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29/11/2012 Birds of a feather
23/11/2012 CADET project gets the green light
27/07/2012 Celebrating how engineers 'make it so'
26/07/2012 Deakin Nao!
24/07/2012 Fur seal research receives conference award
20/07/2012 Go Girls Go for IT!
18/06/2012 Tribute for inspiring work in IT
22/05/2012 Prestigious award for early-career scientist
21/05/2012 Top 10 result for Deakin CISCO academy
18/05/2012 An insect's eye view of finding home
08/05/2012 Aquaculture research honoured
26/03/2012 Revolutionary research honoured
21/03/2012 New Research Centre for the School of IT
Recent findings by Alfred Deakin Professor John Endler and Dr Laura Kelley, Centre of Integrative Ecology, have been published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.
Professor Endler and Dr Kelley have been studying the mating habits of the great bowerbird. Their focus has been on the importance of the visual illusions the birds create within their bowers in attracting females and ultimate mating success. (Bowers consist of a tunnel of sticks leading to a court area decorated with stones, shells and bones built specifically for mating purposes.)
Their recent findings show that while the male great bowerbird might be a master of visual trickery when it comes to luring females into their bower, they have a distinct way of decorating that they rigidly stick with, regardless of how successful they are at attracting mates.
‘We know from our previous research that the quality of the visual illusion the males create with the objects in their bowers predicts their likelihood of attracting a mate,’ Professor Endler explained.
‘We now know that each bird has a preferred approach that they stick to, even if that approach is not attractive to females, and regardless of the help we gave them in improving the quality of their display.’
Flocks of red and yellow rosellas in southern Australia are playing a leading role in helping Deakin researchers solve a longstanding riddle about the creation of new avian species.
Traditionally, it has been believed that geographical barriers were the causes of changes in species, but according to Dr Mathew Berg, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Centre for Integrative Ecology, learned cultural characteristics, particularly birdsong, can also lead to these variations.
Reflecting the importance of this breakthrough work, Dr Berg and a team of researchers from Deakin and the CSIRO have just had a paper published in the prestigious journal PLOS ONE titled: ‘Learned vocal variation is associated with abrupt cryptic genetic change in a parrot species complex’.
‘The traditional idea of how a new species would come about is that a population would get separated by a geographic barrier,’ Dr Berg said.
‘They are physically prevented from exchanging their genes and so gradually over a period of time they will evolve to become different species.
‘We think it is not always that simple, because in southern Australia we have places where there is no physical separation between species, but where changes have occurred in the colouring of their plumage.’
Inland, the rosellas have yellow plumage, on the coast, it is red and in South Australia, there is a mix of the two colours.
‘They can change quite rapidly, and in a lot of species, vocalisations that they learn are also known to be involved in who individuals prefer to mate with.
‘So you might get these changes taking place quite quickly before any genetic changes can happen and they might cause different mate preferences or other differences between populations to take place.
‘That might then snowball, preventing the exchange of genes between certain populations in the same way a physical barrier might.’
Deakin Vice Chancellor, Professor Jane den Hollander, today welcomed the Federal Government's announcement of funding for the university's new Centre for Advanced Design in Engineering Training (CADET) at Geelong Waurn Ponds campus.
The $55 million state-of-the-art engineering facility has been announced as a successful project for funding under the Gillard Government's Regional Priorities Round of the Education Investment Fund (EIF).
EIF Funding of $21.5 million has been provided and Deakin will contribute the remainder.
“This is very welcome news not only for Deakin but for the Geelong economy and for the broader south-west region as this centre will bring new skills to the region, providing opportunities for the engineering jobs of the future,” Professor den Hollander said.
Deakin lodged its funding application in partnership with the Gordon Institute of TAFE earlier this year.
CADET will emphasise product design and development through virtual and physical modelling, simulation and prototyping and will offer programs for young people right from Year 8 through to PhD level.
“Through this centre we hope to build aspiration for careers in engineering, particularly amongst young women who are currently under-represented in the profession,” she said.
“To ensure that our programs hit the mark, we have been working closely with Matthew Flinders Girls Secondary College and Belmont High School as strategic partners to design the educational program for CADET.
“This project is a great example of secondary, vocational and tertiary education working together to design programs that will be applicable for all sectors and building the skills base to address a need in the community,” she said.
