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 2017:

Masterclasses with research-specific content:

Life in the universe - a planetary evolution discussion group

9am - 12 on the Mondays: 1 May, 8 May, 15 May, 22 May, 29 May, and 5 June in E7A 127

Co-badged with MQU Planetary Research Centre

Convened by Craig O'Neill, this discussion group will workshop some of the fundamental questions in planetary science, and astrobiology. Participants will present and discuss recent topical papers on the big questions around planets, and critique the evidence for and against major controversies in the field. The format is 2-3 paper presentations per week, by the participants, on a range of planetary topics, including: 1) The habitability of exoplanets, 2) Origin of the Earth's Moon, 3) Origin of Earth's water, 4) The nature of planetary cores, 5) What happened in the Hadean? and 6) Supercontinents and the snowball Earth.

E-mail to register for ‘Life in the universe - a planetary evolution discussion group'

Perspectives on how insects integrate multiple behaviours

9 May (2pm – 5pm) and 10 May (9am – 7pm). 

Convened by Andrew Barron and Prof. Barbara Webb (Professor of Biorobotics, University of Edinburgh). 

All brains are very good at transforming diverse sensory input into the most appropriate action. How do they do this? Is there even an explicit decision mechanism? This workshop takes a comparative approach to the problem drawing on insights from insects and machines to ask how different systems achieve the most appropriate reactions to their environment. The workshop is transdisciplinary with contributions from ethology, neuroscience, computing, biorobotics and philosophy. The workshop ends with a public lecture by Professor Webb supported by the Faculty of Science and Engineering. 

Click here to register for ‘Future directions in Neuroethology: how decisions are made’

Science, misinformation, and alternative facts

Thursday 1st June, 10:30am - 4:30pm  

This cross-disciplinary workshop - organised by Jon Brock (Research Fellow, Cognitive Science), Adam Dunn (Senior Research Fellow, Health Informatics) and Haidee Kruger (Lecturer, Linguistics), provides a forum for researchers and science communicators to discuss the representation of scientific evidence in the public domain. Experts from across human sciences will join application domain experts in vaccination, climate science, epidemiology, and health behaviours to discuss the challenges and potential solutions for closing the gaps between what the evidence says and what the public believes. 

Further information

This workshop is generously co-sponsored by the Faculty of Human Sciences, the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders.

Click here to register for ‘Science, misinformation, and alternative facts’

What government needs from university researchers

The MQ Research Enrichment Program and the Faculty of Science and Engineering will host Professor Mary O'Kane AC, Chief Scientist and Engineer for the NSW Government at Macquarie University on the 17th July (1 - 4pm in the Level 1 lecture theatre, Australian Hearing Hub).

Under the theme "Science Communication Problem", Professor O'Kane will present a lecture (1 - 2pm) entitled "What government needs from university researchers". She will explain how her office deals with highly-politicized issues. 

Following the talk, focus group sessions with Professor O'Kane and members of her Office which will run from 2:00pm - 4:00pm. The aim of these focus groups is to identify upcoming issues that might be at risk of developing the "Science Communication Problem", meaning topics that become politicized to an extent where the public decides what to believe in order to remain aligned with their social circle, rather than on a basis of evidence or scientific authority. Focus groups will also scope ways to better communicate these topics to the public. The last 30 minutes of the session will involve reporting back, looking forward and closing. 

This workshop is generously co-sponsored by the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Click here to register for the 'What government needs from university researchers' event, with Mary O'Kane

REP Outlook Conference 2017

A two-day research conference held over Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th July (9am – 5pm each day). 

Sydney School of Entrepreneurship Building J, TAFE NSW Ultimo Campus, 651-731 Harris Street Ultimo, NSW 2007

Organised by Michael Gillings, with multiple speakers, including distinguished visitors from beyond Macquarie. Academics and postdocs warmly encouraged to attend. Lunches, morning and afternoon teas are provided. 

