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9/12/2009 Tracking the health of estuaries
16/11/2009 Visiting Geosciences Professor from China
30/10/2009 Hot Research Breakfast Geelong
30/10/2009 Hot Research Breakfast Melbourne
22/10/2009 Declining bird numbers in TV spotlight
29/9/2009 Hopkins River Estuary Public Forum
28/9/2009 Students imagine the family home of 2050
21/9/2009 Tall Poppy science award win
2/9/2009 Students discover the fun of maths
25/8/2009 Researcher of the year
24/8/2009 New IT courses 2010
12/8/2009 Pieces of Me
14/7/2009 Research to benefit standard road cars
17/6/2009 People power way to environmental change
11/6/2009 It’s all in the feathers
9/6/2009 Queen’s birthday honours
20/05/2009 Moving clouds into the computing mainstream
30/04/2009 Scientists discover prehistoric bacteria
27/04/2009 IGNITED scholarship winner - Ashley Lamble
27/04/2009 IGNITED scholarship winner - Rebecca Kendall
21/04/2009 Little penguin research revives colony
20/04/2009 IGNITED scholarship winner - Hollie Acres
7/04/2009 eSecurity scholarship winners
6/04/2009 World War II wreck revealed
23/03/2009 Fast track for ‘sense of touch’ robot
13/03/2009 T2 takes shape
20/1/2009 Challenge dates set for 2009
Researchers from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences are helping track the health of estuaries around Victoria. The new project will help develop a report card on the environmental condition of estuaries which will guide government agencies in prioritising investment for restoration work.
Engaged by the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Professor Gerry Quinn, Dr Adam Pope and Dr Jan Barton (School of Life and Environmental Sciences) will trial the Index on estuaries across the Victorian coastline. Professor Quinn says the index considers issues such as physical form, hydrology, water quality, sediment, flora and fauna, and connection to the ocean.
The Index will help agencies, such as Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs), in management and restoration of estuaries. “They can use it as a report card on the condition of the estuary. We have to make sure it is effective and usable and can be implemented by local agencies,” says Professor Quinn. The project team are currently working with CMAs across the state, and Melbourne Water, to implement the trials.
At least 20 estuaries will be included in the trial but the specific locations have not yet been confirmed.
One of Ursula de Jong’s (School of Architecture and Building) goals when she was writing her book "William Wardell and Genazzano FCJ College" was to let the building speak for itself. “People often say ‘I wish this building could talk’ and that is what I have tried to do in this book, give the building a voice and let it tell the reader its own story – tell them about the materials used, about its scale and proportions, about the extraordinary life it has had,” says Dr de Jong.
Dr de Jong’s book tells the story of architect William Wilkinson Wardell’s 1889 design for the ‘Convent and School, Kew’ in Melbourne, now at the heart of Genazzano FCJ College. Wardell is one of Australia's most important nineteenth century architects. His design was impressive, and though only partly realised, has resulted in a Melbourne landmark.
It is 120 years since work on the building began, but Dr de Jong believes many of the challenges faced at that time are relevant today. “As well as the financial challenges faced by the client, the FCJ Sisters, there were environmental challenges with the school affected by both bushfires and floods. The building was designed to be sustainable, well ventilated, sensitively orientated and water wise - two million gallons of water was stored on-site, gravity fed from the tower to the bathrooms and lower levels.”
While the book is a celebration of history, Dr de Jong hopes it will positively influence how people see and experience their surroundings. “I hope readers of my book will learn to look at buildings differently, with a better understanding of what goes into a building, from the vision, to the design, costing and challenges of realising the built form; I hope they will also learn to look with new eyes at our built environment, both the old and the new,” she says.
Dr Cenk Suphioglu (together with his colleagues Associate Professor Ackland, Dr La Fontaine and Professor Mercer) from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences (Biomolecular Sciences Research Group) has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Ramaciotti Foundations to enable him to continue his outstanding clinical research. The Ramaciotti Foundations Grant in Biomedical Research was presented at an awards evening in Sydney on Thursday night (12 November 2009) at Doltone House in Darling Harbour.
Dr Suphioglu’s research is aimed at understanding the molecular properties of major peanut allergens, which will permit the future development of safer and more effective reagents for peanut allergy diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
“Receiving this grant will allow us to contribute towards the purchase of an expensive but fundamental piece of research equipment. As a result, our research could significantly reduce the economic, physical and emotional burden of this disease on our society,” said Dr Suphioglu.
The Ramaciotti Foundations are collectively one of the largest private contributors to biomedical research in Australia, providing assistance to areas such as molecular biology, genetics and immunology, totaling $2.5 million of support in 2009.
Professor Weihong He is currently visiting Deakin from China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, China. Professor He is here as an Australian Federal Government’s Endeavour Awards Scholar. Based at the Burwood Campus, Professor He is on a six-month Endeavour Awards Research Fellowship, fully funded by the Federal Governments’ Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
The Endeavour Awards are the Australian Government’s internationally competitive, merit-based scholarship/fellowship program providing high-achieving individuals with a unique opportunity to undertake study, research or professional development in Australia. The Endeavour Awards enable collaboration in areas of shared interest between the people of Australia and overseas. In doing so, the Awards aim to develop mutual understanding and foster enduring linkages between individuals, organisations and countries.
Professor He is an internationally well-published research scientist in the field of palaeobiology and palaeoecology; her particular research interest is on mass extinctions in earth history and their implications for a better understanding of the current global biodiversity crisis.
During her time at Deakin, Professor He will be working with Professor Guang Shi (School of Life and Environmental Sciences) conducting joint research on the patterns and processes of earth’s greatest mass extinction that took place some 252 million years ago. Professor Guang Shi has been collaborating with Professor He since 2004.
Leading academic Associate Professor Leigh Ackland (School of Life and Environmental Sciences) has been appointed to Personal Chair.
Associate Professor Leigh Ackland is Deputy Director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology. Leigh and her team are interested in the function of trace metals in human health and disease. She also has a research program that is aimed at better understanding breast cancer.
