Urban researchers shine at RMIT Research Awards

Three researchers from the Centre for Urban Research have been recognised by RMIT University for their outstanding research contributions and industry collaboration.

Dr Larissa Nicholls and Dr Yolande Strengers from the Beyond Behaviour Change research program, and Dr Karyn Bosomworth from the Climate Change and Resilience research program from the RMIT Centre for Urban Research (CUR), have each been awarded for their excellent research contributions to the University.

CUR Director Professor Jago Dodson said he was delighted with the outstanding efforts of his colleagues and the calibre of their research have been recognised by RMIT.

“CUR has been fortunate to attract some of Australia’s best urban scholars whose contributions are dedicated to shaping new sustainable urban futures,” he said.

“Larissa, Yolande and Karyn’s award-winning research provides tangible, sustainable directions for solving major urban policy problems in partnership with industry.

“Their achievements also provide recognition of CUR as a pivotal and dynamic hub which through its research is directly responding to the globally important need to shape cities that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.”

Recipient of the 2015 Peter Harrison Memorial Prize at the State of Australian Cities Conference for her contribution to knowledge and capacity for sustainable urban development in Australia, Nicholls said she was delighted to receive the RMIT Award for Research Excellence – ECR (Enterprise).

“I am thrilled to be presented this recognition for my field of research,” she said.

Nicholls is currently leading the Heatwaves, Homes and Health study in collaboration with Strengers and Bosomworth. The research project is investigating how households are affected by hot weather, what they do to cope, and implications of electricity policy in Australia. Households and social service organisations will be interviewed in three research sites – Melbourne, Dubbo and Cairns . The study is funded by Energy Consumers Australia, a not-for-profit organisation which promotes the long-term interests of energy consumers.

“Many households experience heat stress during heatwaves and extreme heat kills more people in Australia than many other natural hazards” Nicholls said.

“Understanding the issues faced by at risk households and ensuring electricity policy recognises different needs during extreme heat is crucial in protecting vulnerable households”.

“This study will provide evidence to enable policies which support physical, emotional and financial health for heat-vulnerable households.”

Bosomworth took home one award and a grant: The Vice Chancellor’s Award for Research Impact – Early Career Researcher for her work with Victoria’s coastal Catchment Management Authorities to help them plan for a changing climate, and the Malcolm Moore Industry Research Award to work with the Goulburn Broken CMA (GBCMA) on developing and implementing their climate change plan in a rural-regional context.

“My work with Victoria’s coastal Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) applied the concept of ‘Pathways Planning’, to explore how robust current and potential management practices are across multiple possible futures, and how well they leave future options open,” Bosomworth said.

“Corangamite CMA used the concept to inform their recent Climate Change plan. The grant will help me work with all of Victoria’s CMAs, through GBCMA as the coordinator of the CMA climate change forum, in further applying and refining the approach to help implementation of their climate change plans.

“I’m very grateful for the honour, and to CUR for its consistent support of my work.”

Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award recipient Yolande Strengers was awarded the RMIT Award for Research Excellence (Enterprise) for her applied and theoretical projects with industry partners including the ANZ Bank, the energy sector and state government exploring the impacts of smart technologies in everyday life, and their energy and sustainability outcomes.

“Initiating cross-collaboration and creating strong partnerships with industry, environmental authorities and state government departments is crucial to CUR’s objective to drive impact in research and innovation,” Strengers said.

“I’m very pleased that my efforts have been recognised by RMIT.”

Nicholls, Strengers, and Bosomworth will formally receive their awards by Vice-Chancellor and President, Martin Bean CBE at the 2016 Teaching and Research Awards ceremony in November.

Story: Sharon Lee