The Research Enrichment Program Outlook Conference is a Macquarie University initiative that aims to foster broad thinking in research and scholarship. Our annual Outlook Conference brings together leading thinkers in diverse disciplines, spanning molecules to landscapes, across deep time frames, and from scientific, historical and social viewpoints. Our objective is to immerse participants in the advancing fronts of research in adjacent, and more distant disciplines. 

The 2017 meeting is called What Matters, and Why and will be held at the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship in Ultimo. Invited speakers will present ideas on why their discipline matters, and how research fronts in these disciplines inform diverse areas of human enquiry. 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 commercial or industrial 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 discussion 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.

For the 2017 REP Outlook meeting schedule, click here

Click here to register for the 'REP Outlook Conference 2017'

Developmental Plasticity and Evolution

Half-day masterclass, running on Wednesday 20th September (9:00 - 13:00 with short breaks). 

Organised by David Wells, this offering will include substantial opportunity for discussion. Everyone very welcome to attend. 

The Modern Synthesis has been the dominant paradigm in evolutionary biology since the 1930s and 1940s, but proposals to modify it, typically by extending it in various ways, have recently become more insistent. This workshop will examine the proposed Extended Evolutionary Synthesis by examining the work of one specific proponent, Mary Jane West-Eberhard, whose book, Developmental Plasticity and Evolution, arguably represents the most comprehensive attempt at synthesis. The work of others will be discussed as appropriate. Evolution by natural selection has three pre-requisites: variation, selection and inheritance. WestEberhard does not disagree with this, but argues that it needs to be seen in the context of development understood as all phenotypic change during the lifetimes of individual organisms or higher units of organization. For example, she argues that some of what appears to be evolution by natural selection is actually the rearrangement of pre-existing developmental modules, with little or no genetic change. Where there is genetic change, it is genetic accommodation to the changes occurring in the phenotype. In general, West-Eberhard treats genes as ‘followers rather than leaders’ in evolution. How strong is the empirical evidence for this view, and does her synthesis hang together? WestEberhard’s focus is on the arrangement of components in a system, not on the action of any one component, specifically the gene. Particular attention will be paid to her liberal use of the concept of ‘emergence’, understood as a macro-level phenomenon such as evolutionary novelty arising from micro-level phenomena, while nevertheless having autonomy from the micro-level base on which it depends. There will be substantial opportunity for discussion. 

Click here to register for ‘Developmental Plasticity and Evolution’

On the Origins of Art

Friday 20 October. 12-noon - 4:30pm

Engagement with and appreciation of art could be described as defining of all human cultures. Why? Can we ask or answer the question of where human art came from and why we are an artistic species? 

Elizabeth Pearce (Research Curator and Senior Writer) and Jane Clark (Senior Research Curator) recently worked on an exhibition at the Museum of Old and New Art MONA) in Hobart exploring these themes. Their exhibition and thinking draw on contributions from philosophy, neuroscience and psychology to explore these issues. 

Based on this exhibition, and chaired by Emeritus Professor John Simons, this transdisciplinary workshop will explore where human artistic endeavour might have come from.

This workshop will involve presentations and a panel discussion. Participants (and topics) include:

John Simons (Chair); 

Elizabeth Pearce ‘On the Origin of Art’ 

Rob Brooks ‘Sexual conflict in art’ 

Paul Mason ‘The Total Art Work’ 

Branka Spehar ‘The Pleasure of Seeing’ 

Frederick Hardtke ‘Giving Context to Prehistoric Art’ 

Jane Clark ‘So much we still don't know' 

Click here to register for ‘On the Origins of Art’ and here for the program.

Masterclasses with soft skill-specific content:

Teamwork and leadership

One day equivalent workshop (two sessions, 9am-1pm Thursdays 1st and 8th June). 

Organised by Mark Westoby, Wade Tozer, Andy Barron.   

Soft skills are about how a person interacts with others and contributes to teamwork. They are highly valued by employers, and research agencies often assess them explicitly during job searches. This masterclass aims to help people understand and explain what soft skills they have. The first session will use mock interviews, where you give prepared answers to questions such "Tell us about a time when you won a group of people round to your way of thinking". The second session will discuss what sort of answers seemed most convincing during the interviews, what you perceive as your strengths and weaknesses, and what strategies you might undertake in future.  

