Research Enrichment Program

Research Enrichment Program

The Research Enrichment Program (REP) vision

To foster a vibrant research community at Macquarie University

REP realises this vision through two main objectives:

  1. to cultivate a collaborative, supportive, outward-looking, creative academic community within Macquarie University by enhancing the participation and sense of belonging across all academic levels.
  2. to be a mechanism for boosting the calibre of research at Macquarie University by fostering new collaborative research ideas.

How REP works

REP offers a series of workshops designed to help you encounter new research questions and possibilities across a wide range of fields.

Workshops are open to all Macquarie HDRs, professional staff and academics at all levels. Workshops can range from those that invite participation across all faculties through to some that are discipline-specific offering exposure to the latest research methods and concepts.

The menu of workshops offered will change from one year to another. Participants may choose the mix of workshops they attend.

REP is voluntary and free

That’s right: it’s free, you just need to commit your time. The recommended level of participation is between 3-5 workshop-days per year.

Contact us

For all queries and questions related to the Research Enrichment Program, please e-mail us:

REP menu of offerings for 2018:

Research opportunities and challenges in the Developing World -- with Robin Chazdon*

Thursday 1st March (2-4pm followed by light refreshments 4-5pm) level 8 building E7A.

Organised by Mark Westoby, Shawkat Alam, and the Office of the Dean of HDR

This half day workshop, delivered as a Q&A session, will be of interest to:

  • Any researchers already engaging with, or considering engaging with, developing countries.
  • Any Higher Degree Research students and Higher Degree Research student supervisors who are interested in research on a developing country topic.

Hosted by Emeritus Prof Mark Westoby (Research Enrichment Program) and Prof Shawkat Alam (Director of the Centre for Environmental Law), this workshop will be delivered as a Q&A session with questions posed by interviewers and the audience. It will tap into Robin’s experience and highlight the research opportunities possible in developing countries.

Professor Emerita Robin Chazdon is a Senior Fellow with the World Resources Institute Global Restoration Initiative. Professor Chazdon is a long-time campaigner in addressing pressing global problems and has personal and organizational experience working in developing countries (

Register here for ‘Research Opportunities and Challenges in the Developing World'.

Making it in Academia

Tuesday 13th March (9.30am-12.00pm), Biology Department Tea Room (E8A 280)

This workshop is targeted towards HDR students and ECRs who aspire to the academic career path. Perhaps you have seen a job advertisement for an academic position and think that it is made for you. How do you actually make this job yours?

In this workshop you will hear from expert panel members and new faculty members on different aspects of what it takes to make it in academia. From, writing a job application, making a good impression during interviews, delivering that impeccable seminar, and then the first year in academia. There will be a Q&A at the end of each session.

This workshop is convened by Ajay Narendra - ARC Future Fellow in Biology. The aims of this workshop are to support HDR and ECR researchers by giving tips, advice and building confidence around academic job applications.

Panel members:
Associate Professor Juan Carlos Afonso (Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, FoS&E)
Senior Lecturer Rachael Dudaniec (Department of Biology, FoS&E)  
Associate Professor Adam Dunn (Centre for Health Informatics, FoM&HS)
Dr Jenn Fifita (Bill Gole MND Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Neurobiology, FoM&HS)
Dr Jemma Geoghegan (Department of Biology, FoS&E)  
Associate Professor Ann Goodchild (Neurophysiology, FoM&HS) (tentative)
Professor Marie Herberstein (Department of Biology, FoS&E)  
Professor Dorrit Jacob (Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, FoS&E)
Distinguished Professor Michelle Leishman (Department of Biology, FoS&E)  
Ms Sally Purcell (HDR Professional Skills Program Manager, Office of the Dean - Higher Degree Research)
Emeritus Professor Mark Westoby (Department of Biology, FoS&E)

Click here to register for Making it in Academia

Make your mark on Macquarie - Lead a project for change

Mid-April 2018 – November 2018 (specific schedule to be provided)

Organised by Mauricio Marrone and Marie Herberstein.

