Research that Matters PodcastPhoto credit: Miles Rowland
A 9-part podcast series featuring researchers from Torrens University Australia, who are working towards solving complex global problems and propelling innovation.
The smart phones in our pockets have more computing power than NASA used during the Apollo mission to get to the moon. So, how did we get light years ahead of NASA computers in such a short time?
The answer is: research.Nothing has shaped modern life more than research. Everything from that personal computer at your fingertips to the anaesthetic at the dentist to stop the pain has been ushered in by major research breakthroughs. A world without research is a world without change and innovation. Without it, we’d never know of medical technologies like the MRI, or that making time for play expands our mind.
Research that Matters is a 9-part podcast series. You’ll meet researchers from Torrens University Australia whose curiosity is driving innovation, which is making the world a better place. From health solutions, to workplace culture, to virtual reality and artificial intelligence – these researchers are committed to connecting the world for good.
We’ll take you behind the curtain to hear what drives their passion, and the impact their work has on all of us.
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Listen to our podcasts
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Episode 1: Our research during a pandemic
In this episode, our researchers explain what data can tell us and how mapping research findings can influence better decision-making and strategic outcomes for health, education, and economic benefits.
- Professor Ros Cameron, Director of Centre for Organisational Change and Agility
- Professor John Glover, Director of PHIDU (Public Health Information Development Unit), Torrens University Australia
- Dr Athena Vongalis-Macrow, Director for the Centre of Research in Education and Sustainability (CRES)
Episode 2: Collaborations across nations and industries
Professor Simon Stewart explains why he has dedicated his whole life to improving the health outcomes of people with heart and lung diseases. He takes us on a journey from central Australia to South Africa with rare insights into the social drivers of disease.
- Professor Simon Stewart, Senior Research Fellow of Torrens University Australia
Episode 3: Security and sustainabilitySome of the biggest challenges facing humans right now include climate change, an ageing population and indiscriminate business practices.
Full transcript here.
Note: The interview with James Calvert was conducted during the making of Thin Ice VR in 2021. For the latest information about Thin Ice VR, click here.
- Dr. Hayden McDonald, Senior Lecturer and Researcher of Torrens University Australia
- James Calvert, Senior Lecturer and Researcher of Torrens University Australia
- Dr. Rachel Ambagtsheer, Senior Learning Facilitator and Research Fellow of Torrens University Australia
Episode 4: Building health solutions
From vaccines to antibiotics, health and medical research has improved, extended, and saved lives. In this episode, our researchers talk about the need to build a new GP model of care for Australia’s rapidly ageing population. You’ll also find out about a ground-breaking cardiac device that could transform heart care, especially in developing countries.
- Professor Craig McLachlan, Director for Healthy Futures
- Professor Justin Beilby, GP & Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research
Episode 5: Societies in drastic change
From vacuum cleaner robots to voice assistants, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has transformed the world we live in. In this episode, our researchers talk about pushing the boundaries of AI further to solve some of our biggest problems, like COVID-19, supply chain efficiencies, and accounting audits.
- Associate Professor Ali Mirjalili, Director of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research and Optimisation (AIRO)
- Adjunct Professor Heinz Herman, Deputy Director of the Doctor of Business Leadership Program with the Australian Graduate School of Leadership
Episode 6: People and industry for impact
Research has changed our lives in many ways – from ground-breaking medical treatments to making our workplaces safer. It begins with the spark of an idea, and its impact is felt across economic, social, cultural, health, environment, and policy factors. In this episode, our executive team discuss why research is crucial to building new knowledge, revolutionising practices, and aiding progression. You’ll find out about the distinctive approach Torrens University Australia applies to research, and how its researchers are working towards solving the mounting challenges of our time.
- Professor Alwyn Louw, Vice-Chancellor of Torrens University Australia
- Professor Kerry London, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research of Torrens University Australia
Episode 7: Creative problem solving
Solving age-old problems and coming up with breakthrough innovations, sometimes simply starts with imagination. In this episode, you’ll meet researchers who have embraced inventiveness in their research practice to shake up the normal way of thinking. Find out how creativity and innovation co-exist in their research and how they use gaming, AI and design thinking to tackle some big challenges.
- Professor Scott Thompson-Whiteside, Executive Dean, Design and Creative Technology, Torrens University Australia & Dean, Media Design School, NZ
- Aslihan Tece Bayrak, Senior Lecturer, Media Design School, NZ
- Fawad Zaidi, Senior Learning Facilitator, Torrens University Australia
Episode 8: Community & Industry partnerships
Shaping systems and processes, changing public attitudes, and influencing policy is grounded in partnerships. In this episode, our researchers share insights into how industry, academia and government can come together to make transformational change across different sectors – from construction to hospitality.
