

Although he is best known for his research on geochronology, Professor de Laeter’s work on the advancement of science includes contributions to nuclear physics, atomic weights, mass spectrometry, astrophysics, education and business.

Curtin-led research published in Nature

Research by Curtin University of Technology’s Professor Birger Rasmussen and Dr Ian Fletcher, working in conjunction with Dr Jochen Brocks (The Australian National University) and Dr Matt Kilburn (The University of Western Australia) was published in the prestigious international science journal Nature on 23 October 2008.

These research findings, presented in the paper “Reassessing the first appearance of eukaryotes and cyanobacteria”, has significantly rewritten the early history of major groups of life and the rise of atmospheric oxygen on Earth.

The research re-examined chemical signatures from 2.7 billion year old rocks, known as biomarkers, which were previously considered to provide the oldest evidence for eukaryotes (organisms with nucleated cells) and cyanobacteria (microbes that produce oxygen by photosynthesis), and indirect evidence for the emergence of oxygenic photosynthesis – a critical event that changed the Earth’s atmosphere and allowed the evolution of new life forms dependent on oxygen, including ultimately humankind.

The results not only resolve an apparent discrepancy between the biomarkers and other evidence, but also changed the map of early life by allowing the first appearance of eukaryotes to be well after the rise in atmospheric oxygen.

Congratulations to the team on this outstanding achievement.