Cartier Masthead Final Weeks

Crowdfunding change for female academics

Morgan Alexander

Any mother will testify that caring for a family is a full-time job.

Anyone involved in research will swear that academia is also intense, constant and exhausting. These four women are doing both.

Academics at the University of Canberra, these busy women are currently spreading the word about their research. Their interests—both professional and personal—are diverse, from cultural heritage, health care and education to martial arts, wine and enjoying Canberra’s abundant nature. Essentially, they represent the everyday superwoman.

We chatted to them about the research they are now conducting and the crowdfunding they hope will help them achieve their research’s goals.

Louise Curham


Louise works at the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research. Her research deals with cultural heritage and preservation, specifically within archives and re-enactment in contemporary art. In modern society, we are increasingly relying on digital landscapes and archives to document all types of artefacts.

Louise is examining the gap in contemporary art between artwork and digitalisation. Digitising contemporary artworks is not always successful, as Louise found in her research case study. Instead, the importance of ‘bodies’ emerges from the research.

“We need to do some of this ‘passing on’ in person, from one artist to another,” Louise explains. “To make things live on, there is an important person-to-person element. This is not to say we don’t need the digital, we do and it’s done amazing stuff to make things accessible and to make them circulate, but to get the nuance and the sense of custodianship and an ethical relationship with the past, person-to-person relationships are important.”

Kasia Bail


When Kasia isn’t drumming in the rock band Knights of Spatchcock, instructing Kung Fu, or enjoying the fresh air with her family, she’s busy with research as an Assistant Professor of Nursing. Earlier this year Kasia earned her PhD, and is currently investigating the quality of care for elderly hospital patients.

Now that humans are living longer, later-life medical care is increasingly complicated by multiple patient conditions. Kasia has found that hospital data is often inadequate and that ‘simple’ yet fundamental services provided by hospital nursing staff are often underappreciated in these cases. She hopes to use her research to reframe nursing as an essential intervention that improves patient care.

“We have a fantastic health care system in Australia,” Kasia says. “We should feel very lucky, but as a nurse it distresses me that there is suffering in the vulnerable older populations in hospitals that could be prevented… I want to work to reduce unnecessary suffering.”

Shara Ranasinghe

Shara’s research is intimately tied to her personal history as a cancer survivor. She is a member of the Faculty of Arts and Design, specialising—and teaching—in communication and health psychology. Just starting work on her PhD, Shara analyses cancer patient dissatisfaction and hopes to provide productive solutions to improve the quality of care. She is particularly interested in the dynamics of Patient-Centred Communication (PCC) between cancer patients, health-care professionals and patient carers.

Shara’s own experiences inform this interest. “What I did encounter in theory and experience is that PCC is generally focused on a two-way relationship (dyad) between the doctor and patient,” she explains. “I’m suggesting that proper PCC for cancer patients should be a three-way relationship (triad) between the health professional, cancer patient and carer.”

With this research, Shara hopes to propose a “new direction for PCC for cancer patients”—in Australia and abroad—and provide “hope to fight the battle” to patients and their carers. The new direction would ease communication and understanding between all three parties involved, facilitating a difficult process.

Tessa Daffern



Tessa is currently researching alternatives to standard spelling tests in primary school education, an assessment she argues “are inadequate and often overused.” Having previously attained her PhD, this research builds on Tessa’s doctoral thesis, which found that spelling is more fundamental to literacy and writing ability than other branches of linguistics such as grammar.

As a part of her research, Tessa developed an “innovative diagnostic spelling assessment tool.” This is essentially a new and improved spelling test, targeting spelling instruction for students to address their unique struggles. Such individualised assessment will hopefully “boost children’s literacy skills.” Tessa has trialled the tool in schools and it is now being translated into an online resource for teachers.


These women are currently seeking crowdfunding to continue their research. You can support them at the links below.

Louise Curham:

Kasia Bail:

Shara Ranasinghe:

Tessa Daffern:


Morgan Alexander

Morgan is passionate about both writing and social and environmental issues. She believes media, by uniting these in a publically accessible way, can be a powerful tool for creating awareness and change. Currently a student at ANU, studying human rights, development studies and international relations, Morgan also works at the ANU Student Media newspaper Woroni. She treasures her family and friends, cooks to relieve stress, and can’t get enough of her pets. When not huddled in a library trying to figure out life, she also enjoys yoga, running, music, reading, and movies. More about the Author