Research Director’s Update: November 2016

Left: Dr Briony Rogers meets with the Mayor of Bogor, Dr Bima Arya Sugiarto. Right: At the Government Offices in Bogor. Credit: Professor Hadi Arifin.


Innovation, innovation, innovation! It’s the word on everyone’s lips, though many would be hard-pressed to define exactly what it means. It’s now threatened with becoming a buzzword, much like ‘sustainability’ in the 1980-90s.In the 2016-2017 budget, the Australian Government announced plans to invest in research strongly tied to business and development, and now ‘innovation’ has become the go-to phrase to include if you want your research to be seen as relevant. New initiatives try to build it in, and many research proposals contrive their focus to seemingly meet ‘innovative’ objectives, no matter how ambiguously defined.

Innovation, like sustainability, is at its core an incredibly important concept that deserves not to be undermined. But the focussing on innovation only in the context of STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—is limiting, both for those researching outside those fields as well as those within them. These subjects should certainly be celebrated, but we must consider innovation in a holistic sense, acknowledging the importance of the humanities and social sciences in strengthening research opportunities.

This idea was argued well by Dr Max Theilacker (The University of Melbourne) in July, in Pursuit: outlining how a mix of skills, rather than a puritan focus on STEM skills, underpins success in many innovative organisations.

It’s a point particularly relevant to the work we do here at The Australia-Indonesia Centre. While medical research, engineering, hydrology and agronomy are of course all vital areas of our research, they alone are not enough to answer the many challenges that both our countries face—particularly when studied in isolation.

If you’ll forgive the extended metaphor, I argue that we need to add ‘LEAVES’ to ‘STEM’: Law, Economics, Arts, Values, Ethics and Sociology, among others in the social sciences and humanities.
At the Australia-Indonesia Centre, I see researchers striving to add these metaphorical leaves every day:

  • What happens to a community when it gets 24/7 access to energy? Is it all positive, and how can any downside be anticipated and addressed? The Centre’s Energy Cluster is digging into these questions as they work to provide power to nearly one quarter of Indonesia’s 250 million-plus population, along with many of Australia’s remote settlements. It’s not only an engineering challenge, but an economic and social sciences challenge as well.
  • Building connected ‘port cities’ to accommodate world-class ports and booming populations. The Centre’s Infrastructure Cluster involves engineers, economists, financiers and policy analysts to manage port development in Melbourne and Surabaya.
  • Can developing cities leapfrog older, weaker approaches towards better management of water in our cities? The Centre’s Urban Water Cluster is pairing social research with the ‘harder’ sciences to achieve more sustainable solutions for Melbourne, Surabaya and Bogor.
  • Fighting the big killers: To address the rapid rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) the Health Cluster is building social, economic, education and primary care into its toolkit for remote and rural Indonesia and Australia.

This update focuses on those projects of the Australia-Indonesia Centre that tackle “innovation” in this broader sense, head on.

I’ve also included information on:

  1. Designing the coolest and most efficient tropical houses
  2. Water research agreement signed between Indonesian and Australian universities
  3. Stories of Indonesia-Australia Innovation: book soon-to-be released
  4. Sustainable approaches to water: presentations at the World Water Congress
  5. Do you have the research skills we need to fund? We’re currently calling for tactical and attitudinal research projects
  6. Your Centre in the news
  7. Upcoming events
  8. The Next Gen speaks
  9. Tips for researchers: social media

Kind regards,

Richard Price
Director of Research, Australia-Indonesia Centre

The cyclic nature of innovation: looking to tradition to design the coolest and most efficient tropical houses

As Dr John O’Sullivan, the astronomer who made Wi-Fi fast and reliable, said during the closing ceremony of our research summit in Surabaya: new technologies are often clever combinations of existing technologies. It’s a great take on innovation!

A Centre project involving researchers from CSIRO and Universitas Gadjah Mada is a reminder that innovation can have a cycle to it: in this case, going back to traditional technology can provide the foundation for new innovation.

Read the whole article here

Water research commitment between Indonesian and Australian universities

Fast-growing Indonesian cities will be better able to develop as water smart cities as a result of the collaboration signed on November 1, between Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember, Institut Pertanian Bogor, and Monash University. A Memorandum of Agreement between Universitas Indonesia and Monash University has been finalised.

