Outstanding research is a critical foundation of an innovative and prosperous modern society. In 2018 UWA academics continued to achieve excellence; research output as journal papers per academic again increased faster than the Group of Eight average, and with a greater proportion of high-quality articles.

The excellence of our publications is evidenced by our citations metrics remaining strong, and by the world-class highly cited researchers that UWA boasts.

Consequently, UWA remains in the top 100 position in the global rankings of Academic Ranking of World Universities (93), Quacquarelli Symonds (91) and US News & World (81), with continued improvement in the National Taiwan University (123) ranking.

At UWA our world-leading researchers tackle global, national and regional issues to make the world a better place. Research at UWA is characterised by quality and diversity.

On climate change, Petra Tschakert and Neville Ellis found the impact of 1.5 degrees of climate change will vary greatly at regional scales, with some places impacted little, and others impacted catastrophically. Verena Schoepf, Malcolm McCulloch and Ryan Lowe found that tropical reef systems are suffering from shorter intervals between bouts of coral bleaching, which does not bode well for the global coral reef systems.

A new international partnership between UWA and the Australia-China Council will advance research into the world’s most common infection that is the main cause of stomach ulcers. In July 2018, exceptional Chinese medical scientists worked alongside world-leading bacterium researchers at the Helicobacter Research Laboratory in Perth as a result of funding from the Australia-China Council and UWA.

The Noisy Guts Project (The Marshall Centre, School of Biomedical Sciences), winner of the 2018 WA Innovator of the Year award (Emerging Category) with Mary Webberly recognised as the 2018 CSIRO Breakthrough Female Scientist, uses a patented acoustic belt around the stomach to record and analyse gut noises. This wearable artificial intelligence recognises patterns, providing unique insight into what is happening inside the gut.

The Social Impact Festival, run by the Centre for Social Impact, included more than 40 events during July, designed to spark discussion and ideas for solutions to complex social issues, challenge existing perceptions and motivate people to make a difference.

Thanks to $1.75 million from Lotterywest, the lives and experiences of 100 families will be followed over time in the 100 Families Project to examine the causes of entrenched disadvantage, its impact and the factors that positively contribute to exit from deep entrenched poverty.

Archaeology was brought to life in the docu-drama Shipwreck Psycho, recounting one of the worst mass murders in Australian history, and retold in gruesome detail by Alistair Paterson to bring Western Australia’s history to life.

There has been a focus on Indigenous law at UWA’s School of Indigenous Studies in 2018, with a number of activities being offered to the public and university communities and culminating in the 2018 National Indigenous Legal Conference. The Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention has convened the second World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference.

This conference encouraged indigenous nations worldwide to research and share cultural norms and realities.

This year, Mandy Ridley confirmed the social intelligence hypothesis in magpies. The demands of social life do indeed drive cognition, which is good news for university students and birds alike. In agriculture, a global team has shown that narrow-leafed lupins can provide alternative therapies for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory-related diseases.

Major new investment by the Commonwealth Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) will see investment through nine capabilities at UWA, including three at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis. This will include significant benefit to Western Australian researchers, including the first research-dedicated human MRI and PET imaging infrastructure.

From 2018, all new PhD students will defend their theses by interactive conversation with eminent persons in their field. Viva voces confirm a high-quality PhD experience as well as open up collaborative opportunities and bring additional world-renowned researchers onto campus.

UWA research continues to be a strong and influential academic force in the Indo-Pacific region and the world, and the future is full of innovation and leadership. We look forward to the next phase of Western Australian research excellence and innovation.

Professor Robyn Owens
Deputy Vice-Chancellor