by Stephen Gray
Here we are, roughly a third of the way through 2021 and also at about the mid-point of CLEX’s seven-year lifecycle. Many of you will no doubt be aware we were formally reviewed by the ARC in the second half of last year and the review findings were delivered early this year.

The review contained much that was positive – particularly around the quality and volume of research that CLEX has been delivering and of our structures and processes that help the centre to be cohesive and effective. A theme running through the report is that we need to do a better job at demonstrating ways that our research can make a difference “in the real world”. You’ll see a range of initiatives arising from this recommendation so that CLEX can meet its mandate to have societal impact and engagement in a focused and effective way. A decent amount of what has been suggested is activity that has already been taking place, but sometimes in an ad hoc way or not fully captured by our current reporting categories in Cle(v)er. So, in the coming months, you’ll start to see some changes to the existing Cle(v)er data entry forms and some new ones emerging to align with emerging areas of centre activity and focus.

As always it was wonderful to be a part of the recent virtual induction for new students in the centre. It’s encouraging that even in the face of the challenges of a global pandemic there’s a strong cohort of new students embarking on ambitious research projects at our five universities and connecting with peers via CLEX. As was repeatedly mentioned in the induction meeting, welcome to the Centre and take advantage of all that CLEX has to offer throughout your candidature.

In the meantime, there’s plenty of CLEX activity that you can become involved in. A very good place to start is to find out who the ECR Committee representatives are at your node and to get to know them. Likewise, ECR reps, your pro-active kindness in saying hi to new students and postdocs is always highly appreciated. I hope to visit each of the nodes in coming months and to meet everyone without the intermediary of a screen.

Speaking of node visits, now that interstate travel restrictions have largely eased, it might be timely to consider whether your research would benefit from spending some quality time with colleagues at one of the other CLEX universities or at one of our partner organisations. Our extensive use of Zoom and other virtual platforms has been very successful in connecting people, but there’s also substantial benefit to in-person connection with colleagues. These might include working with a co-supervisor on a particular problem, collaborating with others in your field, extending your network and exposure to a whole different set of water cooler conversations. The first step (as with most things) is to speak with your supervisor about useful opportunities.