These agreements will involve more than 20 water researchers in Australia and Indonesia over the next three years. They will allow for the delivery of the Urban Water Cluster’s Strategic Research Project (made up of six sub-projects) and collaborative research across the four institutes. Detailed work plans are now being workshopped, and the researchers plan to visit other sites in Bogor and Surabaya and finalise work plans in late November.

In August, ahead of the signing, potential case study sites for the Cluster’s research were visited by members of the team.

They included the government development Cibuluh Apartment complex, Bogor Regency water retention lakes, Cibinong (the capital of Bogor Regency) and Sentul City. The team was guided through the sites by Keith Muljadi (President Director of Sentul City), Ibu Lorina Darmastuti (Head of infrastructure, environment and spatial planning at Bogor City), and Ibu Nur Hepsanti Hasanah (the Regional Development Planning Board of Bogor Regency).

The team was also introduced to Dr Bima Arya Sugiarto (Mayor of Bogor), Professor Anas Mifta Fauzi (Vice Rector of Institut Pertanian Bogor), and Professor Yusram Massijaya (Chair of Professor Board of IPB).

Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to meet a number of inspirational young Indonesian researchers at IPB, ITS and UI who will be working on this important research.
Upon hearing from them I invited to them to comment on their take on innovation. You can read two of the responses in the Next Gen Speaks section below.

Sustainable approaches to water: presentations at the World Water Congress

Water experts in industry, business and science from around the globe gathered in Brisbane to discuss water solutions of the future, at the 2016 World Water Congress and Exhibition from 9-14 October.

Scientists of The Australia-Indonesia Centre’s Urban Water Cluster made several presentations, which provided an opportunity for international exposure and feedback on the concepts, processes and tools they’re developing.

  • Dr Briony Rogers presented on an interdisciplinary approach for identifying flood adaptation measures to improve climate resilience. It involves community engagement processes, flood risk modelling and urban design innovation.
  • Dr Christian Urich presented on the DAnCE4Water integrated modelling tool. It simulates scenarios of future urban development, water infrastructure adaptation and urban form changes to identify robust strategies under many different long-term conditions.
  • The Water Sensitive Cities Index was also presented (by CRC for Water Sensitive Cities colleague Chris Chesterfield), showcasing its application to benchmark the water sensitive performance of cities and diagnose opportunities for improving performance through social, technical and design responses.
  • Martijn Kuller presented “The location choice of Water Sensitive Urban Design within a city: A case study of Melbourne.” Martijn says it was good to get a broader perspective of the water sector—including industry, rather than solely academic, perspectives.

Lara Werbeloff, of Monash University, says there was a significant conversation among delegates across government, research and industry on how to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, and approaches to address a number of the goals simultaneously—and delegates were interested in the work of the Centre in this regard.

“The World Water Congress highlighted the growing mainstream support for a water sensitive cities approach, particularly in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Dr Briony Rogers, also of Monash, says.

“These emphasise the need for integrated thinking about the whole water cycle, the urban environment and infrastructure provision, as well as highlighting that the community should be seen as partners in water management and that collaboration and innovation need to underpin urban water governance.”

Stories of Australia-Indonesia Innovation

Science in Public has produced a collection of Australia-Indonesia Innovation stories with the support of The Australia-Indonesia Centre.

It’s great to see just how many of the stories involve both Australian and Indonesian institutions from the Centre; a demonstration of the tremendous research leadership and capacity at the Centre’s disposal.

Science in Public will be sharing the stories at soon, and via social media in the coming weeks, so make sure to follow @AusSciStories and @AusIndResearch for the news.

Funding opportunities

The Centre is currently seeking project proposals in respect to two of its clusters and to its portfolio of attitudinal research:

  • Research Projects in attitudinal research: In 2016 The Australia-Indonesia Centre commissioned a qualitative and quantitative research study on the attitudes and perceptions of Australians towards Indonesia and Indonesians towards Australia. This study has identified some key thematic areas for further collaborative research within the social sciences and humanities, and including interdisciplinary research. We’re now calling for project applications from academics at our partner universities to build on this work, proposing grants of up to $25,000 each. Submissions close at 6pm on 16 December 2016. For more information and to apply, click here.
  • Tactical Research Projects in Infrastructure: each project proposal should be to the value of between $20,000 and $65,000 AUD. Proposals close Monday 28 November 2016. For more information and to apply, click here
  • Tactical Research Projects in Urban Water: each project proposal should be to the value of between $50,000 and $100,000 AUD. Proposals close Monday 28 November 2016. For more information and to apply, click here

ARC and other Australian and Indonesian grant schemes you may wish to consider:

  • ARC Discovery Projects: these projects include those that enhance international collaborations. Proposals close 1 March 2017.
  • ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme. These include support for large-scale national or international cooperative initiatives. Proposals close 5 April 2017.
  • ARC Linkage Projects. These provide opportunities for internationally competitive research projects to be conducted in collaboration with organisations outside the higher education sector, including industry. Proposals have a rolling deadline.
  • On Accelerate 3: targeted towards young researchers with a serious entrepreneurial bent! Click here to learn more.