Secondary schools from across the south-west region and beyond will use the centre to demonstrate to students the opportunities that are available in an engineering career.
The centre will also provide for enhanced articulation pathways between the VET sector and Deakin.
In developing the concept for CADET, Deakin drew on new and emerging pedagogies in Asia, Europe and the United States and the new facility will have an emphasis on design with a problem-based learning approach.
“Australia has a critical shortage of engineers to cope with the demand for major infrastructure and technology projects and this centre will go some way to addressing that skills shortage in the Australian economy,” Professor den Hollander said.
“We have been encouraged by the widespread support for our bid from across the Geelong community and from organisations such as Engineers Australia,” she said.
Professor den Hollander said that CADET was a project that was important to Geelong with its economy in transformation.
“This is the future,” she said.
“CADET will help to build the skills across the region for the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow.”
Economic modelling by the City of Greater Geelong suggests that, during construction, the project will generate up to 187 new jobs in Geelong with an economic impact of around $160 million.
Dr Rohan Bilney, School of Life and Environmental Sciences PhD graduate, has won the Australian Journal of Zoology’s Best Student Paper Award.
The award is presented annually to the best paper in the journal that arises from student work. Papers are judged by a panel of editors on how well they ‘make an international impact in zoological research using Australasian animals’. The editors noted that Rohan’s paper involved ‘a considerable amount of work on a difficult species and presented important findings that would likely have international interest - in addition to important conservation implications’.
Rohan’s paper - Reversed sexual dimorphism and altered prey base: the effect on sooty owl (Tyto tenebricosa tenebricosa) - was co-authored with his PhD supervisors Dr Raylene Cooke and Dr John White, also both from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences.
‘Australian predators, such as the Sooty Owl, are likely to have been significantly affected by declines in distribution and abundance of small mammals - which are their main dietary items - following European settlement,’ Rohan explained. ‘It is therefore important for Sooty Owl conservation that we have a detailed understanding of their diet and how they have adapted to ecological changes. An interesting aspect of their diet relates to differences between the sexes due to the significant size differences between males and females, which is the greatest of any owl species in the world.’
As well as being honoured to receive the award, Rohan said it was especially rewarding to receive recognition for his research. As part of his prize, Rohan will be profiled in an upcoming issue of the journal. Dr Cooke said the award was very much deserved.
‘Working on Australian owls is very challenging, with the Sooty Owl being no exception,’ she said. ‘Rohan worked extremely hard, in very difficult terrain, to collect data on these owls and this award is certainly deserved.’
Rohan is currently working for an environmental consultancy called Wildlife Unlimited which is based in his home town of Bairnsdale.
A new collaborative partnership between Deakin University and Central China Normal University will help both teachers and students to better realise the educational potential of cutting-edge technologies.
The Information Technology for Future Education Joint Research Lab, located at Deakin’s Melbourne Burwood Campus, was officially opened on Wednesday 18 July by Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander and Central China Normal University (CCNU) President Professor Yang Zongkai. Also speaking at the opening ceremony were City of Melbourne Councillor Brian Shanahan OAM and Dr Sun Hongzhi, Consul (Education) of the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Melbourne.
Following the official opening, guests were treated to a number of presentations and demonstrations. These included the use of interactive whiteboards donated to Deakin by CCNU to show how traditional board-based teaching techniques could be enhanced using cutting-edge software currently under development by CCNU. Another feature was a display of group robot tai chi from Deakin, which illustrated the use of robots as a way for students to learn skills in interactive programming.
In his presentation, Professor Wanlei Zhou, Head of Deakin’s School of IT, noted that a key advantage provided by technological advances is that the world’s best specialists in a given research field can now collaborate closely together despite constraints of location and time. In this case, two groups of researchers on two different continents will be able to work in tandem, and use their combined expertise to jointly apply for research grants. Future outcomes of this Deakin-CCNU partnership may also include the provision of joint courses available to students at either institution, and perhaps the expansion of such a program to include institutions in other parts of the world.
This collaboration will also serve to further strengthen the ties between Deakin and China. China has been the source of many of Deakin’s innovative research collaborations, renowned academic staff and high-performing students.
Photo: Deakin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander with Central China Normal University (CCNU) President Professor Yang Zongkai at the opening.
