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1/12/2011 Deakin chemists win RACI Awards
1/9/2011 What it's like to be a scientist
26/4/2011 LES professor headed for Harvard
25/3/2011 Temperate woodlands focus of new book
17/3/2011 Deakin researchers headed for China
Two Deakin University chemists were honoured by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) at a ceremony in Melbourne recently.
Associate Professor Kieran Lim was awarded the 2011 Fensham Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Chemical Education. The Medal is the RACI's highest award for chemical education and acknowledges teaching, contributions to teaching and learning, and chemical education research. Kieran was recognised for his work at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education, in the continuing professional development of schoolteachers, and in the wider community.
His innovations and insights of the connections between the various chemistry sub-disciplines, and between chemistry and other disciplines, have been developed into study resources, lesson plans, and learning objects that been disseminated and adopted internationally. He has fostered interest in chemical science through his involvement in local community groups and schools, and most recently as a contestant in the Australian pilot of I'm a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here! His activities include: contributions to university and school education, to the RACI and the Science Teachers’ Association of Victoria (STAV), three recent Australian Learning and Teaching Council grants, membership of the Advisory Committee for the F-10 Australian Science Curriculum and a co-author of the RACI’s React to Chemistry: Resource Book for the 2011 National Science Week.
At the same ceremony, Ms Elizabeth Zammit was officially presented with Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Student Conference Travel Grant, in recognition of her PhD work on the synthesis and evaluation of transition metal complexes as analytical chemiluminescence reagents, specifically tris (2,2'-bipyridine)ruthenium(II) and its analogues. The grant enabled Elizabeth to attend and give a presentation at the Analytical Research Forum 2011 at the University of Manchester earlier this year.
Architecture and construction management student Elizabeth Walker was one of the winners at this year’s National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Victoria and Tasmania Awards of Excellence recently, receiving the Building Commission Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Student.
Elizabeth - who as well as her studies is also working as a cadet surveyor with Aquenta Consulting - described receiving the award as an honour.
“I felt truly honoured to receive recognition for my hard work within the construction industry, particularly from an amazing organisation like NAWIC,” Elizabeth says. “The NAWIC award night was truly inspiring, with many influential people present and I felt proud to represent Deakin in front of many of Melbourne's top construction companies.”
In the background to her award, Elizabeth is described as having a "strong work ethic and commitment to her studies" which is seen in her results, "achieving a high distinction average". She has also been able to “combine a passion for the industry with her love of travelling”: from experiencing the diverse architecture of Europe to helping a local community in Thailand build an incinerator to dispose of their garbage. Becoming involved in similar projects in Africa is also on Elizabeth’s agenda, and she says she is just becoming aware of the possibilities the construction industry offers.
“Having recently finished my third year of my Bachelor of Design (Architecture)/Bachelor of Construction Management combined course, I am just becoming fully aware of the amazing opportunities out there for women in the construction industry.
“Receiving this award has inspired me to try and raise the profile of NAWIC particularly amongst my peers at Deakin. I ultimately hope to excel within the industry and inspire other women to explore a career within the exciting and diverse environment of the construction industry.”
Visit the Victorian/Tasmania Chapter website to read more about the Awards.
The equipment in Deakin University’s new civil engineering laboratory might be on a small scale, but the outcomes for students and the wider community could be enormous.
The new $3.5 million laboratory at Deakin’s Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus is used for teaching and research associated with Deakin’s civil engineering programs.
“Having this new laboratory means we can expose our students to the real world practical applications of the civil engineering program,” said the head of Deakin’s civil engineering program, Professor Bas Baskaran.
The laboratory is used for a range of experiments from testing the structural health of bridges to identifying the impact of rainfall on the soil stability of embankments and trialing waste water treatment systems for water reuse in industry.
Having small scale equipment not only saves on space, it also has the potential to allow Deakin students to conduct experiments from home.
“Traditional civil engineering laboratories have massive pieces of equipment that take up huge amounts of space,” Professor Baskaran said.
“We have opted for bench-scale models that provide the same outcomes as the larger equipment, but take up less room.
“The added advantage of small-scale equipment is we can add remote control access. This means that when our students are off campus they will be able to operate the equipment and see the experiments taking place remotely via their computers.”
