The goal of applied research is to use research outcomes to enhance productivity or to solve a pressing issue for the industry. In reality, of course, adoption does not always happen due to various reasons. There are, however, ways to maximise the chances that research outcomes will be used in industry. In this article I will touch upon one way only, that is, the building of genuine connections between researchers and industry as a precursor for enhancing adoption of research outcomes.
A genuine connection between a researcher and industry does not happen overnight; rather it takes a sustained effort from both sides to form. But once this is achieved, a clear two-way communication channel opens up that enables industry to share the challenges it faces and the researcher to understand what is required to address those challenges. When this precedes the preparation of a research grant application, not only will the resulting project be focussed on a real industry issue, but it will also have a shared ownership between industry and the researcher, leading to outcomes that are ready for uptake.
The hurdle for young researchers is the essential firsthand experience of industry practice. This is where the Poultry CRC’s “Researcher-in-Industry” internship program comes in. This program offers grants to young researchers who are willing to spend some time with industry to learn the day-to-day operation of poultry production. Recently an application for this program was received from Dr Dana Stanley of Central Queensland University (CQU). Dr Stanley has contacted a number of egg and chicken meat operations throughout Australia and put together an extensive schedule of visits over a 6-month period, starting in April. We were very happy to support her application.
Before taking up her position as a senior lecturer at CQU, Dana was one of our postdoctoral scientists based at CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, Victoria. She started out as a biotechnologist who had little or no interest in poultry production. In fact, she had a fear of chickens. But Dana grew more interested in poultry as her postdoctoral project progressed and determined to become a poultry scientist.
Realising her phobia would block her pathway, she obtained a few backyard hens at home and slowly cured herself through gradual exposure to the birds. With strong support from her university, Dana has set up a nascent poultry research group at CQU with substantial facilities to accommodate the needs of several postgraduates working in poultry science. Now she wants to gain as much hands-on experience as she can about the ins and outs of the Australian poultry industry through her Researcher-in-Industry placements. And our industry partners are looking forward to welcoming her with open arms.
We are supporting Dana despite the fact that the Poultry CRC is winding up in three months’ time. We will help young people who are interested in the poultry industry until the end. After all, the industry has supported the Poultry CRC over the past fourteen years. Dana’s Researcher-in-Industry grant is a continuation of our efforts to produce the next generation of poultry scientists and industry leaders, adding to the 16 industry interns, 39 poultry health specialists, 77 postgraduate students, 33 honours students, and 25 postdoctoral fellows we have already supported.
We wish Dana all possible success during her Researcher-in-Industry placements and may she build lasting friendships with the farmers she will work alongside during her visits!