“I am greatly honoured to be granted a Personal Chair at Deakin University,” she said. “This leadership role brings with it the capacity for me to enhance research in biological and biomedical sciences within the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, the Faculty of Science and Technology and to promote partnerships with external organisations.
“This appointment also gives me an opportunity to provide academic support and mentorship in the University and to profile the role of women in science.”
An example of Associate Professor Leigh Ackland’s recent research: Leigh Ackland research article (496KB)
A copy of the full media release is available at www.deakin.edu.au/news/2009/061109personalchairs.php
Three leading Deakin researchers spoke about the global and local significance of their research at the Hot Research Breakfast Science Research Making a Difference, as part of DeakinWeek. Associate Professor Matthew R Barnett, Dr Frederick Ochanda and Associate Professor Mark B Luther presented their research findings to an audience of local industry partners, community leaders and Deakin staff in Geelong.
Researchers at Deakin are developing new light magnesium alloys that promise to benefit the transport sector in terms of reduced carbon footprints and increased performance. In his talk, Development of a new light metal alloy, Associate Professor Matthew R Barnett outlined their research in this area.
Efficient conversion of sunlight into electrical energy is of great technological importance for modern society. Dr Frederick Ochanda said their work aims to close the enormous gap in efficiency between man-made solar cells and their natural equivalents by exploiting nano-technology. He explained how this work involves application of nanocomposites, in his presentation Nanotechnology creating new materials for solar cells applications.
Many attempts have been made to apply automotive industrialised techniques to domestic housing manufacturing. However, success has been limited largely due to the lack of holistic understanding throughout the design team, on manufacturing methods, failure to integrate building services and a lack of implementing environmental performance. Associate Professor Mark B Luther examined these issues in his talk, Sustainable manufactured housing in Geelong.
Leading Deakin researchers Professor Colin Barrow, Dr Daniel Ierodiaconou and Professor Wanlei Zhou presented their research findings to an audience of local industry members and Deakin staff in Melbourne. The event was a Hot Research Breakfast Science Research Making a Difference, held as part of DeakinWeek.
The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil are well established. In fact, a billion dollar market exists for these compounds in nutritional supplements, functional foods and pharmaceuticals. In his presentation, Advances in Omega-3 Biotechnology, Professor Colin Barrow described some commercially useful novel production and delivery technologies for these fatty acids.
Recent discoveries on Victoria’s sea floor have revealed previously unknown underwater gardens and submerged river systems and lagoons that would have supported aboriginal communities over 10,000 years ago. In his talk, Beneath the surface: Understanding Victoria’s seascape ecology, Dr Ierodiaconou looked at their findings and how they will redefine resource assessment, conservation planning and improve fisheries management.
Internet crimes can result in serious consequences such as disrupting critical infrastructure; causing significant financial losses; and threatening public life. Although a number of countermeasures and legislations against internet crimes are developed, the crimes are still on the rise. One critical reason is that researchers and law enforcement agencies still cannot answer a simple question easily: who and where is the real source of internet crimes? This was the focus of Professor Wanlei Zhou’s talk, Finding the real source of internet crimes.
Related news story
Video footage related to Daniel's research
Dr Giovanni Turchini (School of Life and Environmental Sciences) has been awarded an Australian Research Fellowship as part of his successful application for Australian Research Council Discovery Project funding. Under the Fellowship he receives funding for his research project - Triggering the dormant capacity of fish to make omega 3 fatty acids - for five years.
Unsustainable fishing practices have led to increased pressure on aquaculture (fish farming) to meet the shortfalls in the supply of fish, which are the main source of many essential omega 3 fatty acids. However, these fish have special nutritional requirements and need to be fed fish oil so they still contain high levels of omega 3. The problem is that current fish oil is derived from the already over-exploited wild fish stock – a situation that is environmentally and economically unstable, likely leading to a collapse of the sector within a few years.
Dr Turchini is working on new ways to increase the omega 3 oil contained in farmed fish from within. He is looking at innovative natural methods of producing fish still rich in omega 3 fatty acids without using fish oil. “I am looking at the basic biology of fish,” he says. “It is changing the fish from within – triggering their dormant capability of transforming fatty acids available in vegetable oils into the good ones.”
Dr Turchini says in the last two years he has received fantastic support from many staff of the School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, in particular from the two co-investigators of the funded ARC discovery project, Professor Andy Sinclair and Associate Professor Leigh Ackland, and from Dr David Francis and Dr Cenk Suphioglu, who were essential for developing the proposal.
To view Dr Turchini’s recent review paper please visit:
Dr Turchini’s papers are available at:
A research project involving Professor Andrew F. Bennett (School of Life and Environmental Sciences), which shows a dramatic decline in native woodland bird species in northern and central Victoria over the past five years, was featured on ABC TV’s The 7.30 Report on Wednesday 21 October.
Professor Bennett worked on the research with Professor Ralph Mac Nally and Dr Jim Thomson, Monash University; Dr Jim Radford, Deakin University (now with Bush Heritage Australia); and Dr Peter Vesk, University of Melbourne. Their findings were recently published in the international journal Diversity and Distributions.
“Climate change, particularly the lack of rainfall, has reduced the quality of habitat available to a wide range of bird species,” Professor Bennett said. “This has compounded the already serious effects of extensive habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation in the region.”
Professor Bennett believes lack of food has contributed to the decline in numbers. “The collapse in bird numbers strongly suggests the availability of food has crashed,” he said. “Red Ironbark trees, an important food source for nectar-feeding birds, are flowering less frequently with the drought. In five of the past eight years Red Ironbark eucalypts have flowered little or not at all.
“Most worrying, species thought to be secure, such as the Red Wattlebird and the Laughing Kookaburra, have declined as much or more than species already considered endangered. ”
“We can’t change the climate,” Professor Bennett said, “but we can do much more to protect and improve the quality of habitats for our native wildlife.
“This means careful management of existing native vegetation, including our parks and reserves, and greatly increasing the amount of restoration and revegetation in rural environments. There is much good work being done by Landcare groups and others, but the scale of our restoration actions does not match the scale of the problem.”
