Australian Council of Graduate Research celebrates excellence in research training

The annual ACGR Awards for Excellence in Graduate Research Education shine a spotlight on exemplary graduate research supervisors, leaders and programs. Established in 2017, these awards publicly promote outstanding performance in higher degree research supervision, leadership and industry engagement. ACGR Convenor, Professor Sue Berners-Price said, at last year’s awards that: “Graduate research supervision in Australia is constantly evolving and the Council is pleased to be able to showcase some of the excellent supervisory practice in Australia and hence the quality of the research training system in Australia.”

Nominations for the following 2019 Awards are now open and will close on 1 March 2019 :

Winners of each award will be publicly recognised at the ACGR Dinner in Brisbane on 2 May  2019 and featured on the ACGR website. Each will also receive a grant of $3000  and an invitation to attend a forthcoming ACGR national meeting in the following 12 months.

Full details of eligibility, application process and selection criteria are detailed here.


2018  ACGR Award for Excellence in
Graduate Research Leadership
Associate Professor Pia Ednie-Brown, RMIT

Professor Ednie-Brown’s leadership in Graduate Research Education  is in the maturing area of Creative Research Practice. Her role as Practice Research Symposia Director since 2016 supports her schools HDR culture and intellectual community. Two major symposia each year run for 5 days each and bring together candidates, supervisors, external supervisors and industry stakeholders, hosting up to 12 examinations and presentations and 90 + progress or milestone presentations, a keynote, workshops and a conference dinner. Through an OLT grant, she coordinated the 2016 and 2017 symposia which involved candidates and supervisors from 13 other universities.​

Professor Ednie-Brown has also initiated discursive sessions, workshops on supervisor techniques, candidates involved in international research collaborations and many more activities that have benefited candidates and the wider creative practice research community.

Professor Ednie –Brown was also part of a cross institutional OLT project iDARE which developed new approaches to ethics and research integrity training through challenges posed by creative research practice and has developed a suite of entirely new course material and initiated significant online and face to face developments in the coursework requirements for creative practice candidates.​

Another achievement is the development of the Practice Research Portal ( And in mid 2013 Professor Ednie-Brown introduced a new HDR selection process for her school – the “pre-application presentation” which offers an effective support mechanism for supervisors in considering new candidates.

This is just a short snapshot of her contributions and achievements … the list goes on ….

2018  ACGR Award for Excellence in
Graduate Research Supervision
Professors Kim Bennell and Rana Hinman
and Mr Tim Wrigley The University of Melbourne

Not only do Professors Bennell and Hinman and Mr Wrigley achieve excellent outcomes for their students through a thoughtful and well executed strategy for support and career development, they also provide extensive mentoring and support to less experienced supervisors, enabling and building a culture of excellence in supervision at the University and beyond.

Collectively they lead the Musculoskeletal Research Program in the Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine (CHESM) and collectively have completed 52 RHD students (28 PhD) from numerous disciplines (eg. physiotherapy, medicine, podiatry, exercise science, engineering) and countries (eg. Australia, USA, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, China). Their core supervisory model is team-based whereby students are supervised either by the three of them together or by pairs, depending on the research topic. Using this team model, they have supervised 13 Research Higher Degrees (RHDs, 11 PhD) to completion. Individually, they have also supervised many other students with different internal/external supervisors, determined by student and research needs

CHESM team includes physiotherapists, biomechanists, podiatrists, exercise scientists, engineers & doctors and additional supervisors from within CHESM are used to form supervisory panels relevant to a student’s thesis topic and  students are exposed to a vast array of research projects & design methodologies (eg lab-based biomechanical measures, qualitative studies, clinical trials, surveys, clinical guideline development etc), not just those of their supervisors.

All students supervised by this team have completed within 4-years and all theses were passed without revisions or with minor revisions.  The students have averaged 6 peer-reviewed journal articles each during their PhD candidature, all of which include one or supervisors as co-authors. And many have won awards for their PhD work.

2018 ACGR Award for Excellence in
Promoting Industry Engagement in Graduate Research
Professor Vito Mollica, Macquarie University

Professor Mollica came to academia from an industry background and almost all of his research has been in collaboration with industry partners. He truly believes that in this field of research, working on real- world problems is essential. Since 2012, he has had 6 HDR completions, all fully engaged and sponsored by industry. Currently, he leads a team of 5 HDR candidates under his direct supervision and oversees a CRC based PhD program comprising over 46 PhD students, all fully funded by industry to the tune of $2.3M per annum.

Professor Mollica says that one of his most fundamental goals is to create opportunities for HDR students to be exposed to and integrated into the research community, and also to expand their employment prospects. He aims to provide his students with the best possible platform to further build their careers beyond their HDR studies to the business community and to the higher education sector. This is evidenced by his development of research programs including (1) Management Consulting Research— A Living Case Study and (2) Master of Research; international collaboration agreements; and broad communication of research findings.

On top of this since 2012,  Professor Mollica has been Director of HDR at MGSM. This role involves significant effort in delivery of HDR commencement programs, supervisor coordination, pastoral care and strategic direction for the faculty.

He is truly an asset to Macquarie University, the industries with which he partners and the candidates that he supports and supervises.