Wednesday, August 22, 2012

BHP's Olympic Dam Expansion Plans Shelved

BHP Billiton have put the planned Olympic Dam mine expansion on the back burner today which will be a $30 billion blow to the South Australian economy. Olympic Dam is located in South Australia about 500 km north of Adelaide. While the change of plans will result in a short term loss I think that the good news is that the minerals in the ground are not going anywhere in the meantime. They will still be there when the economy picks up or when commodities prices rise or when mining processes improve to make the project that much more viable. Possibly it is like having money in the bank - every other state will have dug up all of their minerals and we will have our own stockpile for the future and can have our own mining boom while everyone else has finished theirs. In the mean time South Australia can continue to focus on world class medical and health research and value-added manufacturing.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Construction of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH)

Whenever I catch the train past the construction site of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) I always find it fascinating to watch the impressive collection of machinery and am always in awe of the sheer size of the site. The new RAH is scheduled for completion by 2016 and will have 800 beds. It is replacing the existing hospital which was built in 1840. An interesting addition to the hospital will be the co-located South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) resulting from the $200 million funding from the federal government back in 2009. SAHMRI has a vision to translate science into health and a mission to improve quality of life through medical research.

While all of this is very exciting and will no doubt have a real measurable impact through translating science into benefits to the community, socially and economically, there is also another story. This week a Victorian era 24-karat gold ear-ring set with rubies was discovered at the site. What an amazing find; and, we may well never know how the ear-ring came to be buried in a bottle under 3 meters of soil. this is not the only artifact unearthed at the site. Archaeologist, Dr Keryn Walshe of the south Australian museum has been documenting the unearthed treasures which have included crockery, soda bottles, glass beads, combs, pipes and even children's toys.

It will be a real boost to South Australia to have the new RAH and the new SAHMRI facility completed. It is a huge step in the right direction for Australia, and South Australia, in progressing from being the "lucky" country to the "smart" country; and, it also shows that not all benefits to a state have to come from the mining sector. No doubt the new hospital and medical research facility will still be going strong long after all the iron ore and uranium has been pulled out of the ground.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Adelaide Wine Appreciation Club - The Hedonist

I attended the Adelaide Wine Appreciation Club wine tasting on Thursday night at the Bull & Bear. The wines of the night were from the Hedonist winery in McLaren Vale and were presented by James and Colin Cooter. I had not attended a wine tasting before so it was quite a fun experience and the members of the club made me feel very welcome. My favorite wine of the night was the 2010 The Hedonist Cabernet Sauvignon. I usually drink shiraz but have been trying different varieties in the hope of finding something new to drink. The cabernet sauvignon might just be a new favorite. I think the rose would also be fantastic outside during the summer with some pizza. It was really interesting to hear about the different wines directly from the winemaker; however, I do think that I need to have some sort of lesson in the terms used to describe the wines. There was lots of talk of oak and sulfur. Each flight of wines (this was the first time I had heard the term "flight of wines") was accompanied by a different style of food. I think the highlight was the salt and pepper squid. All in all it was a good night with an interesting group of wine enthusiasts and I look forward to attending other wine tastings in the future.

NV Louis Bouillot---Blanc Method Champonoise

2011 Lengs & Cooter Reisling
2011 The Hedonist Oaked Chardonnay

2011 The Hedonist Sangiovese Rose
2010 The Hedonist Bacchus Block Shiraz/Cab/Mer/Temp.

2010 The Hedonist Cabernet Sauvignon
2004 Magella Cabernet Sauvignon

2010 The Hedonist Shiraz
2005 Shingleback Shiraz

Lengs & Cooter NV Sparkling Shiraz

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Who are you - Deep Blue Orchestra

Monday night Deep Blue Orchestra played their "Who are you" show at the Barossa Arts and Convention Centre in Tanunda. Deep Blue Orchestra play a fusion of rock, electronic and orchestral music - and they don't play it sitting down. The energetic orchestra members could best be described as stunt musicians with some of their daring feats of musical madness. Deep Blue makes orchestra fun and demonstrates to young, aspiring, musicians that it can be cool to play one of the classical instruments. I get the feeling that these performers were once the kids who's parents made them take classical music at school; the emotions and experiences of growing up with music was threaded throughout the show - ultimately culminating in finding out "who are you" - this also provided a great excuse to play the song of the same title by The Who, which sounds great played by the orchestra.

The Deep Blue Orchestra have a lot going on (and must have a lot of energy!) - they are an innovative act in the first place, but, with a real community focus too - for example, the Young Blue program which encourages young musicians to experience the Deep Blue orchestra approach to music. Not only that but they are fund raising to provide education in music to children in third world countries - this is the only show I have ever seen where the performers busk at the intermission to raise money for the underprivileged.

The concept of Deep Blue got me thinking about whether the concept could be applied to other areas of art or science. I could imagine presenting science to students in a "rock and roll" fashion - perhaps this could even be combined with the orchestral experience! I must admit that I don't know many scientists that can ride a unicycle though. Deep Blue certainly make it look cool to be a  classical musician.

I really enjoyed the show and admire the enthusiasm, energy, daring and skill of the Deep Blue Orchestra.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fundamentals in World Class Research Administration

Just this week I have completed a certificate titled Fundamentals in World Class Research Administration. The certificate ran for 6 months and was an intensive course in all aspects of research administration from pre-award to post-award and beyond. I have been working in the field of research administration for the past 6 years, mainly in the field of research performance monitoring, and this course was essentially a complete series of master classes in all aspects of research administration. Topics covered included the national framework for research in higher education, the management and administration of research, the role of research administration in the university context, generating research business, increasing quality and reputation at local and state levels, contracts and intellectual property, research students and research marketing, financial management internal controls and risk mitigation, research ethics and integrity, benchmarking in research, and researching into industry and innovation.

I believe that research administration is emerging as a fascinating and lucrativecareer path which has been largely overlooked in the past. I don't believe there is another course out there at the moment quite like this one - and it is not only a unique course but it is aimed at a unique profession. There are not many other offices out there that have such a huge diversity of talent and tasks as a research administration office. In the same physical space you have solicitors, contracts specialists, systems specialists, business analysts, database professionals, data analysts, policy specialists, customer service officers, ISO quality specialists, IP experts, project managers and commercialization specialists - sometimes these are the same people doing different specialized roles - and, these aren't even the people doing the research, they are the ones helping the research happen.

I very much enjoyed completing the Fundamentals in World Class Research Administration certificate not just because it reinforced a lot of research administration knowledge and deepened my understanding of the field it also tied the disparate sections of the research office together revealing it as a formidable ally to any research organisation seeking to be competitive in the current research and innovation environment.

I think that anyone who is in the field of research administration and completes this course has added a really valuable tool to their resume and would become a valuable asset to any research office in Australia - or indeed the world.