Professor Baskaran added that, along with the small equipment, the civil engineering laboratory includes larger equipment used to perform tests on concrete, steel or timber elements taken from buildings and bridges to test if they are strong enough to take structural load.
Parks Victoria has provided two years funding to Dr Jim Rookes and the plant research group on the Waurn Ponds campus, to undertake a project entitled ‘Analysis of Phytophthora cinnamoni decontamination procedures in the Brisbane Ranges National Park’.
Phytophthora cinnamomi is a soil-borne pathogen that is widespread in Australia and kills most native plant species that it comes into contact with. “This project has been facilitated by an ongoing relationship between Parks Victoria Moorabool Management Area and Deakin University’s Plant Research Group over a number of years” explained Dr Rookes.
“This research partner’s program collaborative project will enable both Deakin researchers and Parks Victoria staff to work together towards mitigating the spread of Phytophthora cinnamomi in the Brisbane Ranges National Park”.
“There are over 600 species of plants in the Brisbane Ranges National Park so it’s a biodiversity hot spot. Phytophthora spreads by producing motile spores which travel in soil water from plant root to plant root so many of these species are vulnerable”.
“The funding will allow us to investigate how effective current control strategies are and whether we can reduce spread using alternate approaches”.
The project is one of several projects that were submitted by Deakin Researchers to Parks Victoria for funding this year.
A capacity audience was welcomed to Deakin's Geelong Waterfront Campus by Head of the School of Architecture and Building, Professor Hisham Elkadi, for the School's recent 'a+b night 2011'.
Peter Maddison, award-winning architect and host of TV's Grand Designs Australia, was the guest lecturer for the evening, entertaining the audience with a tour of his past and present homes as he discussed iconography, what makes good design and the importance of historic buildings. He also gave the audience an insight into some of the projects his firm, Maddison Architects, had worked on as well as the stories behind some of the homes featured on Grand Designs Australia.
The Australian Institute of Architects Graduation Prize award ceremony followed the guest lecture. Deakin hosted this presentation with the University of Melbourne and RMIT, together with prize sponsors Bates Smart, BVN Architecture and McGlashan Everist. Awarded to the top graduate from each of the universities, the Deakin AIA Graduation Prize was sponsored by McGlashan Everist and went to Martin Scott.
The School of Architecture and Building's awards completed the evening's formal proceedings. Awards and prizes were presented in nearly 20 categories across both the construction management and architecture disciplines. Professor Elkadi deemed the night and celebration of students' achievements a success.
"a+b night is a fantastic event that celebrates the excellent work of our students and the support the School receives from our partners in the industry and the built environment, construction and architecture practices."
Photo: Grand Designs Australia host, Peter Maddison (l) with Professor Hisham Elkadi.
Congratulations to Dr Paul Francis (School of Life and Environmental Sciences) who has been awarded an ARC Future Fellowship. Dr Francis's research is in the field of analytical chemistry and his project is entitled “New strategies for highly sensitive chemical detection based on luminescent ruthenium and iridium complexes”. Dr Francis did both his undergraduate and PhD studies at Deakin. Being awarded a Future Fellowship is a wonderful achievement for him personally, and also recognition of the quality of chemistry research and teaching in the School.
Dr Francis said he was delighted to have been selected for the Fellowship and that the new analytical approaches explored in the project offer great potential in fields requiring rapid and exceedingly sensitive chemical measurement, such as clinical diagnostics and illicit drug screening.
The need to encourage more women to enter the information technology (IT) field was the driving force behind Deakin University recently becoming a member of the Academic Alliance of the US based organisation, the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). And Deakin achieved a first in doing so.
“I believe we were the first non-US based member,” explained Dr Jo Coldwell from Deakin's School of Information Technology, “only by a couple of days, but we were the first!”
Dr Coldwell worked with Associate Professor Annemieke Craig from the School of Information Systems on the initiative to join the Academic Alliance, which was supported by both Schools and their Faculties.
Dr Coldwell said the nature of the NCWIT illustrated that the issue of encouraging more women to become IT professionals was an international one.
“NCWIT is a very big, well-supported organisation in the US and they have strategic partners including the National Science Foundation, Microsoft and the Bank of America, which underlines that the shortage of women working in IT is seen as a major issue that has to be resolved, not just in the US but worldwide.”
