Faculty news

07/2014 Deakin scientists watch tagged turtles from space

07/2014 Locking out illegal downloads

07/2014 Faculty researchers receive Deakin’s highest honour

07/2014 Snapped - miniature mammals discovered

07/2014 Faculty ARC Linkage Success

06/2014 Frogs have hunters on the hop: Now you see me - now you don't

06/2014 Fostering altruism - a new approach to gaming

05/2014 Important migratory corridor for endangered marine species off north-west Australia

04/2014 Visual tricks may aid male great bowerbird's mating success

04/2014 New research makes migrant species a conservation priority

04/2014 Baum, Deakin Engineering and the pursuit of bespoke perfection

04/2014 Beyond the impasse

02/2014 Exhibition showcases students' design excellence

02/2014 IT security a rewarding career choice

02/2014 Rosella research makes for colourful cover story

01/2014 Give predators a chance

12/2013 CADET vision taking shape with arrival of new equipment

12/2013 Secrets of Lady Bay fishers revealed in Deakin study

11/2013 TOBY Playpad engaged

11/2013 Ramping up success

10/2013 Animal personalities more like humans than first thought

10/2013 Plankton species heading for extinction

09/2013 Funding helps researchers make the most of marine extract

09/2013 Giving expert thought to cyber security

08/2013 Forensic students confronted with gruesome reality of working crime scenes

08/2013 Deakin graduate to improve access to sanitation in Timor-Leste

07/2013 Presidential role for LES researcher

07/2013 One in eight Australian IPs are exposed to web threats every day, reveals study

07/2013 Research on solid footing

Faculty news archive


Faculty researchers receive Deakin’s highest honour

 Three members of the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment are among six researchers to have this year received Deakin's highest honour - Alfred Deakin Professorships.
The faculty members awarded Alfred Deakin Professorships in 2014 are:

  • Professor Matthew Barnett, Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Chair in Metallurgy.
  • Professor Graeme Hays, Chair in Marine Science.
  • Professor Ivan Stojmenovic, Professor of Computer Science.

Read more details about the 2014 Alfred Deakin Professors on the Deakin Research website: Deakin salutes research luminaries.


Faculty ARC Linkage Success

 Researchers from Deakin University’s Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment are leading three projects announced in the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project scheme awards for funding commencing in 2014.

  • Professor Colin Barrow is leading a project concerning processing of omega-3 lipids from fish and algal oils. With Professor Neil Barnett and colleagues.
  • Professor Andy T.D. Bennett is leading a project concerning transmission of avian-borne diseases. With Professor Marcel Klaassen, Associate Professor Kate Buchanan, Dr Mathew Berg; Professor Martyn Jeggo and Professor Ken Walder (Faculty of Health) and colleagues.
  • Professor Svetha Venkatesh is leading a project concerning IT-based interventions for autism. With Associate Professor Dinh Phung and colleagues.

Overall, the University will lead seven projects and collaborate on a number of others, resulting in over $2.5 million in funding. More details can be found on the Deakin Research website.


Important migratory corridor for endangered marine species off north-west Australia

 Flatback turtle. Photograph courtesy Patrick Becker.

The value of Australia’s newly established network of marine parks has been highlighted by an international project that used satellites to track the vulnerable flatback sea turtle.

Researchers from Deakin University, Swansea University (United Kingdom) and Pendoley Environmental consultancy used advanced satellite tracking systems to record the passage of more than 70 flatbacks off the north-west Australian coastline.

A high value migratory corridor, more than 1,000 kilometres in length, was pinpointed, with about half the corridor contained within the network of marine reserves.

‘Our findings show that much of the flatback turtle’s transit passage - between its breeding colonies and foraging grounds - falls within the newly established Commonwealth Marine Reserve network,’ Deakin University animal movement expert Professor Graeme Hays says.

‘These findings will help refine ongoing conservation planning to protect this wide-ranging turtle species using the Australian coast, including the identification of high use areas outside the existing reserve network.’

Read more about the research in the full media release.

Watch an interview with Professor Hayes on the ABC news website.


