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Curtin’s research excellence recognised in national rankings

Media release

The Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2015 results have acknowledged Curtin University’s national and international reputation for research excellence.

A total of twenty six discipline areas (four-digit code Field of Research) at Curtin were ranked at four or five, above or well above world standard respectively.

The University was unsurpassed, with the highest ranking of five, in the fields of astronomical and space science; physical chemistry, geochemistry, geology, crop and pasture production; electrical and electronic engineering, medical microbiology; nursing and nutrition and dietetics. The results align with areas of key investment by the University.

Vice Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said Curtin was continuing to consolidate its position as an internationally recognised, research-intensive university that matched academic excellence to real world impact.

“The performance of Australia’s universities under the ERA 2015 shows a depth and spread of excellence across the sector that displays Australia’s capability to strongly participate in the international research arena and address global challenges,” Professor Terry said.

“For Curtin specifically, the ERA results cap off an outstanding year in research for the University.”

Over 85 per cent of assessed discipline areas were at or above world standard research. This is an increase in the overall proportion of research excellence at Curtin University from 71 per cent under the ERA 2012 round.

Curtin’s role as a lead organisation in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), through the building and operation of the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope (a precursor telescope to the SKA) and meteor research (which captured public attention and acclaim through the Fireballs in the Sky project) is demonstrated by the rapid rise in excellence in astronomical and space science. Physical chemistry underpins a range of activities from development of biomaterials through mineral processing to fuel cell development – addressing the needs of industry.

The University continues to be a leader in the “solid earth” disciplines of geology, geochemistry and geophysics, with staff capacity matched by cutting-edge and comprehensive infrastructure, and extensive national and international collaborations.

Excellence in crop and pasture production research, coupled to above world standard research in fundamental plant biology, is capitalised under the Centre for Crop and Disease Management, a bilateral alliance with the Grain Research & Development Corporation (GRDC).

Engineering continues to grow in strength across a range of disciplines with an outstanding result in electrical and electronic engineering coupled to above world standard research in chemical engineering, civil and mechanical engineering.

This academic excellence is generating industrially-relevant outcomes such as patented technologies for new fuel sources.

Curtin’s developing profile across a broad span of medical and health sciences includes highly regarded groups in palliative and supportive care nursing, wound management and pre-hospital, resuscitation and emergency care. In addition, Curtin has a comprehensive research program across nutrition and dietetics which was also ranked as well above world standard.

The ERA outcomes are aligned with Curtin’s recent advances in international ranking exercises such as the highly regarded and research focussed Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)[1]which placed Curtin at approximately 271 in the 201-300 band in 2015, up from the 301-400 band last year and the 401-500 band in 2013. In 2015 Curtin placed between 9-11th in Australia under the ARWU.

This year is the third round of the full Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessment by the Commonwealth Government which is designed to measure the excellence of research across Australian universities, by discipline.

Information, including targeted metrics, is collected for each institution by discipline on researchers, research outputs, research income, esteem and applied measures, and reviewed by internationally recognised experts. Discipline areas receive a rating on a scale of one to five, with a rating of three representing world class, and a rating of five indicating that the research is well above world standard.