Deakin’s School of Engineering is a sponsor of Australian Engineering Week (AEW), happening nationally from Monday 6 August to Sunday 12 August. Coordinated by Engineers Australia, the week has the slogan 'if you can imagine it, engineers make it so’ and celebrates and promotes the work of engineers at a variety of events.
As part of its activities during the week, the School is hosting two events at Deakin’s Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus, both designed to give secondary school students an insight into what a career in engineering can offer.
On Monday 6 August, the School, in collaboration with humanitarian relief personnel training agency Red R Australia, Engineers Australia and AKORN Educational Services, is hosting a 'Year 9 Engineering Students @ Work Humanitarian Conference Day’.
Year 9 students from schools across the Geelong region are participating in the day, including Belmont High School, Geelong Baptist College, Newcomb Secondary College, Geelong Lutheran College, Surf Coast Secondary and Matthew Flinders Girls Secondary College. Students will come together in teams made up of participants from each school to work on a project brief developed by Red R incorporating a real-life humanitarian event. The aim is to help students gain an understanding of engineering and the various opportunities it offers. Deakin engineering staff and students and engineers from Geelong industry will work with the teams to develop strategies for addressing the various issues presented in the project scenario.
'Humanitarian Day is a wonderful opportunity for Deakin engineering students, staff and local industry to engage with high school students from the Geelong region and provide them with an opportunity to experience first-hand the diverse roles professional engineers may undertake, as well provide an insight into life as an university student,’ says Professor Guy Littlefair, Head of Deakin's School of Engineering.
The second event Deakin and the School is hosting is the Victorian Science and Engineering Superchallenge on Friday August 10.
The Science and Engineering Challenge is an outreach program designed to inspire Year 10 students to study science and engineering at a senior level. Deakin was again the host for the Geelong region Challenge in May this year. The Superchallenge will see the winning schools from the Victorian regional Challenges come to Deakin to vie for the title of Winning School, Victoria.
Competing at the Superchallenge will be students representing Bendigo South East Secondary College, Creek Street Christian College, Scotch College, Melbourne Girls College, Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School, Whitefriars College and, the Geelong regional winners, Belmont High School and Christian College Geelong.
As well as Deakin’s School of Engineering, proud sponsors of the event are Rotary 9784 and Barwon Water and it is supported by the University of Newcastle.
These two events should provide a great opportunity for participating secondary school students to discover the possibilities of a career in engineering and how, as an engineer, they can 'make it so'.
The Games and Interactive Virtual Environments (GIVE) group in the School of Information Technology has recently acquired four Nao humanoid robots (pronounced 'now') as part of its Future Technologies Initiative. The FTI is a theme of teaching and research focusing on the new frontiers of interactive technology.
The robots will be used to enhance teaching and learning to produce the next generation of technologists capable of designing and developing applications for embodied technologies: computing systems that interact with their environment through perception, reasoning and action.
The robots will also support research into interaction with embodied devices, as well as support the marketing activities of the School in outreach activities and Open Day, to inspire children and youth to consider careers in IT and broader technology areas.
The Nao robot is a 57 cm humanoid robot with 25 degrees of freedom. It has a range of inbuilt sensors, including two cameras, sonar, infrared, contact and tactile, accelerometers and gyros. Nao is capable of object recognition, face detection and recognition, text-to-speech, speech recognition, sound detection and localisation. Nao can speak eight languages and conduct speech recognition in seven of these, including English and Chinese.
The 49th Annual Conference of the Australian Marine Sciences Association in early July was Travis Knox’s (School of Life and Environmental Sciences) first conference experience and it was a successful one, being awarded the Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation Best Poster in the area of science and conservation of marine vertebrates.
Travis recently completed his honours study with Associate Professor John Arnould from the School as his supervisor, and it was this research that won Travis his award, with his poster entitled 'Analysis of growth and stable isotopes in teeth of male Australian fur seals reveal inter-annual variability in prey resources’.
'It was an absolute honour to be recognised for my research so early in my career,’ Travis says.
'It was my first conference experience, and winning the award has given me a huge confidence boost because other scientists took a genuine interest in my work. Many were intrigued by the information that is available within the teeth of these mammals, and how it can be applied to a broader environmental scope.’
Travis did a Bachelor of Teaching (Science) / Bachelor of Science at the Melbourne Burwood Campus, majoring in Environmental Science, before completing honours with Associate Professor Arnould. Travis says he plans to continue to focus on his research.