Click here to register for ‘Teamwork and leadership’

Leadership: defining your values

Half-day workshop, running on Thursday 2nd Nov (2-5pm). 

Organised by Mauricio Marone (FBE) and Mariella Herberstein (FSE). 

Whether we know it or not, we all engage in leadership at some stage - be it as a tutor organising a group of students, leading a research group or organising a social event. In this workshop we explore the idea that ‘leadership’ begins with you. It is about understanding what you value and how you bring those authentic values to your leadership activities. Working in small groups we will explore how you approach a situation where leadership is required, help you identify your core values as well as explore how your personal values align with those of an employer. By increasing your awareness of the role of values in leadership, we hope this workshop will set you on a trajectory of ever increasing leadership activities. 

Click here to register for ‘Leadership: defining your values’

Masterclasses with generic skill-specific content:

Sessional staff training for the Faculty of Science and Engineering

Thursday February 23rd 1-4pm (W5C320)    AND   Friday March 3rd 9-12pm (C5A310) 

Co-badged with FoS&E L&T

A second offering will be provided approximately 1 week prior to commencement of semester 2. 

Convened by James Downes and Matthew Bulbert 

These three-hour workshops, hosted by FSE Learning and Teaching and the Research Enrichment program (REP), 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’

Writing workshops

Running weekly for most of the year: Thursdays 2:30-4:30 pm in room E8A 280. 

Convened by Ken Cheng and Jennifer Hallinan 

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. We envisage 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 both Ken Cheng ( and Jennifer Hallinan ( by Wednesday 12:00, preferably with a draft attached of what they are working on and some indication of what they especially need help with. 

E-mail or to register for ‘Writing workshops’

The basics of Experimental design

Two days, 2nd and 3rd March (9am – 5pm each day). 

Convened by Andrew Barron and Grant Hose. 

This two-day unit covers the key principles of experimental design. Topics covered include: choosing the right question, developing an experiment that can answer the right question, sample size, types of data, relevant controls, statistical effect sizes and statistical power. The intention of the unit is to provide a thought framework for experimental design that can be used before beginning an experimental study to increase the chance that hard experimental work will yield a definitive answer to the right question. 

Click here to register for ‘The basics of Experimental design'

Introduction to R

Friday 10 March (9am – 4pm).

Organised by Drew Allen, Matthew Kosnik, and Joseph Maina. 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

Friday 17 March (9am – 4pm). 

Organised by Drew Allen, Matthew Kosnik, and Joseph Maina. 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 (Friday 10 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

Friday 24 March (9am – 4pm). 

Organised by Drew Allen, Matthew Kosnik, and Joseph Maina. 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 (Friday 10 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'

Book club: “How to get a PhD: a handbook for students and their supervisors” by Phillips and Pugh.

4-5pm on the 22 March, 5 April, 19 April, and 3 May. 

Convened by Andrew Barron 

Co-badged with the Supervision Enhancement Program

Everyone’s PhD experience is unique, but there are some common experiences and challenges and some reliable traps to avoid to ensure successful completion. Philips and Pugh have translated their 30 years of research into what makes a PhD candidate successful into their book “How to get a PhD”. Over 8 weeks we will read and discuss this book. Suitable for anyone in the first two years of their PhD, or considering embarking on a PhD. 

Click here to register for Book club: “How to get a PhD: a handbook for students and their supervisors” by Phillips and Pugh'

Developing your 5-year research plan

29th March (12-1pm). 

Convened by Andrew Barron. 

Co-badged with the Supervision Enhancement Program and the Faculty Seminar Series

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. 

Click here to register for ‘Developing your 5-year research plan’

Academic writing and communication

One-day masterclass, running on 12th May (9:30am – 4pm). 

