SOARing in Law

15 December 2021
Sydney Law School researchers awarded prize
Supporting outstanding early and mid-career researchers to become the next generation of research leaders.

Two researchers from Sydney Law School, Dr Ben Chen and Associate Professor Jeanne Huang, have been recognised in the 2022 Sydney Research Accelerator (SOAR) prizes. With only 22 recipients across the University of the Sydney, the SOAR Fellowship is competitive and prestigious. 

The SOAR program supports early and mid-career researchers throughout a two year-program. Prize recipients are awarded $50,000 per year to support their research, innovation and development plans. They also benefit from a personalised program of research development support and structured mentoring.

We spoke to our SOAR Fellows the 2022 recipients to find out more about their research, and caught up with 2020 recipient, Associate Professor Penelope Crossley, to see how it's all going.

As a SOAR Fellow, what do you hope to achieve?

Dr Ben Chen

Dr Ben Chen

Dr Chen is a law and economics scholar writing in the areas of equity and trusts, civil litigation, and game theory. His research focuses on inheritance litigation.

"The SOAR Prize will give me valuable time and resources to pursue high quality interdisciplinary research. Bleak House describes the problem that I seek to tackle with the SOAR Prize. We are witnessing the greatest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history, which is partially driven by soaring house prices and compulsory superannuation contribution. This inheritance ‘boom’ is accompanied by a soaring number of inheritance disputes in court. These disputes not only tear families apart, but also often generate disproportionate litigation costs. I will use the Prize to develop a behavioural economic theory of inheritance litigation, with a view to devise measures to make it fairer and more cost effective."

Jeanne Huang

Associate Professor Jeanne Huang

Associate Professor Huang specialises in conflict of laws and digital trade/e-commerce regulations. 

"SOAR will give me time and funding to add a meaningful new strand to my existing research. I will conceptualise my investigation through social science methods (research interviews and focus groups) in order to understand how states/investors protect data ‘outside’ the formal institutional framework of the Convention beyond the dispute settlement proceedings, while legal methodology focuses more on law and policy-making ‘within’ settlement proceedings. The new knowledge gained from this project will help safeguard Australia’s national interest in data protection and cybersecurity from foreign interference in investment projects. It will also encourage the transparent treatment and protection of Australian investors by foreign host states."

photo of Associate Professor Penelope Crossley

Associate Professor Penelope Crossley

Associate Professor Crossley, recipient of a 2020 SOAR Prize, is focusing on the fields of comparative renewable energy and energy storage law, electricity market governance, and the intersection between tort law and the energy and resources sector. 

"The SOAR Prize has given me access to a network of researchers across the University who are trying to solve some of the most difficult problems in their fields. This network has challenged my ideas and exposed me to new forms of interdisciplinary thinking. 

The additional research training it offers has also been fantastic. I have taken full advantage of every opportunity even though I haven’t been able to travel overseas as planned. I still have one more year on my SOAR so I look forward to a highly productive year of research and hopefully engaging in person with my international research colleagues."

For me, a SOAR Fellow means a beginning rather than an end for making more high-quality research outputs.
Associate Professor Huang

What does being a SOAR Fellow mean to you?

"Being a SOAR Fellow means that my research is appealing to a wide range of audiences. It also means that I have an opportunity to help tackle some of the society’s most pressing problems," Dr Chen explained. 

For Associate Professor Huang, becoming a SOAR Fellow offers the opportunity to kickstart new research metholodogies. "I am very grateful for what I have learned from my colleagues at the Sydney Law School. For me, a SOAR Fellow means a beginning rather than an end for making more high-quality research outputs. The SOAR Fellowship offers me an excellent chance to accelerate the pace of my research after the limitations imposed by COVID-19 over the last two years. The Fellowship also gives me a responsibility to make research contributions to the community. I look forward to using this precious opportunity to develop a new skill set that will allow me to do more interdisciplinary studies."

One year into the Fellowship, Associate Professor Crossley shares how the Prize has shaped her work. "Being a SOAR Fellow means that I am able to dedicate the time to my research to engage with the really complex issues that require deep novel thinking.  It has enabled me to find new fields of research and to adopt a more blue sky thinking approach to my research. "

Find out more about the 2022 SOAR Fellows