Melbourne Engagement Grants recipients announced

September 15 / 166

Dr Rita Hardiman with a lion’s skull, one of the specimens from the Melbourne Dental School’s Odonotology Collection.
Dr Rita Hardiman with a lion’s skull, one of the specimens from the Melbourne Dental School’s Odonotology Collection.


The recipients of the recently launched Melbourne Engagement Grants have been announced.  


The scheme, a new Chancellery Engagement initiative, provides staff with seed funding for projects that further the University’s engagement priorities, with a focus on those that reflect the role of engagement as an integral element of the University’s academic mission. 


The scheme has two categories: Engagement Initiatives, which awarded 11 grants, and Cultural and Public Engagement Initiatives, where 14 grants were awarded.


One of the Cultural and Public Engagement Initiative grants, in the category of object-based learning, went to Dr Rita Hardiman’s project 'Introducing comparative e-odontology into the dental curriculum – invigorating lost treasures'.  Dr Hardiman's project will utilise the 500 samples of animal and human skulls and teeth in the Melbourne Dental School's Odontology Collection.


The grant will give Dr Hardiman the funds to expose anatomy students to this "incredible teaching tool", through the purchase of a large-scale 3D surface scanner and a 3D printer.  The scanned and printed samples of skulls and teeth will be used as classroom teaching aids, creating virtual sets of teeth for students to study.  


During her tenure as curator of the University's Henry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology, Dr Hardiman, a lecturer in oro-facial anatomy, became interested in the ways that museum collections can enhance learning.  


“It's far more powerful for a student to see a live tooth sample, rather than have it described or be shown a picture. Different skulls and sets of teeth can teach us so much about anatomy," says Dr Hardiman, pointing to a shark skull and demonstrating how the shark will continually regrow new teeth to replace those lost – making it a perfectly equipped predator.  


According to Dr Hardiman, the Odontology Collection, which contains the skulls of a lion, a rattlesnake, a bandicoot, as well as a range of loose human teeth, is “a fabulous collection that needs to be reinvigorated."


This reinvigoration will open up the collection to members of the public, as the project will also incorporate the 3D scans of skulls and teeth into a freely accessible online database.  Dr Hardiman has further plans for a joint odontological exhibition with the Royal College of Surgeons in London, as well as collaborative work with the Royal Melbourne Zoo.


Adrian Collette, Vice-Principal (Engagement), is delighted with the outcomes of the new scheme, which revitalised the former Cultural and Community Relations Grants program.  


"We received over 70 applications for the scheme," said Mr Collette, noting that more than $900,000 in funding was requested across a broad variety of projects from different areas of the University.  


The scheme will open again in early 2016, and applicants will be able to align their project ideas to Engagement at Melbourne, the University’s inaugural engagement strategy to be released in October.


Details of all the successful Melbourne Engagement Grant applications can be found here. 

Story by Shelby Oliver

Editorial Enquiries

Got a story?

Staff are encouraged to submit stories. There are some important steps in preparing a media-ready story.  Email