Organised by Michael Gillings, Haidee Kurger (Faculty of Human Science), Joanne Lind (Faculty of Medical and health Science) and Culum Brown (Faculty of Science and Engineering). In addition to Postgraduate students, academics and postdocs are most welcome to attend. This workshop is an introduction to scientific authorship and communication. 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 'Academic writing and communication'

Transparent practices in empirical science

Half-day workshop running on the 6th June (9am – 12pm). 

In some disciplines there is discussion of a ‘reproducibility crisis’ triggered by recognition that many published findings do not seem to hold up to further evaluation. Many published results, it seems, are wrong. At the root of this crisis is NOT fabrication of results, but instead a lack of transparency in how science is conducted and reported. Although direct evidence of low reproducibility has been generated for only a few disciplines, there is widespread evidence that the poor transparency which drives low reproducibility is worryingly common in many disciplines, including in ecology and evolutionary biology. 

This workshop, convened by Associate Professor Tim Parker (Department of Biology and Interdisciplinary Program in Environmental Studies, Whitman College, Walla Walla, USA), is designed to help scientists (from any empirical discipline) navigate the reproducibility crisis in two ways. First, participants will learn some* methods for being more transparent in their own work. This should reduce unintended bias and increase the reproducibility of your work. Second, participants will learn to better recognize insufficient transparency in published work, and to understand the potential implications of this insufficient transparency. 

The workshop will be hands-on. You will work through the process of maximizing transparency in your own work (come ready to think about your own projects; ideally one project in the planning stage and one project at the writing stage, though you can use projects from any stage and if you don’t have your own project, you will be paired with other participants), and you will practice identifying insufficient transparency in sample work that will be provided at the workshop. 

*There are many great ideas for improving transparency. We will be focusing on a subset of these. 

Target audience: All empirical scientists who wishes to improve their own transparency and to recognize insufficient transparency when they encounter it.

Click here to register for 'Transparent practices in empirical science'

Non-research skills in job applications

One day equivalent workshop (Two sessions, Friday's: 16th (2-4pm) and 23rd June (2-5pm)). 

Organised by Mark Westoby with contributions from others.   

How do you persuade other people (and yourself!) about matters such as your teaching strengths, your collaborative capabilities, your skills in managing finance or coordinating projects, your commitment to diversity, your initiative and entrepreneurship, your capacity to guide research students? What are some possibilities for conveying these skills through CV or job application materials or through questions at interview?  This workshop will operate mainly through group participation, putting yourself into the minds of selection committee members. At the first session we will find out what skills people are most interested in, and discuss possibilities for presenting them. At the second session participants will bring draft materials. We will work through what sort of presentation might be more versus less convincing, and how each might be strengthened. 

Click here to register for ‘Non-research skills in job applications’

Making your lectures interactive

90-minute workshop, running on 12th July (10:30am – 12noon)

Co-badged with FoS&E L&T

Level 8, 12 Wally's Walk (E7A)

Develop. Design. Deliver. These are the key steps to any presentation, but how can we improve our process? 

We need to constantly think of different ways to actively engage students in our lectures if we want to achieve a deeper learning experience.

Join Beverley Miles, Learning Designer from the Faculty of Human Sciences, over a tea or coffee and we will explore the strategies you can use to engage students using Echo’s Active Learning Platform (ALP). You will then apply what you learn to your own lecture content, design and delivery. You can use these strategies with any other interactive tool that you may be using. Don’t forget to bring along a laptop or device to work from as we can only provide a limited number of loans.

This is an expanded version of the first successful running of this workshop, so we will discuss the positive impact these strategies have had on staff and students since then.

Everyone is welcome to attend. Whether you are completely new to interactive learning techniques, you’ve been using them with other tools or you just want to find out how you can bring you lectures up a notch, we would be more than happy to see you there.

Click here to register for ‘Making your lectures interactive'

STEM Careers Forum

Two half-day sessions running on Wednesday 16th August

Venue: E7A Level 8 (Presentations) and Ground Floor Atrium (Networking that follows)

Co-badged with the FoS&E Unit Convenors, Careers, PACE FSE, HDR Professional Skills Program, Marketing (Careers and FSE portfolios), WISE and the Maths Society.

