La Trobe third for research in Victoria

La Trobe University has been confirmed as one of the nation’s leading research universities, climbing to third in Victoria, based on the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) 2012 report.

La Trobe third in researchLa Trobe is the top ranked institution in the nation for research in Microbiology and equal top with just one other University in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and in Veterinary Sciences. Historical Studies and Archaeology were also both assessed at the top ranking, highlighting the University’s renowned strength in humanities.

La Trobe has nine fields of research rated ‘well above’ world standard in specific disciplines (4 digit level), second only to Melbourne and Monash Universities, and ahead of Deakin with five, RMIT and Victoria University with three, and Swinburne with two.  This represents a 200 per cent increase since 2010, when La Trobe recorded three fields of research at this maximum rating.

The ERA 2012 report shows La Trobe University has made very significant improvements over the past two years, with the number of fields of research in specific disciplines rated at world standard or above (ERA 3 – 5) rising by 31 per cent, from 29 to 38 in 2012. The increase in the publications rated at ‘well above’ world standard is even more impressive, from about 400 to about 1800, an increase of more than 300%.

Again, La Trobe’s results in specific disciplines rated at world standard or above place it second only to Melbourne and Monash Universities in Victoria.

Vice Chancellor, Professor John Dewar, said the results were demonstration of La Trobe’s ongoing commitment to research in the University’s key areas of strength.

‘In La Trobe’s fields of speciality, such as Science, Health Sciences and Humanities, we are well above world standard,’ said Professor Dewar.

‘Our research strength will further increase in coming years as we deliver our Future Ready strategic plan, under which we will invest even more in key research focus areas we have identified for their ability to address the big social and environmental issues of our time,’ he said.

‘It is very pleasing to see that the major investment by the Government and University in infrastructure such as our new Centre for AgriBiosciences and Institute for Molecular Science facilities is already paying research dividends. This will further strengthen the Victorian Biosciences Precinct based at the University. ’

Both the $288 million AgrioBio, Centre for Agribiosciences and the $94m La Trobe Institute of Molecular Sciences (LIMS) will be opened in early 2013.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Tim Brown, said the results demonstrate that La Trobe University is an excellent place for aspiring, early career and established researchers in many different fields, including applied research.

‘La Trobe can be confident in the future on the basis of strength clearly demonstrated.’

Professor Brown said La Trobe’s improved results confirmed the wisdom of the Australian Research Council in allowing universities to more accurately portray their research in this round of ERA assessment.

‘La Trobe welcomes the change to the ERA rules which previously limited the fields of research under which journal articles were assessed. The new rules permit a much more accurate portrayal of La Trobe’s strengths.’

The top ranking areas of research that have risen over 2010 ratings include: Analytical Chemistry (moved from a 3-5), Microbiology (4 to a 5), Physiology (3-4), Zoology (2-4), Nursing (3-5), Applied Economics (2-3), Banking, Finance and Investment (2-3), Business and Management (2-3), Anthropology (2-3), Sociology (2-3), Journalism and Professional Writing (2-3), Archaeology (4-5), and Historical Studies (4-5).

The results include several fields of research that were not assessed in 2010, including Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing (3), Information Systems (3), Other Medical and Health Sciences (5), and Transportation and Freight Services (3).

Professor Brown said that the results underscored the rationale behind the Future Ready plans to invest in the five research focus areas of securing food, water and the environment; sport, exercise and rehabilitation; understanding disease; building healthy communities; and population movement and human security.

‘What we stand for is producing research that has positive and lasting impacts on society at all levels, and with that aim in mind we target our resources very carefully to maximise outcomes,’ said Professor Brown.

The strong ERA results follow the recent announcement that La Trobe University has received about $6.4 million in this year’s funding allocations from both the National Health & Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Leading La Trobe researchers also play key roles in major ARC and NH&MRC studies funded at other universities. This work ranges from multi-scale imaging of biological structures and how these structures function, to ‘sub-nanometer’ imaging and fabrication for material science.

Through Future Ready, La Trobe University is aiming to affirm its place as one of the top three universities in Victoria, and regain its place as one of the top 12 in Australia, and one of the top 300 internationally.

Mark Pearce

Director, Media and Communications
Phone: +61 3 9479 5246