The Academic Alliance is one of several NCWIT Alliances and is charged with “implementing institutional change in higher education”. Dr Coldwell said that by being a member Deakin would have the opportunity to learn from NCWIT's experience.
“NCWIT is a creditable and reputable organisation and they provide a focal point for a lot of initiatives across the ‘gender in technology' arena, so we're hoping to gain from this and to be able to speed up the impact of initiatives here by using their experiences.”
Judging by the feedback from those involved, a collaborative master class design workshop and study experience involving Deakin University's School of Architecture and Building, the International Islamic University of Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and the Malaysian Institute of Architects was an outstanding success.
Intercultural Dialogue through Design (iDiDe) Australia-Malaysia 2010-11 brought together master of architecture students, academics and architecture practitioners - including Deakin alumni working in Malaysia - in a collaborative learning experience involving both virtual and face to face communication. The program's design brief was for an Australian Art and Cultural Centre on a site in Kuala Lumpur and centered on considerations of Australian cultural identity and intercultural insight being applied to climatic, cultural and social contexts in Malaysia.
Participants in the workshop and design program spent an initial six-week period focused on intercultural and cross team communication around the site analysis and initial site response using online and virtual learning environments between Australian and Malaysia. This was followed by Deakin students and academics spending ten days in Malaysia working directly with their colleagues there.
According to program coordinator and Deakin lecturer, Susan Ang, the program received positive evaluations from participants, with comments ranging from it having taught “[me] more about architecture, practice and collaboration than any other unit in my time at university” to it being the “the best event of my academic experience at Deakin” to another learning “a great deal about another culture and about my own”.
Ms Ang said watching the working relationships and friendships develop between students was another highlight.
Associate Professor Cenk Suphioglu, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and Head of Deakin's NeuroAllergy Research Laboratory (NARL), was a guest on ABC TV's Catalyst program recently, giving an insight into the phenomenon of thunderstorm induced asthma.
The story looked at the distress suffered by many Melburnians in November last year when an asthma thunderstorm struck the city, bringing in ryegrass pollens. Associate Professor Suphioglu explained to Catalyst presenter Tanya Ha the role ryegrass pollens play in thunderstorm asthma when they interact with moisture and why Melbourne is so affected.
“Melbourne is particularly a hotspot for this because when these pollens are being released, are picked up by northerly winds and all of the growth is in the northern parts of Vic, and the northerly winds pick them up and bring them into the metropolitan area where most of us are, and then you have the perfect model system for thunderstorm induced asthma.”
You can view the full Thunderstorm Asthma story and transcript on the Catalyst web site
Two members of the School of Engineering will have the opportunity to strengthen research ties overseas as the result of successful funding applications.
Professor Bas Baskaran is one of three professors from Australia selected to visit Thailand in June as part of the Visiting Researcher Program - Thailand 2011. Outstanding researchers in Environmental Science and related fields were invited to apply for the program, which is an initiative of Austrade Bangkok.
The program's selection panel included representatives from Thai universities, key organisations in the field of Environment Development, Austrade, Australian Education International (AEI), as well as input from the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR). The aims of the program are to “reinforce Australia's reputation in high quality education and research” and to “enable Australian researchers to expand their academic and business networks in Thailand” as well as encourage Thai students to study in Australia.
Dr Ben Horan will be visiting Seoul National University in South Korea in May after being awarded a grant under the Australian Academy of Science's Australia-Korea Foundation ECR S&T Researcher's Program. The program is an initiative of the Australia-Korea Foundation (AKF), the Australian Academy of Science, the National Research Foundation of Korea and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and aims to enhance Australia-Korea links in science and technology. Dr Horan's collaborative haptics research in conjunction with the Centre for Intelligent Systems Research at Deakin lays the foundation for the visit.
The program is described as aiming to “enable active Australian early career researchers to visit Korea in order to raise and awareness of, and interest in, Australian research experience in Korea and also provide Australian participants with the opportunity to access equipment, knowledge and skills not available in Australia" as well as facilitate the development and strengthening of personal research networks, investigate institutional cooperative opportunities and explore possibilities for shared research infrastructure in both countries.
Professor Andrew F Bennett, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, has been awarded a Charles Bullard Fellowship in Forest Research from Harvard University.