- Dr. Mandi Baker, Researcher and Lecturer
- Professor Kerry London, Pro Vice–Chancellor, Research
- Dr. Zelinna Pablo, Senior Research Fellow
Episode 9: Economic & social benefits of research
When traditional ideas are challenged, it can have significant social, economic, health and environmental benefits. In this episode, our researchers discuss how research can help champion social justice issues and bring about cultural change. You’ll find out how design can be a powerful force for breaking down gender stereotypes, how diversity has evolved in the past decade, and whether technology is displacing or augmenting labour markets.
- Professor John Burgess, Centre for Organisational Change and Agility
- Dr. Sarah Elsie Baker, Senior Lecturer & Research Fellow, Media Design School
Meet our guest speakersMeet outcome-focused researchers from Torrens University Australia, who are working to solve complex global problems and to propel innovation.
Vice-Chancellor, Torrens University Australia
A sociologist by training, Professor Alwyn Louw completed both his BA and MA at the University of Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa). Professor Louw completed his PhD focused on ‘Development Organization in Societal Change’ at Vista University (Pretoria, South Africa). He has published extensively on a broad range of issues including societal development, gender equity, civil society and community, future of education, new generation universities, research and innovation.
Professor Kerry London
Pro Vice-Chancellor Research, Torrens University Australia
Professor Kerry London joined Torrens University Australia as Pro Vice Chancellor (Research) in September 2020. With extensive experience in senior leadership roles across Australian universities, Professor London is a prolific researcher and an international leader in her research field of the built environment, design collaboration, project management, technology adoption, ethics, supply chain economics and internationalisation. She has authored 200+ peer review publications and was the first female Professor of Construction Project Management in Australia in 2008.
Professor Ros Cameron
Director, Centre for Organisational Change and Agility
Prior to joining academia, Ros was a senior HRM professional working in Australia, Fiji islands and the Middle East. She has worked at three public universities in Australia and a private higher education provider prior to joining Torrens University. Current research interests are focused around the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the impact of 4IR technologies on sectors and professions, AI and Ethics and skilled migration.
Professor John Glover
Director of PHIDU (Public Health Information Development Unit), Torrens University Australia
For over 30 years, John Glover has been making data accessible to a wide audience, using maps and graphs. Now, the PHIDU website at Torrens hosts data that are both up-to-date (viz, COVID-19) and covering time periods back to the late 1980s, to see the gains made and the failures in our public health systems, through an equity lens.
Dr. Rachel Ambagtsheer
Senior Learning Facilitator & Research Fellow, Torrens University Australia
Dr. Rachel Ambagtsheer is a Research Fellow and Senior Learning Facilitator with Torrens University Australia and is a member of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence in Frailty and Healthy Ageing. Her PhD research explored the appropriateness of introducing frailty screening within Australian general practice, where appropriateness was conceptualised as comprising elements of accuracy, feasibility and acceptability to both health service providers and older people.
Senior Lecturer and Researcher, Torrens University Australia
James is an educator, researcher, game designer and filmmaker with 20 years' experience creating engaging content for all screen types. Most recently, James has focused his attention on teaching and research – particularly in the field of Virtual Reality for education. James takes a practical approach to VR research, using his years of production and design experience to explore what's possible in this emerging field.
Centre Director for Healthy Futures, Torrens University Australia
Professor Craig McLachlan has a long research career with expertise in public health, pharmacology, physiology, and translational medicine with a focus on cardiovascular health and technology. Professor Craig McLachlan has recently been coordinating a research study in Nepal outlining the link between salt intake and high blood pressure – in the context of sociocultural and other factors.
Professor Justin Beilby
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Torrens University Australia
Professor Justin Beilby is an academic GP with deep expertise in primary care and aged care research, health service evaluation, general practice intervention studies and translating research findings into policy and clinical practice. Professor Beilby was Vice-Chancellor, Torrens University Australia from January 2015, and in early-2020 transitioned to a part time role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research.
Senior Lecturer, Media Design School
Tece Bayrak is Senior Lecturer at the Games Department of Media Design School in Auckland with a Bachelor’s and a Master's Degree in Computer Engineering. She is currently working towards a PhD in Computer Science at University of Auckland. Her doctoral research is focused around defining games as systems of rehabilitation, while her broader interests include games for impact and games for design for social innovation.
Dr. Heinz Herrmann
Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer, Torrens University Australia
Heinz Herrmann is adjunct professor at the Australian Graduate School of Leadership, and a Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Torrens University Australia. He is a member of scientific and editorial boards, and has a research focus on business and artificial intelligence. In industry, he is a CEO with more than 25 years standing in Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT), including commercial and NFP board director roles.
Professor Scott Thompson-Whiteside
Executive Dean, Design and Creative Technology
Scott has 20+ years of academic experience, leading programs, schools and faculties across Europe, Asia and Australia. Trained as an industrial designer, he moved into design management and later acquired a PhD at University of Melbourne. A strong advocate for internationalisation, industry-engaged teaching and high-quality student outcomes, Scott’s own research interests intersect the disciplines of design education, higher education policy, design strategy and innovation.
