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Research & innovation

by Anastasia Mortimer

On Tuesday 21 February 2017 , Sydney Ideas presents a special public lecture by Dr. Kyle Powys Whyte, which will discuss Dr. Whyte’s work on climate and environmental justice and writings on the #No DAPL movement.

In the lead-up to the event, I spoke to Dr. Whyte about his research on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). I am incredibly honoured to have this opportunity, not just because Kyle has published invaluable research on the DAPL, but because over the past year I have followed the case and Kyle’s research closely.

The case of the DAPL is a familiar story, one which marks the continued dispossession and oppression of First Nations people in resource development decisions.


By Maddie Cox

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On Friday 7th October 2016, I had the honour of interviewing Dr Zahi Hawass in anticipation of his Sydney Ideas lecture at the Seymour Centre on Pyramids, Mummies, and Cleopatra held the following day. Having previously studied Egyptology, I was eager to meet the person who inspired me to study Egypt.


Driving into the 320 hectare estate that is Batamindo Industrial Park, it was hard not to be impressed by the sheer scale of the operation and the presence of well-known global companies like Schneider, Rapala, CIBA Vision and Shimano.

First stop was the operational headquarters, where the presence of multinational banks such as HSBC hinted towards the diversity of the services this all-encompassing industrial park offers. We enjoyed a presentation by an employee from the marketing division of Gallant Venture, the investment holding company that runs the industrial park. Following this presentation and some questions from the fellow students, we were provided with a tour of many of the facilities and services within Batamindo.

The industrial park is a haven for employers, with its custom built factories, human resource recruitment services, all-inclusive facilities and capacity to house employees on-site. This strips away many of the operational costs and sometimes challenging logistical management required with sourcing workers, facility security and maintenance and transport.

Before we crammed back on to the bus for the grand tour, we were invited to peruse the pride and joy of the operation headquarters, Round Room 1. The room is the trophy cabinet of Batamindo – displaying many of the products recently manufactured within the industrial estate walls. The centrepiece of the room was a well-lit, colourful Lego playset. In a scary way, gazing upon the giant plastic scale model made us feel like wealthy foreign investors, casually picking out a location for a factory within the industrial park grounds.

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Considering there are living facilities, malls and food halls located within the park, production line workers rarely need to leave the park. But, unfortunately, many of them find their employment to be extremely monotonous and repetitive. Later in the week, we had a chance to talk to some of these workers to discuss their origins and opinions. Workers had travelled from other places in Indonesia, including Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi looking for work. Many of the workers within the Industrial Park were young females, who worked on the production lines of the electronics factories. They said that Batam was not their final destination, sharing with us their hopes to work for a number of years here before moving on. All of the workers that we interviewed were very friendly and willing to share their stories and experiences.

In retrospect, our visit to Batamindo was an incredible place to start our experience in Batam. Our first impressions here contextualised the enduring battle between employer and employee in the face of pressure to minimize costs and increase efficiency. It left us with many questions regarding the role of labour unions, employer associations, governmental responsibilities and the implications of their interactions. Time has flown since this initial visit as we have continued our adventures searching for these answers.

By Harry Agnew and Brendan Dobb


Whether you want to cultivate a career in criminology or Chinese relations, or have aspirations in art curation or architecture, the Postgrad Expo this Saturday 31 August is the place to start.



Thinking about a summer scholarship?

This time last year, I toyed with the decision of whether to pick up a second casual job or apply for a research scholarship through the Sydney Medical School for the majority of my summer. I chose the latter, and spent around 8 weeks working on the writing of a meta-analysis investigating the links between hormonal factors and the risk of developing oesophageal cancer.



Research degrees provide access to like-minded peers and a very deep understanding in a very narrow field. However, the ability to express our ideas in an engaging way outside of our fields, or to think about our research in professional or even commercial contexts beyond academia, are areas that are often neglected. But where do we find the training resources needed to hone these skills, and how do we find the time to practice them?


Student prize winners (from left) Scott, Louise, Andy and Vanessa with ASA president Andrew Hopkins. [Photo: Bryan Gaensler]

The Astronomical Society of Australia’s Annual Scientific Meeting is an opportunity for the Australian astronomical community to gather for a series of talks and meetings about all the great astronomy that has happened, is happening, and is going to happen. It's a fantastic experience for a student, because you gain exposure to diverse and pioneering research taking place as well as having the opportunity to network with students and researchers from all over the country. This year I was also fortunate enough to have the chance to present my work, which was a great honour and thrill!



Last Tuesday night I won the AMP AMPlify Festival's Bright Sparks Competition. 19 finalists competed for $5000 towards their PhD. And I won. It was such a shock and an honour! So how did anonymous mimes and a Facebook post help me win the cash?



Brains worked overtime to process the assortment of ideas presented at last Saturday's TEDxSydney event at the Sydney Opera House. Andre Fenby and I were there for every minute, meeting with speakers and indulging in the delicious and locally sourced food. Check out our review of the day:

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Dr Rebecca Huntley will consider how we respond to group labels this weekend at TEDxSydney. Yesterday, I spoke with her about categories, food and politics.



Healthabitat director, Paul Pholeros (pictured), is on a mission to fight poverty using architecture. I was lucky enough to speak with Paul about his work ahead of his upcoming talk at TEDxSydney.


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Biologist Professor David Sinclair will reveal new research at TEDxSydney this weekend that could change the way we look at ageing. This week I spoke to him and asked: will we one day live forever?



This week I spoke with four extraordinary young alumni, Emma Collenbrander, Katerina Kimmorley, Monique Alfris and Jamie Chivers, who joined forces in 2012 with a mission to eradicate energy poverty in India through their social business venture, Pollinate Energy.

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On Wednesday I spoke with self-described ‘pollster geek’ Professor Simon Jackman. A visiting professor at the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre, Simon has pioneered a more scientific approach to studying politics and will be speaking about the 'data revolution' and his work as a political scientist at this year's TEDxSydney.



Two years ago, ‘The First Emperor: China’s Entombed Warriors’ exhibition was at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Since seeing that exhibition I’ve often thought about one day visiting the World Heritage Site near Xi’an in central China.

And today was that day, during our visit to Xi’an Jiao Tong University. While learning about student life at some of China’s top nine universities as part of the 2013 Go8’s Student Leadership in International Cooperation Project, we’ve had a wonderful insight into Chinese history, culture and society.

Read more about Erin's trip.


Twelve days, five of the top universities in China: this is the Go8’s Student Leadership in International Cooperation Project 2013.

In Shanghai, we had a one-day visit to Fudan University. We spent the morning getting to know a group of students while touring the main campus to experience, for a brief period of time, student life at Fudan. Our afternoon itinerary consisted of a volleyball game with students – what we didn't know was that we'd be playing the Fudan men’s volleyball team, the number one men’s university team in China. They were very kind to us though – a group of PhD candidates, most of who had not played volleyball since high school!

Read more about Erin's trip.


I recently spoke with Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum (pictured) from the University of Sydney Law School about his involvement with this year's TedxSydney event. Blind since birth, Ron has spent his life campaigning for disability rights. Find out more about the life of one of the University's most inspiring people.


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