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Chasing the molecule

Chasing the molecule

Extolled by the science community as “the Holy Grail of modern biomedicine,” the gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 is taking Deakin’s multi-talented anthropologist Eben Kirksey on a journey around the Globe, exploring its many applications and potential consequences.

The Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellowships are designed to support talented early career researchers in some of Deakin University’s key areas of research strength. Dr Harkin and Dr Neale will join a number of researchers with the Alfred Deakin Institute of Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI) who have been recipients of the Fellowship in recent years.

Dr Harkin’s research will investigate the partnerships that exist between family violence services and private security companies operating in Australia.

With the increased amount of government funding flowing in the family violence sector in recent years, these service organisations now have the financial ability to contract private security companies to help their clients, often the survivors of family violence.

These private security companies offer services like home security upgrades, debugging services and equipment, and technology like safety watches or duress alarms.

“Overstretched police resources mean that private security companies can provide a higher level of attentiveness that Victoria Police can’t always effectively offer,” said Dr Harkin, “but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other concerns around the contracting of these companies to work in the family violence sector.”

Dr Harkin will be questioning whether these partnerships actually raise the level of security and safety for the victims and survivors of domestic violence, something he has been assessing since 2015.

Dr Timothy Neale has a markedly different research question in mind for his fellowship. 
Building upon his previous work on natural hazards mitigation, Dr Neale will be working on two projects. The first will look into existing collaborations between natural hazards agencies and Aboriginal groups in southeast Australia, while the second will look at how bushfire experts manage the uncertainty of their predictions about present and future risks.

“Experts in the bushfire and fire hazards space are responsible for high-consequence decision-making where they are forced to balance a lot of both social and scientific uncertainties,” said Dr Neale.

It is not just the loss of life and property that bushfires cause in Australia that will be the focus of his research. Dr Neale will be investigating several different dimensions of fire hazard that have a significant impact upon the things we value.

Alongside the direct effects of landscape fires in southeast Australia, Dr Neale’s research will explore the positive roles fire can have in carbon sequestration and mitigation in savannah landscapes, as well as major air pollution issues that arise as a result of large fires in Southeast Asia.

As Dr Harkin and Dr Neale begin their new fellowships at the Institute, so too do three ADI researchers end theirs. Dr Daniela Voss, Dr Victoria Stead and Dr Zahid Ahmed all began their Alfred Deakin Fellowships in 2016.

Dr Voss plans to return to Germany where she will take up the position of Associate Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Hildesheim.

Both Dr Victoria Stead and Dr Zahid Ahmed will continue their affiliation with ADI into 2018 and beyond. Dr Stead secured both a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) and Discovery Indigenous grant from the Australian Research Council last November, and Dr Ahmed will continue under one of ADI’s own Research Fellowships.

Learn more about ADI’s recent research funding successes.


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