News story 14th Dec 2015

Dr Barrington to attend HOPE Nobel Laureates meeting

Dr Dani Barrington, research fellow in the Department of Marketing, will attend the 8th annual meeting of HOPE Nobel Laureates, to be held in Japan in March 2016.

The Australian Academy of Science only selects six Early Career Researchers (ECR) to represent Australia at the HOPE meeting.

Dani Barrington in the Solomon Islands

"I first submitted my application to the Monash Research Office in August. The office selected two candidates from Monash to send through to the Australian Academy of Science, who confirmed my selection as one of the six ECRs," Dr Barrington said.

That wasn't it though. The application still needed to be approved by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

"I got the exciting news that the Society approved my application in November."

As part of the application, Dr Barrington had to submit an abstract of what she would share in Japan.

"I decided to focus on the interdisciplinary nature of WaSH (water, sanitation and hygiene), inspired by my own experiences with my great research team, covering the areas of marketing, engineering, public health and environmental science disciplines," she explained.

In her submission, Dr Barrington discussed how a multidisciplinary approach to WaSH issues is a must as otherwise, "achieving universal WaSH will continue to elude us." Dr Barrington is a multidisciplinary researcher herself, too. A WaSH engineer, she is now a research fellow jointly appointed by the Department of Marketing and the International WaterCentre.

"Through the Sustainable Development Goals we have set ourselves the daunting task to, by 2030, ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. The only way to achieve this is for social scientists and engineers to come together to work on a resolution," she argued.

"That is why we look at a holistic approach to tackling the WaSH problems experienced in developing communities."

Our aim is to put hygiene and sanitation in the hands of village entrepreneurs. Because without local buy-in, simply providing amenities – be it a reticulated water supply or toilets – won't work.

Dr Dani Barrington

Dr Barrington's research focuses on how technology, community-led programs and public policy come together to improve the health and wellbeing outcomes in developing countries.

"We are working with communities to find out what their WaSH aspirations are. This 'participatory action research' will hopefully assist people with the development of sustainable WaSH practices and policies which will benefit these communities and countries in the long-run."

The resulting WaSH solutions are therefore based on the processes and technologies that best suit the conditions of that particular community.

HOPE aims to advance science and technology within the Asia-Pacific and Africa region, and foster talented young researchers who work on cross-disciplinary projects. Find out more on the HOPE website.

Dr Dani Barrington was awarded a prestigious Tall Poppy Award in September 2015.