In the News

Professor Hadi Arifin of the Intitut Pertanian Bogor has been featured in National Geographic Indonesia, ANTARA News, Tempo, Kompas, the Jakarta Post, and many more news outlets.

Discussing the collaborative work of the Centre’s Urban Water Cluster with local partners, Hadi has talked about: Blue Open Spaces management including river banks, riparian landscapes, small lake ecology, and management of ecosystem services such as water resource management, soil protection, biodiversity conservation, amelioration and landscape beautification.

Congratulations Pak Hadi!

Have you or your research team been in the news lately?
Send through a photo or link to a story you’d like to share. We’d also be happy to spread the word if you have a paper or article coming up—so let us know in advance if we can help.

Upcoming events: conferences, launches, etc.

National/International: contact Megan Power 

  • November 15 – 16: International Conference On Contemporary Social And Political Affair (ICoCSPA), “Re-examining Governance : Strengthening Citizenship in The Changing  World”
  • November 28 – December 1: Australia-Indonesia Science Symposium, Canberra

Energy: contact Igor Skryabin

  • 28 November: Energy Change Institute Open Day—research presentations in the morning, tours in the afternoon
  • 29 November: ECI annual flagship event – Energy Update (see draft program, especially the morning keynotes and the ANU/ACT Government Solar Oration in the evening)
  • 30 November – 1 December: Asia-Pacific Solar Research Conference, with a special session on Indonesia on Day 2

Infrastructure: contact Rebecca Hateley

  • 6 December: Infrastructure Cluster Executive Meeting, Hobart
  • 7-9 December: 6th Asia-Pacific Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring, Hobart

Urban Water

  • 21 November: Urban Water Advisory Board Meeting, Indonesia


  • November 18 – 22: 2nd International Meeting of Public Health, Universitas Indonesia

The Next Gen speaks

In each edition this newsletter I’d like to elicit and share the views of a young researcher, entrepreneur, administrator or just a concerned and interested citizen about their experiences and aspirations with respect to the Australia-Indonesia relationship.

This time, we’re hearing from two young researchers from IPB.

Involved in Innovation
by Amarizni Mosyaftiani
Mahasiswa, Inovasi dan Masyarakat
by Claudia Tyas Nugraheni

Tips for researchers: Social media

Last edition we shared some tips to get you started on Twitter. I hope you’re enjoying the Twitterverse—we’ve got some more tips for you below on how to navigate the various realms of social media:

  • Social media: horses for courses: Twitter is useful for directing people’s attention to other information or websites, and interaction with audiences is optional. Facebook posts tend to be pictures, graphics or short written pieces. People can interact and discuss the post by writing a ‘comment’. Blogs, enabled by platforms such as WordPress, suit longer written stories. LinkedIn is useful as a career-building tool, sharing your CV and building a professional network.
  • Personal versus organisational: a personal account humanises the tweets/content, allows you to be less formal and more conversational, and you may be able to take it with you if you change positions or institutions. An organisational or corporate account typically takes a more formal tone. Both can be useful for science communication—just make sure you’re aware of your organisation’s social media policies.
  • Don’t leave it until the last minute: it takes time to build a network on social media. It’s only worth building an audience if you have reasons to communicate with them regularly. If you know you have a conference coming up later in the year, get started on building your profile and online following in advance so you’re not posting to ‘empty space’ when you’re ready to talk about your research.

Read more about Twitter and social media

Have your stories in these newsletters

You’re receiving this newsletter because you’re an integral part of the research team, or a supporter of the work that the Australia-Indonesia Centre does in research.

And because you’re part of the family, I want to hear from you: so please don’t let this be a one-way information flow.

Lydia Hales from Science in Public is helping me put the newsletters together. So send us (Richard and Lydia) information you’d like to see included and shared with your peers.
It might be conferences and events you’re speaking at or attending, invitations for collaboration, questions you want to ask your international colleagues, etc.

In ending this edition, I’d like to say

Selamat, and all good things . . .