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Equity Fellowships help researchers dig deeper


13 December 2010

The University of Sydney has given academics an opportunity for deeper, more focused research with its latest round of Equity Fellowships.

Eight academics have been awarded Brown, Thompson and Laffan Fellowships, which provide academic staff with relief from routine teaching and administrative responsibilities to concentrate on research. A joint initiative of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and the Staff and Student Equal Opportunity Unit, each Fellow will receive $60,000 over two semesters.

"The three programs really seek to provide opportunities for all of us, over a more even playing field," says Professor Jill Trewhella, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

"It's wonderful to see how these fellowships impact research at the University, as well as giving the fellows an opportunity to find support across the many disciplines."

The University this year awarded four Thompson Fellowships, designed to enhance the careers of academic women and remedy the under-representation of women in senior academic positions.

"The Fellowships give us the opportunity to put all those bits and pieces towards deeper thinking," says Dr Belinda Smith, whose research focuses on how the law can be used to promote more family-friendly workplaces and greater gender equality.

"I am so excited and really impressed with the University for going ahead with this," she says.

The Brown Fellowships allow recipients to re-establish or enhance their academic careers after undertaking sustained primary-caring duties.

One of this year's three recipients, Dr Katrina Bosward, says the fellowship will provide an unparalleled opportunity to focus on her research, which explores strategies for low-cost molecular screening of contagious mastitis in cattle.

With a commute of more than an hour each way to the University's Camden Campus and three children under five, she says the opportunity to devote all of her working days to research will be "transformational".

The Laffan Fellowships support researchers who have, or who have previously experienced, a significant disability, and aims to assist recipients to re-establish or enhance their academic careers.

This year's recipient of the Laffan Fellowship is Dr David Price, whose research was significantly disrupted by his diagnosis with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Dr Price's research will focus on the synthesis and crystallographic structural characterisation of functional materials, which will have useful applications in a range of areas such as gas storage, gas separation, molecular sensing, electronics and data storage.

"The Laffan Fellowship provides the resources and support to employ someone to do the tasks which are more taxing for me than they were before, and this will enable me to focus a large part of my energies on publishing our research," Dr Price says.