'I am hoping to commence my PhD next year, continuing to work on the Australian fur seal, in particular contributing to reducing the current knowledge gap on males.
'After my PhD, I would be looking to combine both of my degrees in the field of academia. I have a particular interest in exploring foraging ecology in marine mammals. My overall goal in the area of marine science would be to spend time working on seals or penguins in Antarctica or on the sub-antarctic islands.’
The research by Travis and Associate Professor Arnould examined tooth growth patterns within the dentine growth layer groups of 67 male Australian fur seal teeth collected at Seal Rocks, in Bass Strait, south eastern Australia between 1967-1973. Clear fluctuations in relative growth were apparent between 1956-1971, suggesting large inter-annual variations in food availability within Bass Strait. These fluctuations were found to be significantly correlated to winter Bass Strait sea surface temperature, wind speed and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) on a two- year lag.
For two days in June, Deakin’s Melbourne Burwood Campus played host to the Go Girl, Go for IT 2012 (GG4IT) event, the fourth time it has hosted the event. An initiative of Women are IT and proudly presented by the Vic ICT for Women Network, this year the innovative careers showcase for secondary student girls had 750 students and teachers participating. Deakin’s involvement was headed by Associate Professor Jo Coldwell-Neilson (School of Information Technology) and Associate Professor Annemieke Craig (School of Information Systems).
Supported by generous sponsors and powered by many passionate volunteers, GG4IT was a free event designed to deliver some targeted messages about careers in IT in a fun and engaging forum. The aim was for students to be motivated to consider a career in technology by what they saw and heard during the event. Key messages were that careers in IT are incredibly diverse and study paths are many and varied.
Participating students had many positive role models over the two days including 2012 patron Janet Matton, VP of Operations at IBM, Australia and NZ and two Young Patrons in Jessica Scott and Tammy Butow, together with a stellar line-up of speakers.
At the lunchtime trade show, students had an opportunity to interact with some of Australia’s top IT employers and discuss the range of career options available in the field. This highlighted the practical ways studying IT can provide a head start for any occupation. Feedback during the event was that the speakers really hit the mark, engaging the girls and demonstrating how IT training helps open doors and create opportunities for everyone.
The event would not have been possible without the fantastic support of so many Schools and Divisions within Deakin. Special thanks go to Deakin event management, warehousing, ITS and Scanning Operations. Thank you all!
Deakin School of Engineering PhD candidate Buthainah Al-Kharabsheh was presented with the Gold Prize at the Korea International Women's Invention Exposition (KIWIE) 2012 held in Seoul in May.
Buthainah received the award in recognition of her research and work into producing coloured concrete through the use of local, raw (earth) materials.
In addition to the Gold Prize, Buthainah also received a Special Prize from the World Women Inventors Entrepreneurs Association (WWIEA), as well as recognition from the Association ‘Russian House for International Scientific and Technological Cooperation' and the State Office of Industrial Property of the Republic of Macedonia.
Buthainah was invited to participate in the exposition, which she attended independently, and said she was the only representative from Australia and Jordan. She said she was delighted, personally and professionally, with the outcome. Attending the exposition with Buthainah was her husband, Hasan Alqawasmeh, also from Deakin's School of Engineering.
‘I am thrilled by my success and it is a dream come true for my hard research work,' Buthainah said.
After beginning her work in this field seven years ago in her home country of Jordan, Buthainah chose to come to Deakin in October last year after receiving offers from a number of other universities internationally. She said she enjoyed engineering because it is 'realistic work, you can see what you do'.
Buthainah said the main features of her invention that were highlighted at the exposition were that it is an environmental friendly improvement idea for the usage of concrete, that no waste material is left after production, the low cost of the material to be mixed with the concrete mix design, and the improvement of some engineering properties of the concrete.
She said many of the inventions at the exposition were related to IT, medicine and modern technology, but her contribution in a field such as engineering was highly appreciated by the different committees at the event.
Buthainah thanked her supervisor at Deakin, Dr Riyadh Al-Ameri, for his encouragement and moral support to attend the event.
The Victorian Women in ICT Network has paid tribute to Associate Professor Jo Coldwell-Neilson, School of IT, by having her name inscribed on The Shilling Wall at the Queen Victoria Women's Centre.
