University of Canberra’s flagship research communication event.
In July the University of Canberra's bright, up-and-coming researchers competed for $14,000 in research funding in the 2022 Big Research Pitch competition.
The Big Research Pitch is designed for early career researchers (meaning researchers working in the first five years since completing their PhD), to develop research communication skills. Their pitches must be persuasive and engaging to a non-specialist audience, as well as building social media and networking abilities. These are all essential skills for researchers to demonstrate the impact of their research to the wider community and to build a successful career.
Our early career researchers created 90 second videos to pitch their research ideas to the general public who voted for the top five research pitches. Thousands of people from around the world voted for their favourite research pitch and the chosen finalists answered panellist questions at a livestreamed virtual Q&A session.
Congratulations to all the 2022 Big Research Pitch finalists, and to the funding recipients. The university is so proud of the wonderful research you are doing.
Building the Occupational Therapy Workforce in Mental Health
Dr Claire Pearce is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health. Half of all Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Unaddressed mental health problems can have a negative influence on employment and schooling and people’s social connectedness. This leads to family and community disruption and, ultimately, increases health care costs. Occupational therapists working in mental health use individual and group programs to support people to reengage in everyday meaningful activities. However, there are insufficient numbers of occupational therapists working in this area. Working with industry, this research aims to identify the elements which support the attraction and retention of occupational therapists to work in mental health.
“She didn’t know it was wrong”
Dr Natasha Jojo is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health. She has an academic background in mental health. Her specific research focus is on children with intellectual disabilities and their parents, training them in sexuality and sexual abuse prevention. She has completed her PhD from National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, India in 2018. Her PhD work assessed the “Effectiveness of Behavioral Skills Training” (BST) on knowledge of sexual abuse and resistance ability among children with intellectual disabilities. Her ongoing research is on evaluating programs aimed at children with an intellectual disability, their parents, teachers, and carers.
Unlocking mechanisms of lifestyle medicine
Dr Chloe Goldsmith is an epigenetics researcher. She completed her PhD at the University of Newcastle in 2018, before recruitment as a post-doctoral research fellow by the French Institute for Health and Medical Research. She has worked extensively on understanding mechanisms of cellular plasticity in cancer and autoimmune disease. Chloe returned to Australia in 2021 to take up a position at the University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise to continue this work exploring relationships between lifestyle, epigenetics, and disease. Here, she is working towards the translation of her mechanistic research into outcomes for people suffering from chronic diseases.
Taking a leaf out of nature’s book to cure eye disease
Imagine half the world’s population losing their vision within your lifetime. Now imagine that the largest category of these are children. Modelling predicts this may be a reality by 2050 if no action is taken to find a treatment for myopia, better known as short-sightedness. Dr Cindy Karouta’s research has shown that myopia can be prevented by being outdoors, due to the higher light levels experienced under the sun. Simply spending more time outside is not possible for everyone due to environmental and educational hurdles. Therefore, she took a leaf out of nature’s book, and has developed a drug that mimics sunlight. Her research is moving us one step closer to finding a treatment that will save the vision of millions of children.
Back to fun learning times: Integrating Creative Arts in learning
In our childhood we started learning “things” (or about the world) by engaging in joyful activities such as singing, dancing, playing (drama based), drawing (with beautiful colours) and listening to stories. As we grew up, learning became serious and dull. We were not allowed to have fun but to focus on literacy and numeracy including other subject areas. Research shows benefits of Arts engagement and Arts education including effectiveness of learning through the Arts. Dr Rohan Nethsinghe’s Big Pitch is about a project that involves expert arts practitioners to bring back those “fun learning times” into classrooms for students and teachers.
The five finalists answer questions from the panel of judges about their research pitch as they compete for $14,000 in research funding.
In the 90 second videos below all the Big Research Pitch participants describe their research and its impact.
Dr Amanda Edwards
Faculty of Education
Is alt right? Designing the future workforce of Australia
Dr Raul Fernandez Rojas
Faculty of Science and Technology
Incommunicado and in pain? No problem, AI to the rescue!
Dr Shadi Shahriari
Faculty of Science and Technology
Help! My Baby Can't Breathe!
The 2022 Big Research Pitch was only possible because of the following talented and dedicated people:
Thank you to all the trainers who provided coaching and development opportunities to our competitors in the lead-up to recording their pitch: Simon Clews, Talkforce Media, UC Media team, and our venue partner Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN).
Additional thanks to Crux Media for producing the pitch videos.
We would like to thank our MC, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor Ross Thompson for his time and energy hosting our livestreamed final and for funding the prizes.
UC Researcher Development team would like to express our gratitude to the judging panel for so generously giving their time, expertise, and insights: