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Veteran's research for Diggers wins top prize

October 23, 2020

L-R: Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Tim Brailsford, Assistant Professor Ben Schram, Associate Professor Rob Orr, Associate Professor Gulasekaran Rajaguru, and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), Professor Keitha Dunstan

A military veteran whose research helps prevent injuries among fellow soldiers and first responders has received Bond University’s top prize for research excellence.

Associate Professor Rob Orr was named the winner of the Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award at the University on Thursday night.

Dr Orr has an impressive research portfolio including 142 peer reviewed publications which have led to changes in government policy, establishing new standards in fitness training and rehabilitation approaches which now impact more than 1000 Australian tactical personnel each year.

After serving 23 years with the Australian Army, he was instrumental in informing body armour design and procurement and is also the primary supervisor for 11 PhD and one Masters student.

Dr Orr also co-founded the Tactical Research Unit (TRU) at Bond University. Over the last five years the TRU has grown to become the third Health Sciences & Medicine faculty research centre.

The TRU has established a reputation for world-class research excellence, establishing an international collaborative network with over 150 institutions across the USA, UK, Germany, Brazil, Singapore, and the UAE.

Dr Orr took out the 2019 Australian Physiotherapy Research Foundation Best Clinician Paper for Occupational Health, and one of his students was awarded the Best Student Paper for Occupational Health.

“It really is an honour when you consider the previous winners and what they have achieved,” Dr Orr said of his award.

“Because I’ve served in the military, most of my friends are either military, law enforcement or fire rescue and I know what they go through every day and the struggles that they have.

“It’s now our turn as researchers to help protect the protectors.

“One of the benefits of my years in the army is that it has helped me establish strong networks and we can talk a common language. I know what it is like to be a soldier on the ground.

“When I think about the outcomes of our research I know what we need to do to make it real world.”

Bond University President and Vice Chancellor Tim Brailsford paid tribute to Dr Orr.

“While this year has been very focussed on the teaching of students, in every University around the world research has continued to take place behind the scenes,” Professor Brailsford said.

“There have been some critical strides made in various research agendas across all our disciplines and it is really important that we must not forget the quality of that and recognise the high performers.

“The Tactical Research Unit and the work Rob has done has very direct implications and applications to modern day life and society.

“He is at the forefront of translational research and making a real impact on human lives and society.

“Like a lot of things around Bond University, we punch above our weight and research is certainly one of those areas. These awards are very important to me.”

The Vice Chancellor’s Research Supervision Award was won by Associate Professor Gulasekaran Rajaguru while Assistant Professor of Physiotherapy Ben Schram was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Early Career Research Excellence Award.

All three award winners receive a $5000 grant from Bond University to go towards their research activities.