Do you want to improve Macquarie University?  Do you have an idea for a project that you wish to lead that will have a lasting impact? We want to support your project!

In this 6-month support program, up to ten applicants will undergo a six-month leadership development process, mentored by senior members across the university. Their selection into the program will be based on the projects that they wish to lead and the impact that these projects will have on the University, or broader community. This leadership program is open to all career stages, from PhD, ECR, mid-career and senior academics.

We will have a kick-off meeting with selected applicants in early April 2018. During the kick-off meeting, participants will have to do a three-minute pitch of their project and outline the impact that they wish to have. Participants will then be partnered with mentors to help fulfil their project.

Over the following 6 months (lasting until the beginning of November), the participants will lead their project to completion, with the support of their mentors, all while developing their leadership skills. At the end of the six months, a networking event will be organised and participants will share their projects and the lessons learned during the process.

Please submit your expression of interest to be one of the 10 participants here.

Applications close on 23rd of March.

Introduction to R*

Tuesday 13 March (9am – 4pm). Continuum Room, level 3 75 Talavera road.

Organised by Maina Mbui, Stephanie D'agata, Drew Allen and Matthew Kosnik. Academics and postdocs welcome. You will need to bring your own laptop capable of wireless connection. Participant numbers will be capped (first-in secures a place).

At this session we’ll begin by interacting with the program at a very basic level to become familiar with the R programming environment. We will cover a number of topics including how to import data into R, the various kinds of data that R is capable of handling, the syntax of the R programming language, how to manipulate these data using basic programming functions, and how to write functions. No programming skills will be assumed for this first day. Please note that tea breaks will be catered, but not lunch. Participants will need to make their own arrangements for lunch.

Click here to register for 'Introduction to R'

Graphing and data manipulation in R*

Tuesday 20 March (9am – 4pm). Continuum Room, level 3 75 Talavera road.

Organised by Matthew Kosnik, Maina Mbui, Stephanie D'agata, and Drew Allen. Academics and postdocs welcome. You will need to bring your own laptop capable of wireless connection. Participant numbers will be capped (first-in secures a place).

R is capable of producing publication-quality graphics from your data. R can also be used to manipulate your data into a variety of useful forms. On this day, we will cover two topics. First, in the morning, we will cover commonly used graphing procedures in R. Such procedures are helpful not only for producing graphs, but also for exploring data and for interpreting results of statistical procedures. Second, in the afternoon, we will cover data manipulation, considering in some detail the issue of inputting data into R and then transforming data so that they are in a format suitable for statistical analysis.

Attendance at the 'INTRODUCTION TO R' workshop (Tuesday 13 March) is a prerequisite for attending the GRAPHING & DATA MANIPULATION IN R unless the attendee has prior experience in R. Please note that tea breaks will be catered, but not lunch. Participants will need to make their own arrangements for lunch.

Click here to register for 'Graphing and data manipulation in R'

Statistics in R*

Tuesday 27 March (9am – 4pm). Continuum Room, level 3 75 Talavera road.

Organised by Drew Allen, Matthew Kosnik, Maina Mbui, and Stephanie D'agata. Academics and postdocs welcome. You will need to bring your own laptop capable of wireless connection. Participant numbers will be capped (first-in secures a place).

At this session we’ll learn how to undertake basic statistical procedures in R including correlation, regression, generalised linear models, analysis of variance/covariance, and diagnostic statistics. Common non-parametric statistical procedures will also be discussed.

Attendance at the 'INTRODUCTION TO R' workshop (Tuesday 13 March) is a prerequisite for attending the STATISTICS IN R unless the attendee has prior experience in R. Please note that tea breaks will be catered, but not lunch. Participants will need to make their own arrangements for lunch.

