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The real Shark Tank: Elite researchers Pitch 4 Funds in 90 seconds

Katarina Slavich

24 October 2019: What causes children to become picky eaters? What challenges do black South Africans experience in saving for their retirement? How are chemicals affecting our aquatic systems?

Those questions and more will be answered at today’s Pitch for Funds (P4F), a University of Canberra competition that is designed for elite researchers to pitch their research topic in just 90 seconds, in a way that attracts interest and potential funding from the audience.

With a stellar judging panel watching, the Canberra community will learn about exciting research taking place at the University and discover how its researchers are finding practical solutions to real world problems.

“Often what is standing in the way of a great research project, or solving real world problems, is a lack of funding,” said Rosanna McCall, Research Development Advisor at the University.

Thirteen researchers will try to convince the judges to invest real money in their projects, from a total prize pool of $12,000.

“The judges can allocate all their funds to one researcher, or they can split it up,” said Ms McCall.“It is set to be a fun, dynamic event.”

Dr Rati Jani, a lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics, is researching the reasons some children are picky eaters, by working to establish a connection between genetic and environmental factors that might cause fussy eating habits.

“It is a very big issue parents and children are facing, and fights often happen at the dinner table,” said Dr Jani.

“There is research that suggests the environment might be responsible, or that some children have genetically higher sensitivity to bitter tastes, but my research has found no connection between those two suggestions.

“My research investigates both of those parameters, to see if there is a solution.”

Dr Cathy Knight-Agarwal, a Clinical Assistant Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics is hoping to secure $5,000 for her research into helping couples struggling to conceive, by exploring the connection between natural fertility and poor metabolic health.

“Many Australians struggle with fertility, and for many couples it is because of poor metabolic health,” said Dr Knight-Agarwal.

“The funding would help me to continue to develop a specialised multi-disciplinary program for infertile couples.”

The 2019 Pitch 4 Funds competition will be held at the University of Canberra on Thursday 24 October. For more information or to register for free, click here.