Exhibition showcases students’ design excellence

 Paper Space, the School of Architecture and Built Environment’s annual exhibition showcasing outstanding work from 2013 undergraduate and master’s degree students, was held in November last year.

Visions for buildings close to home in Geelong and as far away as the Arctic Circle were brought to life in the exhibition. Among the creative works on display were redesigns of the Geelong Yacht Club, Jan Juc Surf Life Saving Club, Geelong laneways and buildings as well as designs created in answer to international briefs, skyscrapers in Hong Kong and the San Francisco fire house.

The exhibition’s opening night was a chance to celebrate the students’ hard work. Deakin Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jane den Hollander, officially opened the exhibition. Over 300 guests attended the opening including many of the Geelong mayoral candidates, members of the Geelong Council, CEO of the City of Greater Geelong, as well as representatives of industry, students, staff, family and friends.

The exhibition was open to the public for 10 days with more than 550 people visiting during this time. The School of Architecture and Built Environment would like to acknowledge the hard work of the Paper Space Team and congratulate our students on the success of Paper Space 2013.


IT security a rewarding career choice

 The achievements of Deakin School of Information Technology PhD student Veelasha Moonsamy have been highlighted in an article published on specialty IT news site CSO Online.

Originally from Mauritius, Veelasha did her Bachelor of Information Technology (IT Security) at Deakin and then an honours thesis on malicious software. Her PhD thesis is exploring the privacy and security of users' personal information on smartphones.

The article highlighted Veelasha’s success in being awarded two (ISC)2 Foundation scholarships: in 2012 an (ISC)2 Foundation Graduate Research Project scholarship and in 2013 an (ISC)2 Foundation Women's Scholarship, one of only three awarded worldwide. The (ISC)2 Foundation is part of (ISC)2, a global organisation which describes itself as the ‘largest not-for-profit membership body of certified information and software security professionals’.

Read the full article about Veelasha by David Braue on the CSO website.


Rosella research makes for colourful cover story

 A paper co-authored by Deakin University researchers and published in The Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB) about how parrots see their colours was also selected as that issue’s cover story and featured in the journal’s ‘Inside JEB’ section.

Dr Ben Knott, Dr Mathew Berg, Associate Professor Kate Buchanan and Professor Andy T. D. Bennett from the Centre of Integrative Ecology in Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences collaborated with colleagues from Western Australia and the United Kingdom on the paper, which was published in JEB’s 1 December 2013 issue.

‘We were studying the colour vision of the Adelaide rosella to lead in to a bigger study assessing whether the considerable colour differences in plumage observed in the crimson rosella - a single species group in south-eastern Australia that comprises crimson, yellow and Adelaide rosellas - corresponded to differences in how the birds perceived colour,’ Dr Knott explains.

‘First, using custom-built microspectrophotometers in London and at the Waurn Ponds campus, we measured the colour sensitivity of individual cells in the rosella retina. Following this, we sequenced the light-sensitive proteins in the eye, and found sequences that could potentially affect the function of these proteins, and that were unique not only to birds, but unique to all vertebrates. These sequences are now the basis for an ongoing comparative study.’

On the basis of the paper, a photograph of an Adelaide morph of the crimson rosella by Deakin Research Fellow Dr Raoul Ribot was chosen to appear on the front cover of the issue.

Follow this link to the issue on the JEB website.

Knott, B., Davies, W. I. L., Carvalho, L. S., Berg, M. L., Buchanan, K. L., Bowmaker, J. K., Bennett, A. T. D. and Hunt, D. M. (2013). How parrots see their colours: novelty in the visual pigments of Platycercus elegans. Journal of Experimental Biology 216, 4454-4461.


CADET vision taking shape with arrival of new equipment

 Deakin University’s forthcoming Centre for Advanced Design in Engineering Training (CADET) will provide some of the best design-focused engineering facilities in the Australian university sector.

Located at the University’s Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus, CADET will offer programs for young people right from Year 8 through to PhD level. With CADET’s doors expected to open to students in 2015, Deakin’s School of Engineering has started taking delivery of some of the advanced equipment that will help make the CADET vision a reality.

