Fuelling human progress: Why research matters

RTM Blog Ep 6 Large

History 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.

At the heart of such discoveries and innovation is new knowledge that has been created through the building blocks of research. It’s transformed the way we see ourselves and live our lives – and it’s made progress possible. 


Right now, researchers around the world are working hard to find the answers to some of the toughest challenges of our time. Inside their labs, institutes, and universities they’re searching for better solutions to persistent problems like educational inequality, health disparity, racial injustice, or a climate crisis. 


So, how are Torrens University Australia researchers contributing to the research agenda?  

Research that ‘packs a punch’

Professor Kerry London is the Pro Vice Chancellor of Research at Torrens University Australia, with an excellent track record in research and a career in academia that spans over two decades. 


According to Professor London what marks the Torrens University Australia research output as unique are collaborative partnerships. 


“The way that the different centre directors and the different researchers in those centres actually work together to understand each other's discipline and to actually conduct meaningful and authentic interdisciplinary research is quite impressive.”


Collaboration across the University stretches across disciplines to allow researchers to examine four research themes. These include building health solutions, societies in drastic change, people and industry for impact, and security and sustainability. 


A lot of the time research can be expected to conclude with a peer reviewed paper, which is designed to assess the validity, quality, and originality of a researcher’s study. However, it’s a different story at Torrens University Australia. Professor London says researchers here go one step further.  


“Not only are we interested in high quality, theoretical research that underpins our work, but we actually are very focused on how might it work in a particular profession or work environment. How does it affect an industry that we deal with?”


“It's the content around that [that] gets produced. What recommendations can we make for policymakers? What guidelines, what tools can we produce and evaluate and assess and provide to particular industries or professions?”


The University’s research ecosystem is built around translating the information that’s gained through inquiry into real-world application and developing solutions for urgent social issues. This often starts with co-design. 


“At the beginning of designing research studies we talk about how we design the study around who's going to use this work. That means bringing people from industry or from government departments right into the early phase of the research design, so that we are not assuming how it would be used.”

Growing a unique research footprint

According to Professor Alwyn Louw, Vice-Chancellor at Torrens University Australia, “we’re moving into an era of super complexity.” He says how we interpret the world around us and how we find solutions to the problems we’re facing are drastically changing. 


“It's not possible to interpret things from single disciplines anymore. So, the process of research development must move into different levels of disciplinary integration, and alignment. And we are preparing our students and our researchers for that world.” 


In Professor Louw’s opinion, breaking down traditional approaches to research, and descending from the ivory tower which universities have conventionally inhabited, is necessary for driving human advancement.   


“We must appreciate young and new and up-and-coming initiatives in the research space, [and] through that, put pressure on the traditional approaches that is currently limiting scientific output and innovation.” 


“The important principle here is that universities now become co-responsible. They become partners in the process of societal development and growth. And for that reason, we must find the partners also outside the University.” 


Developing a research culture, capacity, and credibility takes time – especially when you’re a young institution sitting alongside legacy establishments that are hundreds of years old. But with a strong mission to improve society and guided by its B Corp certification, Torrens University Australia has already started to gain international recognition.    


“In the artificial intelligence space, we have research capacity that is leading in the world.” 


“The opportunity to impact society rests on your ability to work in networks. So, we create a welcoming environment for people to collaborate and to participate with us,” invites Professor Louw.


Listen to Research That Matters to hear more about the research focus of Torrens University Australia from Professor London and Professor Louw and how the University is seeding bold and transformative research in Episode 6: People & Industry for Impact. 


Research That Matters, is a 9-part podcast series featuring researchers from Torrens University Australia, who are working to solve complex global problems and to propel innovation. Hosted by Clement Paligaru and produced by Written & Recorded.


Find all episodes of Research That Matters at https://www.torrens.edu.au/research/research-that-matters-podcast


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