Click here to register for 'Statistics in R'

Writing workshops

Running weekly for most of the year: Fridays 2-4pm in room E8B 111

Convened by Ken Cheng

These writing workshops are meant for HDR students and early-career researchers. In these face-to-face encounters, writing at any stage of any genre is welcome, from first draft to final polish, from empirical paper to literature review to popular news story. Ken envisages personal feedback linked perhaps with rounds of revisions on selected passages during the session. The aim is not just to get stuff written, but to write everything well.

Those interested in attending a session should email by Wednesday 12:00-noon, preferably with a draft attached of what they are working on and some indication of what they especially need help with.

Sessional staff training for the Faculty of Science and Engineering

Thursday 22nd February and Thursday 26th July

Organised by Matthew Bulbert and FoS&E L&T

These three-hour workshops, are an essential induction to sessional teaching. They are designed to provide insight into the university’s expectations of sessional staff and what sessional teaching entails. It will cover topics such as: Giving and receiving feedback; Class craft including how to: manage student behaviour, question effectively and encourage equal participation; and finally, pastoral care and personal well-being and safety within a classroom environment.

This workshop will have the most value for new sessional staff but will provide benefit for experienced tutors looking to improve classroom management. Although run to target FoS&E tutors, the topics covered will be broadly applicable to tutors from a range of background disciplines.

E-mail to register for ‘Sessional staff training for the Faculty of Science and Engineering’ sessions

Gender and queer perspectives in the biological sciences*

Thursday 5th April (10am – 3pm) Continuum room, level 3, 75 Talavera road

Organisers: Andrew Barron, Malin Ah- King, Mariella Herberstein, and Simon Griffith

A large focus of the biological sciences is to understand the evolution of sex, sexes and sex roles. This workshop will explore how our own assumptions of gender and sex roles in human society have influenced the scientific study of sex and vice versa.

Some pre-reading will be required for this workshop.

Numbers will be capped – first-in secures a place.

Click here to register for ‘Gender and queer perspectives in the biological sciences’

MQ BioNetwork: ‘Killing it in science: Adventures and misadventures of a research scientist’*

Friday 13th April (all day) E7A level 8.

Organised by the MQ Bio-Network committee, ECRNetwork, the Biomolecular Discovery and Design Research Centre, and multiple Departments within FoS&E and FoM&HS

This one-day symposium has two aims. The first is to foster the Macquarie University researcher community across the Faculties of Science & Engineering and Medicine & Health Sciences. The second is to provide inspiration and advice around building a research career. The workshop is mostly focused on early career researchers.

The morning session titled ‘Killing it in science: Adventures and misadventures of a research scientist’ and will involve a diverse mix of successful senior, middle, early career and industry researchers giving their insights on successful career building though short talks and panel Q&A.

The lessons learned from the morning will be put into practice in the afternoon session, with focus groups aimed at fostering interdisciplinary collaborations between Macquarie University researchers.

Click here to register for MQ Bio-Network: ‘Killing it in science: Adventures and misadventures of a research scientist’.

Salon des Refusés: A celebration of near miss research ideas

POSTPONED --- Tuesday 22nd May (3 - 5:30pm), Macquarie University Art Gallery --- POSTPONED

Organised by Mark Westoby and MQU Research Services

Primarily a celebration of quality research ideas, this workshop will appeal to grant applicants considered near-misses over recent funding application rounds. This will not be a remedial exercise, rather an opportunity to explore ideas that might make these proposals even more exciting or far-reaching or attractive to assessment panels.

A panel of senior MQ researchers will chair intensive pitching sessions that help to expand the scope and novelty of the presented research ideas.

The Art and Science of getting your research published

Wednesday 23rd May (all day) level 8, E7A

Organised by Michael Gillings and Haidee Kruger

This workshop is an introduction to research authorship and communication. In addition to Postgraduate students, academics and postdocs are most welcome to attend.