These include an Alicona G4 Infinite Focus 3D optical surface profilometer, which measures the profile of a surface without making contact and provides extremely accurate 3D images of surfaces at a microscopic level; an SLM 125 HL Laser Selective Laser Melting 3D metal printer, which uses laser to melt metal powder to build up a 3D shape from a CAD type file; and a Project 660 Pro full colour 3D plaster printer, which uses plaster to build up models and is a perfect tool to demonstrate the potential of rapid prototyping to students.

Professor Guy Littlefair, Head of Engineering in Deakin’s Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, says a unique aspect of CADET is the accessibility undergraduate students will have to this high-end equipment.

‘Although similar types of technologies and equipment may be able to be found within some industries and universities, CADET will be unique in making this very high end equipment accessible to undergraduate students and not simply researchers and academics,’ Professor Littlefair explains.

CADET is a partnership between Deakin University and the Australian Government.


Secrets of Lady Bay fishers revealed in Deakin study

 Warrnambool’s Lady Bay attracts mostly local recreational fishers who have a good efficiency rate in catching snapper, a Deakin University study has found.

The study by School of Life and Environmental Sciences honours student Lauren Dickson into the recreational fishing catch and effort in Lady Bay found most anglers are males aged 40-54 years and they travelled an average 44km to fish. They are also successful with 86 per cent catching fish in trips lasting an average 5.5 hours. 'This clearly illustrates the catching efficiencies and high specialisation of Lady Bay’s anglers,' Ms Dickson said.

A total of 30 species of fish were caught across 1434 individual catches during the survey period. Snapper was the primary catch with 43 per cent of the total.

Ms Dickson, who completed her undergraduate degree in environmental science majoring in marine biology at Warrnambool, said recreational fisheries are becomingly increasingly important worldwide; however the lack of information regarding their impact is preventing adequate management.

Her study aimed to test different sampling methods to inform recreational fisheries managers on the best way to estimate catch and effort. However, Ms Dickson said there was no feasible way to capture overall fishing catch and effort because there were too many confounding variables.

The study found the fishery is highly localised and specialised and largely attracts snapper catches.

Ms Dickson said 91 per cent of the anglers were male, much higher than general fishing population statistics for Victoria which show about 67 per cent are males.

The study found that 36 per cent of anglers were members of fishing clubs, with 21 per cent belonging to the local angling club.

'Better understanding of recreational snapper fishing in the south west of Victoria will be important to fisheries managers managing this fishery resource. It is essential that recreational catch is factored into overall management strategies,' Ms Dickson said.

'Given the high level of fishing effort, specialisation and high experience level of anglers, the total annual catch of many species, particularly snapper, may be substantial for Lady Bay and needs to be adequately represented in stock assessment and managerial decisions in the future.'

One hundred and forty four groups of people were interviewed for the study earlier this year. It was the first catch and effort study undertaken in Lady Bay.

Ms Dickson’s study was supervised by Associate Professor Laurie Laurenson and Dr Anne Wallis.


Funding helps researchers make the most of marine extracts

 A project involving Deakin University’s Centre for Chemistry and Biotechnology (CCB) has been awarded NZ$10.8 million in funding in the New Zealand Government’s 2013 Science Investment Round.

‘Export Marine Products’ is a new six-year project aimed at capitalising on the high-value marine extracts market.

Professor Colin Barrow, from Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences and CCB Director, is heading Deakin’s involvement in the project, working with scientists from New Zealand’s Plant & Food Research organisation as well as industry partners. The project will be based in Nelson in New Zealand.

‘This project is pretty exciting,’ Professor Barrow says. ‘The funding is for NZ$10.8 million over six years so not only is this a large amount of money, but it has a long-term focus, working for a long period of time with industry partners who are committed to the project.’

The program is described as taking a ‘whole fish, whole value chain approach’, examining how to extract maximum value from marine products at multiple points in the value chain, converting traditionally low value by-product streams into high value marine molecules, as well as developing new unique marine extracts with proven applications, such as nutraceuticals, functional food ingredients and biomaterials.