The STEM Careers Forum showcases a diverse range of career options for FSE researchers at UG, PG and ECR level. Come meet industry representatives who will present on their career journeys, provide tips/industry insights, and network with other STEM researchers and employers. Refreshments are provided.

Hear industry speakers present on:
  • How they made the most of their STEM degrees
  • What they do and where they work now
  • How they got there
  • Tips/advice/opportunities for STEM researchers looking for employment outside academia

Ask any burning questions that you may have to enhance your industry knowledge.

Practice professional networking over free refreshments.

Registration is not essential, but you will receive updates about this event, including the networking guide and industry participants' information if you do. Registration is only possible if you are a student. Otherwise, just turn-up!

The day will be split into two sessions:
10am - 12.30pm session for BIOL/CHEM/CBMS/ENVS/EPS researcher careers

Participating organisations include:

BCAL Diagnostics, CSIRO, Lendlease, Cure Bran Cancer Foundation, Shelston IP, DLA Environmental Services, CARAS, OEH, KPMG, Professionals Australia, PWC, NSW Department of Education (Teach.NSW), Blowfish, Deloitte, Macquarie Group.

Register for morning session:

2pm - 4.30pm session for MATH/STATS/PHYS/ASTR/ENGG/IT/IS researcher careers

Participating organisations include: 

EY, Optus, Accenture, Macquarie Telecom, Optiver, Lendlease, Dell EMC, Shelston IP, IBM, Mindfields, Bureau of Meteorology, Risk Frontiers, Platypus Asset Management, Tabcorp, NSW Chamber of Commerce, Macquarie Group. Register to receive updates about this event, including the networking guide and industry participants' information. 

Register for afternoon session:

Discourse analysis for the social sciences 

Two-hour workshop running on Tuesday 22 August 2017 (10am - 12pm)

Organised by A/Prof Annabelle Lukin.

Co-badged with the HDR Professional Skills Program.

The use of language in society can be an important source of data and evidence in many fields of the social sciences. Many researchers in the social sciences already work with language data, either created in the research process (e.g. interviews), or sourced from natural contexts of interaction, such as media discourse (including social media), clinical consultations, political speeches, texts in law, pedagogic discourse, advertising, literature etc. This workshop will introduce some basic techniques on the use of language data in the social sciences, drawing on the growing field of “corpus linguistics”. We will look at some large publically accessible corpora (e.g. the Google Books Corpus, the Brigham Young Corpora, the British National Corpus). We will discuss the kinds of questions that can be asked of this easily accessible data. We will also review some publically available tools for basic discourse analysis, which enable us to search word frequencies and collocational patterns. Some essential concepts from linguistics – how words mean, how texts are embedded in social and cultural contexts, how linguistic form construes meaning - will be introduced to consider the enormous potential as well as the limitations of language as evidence in the social sciences.

*Please bring your own laptop to this workshop as you will be downloading free software and setting it up on your computer.

Click here to register for ‘Discourse analysis for the social sciences'

Making your science matter: Linking science with action to improve the world

Two-hour workshop running on Tuesday, October 24th (2-4 pm)


Dr. Elizabeth Madin, Macquarie University

Dr. Emily Darling, Wildlife Conservation Society

Dr. Marah Hardt, Future of Fish

Prof. Lesley Hughes, Macquarie University

Co-badged with MQU Marine Research Centre

We all want to feel like our research matters…but it is sometimes hard to know how to make it relevant to people and institutions beyond academia. How can we best make our science understood, appreciated, and perhaps even acted upon by policy-makers? These are the kinds of questions we will delve into. Inspired by the book “Escape from the Ivory Tower” by Nancy Baron, this short course will help you improve your ability to design and communicate your science to benefit the world at large.

Participant numbers will be capped (first-in secures a place).

Click here to register for ‘Making your science matter: Linking science with action to improve the world'

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