Click here to register for ‘The Art and Science of getting your research published’

Developing your 5-year research plan

Wednesday 30 May (12-1pm), level 8 E7A

Delivered by Andrew Barron (supported by MQU Research Services and the Research Enrichment Program)

Hitting any mid- and long-term research and career goals is impossible if you don't know what they are. This seminar discusses how you can identify what you want to do, and how you can plan to give yourself the greatest chance of hitting your targets.

No need to register, simply turn-up, but please bring paper and a pen with you.

Machine learning and big data*

Thursday 5th July (9:45am - 12-noon) E7B -- offered as a half-day Machine Learning stream at ResBaz Sydney 2018

Organised by Mark Dras and Steve Cassidy

This workshop - offered as a half-day Machine Learning stream at ResBaz Sydney 2018 - will feature six researchers from across a range of disciplines, who'll each give a brief (20 minute) talk about a problem they've worked on and some machine learning techniques or tools they've used in doing that.  The application areas include astronomy, business information systems, natural language processing, computer vision and image processing, public health and sociology; the techniques and tools include data visualisation, topic modelling, network analysis, off-the-shelf language processing tools, deep learning systems, and techniques for gathering social media data.  These will lead up to a networking session, which will be an opportunity for participants to ask questions, discuss their own work and/or link up with other researchers interested in the same application area or techniques.  The target audience is HDR students and Early Career Researchers, but anyone is welcome.

Workshop presenters:

  • Cormac Purcell (astronomy):
  • Mauricio Marrone (business information systems):
  • Mark Dras (natural language processing):
  • Peter Anderson (computer vision and image processing):
  • Adam Dunn (public health):
  • Kathryn Elliot (sociology):

To register for this workshop, please register for day 3 of ResBaz Sydney 2018, here

'The Future of the Human Landscape' -- REP Outlook Conference 2018*

Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th July (9am - 5pm), Macquarie University Incubator Building, 8 Hadenfield Avenue

We live on a planet that is dominated by human activity. Every organism, every place, and every function is influenced by humans. Under this influence, the world is changing rapidly, and it is increasingly unlikely that the Earth can be conserved in its historical state. We are, however, the greatest ecosystem engineers that have ever existed on this planet. We have a unique opportunity to imagine the kind of planet we would like to live on, and make it happen. But this opportunity will not last. The time to imagine, and plan, is now.The Outlook Conference will bring together leading thinkers in diverse disciplines, spanning molecules to landscapes, and from scientific, historical and social viewpoints. The objective is to immerse participants in the frontiers of adjacent, and more distant disciplines. Speakers will present their vision for humanity’s future. These talks will not recount personal research findings, but will be future-scoping exercises. Our goal is to identify promising areas for high level trans-disciplinary collaboration, for novel applications, and to expose postgraduate students and early career researchers to different ways of thinking.

The two day meeting will consist of seminars by invited speakers, followed by afternoon discussions and brain-storming sessions. A key feature of the conference is the opportunity to meet and interact with research leaders across the breadth of human enquiry.

This conference is free and is open to all. Click here to register for 'REP Outlook -- The Future of the Human Landscape'.

Is the mainstream account of evolution satisfactory?

Monday 10 Sept (10am - 12-noon), 07 Wally's Walk (E6B) 149 Briefing Room

Organised by David Wells, Jemma Geoghegan, Michael Gillings, Catherine Grueber (USyd) and Mark Westoby. Chaired by Grant Hose.

The broad aim of this workshop is for participants is to think over our knowledge of evolutionary biology, especially the question whether standard or mainstream accounts of Darwinism should be regarded as somehow unsatisfactory or incomplete.

The question for participants to think about beforehand is: If you were redesigning an intro-to-evolution course or a standard evolution textbook, what changes would you make as top of your priority list? These changes could be new topics added, or existing topics handled in a new way, or some sort of rearrangement of the overall layout of material. At the workshop five panel members will put forward their own ideas in response to this question (David Wells who initiated the workshop, Jemma Geoghegan, Michael Gillings, Catherine Grueber, Mark Westoby.). Then discussion will move to the floor.