The Shilling Wall and Garden provide a place in the heart of Melbourne ‘to reflect on inspiring women who have made a difference'. The glass wall is ‘an enduring tribute to women and is inscribed with the names of incredible women, celebrating their roles as mothers, grandmothers, caregivers, sisters, friends, colleagues and community contributors'.
Jo said the tribute was unexpected.
‘This came as a complete surprise,' said Jo. ‘I had no inkling that VIC ICT had nominated me to have my name placed on The Shilling Wall. It is an honour and extremely gratifying to receive such affirmation from my colleagues and peers for the work I have done supporting and encouraging females in and into the IT industry.'
The Shilling Wall name was inspired by the original 1896 'Queen Victoria Shilling Fund' which was established to raise money for the first women's hospital, 'to be run for women, by women'.
The panel with Jo's name will be unveiled later in the year. Congratulations, Jo!
A paper co-authored by School of Life and Environmental Sciences honours student Travis Park which confirms the discovery of the first fossil in Australia belonging to the Pelagornithidae, or 'giant bony-toothed birds' was published this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, generating substantial media interest.
Travis' co-authors on the paper were palaeontologist Dr Erich Fitzgerald (Geosciences, Museum Victoria and lead researcher) and Dr Trevor Worthy (University of New South Wales). According to the paper - Travis' first in this journal - the discovery 'confirms the distribution of pelagornithids on every continent and the global distribution of the genus Pelagornis during the late Neogene'.
'It's a great feeling to have my first publication,' Travis said. 'The discovery of this enigmatic group of seabirds not only adds to our understanding of the diversity of seabirds in the past in Australia, but serves as a reminder of how much more we still have to learn about these ancient ecosystems.'
Dr Fitzgerald is co-supervisor of Travis' honours project, together with Deakin's Professor Guang Shi - also a palaeontologist and LES head of school. Professor Shi said he was very proud of Travis' achievement.
'Travis is very passionate about palaeontology, especially vertebrate fossils,' Professor Shi said. 'I am very pleased and proud to see that one of our honours students is already engaged in publishing research in one of the leading journals in the field.'
Photo credit: Museum Victoria / Photographer: Jon Augier
In a research partnership between Deakin University and Parks Victoria, marine scientists have captured rare video footage of fish and other marine creatures living on the seafloor off western Victoria.
Researchers have for the first time captured high resolution video of fish and other sea creatures in their natural habitat 100 metres below the ocean surface at Discovery Bay Marine National Park, 20 kilometres west of Portland. The video footage is part of a project to understand the links between the characteristics of the seafloor and fish communities across Victoria’s marine national parks and sanctuaries.
'Ultimately we want to know what it is about particular areas along the seafloor that attract certain fish and other sea creatures,' said Dr Daniel Ierodiaconou, from Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the project’s lead researcher.
'Thanks to the latest in underwater video technology we are able to drop cameras to much lower depths than previously possible. The high resolution, continuous seafloor information we are filming is rare and for the first time we can see how marine creatures live on and near the seafloor.'
Deakin PhD graduate Dr Arati Agarwal has recently been announced as the winner of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists-Functional Plant Biology (ASPS-FPB) Best Paper Award for 2011. Presented annually by the journal Functional Plant Biology, published by CSIRO, the award recognises the best paper published in the journal in each calendar year by an early-career scientist.
Titled ‘Analysis of global host gene expression during the primary phase of the Arabidopsis thaliana-Plasmodiophora brassicae interaction’, the paper, based on Arati’s PhD research, was published in Functional Plant Biology, 2011, 38, 462-478. The paper is co-authored with an international team including Professor Jutta Ludwig-Müller of the Technical University Dresden, Germany, scientists from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries and David Cahill (Arati’s PhD supervisor) and James Rookes from Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences.
The paper discusses a study that provided further critical insights into the biology of P. brassicae during clubroot disease development. Clubroot disease is of worldwide significance and in Australia is an economically important disease of brassica crops such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Importantly, as outlined in the paper’s conclusion, the study demonstrated that in the early stages of the interaction, suppression of defence-related genes during invasion and colonisation by the pathogen appears to be necessary for the establishment of the pathogen within host roots. This finding may allow targeting of specific genes and signalling pathways for disease control.
Arati received her PhD in 2009 and now works with the Department of Primary Industries Biosciences Research Division. She said she was very proud to receive the award, describing it as the ‘highest accolade she could have dreamt of’. She is also looking forward to attending ComBio2012 in Adelaide in September this year where she has been invited to present her work in a symposium and officially be presented with her award.
