Research Enrichment Program

Research Enrichment Program

The Research Enrichment Program, or REP, aims to incubate current and future research leaders both scientifically and societally by cultivating a broad outlook.

What REP aims to do

REP has two 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 masterclasses designed to help you encounter new research questions and possibilities across a wide range of fields. These masterclasses also provide opportunities to enhance your soft and generic skills.

Masterclasses are open to all Macquarie HDRs, professional staff and academics including ECRs. Masterclasses 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 masterclass offered will change from one year to another. Participants may choose the mix of masterclasses 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 masterclass-days per year.

Participation in REP can be recognised

Participants who attend at least three masterclasses per year (or part-time equivalent) can request participation documents. These documents can enhance your CV and employment prospects. REP also offers an annual masterclass on how to effectively embed extra-curricular activities into your job applications to make sure you get the most out of your participation.

Contact us

For all queries and questions related to REP, please e-mail us:

REP masterclass menu 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'.

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

Leadership series

Run over the the entire year

Organised by Mauricio Marrone & Marie Herberstein

This scaffolded series of leadership activities and projects will be open for a limited number of participants who will be matched with a mentor. The activities, which include active mentoring, development of a leadership project and regular meetings of the leadership master class will run over the entire year.

Places will be limited.

Registration details TBA

The impacts of gendered perspectives in the sciences*

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

Organisers: Barron, Herberstein and Ah-King

Can we ever explore questions of the evolution of human society without tripping over our own biases surrounding contemporary gender stereotypes and gender roles in society?

The meeting will consider current hypotheses of human social evolution, especially Survival of the Friendliest, and how gendered assumptions can cloud progress in this area.

Some pre-reading will be required for this workshop

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

Click here to register for ‘The impacts of gendered perspectives in the sciences’

Machine learning and big data*

Date and time TBA (April)

Organised by Mark Dras and Steve Cassidy

More to come soon….

MQ Bio-Network: ‘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.

Details to register for MQ Bio-Network: ‘Killing it in science: Adventures and misadventures of a research scientist’ to be distributed soon

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.

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.

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’

Salon des refusés (grants)

Date and location TBA (tentatively May/June)

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.

REP Outlook conference 2018*

Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th July in the MQU Incubator

Organised by Michael Gillings, this 2-day conference is a horizon scanning activity across the breadth of human enquiry. It aims to identifying possible future research directions while immersing participants in the advancing fronts of research in adjacent, and more distant disciplines. In 2018 Outlook is co-badged with Smart Green Cities and MQU Innovation Hub.

Registration details for REP Outlook conference 2018 will be distributed soon.

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’

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)

How do variants arise in evolution by natural selection?

Date and location TBA

Organised by David Wells

Natural selection has great explanatory force, but it can select among alternative variants only if those variants exist. Although it can explain why certain variants spread, it cannot explain how variants arise in the first place. In the mainstream perspective on Darwinian evolution, alternative variants are supplied by random genetic events such as mutation, horizontal gene transfer and recombination during sexual reproduction.

Competing explanations have been proposed, however. Some emphasize the role of plasticity, arguing that new variants often arise within-lifetime as developmental reorganisations in response to environmental changes, mediated by changes in gene expression. Whether this leads to genetic change and hence evolution depends on the longevity of the environmental change and whether existing genetic variants are more or less favourable to the new phenotype. In this scheme, genes follow rather than lead.

Other explanations retain the mainstream focus on genetic change as the source of new variants, but reject the assumption that genes change randomly. In one radical version of this view, genetic change is generally a product of ‘natural genetic engineering’ by cellular processes responding to intra- and extra-cellular information flows.

This workshop will critically assess all major contributions on the sources of variation in evolution by natural selection. It will take the form of an introductory presentation, followed by a panel discussion featuring academics in the Department of Biological Sciences.  There will be substantial opportunity for discussion.

Details to register for ‘How do variants arise in evolution by natural selection?’ TBA

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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