Dr Sue Marshall, Plant & Food Research Science Group leader, explains further.

‘Aside from food uses, marine organisms contain many useful compounds including bioactives for body, skin and hair health and large polymers for biomaterials. These are often found in low value by-product streams too, so the potential to add value to the industry is huge,’ Dr Marshall says.

Although the project has a New Zealand focus, Professor Barrow says that researchers will also be working on Australian materials and project outcomes will also have applications for Australia.

‘A lot of it is around ‘green’ chemistry: taking waste products and trying to utilise all of the materials,’ Professor Barrow explains.

‘The diversity of marine life is another aspect. The marine environment has more than half the biodiversity on earth, so we will be looking at marine organisms and enzymes and what we can do with those that might be useful.’

Professor Barrow says the project is part of an ongoing collaboration he has had with Plant & Food Research for a number of years.

‘This project particularly aligns with my research interests in peptide and protein fibres, marine lipases for omega-3 processing and marine derived functional food ingredients,’ Professor Barrow says.

‘The project is an extension of a collaboration that formally started with a jointly funded PhD student, Tim Nalder, who is nearing completion of his Deakin PhD, after spending the first year of his research at Plant & Food New Zealand in Nelson and the remaining two years at Deakin’s Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus.’

Read more about the project in the Plant & Food Research media release: http://www.plantandfood.co.nz/page/news/media-release/story/marine-extracts-earns-nod-from-government/


Giving expert thought to cyber security

 As his visit to Deakin University as part of the ‘Thinkers in Residence’ program came to a close, the words Professor Yuliang Zheng used to describe the program were simple: ‘a great idea, excellent’.

Professor Zheng, from the Department of Software and Information Systems at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, is known as the father of signcryption technology which is now an international standard for data security. His pioneering research into immunising public key encryption against adaptive attacks has been embodied in numerous international standards for public key cryptography, including those from ISO, IEEE and IETF.

Professor Lynn Batten, coordinator of the Securing Cyberspace Research Laboratory in Deakin’s School of Information Technology, is a collaborator of Professor Zheng and the lab was instrumental in organising his visit (from late June to mid-August).

While Professor Zheng was at Deakin, he and Professor Batten planned a joint journal paper on tensions over data access between governments and business, to be developed over the next year or so. They also agreed to collaborate on an ARC Discovery grant application for the next round.

Professor Zheng was also instrumental in offering advice and guidance on final revisions to a journal paper on electronic cash by Professor Batten and Professor Xun Yi (Victoria University, Melbourne). He also assisted several PhD students with advice on their projects and is now an associate supervisor of a Deakin PhD student.

During his visit, Professor Zheng gave two public lectures - the first sharing his personal experience in commercialising and standardising scholarly research and the second discussing public key cryptography for cloud computing - and presented three research seminars.

‘That was quite exciting for me as well because the format of the seminars was half my presentation and the other half basically discussion,’ Professor Zheng explains.

‘I wanted to motivate the students to participate in the discussion. So overall, I think it was great... there was a lot of discussion. The seminars were just one hour - not enough!’ he laughs.

As a leader in his field, Professor Zheng was asked if he had any thoughts for students considering a career in this area.

‘I think cyber security definitely is one of the very good areas to be in for future jobs, because the security issues are getting bigger and bigger over time and, from small business all the way to large, as well as government agencies, they are all looking for experts, professionals who can actually help protect information assets. So I think it definitely is an area for students to look into considering future job opportunities and, not to mention, you know it actually pays pretty good!’

Read more about Deakin’s ‘Thinkers in Residence’ program.


Forensic students confronted with gruesome reality of working crime scenes

In a corner of Deakin University's Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus an inconspicuous building is set to be the site of some grisly scenes. It has been converted into a purpose-built facility to provide Deakin's forensic science students with a real-life experience of working a crime scene.

