01:27am Friday 18 October 2019

Virtual connections help tackle population ageing

ERA seminar

An ERA seminar in progress.

Bringing together over 20 universities in Australia and New Zealand, the Emerging Researchers in Ageing (ERA) initiative is using the latest video-conferencing technology to allow real-time interaction between PhD students and key stakeholders in the ageing field through a series of virtual seminars.

ERA founder, and Pro Vice-Chancellor and President of Monash University’s Gippsland campus, Professor Helen Bartlett, said the ERA initiative was specifically established to build capacity in ageing research, with the virtual seminars designed to increase the exposure of doctoral students to their peers from other disciplines, leading researchers and policy-makers.  

“By making it easier for students to connect with each other and directly access research and policy leaders in ageing, we not only showcase the emerging talent, but also increase students’ understanding of how to maximise the quality and impact of their research.

“In the past, cost and distance have limited students’ opportunities to expand their networks, access experts and develop collaborations. This is especially concerning in Australia where it is vital to ensure sufficient talent is harnessed to address the challenges of population ageing,” said Professor Bartlett.

While the virtual seminars have been running for some time, the commitment made by Monash University’s e-Solutions group and other collaborating universities has enabled the series to be delivered in a larger number of university settings, including regional and rural communities.

“This is a real success story in using the latest technology to bring together so many people from so many different universities,” said Ms Pam Miller, manager of video conferencing at Monash University.

“We are now able to connect the IT systems of universities around Australia and across the Tasman, and do so with a level of quality that allows over 70 PhD students in 20 different locations to seamlessly interact with each other.”

Ms Miller said the ERA virtual seminars were the largest regular interactive networking series she had come across, and would be further extended to include additional countries in the coming months.

“Our aim is to ultimately develop the technology to allow any PhD student – regardless of their location – to participate in the virtual seminars, and have the ability to directly engage with peers and leading researchers and policymakers in ageing from across Australia and internationally.”

The ERA virtual seminar on Thursday 31 August features a discussion between Deputy Secretary for the Department of Health and Ageing, Ms Rosemary Huxtable PSM, and Professor Helen Bartlett, on the current agenda for ageing research, and the interface between researchers and policymakers.

Monash University.

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