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$3 million research boost to support ideas and innovation in WA

31 July 2020

The Forrest Research Foundation has today announced a new $3 million Prospect Fellowship Program to bring Australia and New Zealand’s brightest recent PhD graduates to Western Australia to continue their ground-breaking research.

The program supports the research and innovation Australia needs to prosper in a post-COVID-19 world, when funding for early career research is increasingly uncertain.

The new program will boost Australia’s research community, with 22 early career researchers to be accepted as Prospect Fellows at any of WA’s five universities –  UWA, Curtin, Murdoch, ECU and Notre Dame. It will also drive innovation and collaboration with business, government and the not-for-profit sector.

Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel welcomed the Forrest Research Foundation’s investment in the Prospect Fellowship Program.

“Our early career researchers are the engine behind our research effort and require our support and nurturing,” Dr Finkel said.

“A recent report prepared by the Rapid Research Information Forum has shown these emerging research stars are amongst the cohort at the highest risk of having their employment impacted by COVID-19.”

The Forrest Research Foundation was established in 2014, by Andrew and Nicola Forrest through their Minderoo Foundation. Minderoo Research Chair Fiona David said new funding was important, particularly for women and minorities.

“We are seeing concerning signs that women, early-career researchers and recent graduates are being disproportionately affected,” Ms David said.

“Diversity is key to innovation and productivity. Having worked hard for decades to build up diversity in the research pipeline, we cannot let COVID set us back now. This funding will provide a vital boost for the research economy in WA and across Australia.”

UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Amit Chakma said the generous investment from the Forrest Research Foundation would allow the Prospect Fellows to help solve some of the world’s most complex challenges.

“It’s vital that we support our young people and harness their skills, ideas and enthusiasm to develop new ways of improving the world in which we live,” Professor Chakma said.

“UWA is delighted to be a part of this program and we look forward to welcoming talented, inspiring young researchers to Perth and helping them develop research and their skill set.”

The Prospect Fellowship program will be aligned with  Western Australia’s Science and Innovation Framework. It will focus on leveraging WA’s unique strengths and assets in high-impact areas such as emerging technologies, natural resources, marine science, agriculture, health, environment, and arts and culture.

For more information about the Fellowships visit Applications are open until 26 August 2020. Candidates must have completed and passed their PhD since 1 Jan 2019.