Griffith University researchers are among Australia’s most prominent voices of the COVID-19 pandemic according to a new media impact report from the Australian Science Media Centre.
Griffith ranked in the top 10 universities mentioned in leading newspapers and news websites with infection diseases expert Professor Nigel McMillan listed as one of the top 10 academics.
Professor McMillan from Menzies Health Institute Queensland welcomed the recognition but says informing the public is just part of the job for academics.
“For me this is what a university should be doing for the public, offering evidence-based advice and facts to inform them of the situation and the way forward. We translate various new studies, treatments and vaccine studies into accessible language and concepts.
“For me this is what a university should be doing for the public, offering evidence-based advice and facts to inform them of the situation and the way forward. We translate various new studies, treatments and vaccine studies into accessible language and concepts.”
“My role in the media was to give the context around why government decisions had taken place and give specific infection control details for groups and industries. Also, to offer an informed opinion about the things we don’t know yet and what the future might look like.
“Many of my colleagues also helped inform the public in different ways including via social media.”
He said the intense media interest in the pandemic offered lessons for both researchers and journalists.
“A number of scientists offered opinion way outside their area of expertise and journalists were often searching for comments in deliberately controversial areas. However, most were very responsible.
“Engagement by scientists is vitally important because the public value the facts and bias free information. But sometimes the public find it hard to deal with the reality that we can’t guarantee something and that uncertainty is part of science.”
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Mario Pinto said the recognition of Griffith’s impact in the press reaffirmed the university’s long-term commitment to high quality research.
“In searching for solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical we realise that research is usually a marathon and not a sprint. Our health researchers have outlined several drug or vaccine approaches to compromise the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
“The pursuit of many approaches is necessary because we cannot predict which strategy will win against this virus. Simultaneously our researchers are ready to inform policy on issues of mental health and wellbeing resulting from social isolation due to COVID-19 infections.”
The Australian Science Media Centre has published the report online.