Exploring new research links in France

Six new grants will support research collaborations in France ranging from colonial exploration in the Pacific to an exchange of Flinders University expertise in groundwater management.

Leading Flinders researchers will undertake projects in the Britanny region of France ranging from defence, smart tech and education to primary industries and culture. Each project will provide significant benefits to Australia and France.

The new South Australia-Brittany Research Collaboration Grant projects build on a number of other Flinders University French connections, including defence research and education agreements such as with Thales and ENSTA Bretagne announced in May 2018 during President Macron’s visit to Australia.

“The opportunities presented by these new grants help pull the global spotlight onto core areas of our research excellence,” says Flinders University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint.

“It’s another key incidence of Flinders forging strong links with leading institutions and industries around the world, to ride at the forefront of discoveries that make a difference in our world.”

From the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, maritime history expert Dr Danielle Clode will join Dr Christele Maizonniaux to explore the historical and literary relationship between Australia and France during early European exploration of the Pacific.

They will focus on how this exploration was represented in French literature by writers such as Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea), Pierre Loti and Robert-Martin Lesuire.

This research will focus on Brittany because of the Breton origin of explorers such as Kerguelen, writers such as Verne and fictional characters created by Pierre Loti.

From the College of Science and Engineering, new research relationships will be developed by Flinders Associate Professor Sophie Leterme and Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen, both working across smart tech and primary industries.

Dr Gardner-Stephen’s engagement with ENSTA Bretagne came directly from meetings facilitated during ENSTA Bretagne’s visit to Flinders University in May, as part of French Day on campus.

In the defence-smart tech field, Centre for Maritime Engineering, Control and Imaging director Professor Karl Sammut will further Flinders’ development of autonomous maritime vehicles, spending time with Thales in Brest as well as at the leading Graduate School of Engineering ENSTA Bretagne.

During the collaboration, he also will work with CELADON,  an association of leading industry and academic institutions that operates land-based and marine facilities adjacent to the French Naval Academy in Brest, France.

Flinders became the first institution outside of France to join CELADON, in July 2018.

Meanwhile Professor Peter Cook, from Flinders’ National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, will travel to France in June next year, to continue existing collaborations in researching surface water-groundwater interaction, and to explore other areas related to water management with researchers at CNRS and University of Rennes.

“Groundwater is an important resource in South Australia, sustaining agriculture and viticulture – and understanding the link between groundwater and rivers is vital for protecting the River Murray and its riparian ecosystems,” says Professor Cook.

“Developing research projects to understanding groundwater flow along faults is likely to be important for understanding and managing impacts of unconventional gas developments.”

Existing Flinders research relationships will be expanded through the new grant program, including College of Medicine and Public Health Professor Colin MacDougall‘s work in health education.

Professor MacDougall, an executive committee member of the Flinders University Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, researches healthy public policy, the social studies of childhood, as well as the relationship between public health and climate change.

The SA-Brittany Research Collaboration Grant program, funded by the Office of French Strategy in the State Government’s Department of the Premier and Cabinet via the International Education team in the Department of State Development, is now managed by International Education at Department for Trade, Tourism and Investment.

Other partner universities include Conseil Régional de Bretagne (Rennes), Universite Bretagne Occidentale, BREST University and Station Biologique Roscoff.

Activities surrounding the South Australia-Brittany Research Collaboration Grant’s six recipients will complement other recent beneficial opportunities that Flinders University students have enjoyed in France, with Nicolas Baudin Internships providing placements for 10 Flinders students with leading French companies, industry partners such as Naval Group, Cementys, Semofi and Thales, for between three and six months.

Titouan Le Marec. a student from ENSTA ParisTech University, during his attachment with the Flinders University Centre for Maritime Engineering, Control and Imaging at Tonsley earlier this year.
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