The School of Information Technology established the Cisco Networking Academy in 2007. Through the academy the school offers the Cisco Academy curriculum that enables both undergraduate and postgraduate students to complement their degree programs with a study of the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) industry certification curriculum. Cisco certification such as the CCNA is a highly sought after industry certification in Information Technology in the area of computer networks.
In the 2011/2012 quality audit, the School of IT’s Cisco academy was ranked in the top 10 per cent of the 155 Cisco Networking Academies in Australia. This ranking takes into account student progression, retention and performance, as well as the quality of teaching and infrastructure within the academy. This is an excellent achievement for the School and the Cisco Academy.
The School of IT’s Cisco Academy program is led by Dr Justin Rough and the Cisco Academy instructors include Dr Shang Gao, Dr Robin Doss, Dr Ming Li and Dr Gang Li.
The way insects, and other animals, visually find their way back home will be the topic of an exciting public lecture at Deakin University’s Geelong Waterfront Campus in June by Professor Jochen Zeil from the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.
How humans and other animals learn the location of places in the world - how to avoid some and visit others repeatedly - is crucial for their survival and reproduction. It is at the heart of feeding, finding mates, avoiding predators, defending territories and migration. Much has been learned about the sensory cues and computations needed for insects (and robots and humans) to find their way back to places. In his fascinating lecture, Professor Zeil will discuss visual homing in insects, how they do it and how this helps us understand homing in humans and other animals.
The lecture is the finale of the three-day scientific conference of the Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASSAB), being hosted by Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecology. Professor Zeil is President of ASSAB, and Professor of Ecological Neuroscience at ANU. Deakin’s Professor Andy T.D. Bennett, chair of the conference organising committee, said it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to host the event.
“Deakin has an excellent national and international standing in zoology, ecology, and animal behaviour,” Professor Bennett said. “We have numerous experts studying animal behaviour in the context of understanding animal colouration, migration, disease transmission, animal personality, wildlife and marine ecology, and conservation of native species, many of whom have received major recognition for their work both here in Australia and internationally.
“It is a pleasure to now be able to host this conference in animal behaviour, which brings together many of Australasia’s experts in animal behaviour and to highlight Deakin University as a rapidly growing centre of research excellence in Australia.”
The How Animals Find Home: An Insect Perspective public lecture is on Thursday 28 June at Costa Hall, Deakin University Geelong Waterfront Campus, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong commencing at 5.30 pm. Entry to Costa Hall is from Gheringhap Street.
Deakin staff, students and interested members of the public are most welcome to attend the lecture. There is no charge for attending. To assist with numbers, RSVPs are open. Please RSVP to Dr Pete Biro - email@example.com
Image courtesy Ruediger Wehner
Dr Giovanni Turchini from Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences has been honoured at the Australian Aquaculture Awards.
Dr Turchini, who is based at Deakin’s Warrnambool campus, is part of a collaborative team involving researchers from the University of Tasmania, the CSIRO and the Australian Institute of Marine Science which has won the Aquaculture Science Research Award.
“This is excellent news, not just as recognition for Giovanni’s outstanding research but also highlighting a really significant collaboration with two of Australia’s main Commonwealth research organisations and another university,” said Professor Gerry Quinn, Chair in Marine Biology in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences.
The winning project is titled Fish Oil Replacement in Australian Aquafeed and is helping Australian aquaculturists plan for a more economically and environmentally secure future by reducing dependence on imported fish oil as an ingredient in aquafeed.Read more about the award...
Deakin University's Professor John Endler has been honoured by the Australian Academy of Science. Professor Endler, a researcher within Deakin's School of Life and Environmental Sciences and Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE), has been made a Fellow of the Academy.
Representing Australia’s leading research scientists, the Australian Academy of Science annually honours a small number of Australian scientists for their outstanding contributions to science, by election to the Academy. The Academy's citation for Professor Endler reads: Revolutionising the understanding of how animals perceive the world and pioneering the new science of sensory ecology.
Professor Svetha Venkatesh, one of Australia's most distinguished researchers, has joined the School of Information Technology to head a new Strategic Research Centre - PRaDA (Pattern Recognition and Data Analytics).