Click here to register for ‘Is the mainstream account of evolution satisfactory?’

Darwinian Medicine*

Thursday 11th October (all day) Continuum room, level 3, 75 Talavera Road.

Organised by Marie Herberstein, Helen Rizos and Steve Simpson

Evolutionary theory is a powerful approach to many phenomena encountered by practicing medicine, including antibiotic resistance, personalized medicine, tumour cell evolution. This symposium will explore how an evolutionary approach and medical practice can be mutually informative by pairing evolutionary biologists with medical practitioners across a diverse range of medical fields

  • Some pre-reading might be required for this workshop
  • Steve Simpson will open and chair the symposium

Click here to register for ‘Darwinian Medicine’

Best practice in multi-disciplinary research

Date TBA

Organised by Emilie Ens & (tentatively) representatives of the senate RRTC Working Group

A 1-day workshop bringing the multi-disciplinary research community together: showcase projects, identify best-practice, and inspire more coordination. One outcome might be to draft a Macquarie University document of best practice in multi-disciplinary research.

Evolutionary perspectives on language variation and change*

1-day workshop (tentatively November - exact date TBA)

Organized by Dr Haidee Kruger and Dr Joe Blythe

Evolutionary ideas and terminology have a long history in linguistic theory, and are used across diverse areas in linguistics. Martin Haspelmath (2016) points out the vast differences in assumptions underpinning the term “language evolution” as it is used in different theoretical paradigms, which some use to refer to the evolution of language as a human-specific trait or faculty, and others as a synonym for how languages themselves originate, vary and change over time.

This workshop will bring together researchers from linguistics, anthropology, biology and philosophy in an interdisciplinary conversation on the use of evolutionary concepts in the study of language variation and change; specifically engaging with work that has drawn analogies between biological evolution and linguistic diachrony. In other words, our interest is in evolutionary views of language that assume that the explanandum of language evolution is not the brain mechanisms enabling language, but rather how language has evolved to suit human brains, driven by incentives of cooperation, alignment and communication.

Haspelmath, Martin. (2016). The evolution (or diachrony) of “language evolution”.

Details to register for ‘Evolutionary perspectives on language variation and change’ TBA

Centre of Excellence series

Multiple dates

Andrew Barron, PVC Peter Nelson and MQU Research Services

Multiple 1-2 day workshops aligned with developing CoE bids to meet the synergistic goal of creating an environment to develop and refine centre concepts with the help of high-profile invited speakers, create awareness of and encourage participation in MQU Centre programs and create activity and media interest around MQU CoE proposals.

The future of the brain-machine interface – Barron

Thursday 18 Oct (all day) E6B 149 Briefing Room

We are already augmenting our senses with devices that interface directly with the brain.  How soon will we be able to augment our memory, our perception and our conscious experience and what will be the consequences of this?  The workshop will address these questions, and others, with contributions from philosophy, ethics, neuroscience, engineering and psychology.

Pre-meeting reading group – How Mind Emerged from Matter, Terrence Deacon

Click here to register for ‘The future of the brain-machine interface’

Showcase of the CoE in Synthetic Biology – Paulsen

Date and blurb TBA (tentatively early Oct)

Analysis of multiple impacts

Date TBA (towards the end of the year)

Organised by Jane Williamson

Summary to come

* Funded by the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

More research support and training at Macquarie University

Macquarie University is committed to resourcing and supporting its researchers. The range of support for Macquarie researchers is both broad and inclusive. A wide range of initiatives, groups and networks are available to help manage and support your research, grow your skills, and develop your career:

Macquarie University Research Services provide training and support to Macquarie University researchers as they conduct excellent, impactful research.

Macquarie’s Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Support and Development team offers HDR research training that is flexible, diverse and candidate-driven.

The Early Career Research Network aims to support and develop the career opportunities for Macquarie University ECRs

The Learning Innovation Hub supports and serves Macquarie University's learning and teaching community

The Macquarie University Library offers a wealth of research support.

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