Staff spotlight on: Dr Anna Bennett
At the beginning of this year, Dr Anna Bennett was appointed Head of Research Engagement and Development within the English, Language and Foundation Studies Centre (ELFSC) at the University of Newcastle (UON), which has a rich history of programs that have provided 40,000 students with access to enabling education for over 43 years
Dr Bennett works closely with ELFSC Director, Associate Professor Seamus Fagan, and the newly appointed Research Manager, Dr Jo Hanley, to increase the research capacity of ELFSC.
“The establishment of research leadership and development is particularly important for ELFSC because up until 2010, staff were employed on sessional teaching-only contracts. Since then, new cohorts of academic staff have been appointed and research structures and frameworks are required," explained Dr Bennett.
"The first research plan was implemented in 2013, which culminated in our publication rate becoming comparable to some of the established schools at UON that have a long history of research culture, leadership, resourcing, mentoring and other support. During this time, we have also become successful in gaining substantial amounts of research funding for projects important to issues of access and participation in higher education,” she added.
“As ELFSC spans multiple discipline areas (from physics to sociology), our researchers continue to produce important discipline-specific scholarship and to conduct research about issues of access and participation in higher education,” she said.
One of Dr Bennett’s key goals is to further develop the Open Access Journal, International Studies in Widening Participation.
“The journal was first established in 2013 and, in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE), attracts papers of international significance and importance,” Dr Bennett said.
Associate Professor Marie-Pierre Moreau from the University of Roehampton (UK) and Dr Nadine Zacharias from Deakin University will join Anna as incoming editors, with the next issue due to be published mid-May. A special issue dedicated to Writing for Widening Participation Practitioners will also be published in December in partnership with the Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning Journal (UK).
Dr Bennett has been instrumental in establishing new activities to enhance the research profile of ELFSC as a national leader in enabling program provision, evaluation and research.
“This year ELFSC staff are participating in regular CEEHE activities and events and some staff have been successful in securing funding as part of the ETEHE grant scheme designed to enhance pedagogy, widening participation practice and research at UON. Research seminars, tailored workshops and the establishment of a small grant programme are all important new aspects of support offered to our staff,” Dr Bennett said.