The fellowship program supports “advanced research and study by individuals who show promise of making an important contribution, either as scholars or administrators, to forestry and forest-related subjects from biology to earth sciences, economics, politics, administration, philosophy, humanities, the arts or law”.
In offering his congratulations, Head of the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Professor Guang Shi, said it was not only wonderful news for Professor Bennett, but also for the School and for Deakin.
Under the program, Fellows spend between six and 12 months at either Harvard Forest or the main Harvard campus, to carry out research in the broad area of forestry.
Harvard Forest is described as “one of the oldest and most intensively studied forests in North America”, with its land and facilities providing a comprehensive base for research and education in forest biology and ecology.
Professor Bennett said he was honoured to receive the fellowship and the opportunities it offered.
"This is a great opportunity to work in Harvard Forest and learn from the research that is going on there. As well as being intellectually appealing, the Forest is also an attractive location - a quiet, country environment I enjoy.”
During his fellowship, planned for the second half of 2012, Professor Bennett will study the way in which landscape structure mediates change in biodiversity at large scales and over long time frames. He will investigate ecological resilience in regional landscapes, using data from a study of change in woodland birds in the temperate woodlands of southern Australia, and from the wealth of knowledge at Harvard Forest on long-term change in land cover and land use in the New England region.
Professor Andrew F Bennett (School of Life and Environmental Sciences) is one of the co-editors of a new book which aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the state of Australia’s temperate woodlands as well as potential strategies for the future.Temperate Woodland Conservation and Management is described as summarising the “main discoveries, management insights and policy initiatives ... associated with temperate woodlands in Australia”. Professor Bennett’s co-editors on the book were Professor David Lindenmayer (ANU) and Professor Richard Hobbs (UWA).
Professor Bennett said that up until about 20 years ago, relatively little attention was paid to southern Australia’s temperate woodlands. They have been heavily cleared and have become highly fragmented.“The changes to our temperate woodlands - areas of grassy woodland more open than forests - have been profound in terms of the loss of species and loss of vegetation,” he said. “Generally they coincide with the wheat-sheep belt of southern Australia, where agricultural development has been concentrated.
“With this book we wanted to provide an up-to-date summary of temperate woodlands in Australia, the lessons that have been learned and strategies for the future.
“We invited contributions from a wide range of people with expertise in different fields associated with temperate woodlands - science, policy, and management - and asked them to share their key lessons with us,” Professor Bennett said.“We hope this book proves to be a useful resource for scientists and land managers and makes a positive contribution to the conservation and management of our temperate woodlands.”
A CIB Student Chapter has been established at Deakin’s School of Architecture and Building.
CIB is described as a “worldwide network of over 5000 experts from about 500 member organisations covering all fields in building and construction related research and innovation”. The acronym CIB comes from Conseil International du Batiment (or International Council for Building in English).*
Head of School, Professor Hisham Elkadi, praised the establishment of the Chapter.
“This is an international recognition and endorsement of the professional and academic standards in the School and the high level of research activities in this research field. I commend our PhD students for their achievement,” Professor Elkadi said.
“I would like particularly to thank Dr Rebecca Yang for her initiatives and Inji Kenawy and the student team for all their excellent work.”
The objective of the Deakin-CIB Student Chapter is to provide an outstanding platform for researchers to enhance their contribution to knowledge by developing research interests and meaningful exchange between the entire spectrum of architecture, building and construction interests and the global research community.
All postgraduate research students in the School are encouraged to join the Chapter as they get the benefit of having a reliable and effective access point to the global research community. The School’s undergraduate students are also encouraged to join to take part in activities such as workshops, seminars and other social activities.
For more information please contact Deakin-CIB Student Chapter President Inji Kenawy: email@example.com.* In 1998, the full name changed to International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction, but the acronym was kept.
Dr Bernard Rolfe (School of Engineering) and Professor Lingxue Kong (Centre for Material and Fibre Innovation) are members of a group of eight “outstanding mid-career researchers” visiting China in April as participants in the 2011 Australia China Young Scientists Exchange Program.
“This is an exciting opportunity to build on the research collaborations Deakin already has in China, as well as make new contacts and explore new possibilities,” Dr Rolfe said.
The program is described as targeting “mid-career researchers who have shown both technical expertise and leadership potential in science and technology”. The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) work closely to organise the exchange placements and the program is supported by matching funds provided by MOST and the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR).
More information about the research interests of Dr Rolfe and Professor Kong can be found on their profile pages. More information about the Australia China Young Scientists Exchange Program can be found on the ATSE website
A research visit to Japan by Dr Alecia Bellgrove (School of Life and Environmental Sciences) is one of the case studies featured in the Australian Academy of Science publication: Success Stories of the International Science Linkages (ISL) Science Academies Program.
Dr Bellgrove was awarded a grant for a Scientific Visit to Japan in 2008-09, enabling her to conduct research into the dispersal ecology of algae at the Shimoda Marine Research Centre at the University of Tsukuba. The visit allowed Dr Bellgrove to build on findings from a previous Scientific Visit she made in 2004-05.
As well as ensuring the continuation of the research collaboration with the University of Tsukuba, the visit also enabled Dr Bellgrove to initiate collaborations with Ochanomizu University and the University of Yamanashi.
Dr Bellgrove said the results were exciting.
“The Scientific Visits program, supported by the Australian Academy of Science and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, has facilitated some very fruitful collaboration with Japanese researchers from a number of different institutions as well as access to state-of-the art equipment,” Dr Bellgrove said.
“The results we have gained from our collaborative research are very exciting for progressing our understanding of algal ecology and ecophysiology. This knowledge is important for a number of reasons, including furthering the understanding of how oceans and coastal environments may respond to climate change.
“These results have been made possible by the unique skills of the multidisciplinary team that I have been able to collaborate with through the supported visits to Japan.”Success Stories of the International Science Linkages (ISL) Science Academies Program is available online at the Australian Academy of Science website: www.science.org.au/internat
A European initiative called “Money Follows Researcher” is helping Dr Bernhard Dichtl (School of Life and Environmental Sciences) continue work here at Deakin on a research project he began in Switzerland.
Dr Dichtl, a molecular biologist, came to Deakin last November from the University of Zurich. Under the scheme he has been able to transfer a research grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) to Deakin. The grant is supporting a project investigating the basic mechanisms of gene expression.
“The idea of the scheme is to help ensure the continuation of ongoing research projects and to bridge funding gaps following the move of a researcher to a new organisation in another country,” Dr Dichtl said.
“By generously agreeing to this transfer, the SNF is continuing to support my project, even though it is now being carried out in Australia. The focus is on the research, not where it is done.” Equipment as well as funding followed Dr Dichtl to Deakin in the transfer.
The title of Dr Dichtl's project is “Regulation and assembly of the Set1C/COMPASS methyltransferase”.
“The DNA present in cells is not simply a naked thread of nucleic acid; it is tightly wrapped around histone proteins and this structural arrangement strongly influences whether or not the genetic information is in an active or silent state,” Dr Dichtl explained.
“Methyltransferases are modification enzymes which add biochemical tags on the histone proteins, regulating the activity state of a gene. One focus of our work is on how these methyltransferases work, how their activity is regulated and how they are assembled.”
“Money Follows Researcher” is an initiative of EUROHORCs (European Heads of Research Councils).
Working in a dynamic environment is one of the things that attracted Professor Guy Littlefair, Deakin's new Head of the School of Engineering, to the discipline.
“I enjoy the challenge of being in a dynamic environment, which is where the majority of engineering roles are,” Professor Littlefair said.
“I also enjoy problem solving and engineering is all about that - understanding a problem, developing a solution and putting it into place. It's a very diverse field and it's also a great career choice if you want to travel, with opportunities to work globally.”
Professor Littlefair took up his new role at Deakin in January and says he was drawn to the potential he saw here.
“My goal is to build on what has already been achieved here and make the School of Engineering an example of international best practice in terms of its approaches and outputs in research and learning,” Professor Littlefair said. “Another goal is to encourage more female and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engineering students.”
On a more personal note, Professor Littlefair said with the School being located at the Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus, another attraction was the lifestyle opportunity to live on the Surf Coast.
Professor Littlefair came to Deakin from New Zealand's Auckland University of Technology (AUT) where he was the Deputy Head of School of Engineering and Head of the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. His PhD is in Mechanical Engineering from Nottingham Trent University in the UK and his research is in the machining and machinability of materials.