PRaDA's research interests will focus on:
From Curtin University in Western Australia, Professor Venkatesh is joined by her research team: Associate Professor Dinh Phung, Dr Santu Rana (Research Associate), Dr Sunil Gupta (Research Fellow), Dr Budhaditya Saha (Research Fellow), Dr Thi Duong, Dr Thin Nguyen and Dr Truyen Tran. They are all based at the Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus.
Professor Venkatesh is also involved in two new exciting start-up companies:
iCetana - an award-winning company that develops intelligent video surveillance software that enables operators to focus only on the one percent of events requiring attention.
TOBY Playpad - a new interactive iPad app offering a revolutionary new way to accelerate learning for children with autism.
Deakin University PhD candidate Dean Phillips has been awarded a $22,000 grant to support his research into ways of controlling the devastating plant disease Phytophthora, a pathogen best known for causing the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, and Dieback, which kills many Australian native plants.
Dean received the Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) Award for his research into ‘curing Phytophthora plant diseases by targeting a genetic missing link’ as part of this year’s Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, presented the awards at a gala dinner in Canberra recently.
Associate Professor Peter Beech, from Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences at Burwood and Dean's PhD supervisor, describes Dean's work as potentially of great importance in the search for a cure for Phytophthora.
'This is a wonderful example of a student using novel methods - which he has largely developed himself - to open a window to future control of this very widespread pathogen,' says Associate Professor Beech.
'Phytophthora not only decimates our native flora, but it is responsible for billions of dollars in crop losses around the world each year. I also love that this is a truly cross-campus effort, with Dean having worked closely with our ever-generous colleagues in LES at Geelong: most notably Professor Dave Cahill's (Dean's co-supervisor) plant pathogen group, and the chemists Gail Dyson, Xavier Conlan and Luke Henderson. Dean's award from HAL is a great recognition of his and others' efforts and the potential of the work.'
Dean - who also did his undergraduate degree at Deakin in Environmental Management - plans to use 'cutting-edge technology' to develop targeted antibiotics to control the Phytophthora pathogen. His current research builds on his earlier discovery of a protein unique to Phytophthora.
‘I have always been intrigued by the idea of using molecular techniques more commonly associated with medical science to solve our most pressing environmental problems,’ explains Dean. ‘And I am hopeful that this research will result in a cure for this devastating disease.’
Deakin University PhD graduate Dr Daniel Priebbenow can now proudly call himself a ‘Humboldtian’, after recently being awarded a two-year, fully-funded Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship.
‘These highly esteemed fellowships are awarded purely on the basis of academic merit,’ explains Dr Fred Pfeffer, Daniel’s principal supervisor from Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences. ‘The AVH scheme teams the recipients with top researchers in Germany. Around 600 are awarded annually worldwide to people from all disciplines and, since 1953, 48 recipients have gone on to become Nobel laureates.’
For Daniel, becoming a Humboldtian is an honour.
‘I was very excited and privileged to be awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship,’ Daniel says. ‘Germany is well regarded by the rest of the world as one of the leading countries for research in chemistry and, as such, this fellowship will allow me to learn from, and collaborate with, some of the most renowned organic chemists in the world.
‘The benefits of the fellowship are not just for the next two years, it will continue to provide me with incredible opportunities and support for the rest of my career.’
Daniel’s PhD research at Deakin University focussed on new and rapid ways to construct pharmaceutically important heterocyclic molecules using the transition metal Palladium as a catalyst. Dr Pfeffer says Daniel emerged from his PhD program with four internationally refereed papers, the Rex Williamson Prize, a Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) travel award to attend an international symposium in Norway, and an invited student lecture at the National Heterocyclic chemistry conference - one of only three to be selected Australia-wide. And to cap it off, Dr Pfeffer says, his thesis required no corrections prior to acceptance!
The research project Daniel will be working on in Germany will focus on combining transition metal catalysis (e.g. copper, iron and palladium catalysts) and organocatalysis (e.g. chiral phosphoric acids or proline based catalysts). The ability of dual-catalytic systems to facilitate a range of transformations, not previously possible by organocatalysts or transition-metal complexes alone, has generated a great deal of recent attention. A number of the products arising from these new reactions are valuable for the synthesis of both natural products and pharmaceuticals hence new, more efficient, pathways to access these compounds.
Put in more simple terms, Daniel will be developing cutting edge methods for the rapid construction of complex molecules for the pharmaceutical sector.