A transcript of The 7.30 Report story is available on the ABC website
Related research paper: Collapse of an avifauna: climate change appears to exacerbate habitat loss and degradation
Life and Environmental Sciences PhD student Sharl Mintoff won the prize for best poster by a young scientist under 35 at the recent biennial conference of the Australasian Plant Pathology Society held in Newcastle, Australia, 28th September - 1st October. Sharl is in the first year of his PhD program at the Waurn Ponds campus and received a framed certificate from CSIRO publishing, a book voucher valued at $150 and a 12 month subscription to the CSIRO journal ‘Functional Plant Biology’.
Sharl’s poster was titled “Priming for resistance against pathogens: cellular responses of Arabidopsis to UV-C radiation” and described his research that is investigating components of the signalling pathways that are induced in the model plant Arabidopsis in response to ultraviolet light. Sharl and his co-investigators are using detailed microscopy, biochemical assays and microarray analysis of gene expression to investigate the impact of ultraviolet light on the response of plants to disease-causing organisms.
Deakin University will host a public forum examining issues around the social, economic and environmental values of the Hopkins River estuary on 26 October.
Experts from Deakin University and Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority will briefly discuss critical issues relevant to the assessment of values and the future of the estuary and community groups will have an opportunity to have their say.
Monday 26 October
Dr Helen Arundel
Dr Helen Scarborough
RSVP Friday 23 October
Deakin’s architecture students took their imaginations on a journey to the year 2050 recently for a project that challenged them to design a home for the future. The Future House project required the third year students to design a contemporary house that was adaptable to the needs of the ‘typical’ family of the 2050s and sustainable in terms of energy and materials.
“The design brief required the students to give a lot of thought to the future: what will the ‘typical’ family be in 2050, the environmental challenges we will be facing, the type of materials we will have available and so on.”
The designs, submitted in the form of a short movie, were posted online, giving the students a public audience for their work and challenging them to be imaginative in their presentations.
“In the past, a folio was a critical tool for any architect - a big folio full of sheets of A1 paper that you took around to demonstrate your work to clients and employers. Now an architect is just as likely to refer you to their website to see their work, so it is very important for our students to explore how they can present their work by using new technologies.
To take a trip into the future and see what the Deakin architecture students think the homes of 2050 will be like visit www.ab.deakin.edu.au/online/futurehouse.
Life and Environmental Sciences researcher Dr Daniel Ierodiaconou has won a Young Tall Poppy Science Award. The prestigious annual awards recognise the achievements of Australia's outstanding young scientific researchers and communicators.
Selected on the basis of research achievements and a passion for communicating their work, Dr Ierodiaconou, whose research is in the field of environmental management and ecology, was one of 11 Victorian and Tasmanian scientists under 35 recognised with an award.
“The Young Tall Poppy Science Awards recognise scientific achievers who are in the early stage of their careers and already making discoveries,” says Australian Institute of Policy and Science Executive Director, Elektra Spathopoulos. “Not only are they great researchers, they have demonstrated their leadership in communicating science and engaging the public.”
Instead of winning prize money, these young scientists gain the opportunity to take their research to school students, teachers and communities around their State and across Australia as part of the Tall Poppy Campaign inspiring a new generation to get passionate about science.
The awards were presented at a ceremony held in Melbourne on Thursday 17th September. Numerous former Young Tall Poppy Science Award winners have gone on to win more senior science awards, including Eureka Prizes, Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science and Cosmos Bright Sparks Awards.
One example of Daniel's recent research can be found at www.sciencedirect.com
Acclaimed veteran stand-up comic and National Treasure, Rod Quantock brings his hilarious and thought provoking show on climate change, ‘ Bugger the Polar Bears, This is Serious’, to Deakin University Burwood.
The show starts at 6.30pm and runs for an hour and a half. We have asked Caffeine to stay open until 6.30 so you can have a coffee before the show. You can be home by 8pm or go on to the Grand Final Bar Night at Einstein’s to discuss the future in a climate changed world. Book on line preferably, or turn up on the night. The show is free, and you can bring your family or friends.
This FREE event is brought to you by all Deakin University's four faculties in the spirit of co-operation, multi-disciplinary endeavour and goodwill - the building blocks for effective climate change action.
WHEN: Wednesday 23rd September
For bookings, please refer to www.deakin.edu.au/arts-ed/creative/exposure/program.php
Around 200 Year 10 students from 22 secondary schools across Geelong and Western Victoria had their mathematical skills put to the test during the twenty-first annual Deakin University Mathematics Contest held recently at the Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds.
Forty teams, each consisting of five students and one teacher acting as supervisor and scorer, competed in four events with prizes awarded to the top performers. The contest was run by volunteer staff and students from Deakin’s School of Information Technology.
Associate lecturer at Deakin and contest co-organiser Mr John Cameron said although the day was challenging, it was also a lot of fun. “Students and teachers thoroughly enjoyed the contest. It was an exhilarating day of challenging competition comprised of individual and team events designed to test mathematical skills in novel ways.
“It provided a wonderful opportunity for members of different schools to experience a day at the Geelong Campus, to exchange ideas on learning and teaching mathematics, and to demonstrate their mathematical knowledge and skill. It was an exhausting day of serious fun.”
The event provided an opportunity to show secondary students the variety of careers available from studying maths and encourages students to go on to study maths at tertiary level.
Have you considered further study after you graduate?
If you would like information on postgraduate courses and research options offered by the Faculty of Science and Technology please join us. Information sessions will be run 12pm - 2 on the following dates:
Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds
Lunch will be provided.
Please contact Ana Ferreira to register for this event.
Researchers from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences have won the Geelong Researcher of the Year Award. Dr Fred Pfeffer and his Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Fellowship holder, Dr Luke Henderson, won the prestigious award for their groundbreaking research into combating multi-drug-resistant superbugs.
Dr Pfeffer and Dr Henderson are investigating a new class of antibacterial agents that one day could defeat antibiotic-resistant superbugs, (bacteria that have developed a resistance to most common antibiotic medications currently available). These multi-drug-resistant superbugs have emerged in hospitals throughout the world and are starting to emerge outside hospitals.
The Faculty of Science and Technology will be offering two new Information Technology courses next year – the Bachelor of Information Technology (Honours) and the Bachelor of Information Technology (Professional Practice). Both of these courses will be offered at the Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds and the Melbourne Campus at Burwood.
The Bachelor of IT (Honours) is a new four year IT course comprising of the Bachelor of IT degree and an honours year in which students undertake a research project. This program is designed to extend high achieving students and encourage them to undertake higher degrees by research. Successful completion of the Bachelor of IT (Honours) will enable students to apply to undertake a PhD in the field.
The Bachelor of IT (Professional Practice) is a new course designed to recognise, reward and nurture high achieving students. The course enables students to experience full-time work in the IT industry as part of their degree. Students are required to include between 6 and 12 months of Industry-Based Learning (IBL) which is credited as part of their degree. Depending on the length of the IBL placements undertaken, the course can be completed in a minimum of three years, or for students taking the option to complete a longer industry placement, the course can be completed in four years.
Only students with an ENTER 0f 80.00 and above will be considered for these courses, with admission through VTAC based on ENTER and successful completion of the published prerequisites. Students will be required to maintain a 70% average, otherwise may exit with a Bachelor of IT degree.
Life and Environmental Sciences PhD student Allyson Brown showcases her artistic talents in her first solo art exhibition in Geelong. Using a variety of media and styles, including acrylic media and macro-photography, Pieces of Me features a collection of 30 artworks and photographs.
Allyson says she has always had a passion for art. “Ever since I can remember, I have loved expressing myself through drawing and painting.”
Studying a PhD in forensic and analytical chemistry and expressing herself artistically, while dealing with the problems caused by multiple sclerosis, create challenges that inspire and that Allyson thrives on. “I have always thrived on the challenge. While my research is very analytically and mentally challenging, my artwork involves a test in physically producing whatever creative notion has entered my mind that I want to put on canvas.”
“Sometimes I am inspired by things I see or feel, otherwise it may be something that has come to me in a dream. But whatever the motivation, it has always been a unique expression of self.”
“I love the fact that anyone can continue to express themselves through art, despite the hardships they may face.”
Pieces of Me is now showing at the Karingallery in James Street, Geelong and will be on display until 31st August.
The School of Engineering recently played host to the Victoria Zone Science and Engineering Super Challenge. The state-wide competition was held at the Waurn Ponds Campus. Winning schools from the Victorian regional Science and Engineering challenges held earlier this year competed during the two days of the Super Challenge.
Year 9 and Year 10 students from sixteen schools throughout Victoria, including Bendigo, Ballarat, Melbourne and Geelong, took part in a range of hands on science and engineering based activities, showing them science is anything but dull.
Wangaratta High School was the winning school on Tuesday 28th July, with Bendigo South East Secondary College taking the honours on Wednesday 29th July. They will both be invited to the Grand Challenge in Bendigo in October to compete against other state winners.
Australia has a chronic shortage of scientists and engineers. The Science and Engineering Challenge is a national outreach program conducted by the University of Newcastle with the aim of encouraging junior students to study science at VCE level.
The challenge organisers would like to acknowledge the support of sponsors the Australian Constructors Association, WorleyParsons and Rotary.
Kinetic energy storage systems (KERS) continue to be one of the hottest topics in Formula One motor racing this year and now engineering researchers are working to develop KERS technology for standard road cars.
Potential benefits of KERS include improvements to vehicle efficiency and emissions, according to Dr Clive Ferguson (School of Engineering). “KERS is a way of harvesting and storing the energy generated when a vehicle brakes. This stored energy can be used by the vehicle, potentially improving its fuel efficiency and emissions. We also believe there is the potential to improve vehicle handling.”
The harvested energy can be stored in various ways, including electrically using batteries – the method mostly used in Formula One to date – or mechanically using a flywheel. Dr Ferguson believes mechanical storage has a number of potential advantages, such as significant savings in weight and space. They are also friendlier for the environment because they remove the need for highly toxic lithium-based batteries.
The research will identify the technical difficulties in developing an affordable mechanical KERS for both front and rear wheel drive production vehicles and identify cost effective solutions. “I would like to think that our research may lead to KERS one day being available on standard production vehicles, maybe as an optional extra,” says Dr Ferguson.
Students thinking about studying IT or Engineering by off-campus mode can find out more about how this flexible way of learning can work for them at a special off-campus information evening.
The event will be held at Tuesday 18th August from 6pm to 7.30pm in Building X, located at the northern end of the central walkway of the Melbourne Campus at Burwood.
A presentation on Studying Engineering Off-Campus will be held at 6.30pm. Staff from the Schools of Engineering and IT will be on hand to talk about our courses and what its like to study off-campus.
Off-campus study is fast becoming the preferred way to combine study with work or family commitments and 40% of Deakin’s students choose to take their degree this way. The evening will provide a relaxed environment in which to explore the benefits of studying off-campus with the opportunity to ask staff questions and have them answered on a one to one basis.
For more information: www.deakin.edu.au/sebe/students/off-campus
The most powerful tool people can use to achieve environmental change is their vote, according to Associate Professor Geoff Wescott (School of Life and Environmental Sciences). In his new book Back to Basics: Breakthrough Proposals for the Australian Environment, Associate Professor Wescott argues that “The greatest individual action people can take is to direct their vote to a political party that has high-quality environmental policies. If people use their voting power to force government and oppositions to take specific action we will see immediate and sustained improvements in our environment.”
Associate Professor Wescott believes it is imperative that governments take action now. “In the book I put forward a number of breakthrough proposals that governments can adopt to address the environmental problems we are facing, from nature conservation to water and waste management to climate change,” he says.
They include support for replacing the emissions trading scheme with a carbon tax, ensuring all levels of government spend as much on public transport as they do on roads and implementing existing water policy initiatives.
“Some of my other recommendations are the strategic revegetation of Australia, the ‘rebirth’ of inland towns to attract people away from population-pressured coastal areas and the exploration of energy options such as ocean – wave and tidal – power. Imagine a desalination plant fueled by wave energy rather than dirty brown coal,” Associate Professor Wescott says.
While he applauds and supports ‘individual virtuous action’ on the environment, Associate Professor Wescott says it is not enough on its own. “Environmental improvement is going to come from governments getting back to basics and acting in the interest of their voters, not lobbyists.”
Dr Fiona Hogan (School of Life and Environmental Sciences) is DNA fingerprinting Australian owls with the help of feathers. From a single feather, she can determine the species, sex, and identity of individual birds.
She has uncovered a series of ‘genetic markers’ which can provide a DNA fingerprint to identify an individual owl from a single feather. “Trace amounts of DNA left behind by an animal, in feathers, hairs, scats or eggshells, can be used to identify them,” she explains. “DNA in living organisms is unique and can be used to identify individuals using fingerprint techniques.”
Australian owls are under threat. As predators at the top of the food chain, owls are an essential part of the Australian environment. “Without them we could lose many native animals forever, because they help keep species in balance,” she says. “In order to conserve owls we need to know more about them and we need that information fast.”
As feather collection requires little expertise, Dr Hogan has been able to enlist the aid of people from all over Australia to collect owl feathers for her. More than 2,000 feathers have been collected, with some from highly threatened species, such as the elusive Rufous owl (Ninox rufa) which is only found in remote areas in Northern Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Dr Hogan is one of 15 early-career scientists presenting their research to the public for the first time thanks to Fresh Science, a national program sponsored by the Federal Government.
The Faculty extends sincere congratulations to Emeritus Professor Lawrie Baker (former HoS in Engineering & IT) and to Emeritus Professor David Stokes (former DVCR and previously Dean of Science & Technology).
Lawrie and David have been made Members in the General Division of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. This is wonderful news for the University and the Faculty. We congratulate them both for this richly deserved recognition of their enormous contributions to Science, Education, Research and to the University!
Professor Andrzej Goscinski from the School of IT has started work on a project he hopes will make cloud computing – where high performance computing services are provided from the Internet to multiple clients – more accessible, reliable and efficient.
Cloud computing is a field many of the big names in IT, including Google and Amazon, are already working in. Professor Goscinski says the field has enormous potential, particularly when it comes to the problems businesses face in meeting their IT needs. “For many businesses, providing IT capabilities is very costly. Computer systems must be bought and upgraded, new software installed, systems maintained and computer specialists hired and trained,” he says.
Professor Goscinski says cloud computing is attractive to businesses on a number of levels. “With cloud computing businesses only pay for the IT services they use. Because computing is done in a remote, unknown location – out in the Internet clouds – rather than on a private computer, business administrators can concentrate on the management of their applications rather than spending money on buying, managing and upgrading servers.”
While the potential of cloud computing is impressive, Professor Goscinski says the technology is still in its infancy and a number of issues need to be resolved before its benefits can be fully realised. For cloud computing to become commonly used, these problems need to be solved and Professor Goscinski says this is what his research is working towards.
Professor Guang Shi and Dr Elizabeth A. Weldon from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences were part of an international team that found some of the oldest examples of prehistoric bacteria of its kind in Australia. They discovered the 268 million year-old fossilised bacteria on the coastline near Wollongong, accidentally while on the hunt for other fossils.
The bacteria was revealed in a trace fossil—the markings or impressions produced by a creature—believed to have been made by an ancient marine animal. Two different types of bacteria were found in different layers within the trace fossil in the rock and they may provide valuable clues about how animals reacted to climate change. According to Professor Shi, “the alternating arrangement of the different layers of sediment containing different bacteria fossils could represent a response of the animal to warm and cold climate changes.”
“We know the climate was oscillating at that time during a global climate transition from an icehouse to a greenhouse state, and the rhythmic climatic oscillations are indeed reflected in both sediment type and animal behaviour living in the ancient environment,” said Professor Shi.
Professor Shi said this is the first report from Australia of this kind of fossilised bacteria of this age. The research team plans to return to the area for more fieldwork to determine the spread of the fossils.
With an interest and aptitude in maths and science, engineering was a natural choice for Ashley Lamble. Based at the Waurn Ponds Campus, she is currently studying a Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Commerce.
Ashley was awarded the IGNITED scholarship after achieving an ENTER of 92.6 in her final year at Strathcona Baptist Girls’ Grammar School. She receives a $10,000 scholarship and academic mentoring.
Wanting to undertake a broad engineering course, she was drawn to Deakin as it offered a good broad first year, allowing her to get a taste of the different facets of engineering. Ashley has chosen a broad combined degree enabling her to keep her future options open.
Presently, she has an interest in infrastructure which is steering her towards civil engineering. “I will most likely specialise in civil engineering. I like the idea of helping society, benefiting the community. Taking something that has always been there and applying new technologies to it, making it better.”
Ashley has always been interested in maths and science. She likes working to discover an answer, arriving at a definite answer. She took accounting in Year 12 as it was the only thing that fitted into her timetable and discovered she liked it as well. Although she worked hard at school she says it didn’t feel like work to her as she liked what she was doing.
Ashley is aware the subjects she has chosen are traditionally male dominated, but recommends that if girls are interested in maths and science they should persevere and keep going. “Very few girls in co-ed schools do maths. I have a friend that goes to a co-ed school and in a class of 30 there is only one girl in the physics class. I went to an all girls’ school so it was a bit different for me. A lot of people say girls can’t do it but I think if you like it stick with it and keep going,” she says.
Rachael Rollinson already knew her way around the Waurn Ponds Campus before classes began. Having attended local Christian College, she was familiar with Deakin due to the school’s involvement with the university. Now Rachael is on campus studying a Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Commerce.
This recent IGNITED scholarship winner (Initiative for a Girls’ Network in Information Technology & Engineering @ Deakin) received an ENTER of 90.95. She receives a $10,000 scholarship and academic mentoring.
Rachael says part of the reason she chose to study at Deakin was location, being nearby meant she didn’t have to move away from home. She says knowing her way around the Campus was also an advantage. “My school had a lot to do with Deakin so it was familiar to start with. In Year 10 I participated in Deakin’s Science and Engineering Challenge. We did well in The Challenge; we came second in the state and made it to the national level. Our school cross country circuit included the Campus as well, so I’m used to running around it.”
In high school Rachael enjoyed maths and science and found those subjects “clicked” with her. At a careers expo, Rachael discussed the subjects she was studying at school and was advised she should consider engineering. As a result, she did some work experience which gave her a taste for engineering. During school holidays in Year 11, Rachael did a week’s work experience with Worley Parsons. “During work experience I learnt what engineering was and thought maybe engineering was not just for guys. Until then I had wanted to be a chef and at one point a teacher, but after work experience I knew it was engineering.”
“From talking to people in the industry, I was advised to take commerce as well as it would put me in good stead for a management position later on. I liked the fact that I could do both engineering and commerce at the Waurn Ponds Campus, I wanted to do both.”
Rachael’s future plans include overseas study as part of her education, having never travelled overseas before.
Engineering student Rebecca Kendall likes the idea of one day being able to drive down the road and point out things she is responsible for building.
Rebecca was awarded the IGNITED scholarship after achieving an ENTER of 88.05 in her final year at Bellarine Secondary College in Drysdale. She receives a $10,000 scholarship and academic mentoring.
At a Deakin Open Day, Rebecca found out civil engineering was going to be offered from 2009. She deferred for a year, working full time, until civil became available as a specialism.
As well as being a local option, Rebecca was also attracted to Deakin for its engineering reputation. “People had told me that Deakin was well known for and had a good reputation for their engineering courses.”
“I liked that the first year of engineering is broad and you get to do all sorts of engineering,” says Rebecca who is leaning towards specialising in either civil or mechanical. “With civil engineering I like the solution focus. I would like to be able to drive down the road and say ‘I built that’, to have the opportunity to see what I have made in action. I have always been brought up around cars and gadgets and have an interest in the mechanical side of things as well.”
Enjoying and excelling in maths led Rebecca to her current studies. “I did specialist maths and loved it. I enjoyed the challenge of maths.” Rebecca says it is important to do what you enjoy and give things a go. “I didn’t do physics in Year 11 and 12 and regretted not doing it. If you want to do it go for it, it doesn’t matter that that it might be male dominated.”
As part of the Engineering Scholars Program, Rebecca will be given opportunities to work with Deakin’s leading researchers and industry partners. She says she is looking forward to undertaking work experience in a civil engineering company, to get out there and see what it’s like in practice.
Life and Environmental Sciences PhD student Amanda Peucker’s four years of research on little penguins on the Middle Island colony is drawing to an end. She is in the process of compiling her 40,000-word thesis which examines the migration and breeding habits of the little penguin.
Amanda has been credited as being instrumental in reviving Warrnambool’s little penguin colony. She first became involved when she heard of a new project to use Maremma dogs to ward off predators from the island. Concerned the dogs might disrupt the penguins' breeding habits; Amanda volunteered to monitor the birds, then only a population of four. Four years later, volunteers counted 80 adult penguins and 30 chicks on the island.
Examining the population genetics of 19 little penguin colonies, Amanda found evidence linking colonies in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, including the one at Middle Island. Her work also looked at whether there were subspecies of little penguins, which originated in New Zealand. Whilst the ones in the southeast of New Zealand appear genetically similar to those in Australia, she believes the New Zealand and Australian colonies are still of the same species.
Amanda has also determined measurements that distinguish the penguins' gender, which differs at each colony, with males tending to have deeper bills. Before this discovery, it was extremely difficult to work out their gender without dissecting them.
Prior to her work on little penguins, Amanda’s studies involved Adélie penguins, yaks and sea anemones.
During the day Hollie Acres lives and works full time in Sydney, her evenings are spent studying in Victoria. Off campus and online study options give her the flexibility to undertake combined Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of IT degrees alongside work commitments.
This recent IGNITED scholarship winner (Initiative for a Girls’ Network in Information Technology & Engineering @ Deakin) says her lifestyle dictated her choice of studying via correspondence. “Deakin’s set up is fantastic for me. I log onto the internet and all the material I need is there, or it gets sent out to me. The structure and the way the course is set out works for me.”
“I did a lot of searching online for courses and Deakin was the only university I could find that would let me do engineering via correspondence. Correspondence lets me stay working full time and living in Sydney,” she says.
Hollie says her study options work in with her lifestyle, this year she is sitting her exams in Zurich. “My partner is working in Zurich for a few months and I am going to visit him. The only time I can go is during exam time and Deakin is letting me sit my exams there. You don’t get that flexibility with other unis.”
Hollie has always had an interest in mechanical things; she rides a motorbike and pulls it to pieces quite happily. “I like to know how things work. I took maths and science at school and they made sense to me, so engineering was a natural progression.”
Her interest in IT was sparked while at high school. “I was bored during the holidays and my Dad (he’s a computer programmer) gave me a Visual Basic book and I started learning that. I like programming in my spare time.”
Hollie says the combination of engineering and IT skills will create many different opportunities for her when she graduates. She is also in the Army Reserves, creating yet more possibilities.
Three Deakin University information technology students have been awarded eSecurity scholarships. The SECIA (eSecurity Innovation and Awareness) scholarships were presented by Tony Lupton MP (Cabinet Secretary) at a morning tea held recently in Melbourne.
SECIA is a collaborative cluster that aims to nurture and promote the awareness and use of innovative eSecurity and security technologies. It awards scholarships to top performers studying IT security at university in order to ensure that graduates from these programmes are encouraged and well placed to obtain top jobs in the IT security industry after graduation. This is the third year that SECIA has made awards; seven students from three Victorian universities received scholarships.
James Lambeth, Bachelor of Information Technology (IT Security) and currently completing honours, was awarded an honours scholarship and received $3,000.
Dinithi Pallegedara, currently studying a Bachelor of Information Technology (Computer Science and Software Development) and Longxiang Gao, Bachelor of Information Technology (IT Security), each received $1,000 for their undergraduate scholarships.
The MV City of Rayville, the first US vessel sunk during World War II, has been revealed in detail for the first time by scientists from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences. Thanks to the state-of-the-art sonar imagery and remotely operated vehicles, the scientists have been able to take the first detailed images of the ship in its watery grave.
The vessel was sunk in 1940 by a German mine off the coast of Cape Otway in Victoria, Australia, in more than 70 metres of water. While its approximate location has been known since 2002, the depth of its final resting place has meant obtaining information about the wreck site has been difficult. Recent advances in technology have allowed the scientists to investigate the site remotely. Using sonar equipment, the team was able to develop detailed 3D models of the City of Rayville wreck site and collect video using a VideoRay remotely operated vehicle.
“It was very exciting to see the City of Rayville for the first time,” said Dr Daniel Ierodiaconou, Deakin researcher and the principal scientist overseeing the project. “Beautiful marine life has colonised the exterior of the wreck with dense invertebrates including sponges and sea whips visible. The hull also provides an artificial reef, attracting and providing habitat for a vast array of marine life such as fishes,” he said.
“The multi-beam sonar images provide a very clear picture of the orientation of the wreck and surrounding seabed. The wreck is laying upright on its keel, with a slight list to one side,” said Cassandra Philippou, Heritage Victoria Maritime Archaeologist. “A hatch cover near the stern is missing, consistent with reports that covers were blown off the hatches through the force of the explosion. Sediments have built up to the south-west of the wreck, and there is a deep scour on the northern side,” she said.
The City of Rayville was uncovered as part of a wider project to map Victoria’s seafloor environment.
These days we all know how important it is to have good levels of omega 3 oils in our diet. But it is becoming harder to get it from the main traditional source – fish. Dr Giovanni Turchini (School of Life and Environmental Sciences) is working on new ways to increase the omega 3 oil contained in farmed fish by changing the fish from within. With more and more people eating farmed fish, there are growing concerns about how much good omega 3 oils these fish contain. That is because, while many are fed fish oil directly, growing numbers are being fed vegetable oils which do not contain good omega 3 oils and that decrease the nutritional value of the fish.
“There are not enough fish coming from the ocean to meet growing global demand,’’ said Dr Turchini. This has resulted in a rapid expansion of aquaculture – or fish farming – however these fish have special nutritional requirements and need to be fed fish oil so they still contain high levels of omega 3. The problem is that current fish oil is derived from the already over-exploited wild fish stock – a situation that is environmentally and economically unsustainable, likely leading to a collapse of the sector within a few years.
Researchers around the world are looking at alternatives to this fish oil, including feeding the fish different oils such as vegetable oils and animal fats. “If we go down this path the fish we produce will contain less omega 3 and from a nutritional point of view they are no longer fish, more like chicken,’’ said Dr Turchini.
Dr Turchini is looking at innovative natural methods of producing fish still rich in omega 3 fatty acids without using fish oil. “I am looking at the basic biology of fish,’’ he said. “It is changing the fish from within – triggering their dormant capability of transforming fatty acids available in vegetable oils into the good ones.’’
The School of Architecture and Building welcomes Professor Kerry London as Chair in Construction Management – believed to be the first time a woman has been appointed to this role in an Australian university. Before joining Deakin, Professor London was the Associate Professor of the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle.
Professor London says she is looking forward to being at Deakin’s School of Architecture and Building and working towards continuing to build the School’s reputation for excellence both nationally and internationally. “There is great potential in the School and in particular I would like to develop a more strategic approach to engaging our business and community partners in our research endeavours.”
Architecture was Professor London’s first career choice and she remains a registered architect. However, working as a project manager on capital works infrastructure projects and then as a senior manager in construction industry policy prompted a love of ‘solving the big picture’ and led her to explore the wider perspective of the role of the construction industry.
Professor London undertook her PhD studies at the University of Melbourne in construction supply chain procurement modelling and has been instrumental in defining internationally the parameters of a new field of research.
In 2002 she returned to the University of Newcastle, teaching in both the architecture and construction programs. While at Newcastle Professor London was appointed Node Director for the Collaborative Research Centre for Construction Innovation and successfully led seven major nationally funded research projects and secured approximately $1 million in funding for the University.
She has published on various topical issues including supply chain sustainability, design management, housing affordability, eBusiness, building information modeling and ethics in construction.
A tiny mouse found in the deserts of central and western Australia may hold valuable clues to the way appetite is regulated. Associate Professor John Donald from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences has found that the Spinifex Hopping Mouse can regulate its appetite to an extraordinary degree, making it the ideal animal to study in trying to better understand appetite control in people.
“I am interested in their ability to survive without drinking water for their entire lives if they need to,” Associate Professor Donald said.
“When Hopping Mice metabolise their food they generate metabolic water – 90 per cent of their water comes from the metabolism of their food,’’ he said.
When drinking water is not available, the Hopping Mice would eat very little for around six days to conserve body water – their appetite effectively became suppressed. After this, their appetite increased markedly to above normal levels.
“For the first six days without drinking water their appetite is suppressed and they consume their body fat. Their appetite then increases and they generate metabolic water by eating a lot,” he said.
Associate Professor Donald said the process of understanding appetite regulation is quite complex and has implications for a wide range of health issues affecting people.
A major grant has been awarded to researchers at Deakin University developing an intelligent robot that allows its operator to feel what the robot’s gripper is feeling – for example giving the operator a sense of ‘touch’ when they are defusing a bomb up to 500 metres away.
The grant was announced by the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP during the opening of the Australian International Airshow at Avalon. The Deakin robot was one of four technology projects identified by Mr Snowdon as having their development ‘fast-tracked’ under the Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) Extension Program managed by the Defence Science & Technology Organisation (DSTO).
The Deakin researchers have used haptic (sense of touch) technology to allow the robot’s operator to ‘feel’ objects handled by the robot’s gripper.
As a result, the operator can get a sense of an object’s centre of mass, density and consistency, even though they may be up to 500 metres away.
Director of Deakin’s Centre for Intelligent Systems Research (CISR) and Chief Investigator for the project, Professor Saeid Nahavandi, said this ability gives the robot great potential for use in harsh or dangerous environments without risk to the operator.
“Our intelligent robot allows the operator to ‘feel’ the physical environment it is working in. This ability can help the operator to defuse an explosive device without damage to people or property. Because the device is defused rather than blown up, information about the device and its makers can be collected.
“This technology is particularly relevant in areas where Australian forces are exposed to great risk handling improvised explosive devices,” he said.
Deakin’s T2 is one step closer to becoming a reality, with the design being built into a life sized model. Deakin’s answer to the Ford Global Challenge - to design a Model-T for the 21st Century - was chosen as one of two designs showcased by Ford in Detroit for the centenary celebrations of the Model-T.
The T2 runs on compressed air (with some compressed natural gas support for longer distance travel). It incorporates safety proven lightweight materials in which Deakin is an acknowledged world leader. With three wheels, it can turn 360° on itself, making inner city parking easy. It has been designed for inner city use, for the large metropolises of Shanghai and Mumbai.
The life size mock-up model, funded by the Victorian Government (DIIRD), was created (with kind assistance from C5 Systems, McDowell and Venn the Fibreglass men, and Soldani Bros.) for Victoria’s Automotive week, and was on show at the careers section of the Melbourne Motorshow. The next part of the car’s journey is to build an actual working prototype for the Shanghai World Expo 2010. The working prototype is expected to cost $1.5 million, so here is hoping that the team can raise the money.
Deakin University was the only Australian university and one of only six worldwide invited to participate in the Challenge, part of the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the fabled Model T, the car that changed the 20th Century. The new Model T design aims to be universally affordable and could, if produced, retail for under A$9,000.
Creating environments that inspire the people who live in them is one of the passions of the new Head of the School of Architecture and Building, Professor Hisham Elkadi.
“Contemporary society needs to engage, to interact with its immediate surroundings. This interaction is very important in building pride in owning our places, in our citizenship.
“This is not only about the buildings, it is also about the spaces between, about creating neutral spaces to inspire us and draw us together as a society. It is important our surroundings create the backdrop for all elements of society to live in harmony,” he said.
Professor Elkadi comes to Deakin from the University of Ulster, where he was Chair and Head of the School of Architecture and Design for five years. Previous appointments include the University of Newcastle in the UK, where he was the School of Architecture’s Director of Postgraduate Research and Director of BA Architecture Programme, and the University of Plymouth.
Speaking about his new role, Professor Elkadi said one of his goals was to build on Deakin’s current strengths.
Sustainable development and cultural heritage are two particular areas of interest for Professor Elkadi.
He had a leading role in the creation of the World Association for the Protection of Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage in times of armed conflicts (WATCH), a not-for-profit organisation based in Rome, and is a member of the UNESCO committee for the development of Landscape Architecture.
Sailing is also a passion and Professor Elkadi is looking forward to taking part in the sport in Australia.
Deakin is sponsoring a major symposium to celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, and also the 150th anniversary of the publication of his landmark The Origin of Species. The symposium runs from 14-18 February.
“Our symposium has attracted a range of experts on the evolution of birds from around the world,” says Dr Kate Buchanan from the School of Life and Environmental Services who helped organise the symposium and is presenting her own paper.
The symposium will celebrate the impact of evolution on avian biodiversity. The vast array of bird forms, in terms of appearance and behaviour is due to evolutionary selection for the genes which determine individual fitness. The processes first identified by Darwin over 150 years ago are now recognised as responsible radiation in avian molecular sequences, morphologies, behaviour, and physiology.
Within the field of avian biology, the wide interests of the symposium speakers reflect the scale and diversity of the adaptive radiation seen in avian evolution. The themes which will be explored during the symposium include the processes giving rise to evolutionary adaptation, speciation, morphological changes, influence of environmental change and the evolution of adaptive behavioural strategies. The aim is to publish a group of papers which celebrates avian biodiversity and the impact of natural and sexual selection processes, by reviewing past work and highlighting new and exciting areas for future research.
“A number of papers to be published later this year in Emu Austral Ornithology, the premier ornithological journal for the southern hemisphere, as a result of the symposium. This special issue is a fair indication of the quality of those speakers involved, and the importance of their research,” says Dr Buchanan.
Engineering Masters student Steven Leong is spending time this summer with residents of Wye River and Kennett River to help enhance their water supply. He has been talking to local residents in order to gain a better understanding of their water supply situation and learn what opportunities might help them improve the quality and security of their water supply.
The information that Steven gathers will help ensure the Barwon Water program to help residents improve the quality and security of their water supply is well designed and will provide useful tools and support for property owners and residents. Barwon Water has been asked to investigate and develop a suitable program for local residents by The Department of Sustainability and Environment.
When it comes to sustainability and saving the planet, most of the emphasis is placed on new buildings. Even though office buildings are found in all large global cities and they are also the largest single energy users and CO2 emitters, practically all of the attention is placed on new buildings only. But when you think that a new building lasts about 40 or 50 years before it is demolished, only about 2-3% of the office buildings are ‘new’. Research conducted by Professor Richard Reed and Sara Wilkinson has looked at the existing office buildings in Melbourne and how their level of sustainability can be increased.
Whilst it is certain that buildings will be old and of less use, many steps can be done to prolong demolition and the associated waste of rubble and old buildings. Consideration needs to be given to a wide range of factors including the shape/location of the land, what the building is made of and designed, as well as what the property market actually wants both now and in the future.
After a detailed analysis was undertaken of 326 office buildings, it was determined that there are a number of easy steps we can take. For example, many buildings are nearly empty and not used very much (in a similar manner to only one person driving each car to work). Also a large proportion of the time we are out of office (e.g. on holidays, visiting people) so once again the office space is empty. While it was clear that new buildings are more efficient than older ones, we all must make an effort to resist knocking down a building too quickly. There are wider implications for the planet due to the waste of energy and associated CO2 emissions.
The dates have been set for this year’s Science and Engineering Challenge for the Geelong region. Limited places are available and with the growing popularity of the event each year it’s time to start planning for your school’s participation. The challenge is to be held at Deakin University, Waurn Ponds Campus on Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 May 2009.
The challenge is held across Australia and at the end of the year the top eight schools battle it out in the Grand Challenge Gold final. The Geelong event is held in partnership between Deakin University, Rotary club of Queenscliff and regional secondary schools.