Officially opened on 7 August, The Roger Lewis and Michael Liddy Forensic Crime Scene Training Centre includes a kitchen, lounge room and bedroom (with a bathroom to be fitted shortly), all ready to be staged with the gruesome elements forensic investigators are confronted with, from body fluids and blood to finger prints and fibres and weapons.

'With this new facility we will add a dose of reality to the skills our students have developed through the forensic science program,' said Dr Xavier Conlan, a senior lecturer in forensic science at Deakin.

'We have the flexibility to stage a wide range of crime scenes such as a clandestine drug lab or fatal stabbing. Working the scenarios will provide a holistic experience of what is involved in working a crime scene from the correct way to identify, collect and store evidence, to in the lab analysis and presenting the evidence in court.'

Guests at the opening were welcomed by a homicide scene that involved a clandestine drug laboratory. The scene had been processed by the 'investigators' and gave the visitors a real feel for the atmosphere in a gruesome forensic crime scene.

'Our program is well respected within the forensic science community and our undergraduate students have opportunities to mix with real world forensic practitioners,' said Dr Michelle Harvey, course director of Deakin's Bachelor of Forensic Science.

'We train the ultimate problem solvers. They leave us with outstanding analytical skills making them extremely sought after by employers.'

Read the full media release and watch a video interview by The Age on the Deakin Newsroom website: deakin.edu.au/news/2013/070813crimescenetraining.php

Find out more about studying Forensic Science at Deakin.


Deakin graduate to improve access to sanitation in Timor-Leste

Rob Leeson, Deakin University engineering graduate and Coordinator of Engineering Development at the City of Ballarat, is embarking on a 12-month volunteer placement with Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB) in Timor-Leste, applying his engineering skills to improve the access to clean water and sanitation for rural communities in Dili.

Rob started his engineering studies at Deakin in 1994, graduating with honours in 1997. He also worked as a volunteer while he was at Deakin, volunteering for 'a number of conservation jobs with the Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers (Conservation Volunteers Australia)'.

EWB says Rob will be working as a Rural Water Supply Technical Advisor to provide mentoring and training to government District Water Supply Officers and Technicians, which will allow staff to effectively plan for and manage the construction of sustainable and well maintained rural water systems in Timor-Leste. He will be working in partnership with BESIK (Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program) and the Government of Timor-Leste.

BESIK is an Australian Government funded program working to improve the lives of rural communities in Timor-Leste. This organisation works closely with the Government of Timor-Leste to improve health and quality of life of rural East Timorese through sustainable and equitable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) actions which encourage community ownership.

'I have long had a dream to undertake a volunteer role as part of my engineering, and EWB's WASH program in Timor-Leste allows me to fulfil this dream,' Rob says.

'I am looking forward to collaborating with the local communities to develop WASH systems and mentoring BESIK staff on the operation and maintenance of these systems. It is both powerful and humbling to be given the opportunity to apply my professional skills in Timor-Leste.'

EWB is a not-for-profit organisation with 10 years' experience creating systemic change through humanitarian engineering. To learn more about EWB's work visit www.ewb.org.au


Presidential role for LES researcher

Dr Matthew Symonds, an evolutionary biologist and lecturer in Deakin's School of Life and Environmental Sciences, has been appointed President of the Australasian Evolution Society.

The Australasian Evolution Society is a professional society for researchers and students in the field of evolutionary biology in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. It has more than 100 members, including geneticists, ecologists, botanists and zoologists.

'It's very exciting to be serving as president of the society for 2013 and 2014,' Dr Symonds says.

'The Australasian region has particular strength and talent in the field of evolution, and members of our society are at the forefront of evolutionary research worldwide. So, it's an honour to be able to act in a capacity that seeks to unite this community.

'I see my role as president as being a facilitator in trying to strengthen ties and communication not only among Australasian evolutionary researchers, but also to the wider public with an interest in science.

'One simple way of doing this is to champion and publicise the fascinating and diverse kinds of evolutionary research going on in the region, and make people more aware of the talented and dynamic individuals who are carrying out this research.'

Another aspect of Dr Symonds' role as president is organising the biannual conference for the society, which this year is in Geelong at the end of September.

