Terrorism prevention researcher wins 3MT

13 August 2014

Presentation on social network analysis and crime intelligence wins the day.

Perhaps in a bid not to tempt fate, this year's 3MT winner, Morgan Burcher, was so sure he wouldn't win that he booked a holiday to the UK at the time of the finals in WA in November.

Thankfully, he says that he is more than happy to change his holiday plans.

Mr Burcher, from the School of Humanities and Social Science, presented on his PhD thesis concerning "The Application of Social Network Analysis to Crime Intelligence."

He was one of ten presenters at the Deakin final, which was held at the Burwood campus on 12 August. Topics ranged from the plasmarisation of milk, to swing voting in Bangladesh, to sexuality and autism.

The Runner-Up was Ms Jane Willcox, from the School of Exercise and Nutrition Science, who is developing a mobile phone app to promote healthy pregnancy weight gain, while the Peoples' Choice award went to Mr Michael Do, from the School of Psychology, who spoke on brain stimulation and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander congratulated all participants, saying "good science and good ideas well explained is what we do."

"The different areas have been well represented, with both genders and every discipline - and one of the students has a disability. This is very much what Deakin is about," she said.

Mr Burcher is developing a methodological framework for applying social network analysis, in conjunction with existing methods of crime intelligence. Using the London bombings as an example, he demonstrated how the application of social network analysis was able to show that the London bombers were connected to a second group that attempted to bomb London only two weeks after the original attack.

He has been undertaking a systematic review of the literature and is in the process of interviewing industry analysts to identify the full range of capabilities of social network analysis, which, he argued, has immense potential in both crime detection and disruption.

Watch all the finalists in action below:


The Three Minute Thesis competition aims to assist researchers to develop the skills to communicate their work to a lay audience. It was originally developed at the University of Queensland and now involves 44 Trans-Tasman universities, with several other countries also adopting the concept, including the US, UK and Canada.

The judges were: Ms Jane Sydenham-Clarke, Marketing and Program Manager of Fed Square Pty Ltd, Professor Ruth Rentschler OAM, Chair of Deakin's Academic Board; and Professor Tom Healy AO, from the University of Melbourne.

The ten finalists:

Mr Morgan Burcher, School of Humanities and Social Sciences (Arts and Education) - The application of social network analysis to crime intelligence;

Mr Rajas Kale, School of Engineering (SEBE) - Biomarkers of the bipolar brain;

Ms Jane Willcox, School of Exercise and Nutrition Science (Health) - txt4two - a mobile phone intervention promoting healthy pregnancy weight gain;

Mr Wayne Read, Graduate School of Business (Business and Law) - Consumer engagement with brands via the social media of Twitter;

Mr Michael Do, School of Psychology (Health) - Brain stimulation and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder;

Ms Bahareh Motamed, School of Architecture and Built Environment (SEBE) - An inquiry into colour, space and architectural choices;

Mr Mohammad Shihab Khan, School of Accounting Economics and Finance (Business and Law) - Swing voters' behaviour in Bangladesh;

Mr Sri Balaji Ponraj, Institute for Frontier Materials - Sterilisation of milk using liquid plasma;

Mr Ben Whitburn, School of Education (Arts and Education) - Exploring a way forward for students with disabilities; and

Mr Kieran Thorpe, School of Psychology (Health) - Sexuality and autism.

3MT winners - Michael Do, Morgan Burcher and Jane Wilcox. 3MT winners - Michael Do, Morgan Burcher and Jane Wilcox.

More like this

Research news