Professor Darren Halpin shares his grant-getting expertise

20 Oct 2023

Political scientist Professor Darren Halpin, Associate Dean of Research (ADR) of the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS), understands grant-getting and wants to share his knowledge.  

His research, which looks at interest groups, think tanks, corporations and lobbyists, and their connections to political representation and public policy has been funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), UK Economic and Social Research Council, Leverhulme Trust, and the British Academy. 

As chief investigator on three current ARC projects, Professor Halpin says he tries to quarantine time into each morning, after an inner-north run with his standard poodle, on "at least one of the projects, to keep them ticking over".  

And in his role as ADR at CASS, he works closely with the Research Office on developing pipelines of researchers to help maintain and extend the already strong performance of CASS in ARC funding.

"We work with researchers one-on-one and through workshops, so they know what's required in the grant development process and are fully prepared," he says. 

"We are finding that this enables them to perform the best they can in the Category 1 space, and it shows in our successful outcomes."
Professor Halpin says there's also an element of managing expectations around competitive funding.  

"It's a challenge because on the one hand we're placing expectations on people to get funding, but on the other hand, we know that it's increasingly competitive," he says. 

"Failure is part of the process, and it's about participation but of course it's also personal - it's your life's work that is being scrutinised." 

Professor Halpin completed his PhD in Australia and later did a postdoctoral fellowship in the UK. He spent nine years in Aberdeen, Scotland, and a few years in Denmark before joining the ANU, where he has been a researcher for 11 years. His academic work contributes insights in understanding how organised interests influence politics, policy and representation. 

In seeking to understand and support the diverse research undertaken in CASS more broadly, Professor Halpin has found the infrastructure dimension fascinating. He is working with Professor Ute Roessner's Research Initiatives and Infrastructure (RII) portfolio to identify HASS digital infrastructure needs. 

"We're looking at computer hardware, storage space and software that can support people who build and design virtual presentation spaces for art and collections, and for social scientists who do computationally intensive data analysis of all kinds," he says. 

As ADR, Professor Halpin says he's learned a phenomenal amount in the 18 months since taking on the role.  

"I believe that senior academics have a responsibility to contribute to building their own institutions, and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to help steer the direction of the ANU a little bit," he says.  

"It is important to take on a role like this at the right time though, because it does take bandwidth away from your research. If the research is already underway, you're better able to keep it turning over.  

"As a community minded person, with some experience in the research space to share, I'm enjoying the opportunities it brings. I'm interested in hearing what people are doing and like connecting people and creating networks. 

"I collaborate closely with other College ADRs, who are fortunately a fine bunch of people to work with. Our professional staff are also absolute rock stars and work incredibly hard. 

"I'm pleased to do my bit to ensure we fulfill the potential that we have at ANU." 

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