'We've got a really exciting line-up of talks shaping up, covering everything from the evolution of leadership in humans to the way cuckoos are able to dupe their hosts.'

Dr Symonds describes his research as covering a broad range of questions and systems, 'but primarily seeks to understand why there is diversity among even quite closely related species'.

'I have a broad range of evolutionary questions and ideas that I am interested in. Being associated with the Australasian Evolution Society therefore really helps to stimulate the creation of those ideas because you are hearing all about this amazing research being conducted by your colleagues in the same field. I also teach evolution to undergraduates at Deakin, so it's a great opportunity to encounter new studies that I can use to illustrate evolutionary processes in my classes.'

Deakin is hosting the 8th biannual meeting of the Australasian Evolution Society at the Geelong Conference Centre from 30 September to 2 October 2013. For more information visit the Society's website: http://australasianevolutionsociety.com/ .


One in eight Australian IPs are exposed to web threats every day, reveals study

One in approximately eight Australian IPs are exposed to one or more web threats on any typical day, researchers from Deakin University and Trend Micro have revealed. In a report released by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project, the researchers analysed malicious activity from over 200,000,000 web requests per day from Australia, with around 400,000 of these issued to malicious web pages.

The report, Analysis of the Australian Web Threat Landscape, analyses and discusses threats on the Australian web landscape and provides statistics on what is happening to the average Australian user of the world wide web.

'The ARC Linkage project allows us to apply large scale analytics techniques to analyse massive volumes of Trend Micro malware sensor data,' said Professor Yang Xiang, from Deakin's School of Information Technology. 'Though Australia is geographically isolated in the Southern Hemisphere, it is attracting a significant volume of web threats.'

Within the sample processed for this report, approximately one in every 2,500 web hits originating from Australia is malicious in nature, resulting in Australian users being victim to three per cent of the world web threat attacks.

The report showed that peak periods of website traffic occurred on weekdays during work hours but the curve of malicious traffic reversely vibrates along with the volume changes of web hits.

Just above half (57 per cent) of malicious traffic was triggered by business product users whilst consumer product users accounted for over a third (41 per cent).

Read the full media release on the Trend Micro website.


Research on solid footing

Improving our understanding of the ground beneath us, specifically soil moisture, is the aim of a project by researchers in Deakin University's School of Architecture and Built Environment.

'The design and costs of constructing or repairing residential footings is influenced by the degree of ground movement, which is driven by changes in soil moisture,' researcher Dr Linda Osman-Schlegel explains.

Expansive soils experience significant change in volume from dry to wet periods, and building foundations in such conditions is an engineering challenge. Climate change affects ground movement and it is causing increasing damages in residential foundations. Repairing the damage is costing several hundred billion dollars worldwide.

The Thornthwaite Moisture Index (TMI) is used in many countries to guide standards for footing and slabs construction. TMI is a method for climate classification based on a water balance resulting in the effective moisture available in the environment. Positive values for TMI indicate that precipitation exceeds evaporation, and that there is a potential surplus of moisture in the area. On the other hand, negative values of TMI indicate deficit of water caused by evaporation above precipitation.

'In Australia TMI maps for building codes are generally incomplete, inaccurate or out-of-date,' Dr Osman-Schlegel says.

Enter TMImap - a research project developed by Dr Osman-Schlegel and Dr Simone Leao, her colleague in the School of Architecture and Built Environment, in partnership with HEDRA (Housing Engineering Design & Research Association). The project aims to produce accurate TMI maps for the state of Victoria for the last 100 years (1913 to 2012) using long-term historical climatic data and advanced spatial statistics methods in Geographic Information System (GIS).

'By analysing the spatial and temporal changes of TMI in Victoria, the main areas at risk for residential damages will be identified and present processes and future trends of population growth and urban expansion in vulnerable areas will be analysed,' Dr Simone Leao says.

'Preliminary results suggest that a better understanding of climate change through long-term TMI mapping can assist urban planning and guide construction regulations towards the development of cities which are more resilient.'


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