2017 CSRC Seed-funding Research Grant Scheme

Successful Applicants

Dr Xianbi Huang, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, ASSC

Project Title: Social Networks and Subjective Wellbeing in China: A Qualitative Investigation

Research Project Summary

Remediating social wellbeing is increasingly a major objective of social development set by the United Nations and many countries. Social scientists and policy makers have recognised that people’s family, friendship and other social connections matter for their social wellbeing. However, it remains unclear why networks are important and what kinds of positive and negative effects they might have on subjective wellbeing such as life satisfaction and happiness. Extant research has also been confined to developed countries. This project conducts in-depth interviews to investigate the processes and mechanisms through which social networks affect subjective wellbeing in China, aiming to produce new empirical data, enrich the study of Chinese guanxi networks, and contribute evidence-based findings from the largest developing country to the global academic literature. This project has significant policy implications and provides practical insights to inform governments and community organisations for program design and delivery in areas relating to social wellbeing.

Dr Jasvir Kaur Nachatar Singh, Early Career Development Fellow, Business School, ASSC

Project Title: Exploration of Employability Experiences of La Trobe Alumni in China

Research Project Summary

International students from China seek international education primarily to add value and improve their employment opportunities. The recent trend shows that Chinese international students are returning to their home country for mainly professional and personal purposes. Little is known about La Trobe alumni’s  employability experiences and employment prospects in China. This project seeks to understand and explore La Trobe alumni employment experiences with a particular focus on how is  human capital (knowledge, skills and know-how) and global citizenship skills are applied in  their workplaces and how alumni are navigating their international networks (social capital) in their positions at workplace when they return home to China. This project will contribute theoretical and empirical understanding of these employment trends, while also providing recommendations to enhance post-repatriation programs, strengthening alumni international networks with Australia and facilitating employability skills of Chinese alumni to match the needs of Chinese employment practices and policies.

(Final approval of this grant is subject to Ethics Committee's approval)

In addition, the following grant was also approved:

CSRC Targeted Seed Funding for Cross-College Interdisciplinary / Multidisciplinary Signature Research Theme Projects (2017)

Dr Ruth Gamble, David Myers Research Fellow, La Trobe University

Dr Samantha Grover, Research Fellow, Department of Animal, Plant and Soil Sciences, La Trobe University

Project Title: Bridging Scientific and Local Knowledge on Tibetan-Plateau Wetlands

Research Project Summary

Most of Asia’s largest rivers descend from the Tibetan Plateau, and almost half of the world’s population lives in its watershed. But this watershed is under threat from climate change and increased human activity. One of the least understood but most valuable parts of this water system is the Tibetan Plateau’s wetlands, which include extensive peatlands. The proposed project will work with government, NGO and industry partners to establish community-based, peatland conservation programs in Sershul County (Ch. 石渠县 Shiqu Xian), Sichuan, China, on the headwaters of the Yangtze River. The researchers developing this program will combine scientific assessments of the region with investigations of its environmental history and sacred geography. This inter-disciplinary approach will establish ways indigenous knowledge about the Plateau can be used as a source of information for scientists and, conversely, as a tool to explain and contextualise scientific and historical data.

Learning Analytics for Chinese Language and Cyber Security

Dr Paul Watters Associate Professor in Cybersecurity School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, College of SHE

Research Project Summary:

Learning analytics is an emerging discipline which is of significant interest to universities and the corporate sector, since it can provide timely feedback on student engagement and success, and also predict - very early during a course - whether a student is likely to succeed. Two areas are of key interest to researchers at La Trobe University and Nanjing Normal University: (1) online Chinese language learning, and (2) cybersecurity awareness and training. These two areas are of critical mutual interest during the 21st Century to both nations, given the trade relationship. This joint research programme will focus on developing core algorithms in learning analytics, and implementations which can be plugged into common Learning Management Systems, such as Moodle. The research programme will also engage with external partners, such as the Confucius Institute (for Chinese language learning) and the Anti Phishing Working Group's "Stop Think Connect" awareness programme for cybersecurity.

Chasing the dragon: deploying a robotic lizard to assess signal function in a Chinese lizard

Richard Peters, School of Life Sciences, College of SHE

Research Project Summary:

Territorial behaviour in animals arises when animals compete for an area of space that contains valuable resources. In many species, contests begin with an exchange of signals that are often sufficient to resolve the dispute. The Qinghai toad-headed agama are dragon lizards from China that compete for ownership of burrows. These resources are so important for survival that females engage in territorial behaviour to the equal of males, which is unusual in lizards and makes this species particularly informative. Burrows are defended using tail displays that presumably encode information about signaller quality, but the details of these relationships are not known for this species, or for dragon species worldwide. Manipulative field experiments are required but existing methods are unsuitable. We will develop robotic lizards to provide new knowledge of the link between motion signal structure and signaller quality and develop new technology that will have broad appeal.

The Power of Healing: New Political Histories of Chinese Herbalists in Victoria, 1890-1930

Nadia Rhook, Lecturer, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of ASSC

Research Project Summary:

The history of medicine in Australia has often been imagined as the exclusive domain of British and Australian-born white men. From the 1850s gold rushes, however, Chinese practitioners were part of the daily fabric of health and medical practice, and remained so even after the 1901 institution of the White Australia Policy effectively limited Chinese immigration. This research will challenge historic and contemporary stereotypes about Chinese doctors as ‘quack’ herbalists. Drawing on local stories from across Victoria, and thinking through and beyond the herbal, it aims to map the political history of Chinese practitioners, and memories thereof. It will survey the activities of Chinese practitioners in the urban and regional centres of Melbourne, Bendigo, Ballarat and Ararat, from the mid to late 19th century. Doing so, it will identify the strategies by which Chinese medical practitioners wielded power in regional Victorian communities.

Self-medication behavior and its influence factors: an empirical study in China

Heng (Jason) Jiang, School of Psychology and Public Health, College of SHE

Research Project Summary:

Self-medication is the selection and use of medicines by individuals to treat self-recognized conditions, which has a rapidly increasing trend in China over the last decade. Reasonable self-medication allows a patient to take responsibility and build confidence in managing their own health, save time in waiting for the doctor, reduce treatment burden in facilities and medical costs. However, it may increase certain risks such as incorrect self-diagnosis, delays in seeking medical advice when needed, drug resistance and interaction, use of excessive drug dosage, adverse drug reaction and polypharmacy. The present study is to evaluate self-medication practice and its associated factors, by using cluster sampling method, through questionnaire survey on residents from four districts in Wuhan City, China. The findings of this proposed study will provide key research evidence and suggestions in order to inform health policy and medication practice to reduce related risks of self-medication among Chinese residents.

An Ethnocentric view of graduate skills and employability: the experience of Chinese learners

Associate Professor Clare D'Souza, Business/ASSC

Research Project Summary:

The intended aim of this project is to identify the global employability skills required of business students, to work effectively in China. The aim of this creative and innovative project proposal is to adopt a theoretically robust means to examine and describe what these global graduate employability skills are, including soft and hard skills, cultural competencies and work readiness. The collection of data will be conducted through interviewing a sample of employers located in China and comparing La Trobe University’s Business curriculum program and graduate capabilities with our Chinese partner universities. China has been selected given that China continues to be the largest single nation contributor to the international student population in Australia. The outcome of this research will inform our understanding of intercultural aptitudes, formal and informal curricula, pedagogy and other approaches for the delivery and development of graduate global employability skills. These skills can then be embedded not only into future Business degree programs but also across programs across the University to better prepare our students for the global employability market.