Research students ‘bridge the gap’ at UNE conference

Published 21 July 2008

carinabossu.jpgMore than 90 students working towards postgraduate degrees through the University of  New England came together at the University last week to share their research experiences.

Many of the students were from overseas, and at least 15 of them travelled to Australia specifically for this event – the 3rd Annual Postgraduate Research Conference within UNE’s Faculty of The Professions. The conference, which ran from Tuesday the 15th to Friday the 18th of July, was – like its two predecessors – titled “Bridging the Gap between Ideas and Doing Research”.

In welcoming the postgraduate researchers, Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of The Professions, pointed out that many of them had attended at least one of the two previous “Bridging the Gap” conferences, and that the numbers attending had increased over the years. “This demonstrates the value and support the conference is providing to students,” Professor Minichiello said.

“The program is truly interdisciplinary and international,” he said, “with students travelling to UNE from South  Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam, the United States, and other parts of the world. It’s inspiring to see the innovative research projects being carried out by these postgraduate students and to listen to their presentations.”

“Research training is one of the most rewarding activities of academic life,” said Professor Peter Flood, UNE’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), also speaking at the opening session. Professor Flood, too, referred to the growing number of research students in the Faculty.

The conference, convened by Associate Professor Rafat Hussain and Dr Terrence Hays from the Faculty of The Professions and organised by the Faculty’s Sue Whale, provides a friendly atmosphere for students to present their research and get feedback from academics and fellow students.

Carina Bossu (pictured here), a Brazilian student, is in the final months of her PhD program at UNE. She attended the inaugural “Bridging the Gap” conference in 2006, but was in Brazil at the time of last year’s conference. “It’s a great opportunity for postgraduate students to get to know each other and learn about each other’s research,” she said.

Emilio Morales, from Chile, is nearing the end of his first year of PhD research into the feasibility of quality-related beef branding in Australian supermarkets. He said he had received useful feedback on his own research, and valuable information on the research process in general.

Andrew Close, an Australian working at the International School of Geneva in Switzerland, was in Armidale for the conference and to meet – for the first time – the supervisor of his Doctor of Education project, Dr David Paterson. “It’s fascinating to see the process of research in real life,” he said, “and to get to know other people in a similar situation.”

Among the keynote speakers at the conference were two distinguished visitors to UNE: Professor Brian Paltridge from the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University  of Sydney, and Mr Bill Lawrence AM, Deputy Chief Executive of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. Professor Paltridge, the author of several books on academic writing,  spoke about the factors that variably influence the style and structure of each postgraduate thesis, while the title of Mr Lawrence’s address was “A Research Framework for Safety and Quality in Health Care – the Challenge of Putting Policy into Practice”.

THE PHOTOGRAPH of Carina Bossu displayed here expands to include Andrew Close (left) and Emilio Morales.