Articles, Blog

Research Impact – Advancing Knowledge

October 9, 2019

So by looking at a case study, if you like, of children – well, first of all, no one’s looked at children. I think that’s a very big gap in the scholarship in terms of a longitudinal study of the impact
of being a refugee as a child. So I think that fills a gap, you know, and
it’s a very contemporary issue because this is very real to us at the moment. With, you know, the current crises everywhere, hotspots around the world and children are at the face of that. Like, you know, how do children experience it,
what is their short- and long-term experience, but also what is the impact of this on them? So I think it tells us something about Australian identity and Australian concepts of ourselves, you know, the concept of ourselves
as an Australian nation, you know, what is our responsibility internationally
to communities like this? What is our responsibility to children particularly? I mean ultimately I guess, the question is
how can we do things better when we are accepting child refugees into this country and what can we learn from previous examples? We only connect humans to humans, and
humans to that brain, humans to the Internet. But we don’t connect other important services
and infrastructure to the Internet, and that’s the next phase of my research. And that is the next digital revolution which
is called the Internet of Things, and, in particular, industrial Internet of Things. And that would be even a bigger impact
than the Internet, because that would just automate the factories and whatever new services will come with that. If people encounter change, whatever type
of change it is, positive or negative, then you have to adjust to that. And in this Laureate, what I’m basically saying is look, you got actually very similar processes
happening at the collective level. For communities, but also countries. So, you know, obvious examples are Brexit. And so what I’m interested in is
well, first of all, how does it affect adaptation, well-being, who is adapting well and why? But also I’m very interested in, you know,
much more political sort of attitudes and how they’re affected by this. So it’s also trying to bring in all sorts of other factors that affect the vitality and the cohesion within communities and nations. What we want to understand is what are
the cellular processes that enable dormancy, and which enable cells to be released from that and grow into it, you know,
to start cell division and expansion. So if we can understand, you know, what are the chemicals that can stop or start that process and what are the environmental factors and how do they intersect with the other pathways,
the molecular hormonal pathways, then we can regulate that trait. So we’re trying to understand the genes,
so that’ll lead to breeding programs, but we’d also like to understand the chemicals
in case we could use chemical approaches. Plus understanding the stem –
think of them as stem cells, these little dormant cells, they’re like stem cells. So by understanding the processes
that regulate those stem cells – we don’t really know where that’ll lead,
but it could be really, really cool. I was speaking recently with somebody from DFAT (Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) about how diplomats get trained in Australia, and it’s very clear that they have no narratives about this very rich history of Australians being
involved in international institutions. So one of the ideas I have is to inform,
you know, create courses for diplomats that would teach them these narratives. We have become now, I would argue, one of the major sites in the world for the study of international history, in the sense that also our research is at the
forefront of new methods and new research areas. For me it’s a binary thing,
ironically, because it’s not, it’s the quantum world. So understanding how to do computing much faster so we can access problems, real time, that would otherwise take many thousands of years. You know, things like accurate
and predictive weather forecasting, real time, or looking at how, you know,
how the body forms, how chemicals interact with the body,
how genomes form, and how drugs are designed
for different types of people. So there’s all that kind of stuff,
fast delivery of information, so there’s that. But then there’s the – just understanding the way the world works at that level. So being able to say if I put one atom here and I bring another atom there, how do they interact? Can I describe that, both descriptively and mathematically and visually? And understanding the world from those different perspectives to try and create something new. So that’s, for me, probably the biggest driver.

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