Dr. Zelinna Pablo
Senior Research Fellow, Torrens University Australia
Dr. Zelinna Pablo is a researcher from the field of Management and Organisational Behaviour. She completed her PhD from the University of Melbourne and her postgraduate studies from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Zelinna does multidisciplinary research, looking closely at the overlap between technological innovations and human behaviour. She has been a full-time research fellow for six years.
Dr. Mandi Baker
Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow, Torrens University Australia
Mandi is a researcher and lecturer with a special interest in the emotional demands (emotion work), people skills (Affective Abilities) required, and organisational contexts (power-relations) in people-centric service work. She explores these concepts in organised outdoor experiences, youth & community development, recreation and leisure contexts. Her work explores everyday work experiences through sociological concepts to offer fresh insights to ethical and sustainable leadership and education.
Professor Simon Stewart
Senior Research Fellow, Torrens University Australia
National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia Senior Principal Research Professor Simon Stewart is a cardiovascular nurse scientist and health services researcher who is internationally recognised for his efforts to understand and respond to an evolving epidemic of chronic heart disease across the globe, including in countries such as Africa.
Dr. Hayden McDonald
Senior Lecturer and Researcher, Torrens University Australia
Dr Hayden McDonald’s research focuses on examining how organisations implement business models that provide mutually beneficial resolutions to important social challenges. Through his research, he assists workplaces in developing stronger, more healthy and inclusive communities. With support from CPA Australia and in collaboration with colleagues from Griffith University, Hayden recently identified inclusive managerial practices for advancing cultural reform via Reconciliation Action Plans.
Dr. Sarah Baker
Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow, Media Design School
Sarah is a Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow at Media Design School in Auckland, which is part of Torrens Global. Her research interests are focused on design and social justice. Her most recent projects focus on challenging gender inequality through design and she is currently writing a book for Bloomsbury entitled ‘Designing Gender: A Feminist Toolkit’.
Professor Seyedali (Ali) Mirjalili
Director, Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research and Optimisation
Australia’s top researcher in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Evolutionary Computation and Fuzzy Systems, Professor Ali Mirjalili is internationally recognised for his advances in nature-inspired AI techniques. He is also working in the area of Machine Learning, which makes the computer capable of learning from experiences in a similar manner to humans.
Meet the podcast team
Radio and television journalism, and podcasts showcasing research have been Clement’s passion throughout his career which included over two decades at the ABC.
The Research that Matters podcast series was expertly produced by Written & Recorded.
Read our articles on the podcast seriesOur partner organisations share our commitment to make a positive social impact. As part of your learning experience, you’ll use your skills and knowledge to help them achieve their objectives and add value to their organisations.
Lessons from a pandemic: how research makes a differenceIf the era of COVID-19 has been a period of great disruption, it’s also been a time of great learning. It’s taught us one key lesson: that research matters.Heart and lung health research beyond bordersWhen Professor Simon Stewart was 13 years-old, his father tragically died of illness. This life-changing event became the catalyst that propelled him into a career where he found himself in search of the solution to sickness.Research for a secure and sustainable worldKnowledge is power. We’ve been saying it for centuries, in many different languages and in many different settings.
Research builds healthier societies100 years ago, you were lucky if you lived beyond 30-years-old. That was across all regions of the world. These days, the average life expectancy has more than doubled, and today’s newborns are expected to kick on until at least their 70s.How AI research can transform the worldWhen past generations talk about how different the world looked ‘in their time,’ it’s hard to imagine what life was like for them.Fuelling human progress: Why research mattersHistory is littered with examples of incredible human achievements. Big moments in science saw the discovery of DNA and genetic fingerprinting. Electricity lit up our worlds, and anaesthetic took away the agony and fear of facing a painful procedure.
Creativity the bright spark behind researchThe music of Mozart or the paintings of Van Gogh are indisputably a display of the power of creativity. But beyond notes on a music sheet or brush strokes on a canvas, creativity can also play a critical role in research.The great remake: Reshaping our workplacesWorkplaces are not what they used to be. Not so long ago, a job was for life. But we’ve now entered the era of the side hustle and seen the ascent of the gig economy. Our offices were once sacred grounds where we gathered 9 to 5 with colleagues who wore the same corporate stripes as us. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to mingle in mixed co-working hubs or slog away in athleisure in our home offices.The great catalyst: How research drives justiceHumans are not always just. Bloody conflicts, crippling poverty, child labour, and political persecution are reminders of great injustice in our world.
Research That Matters was recorded across Australia and New Zealand. Torrens University Australia acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present, and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual, and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We also acknowledge Māori as tangata whenua and Treaty of Waitangi partners in Aotearoa New Zealand.