Our students

As a multidisciplinary research centre at the forefront of our industry, we attract a new generation of academics

Our new generation of academics are closely aligned with forward-thinking paradigms and creative business practices, and are leaders in their fields of expertise. They help us deliver innovative, relevant, and creative solutions to a range of agricultural productivity and trade-related ventures.

Current and Past CeRRF students

Lawrence Webb

Improving medical tropane production in Australian Duboisia plantations

Tropane alkaloids are a group of organic compounds produced by a variety of plants most commonly found in the Solanaceae family. Many of these alkaloids are medicinally important and are obtained via the cultivation and extraction of specially bred plants.

This project focuses on the production of the tropane alkaloid Scopolamine by native Australian Duboisia plants. The project aims to develop substantial genetic and biochemical knowledge of these plants.

This knowledge will then be utilised to advance the efficiency and production of medical tropane alkaloids.


Lawrence graduated from Deakin University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Forensic Science, majoring in Forensic Biology. The following year he completed his Honours in Forensic Science, researching and evaluating the analytical methods employed by Victoria Police to detect volatile components.

The combination of analytical science and biology led him to the commencement of a PhD under the supervision of Professor John Hamill in 2015.

This current PhD research involves an investigation of the genetics and biochemistry involved in the production of tropane alkaloids in Duboisia plantations.

Kim Quayle

The development of lab-on-a-chip technology for the detection of equine performance modification

The monitoring of metabolic performance manipulation in equine sports is challenging, due to the sheer range and variability of prohibited substances. Current methods of analysis require complex sample extractions and bulky equipment unsuitable for field-based applications.

Kim's current research focuses on the development of a portable lab-on-a-chip device. The chip utilises non-invasive sample collection for the rapid trackside detection of equine performance manipulation.

In order to produce the device, Kim has worked closely with researchers in the CeRRF microfluidics group. They have key skills in the design, physical simulation and fabrication of microfluidic devices.

Future work sees improvements in the physical functionality of microfluidic devices, the use of chemiluminescence for targeted direct drug detection and the use of bioluminescence for the detection of metabolic biomarkers.


Kim gained her BSc (Hons.) in Forensic Science from the University Of Central Lancashire (United Kingdom) in 2013. There she developed a keen interest in toxicology and analytical chemistry.

These interests spurred Kim to undertake her masters degree under the supervision of Dr. Matthew Baker. Here she utilised spectroscopic techniques for the analysis of licit, illicit and niche tobacco.

Kim was awarded her MSc (Res.) by the University of Central Lancashire in November 2014 for a thesis entitled Elemental and Molecular Profiling of Licit, Illicit and Niche Tobacco.

In February 2015, Kim joined CeRRF as a PhD student situated within the microfluidics research group led by Professor Stephen Haswell.

Anika Molesworth

Optimising nutrient management strategies in water-constrained environments: A comparison of Laos PRD, Cambodia and Australia

South East Asia's agricultural industry faces pressures from a burgeoning population, growing resource scarcity, and unprecedented changes in the climate. Laos and Cambodia have been identified as two of the most impoverished nations, where many people live off less than $2 per day.

Growing dry-season crops has the potential to significantly improve household income, water productivity and food security. However, production challenges are exacerbated for farmers who have limited knowledge on how to manage water resources, and difficult soils that exhibit low fertility, acidity and hardpan.

This project aims to improve dry-season crop production and diversification. It aims to improve our understanding of soil nutrition and water management in order to enhance natural resources, lift food security and alleviate rural poverty.


Anika is the Australian Young Farmer of the Year and represented young farmers at the COP21 climate conference. When she's not studying, she is helping manage her family's sheep station near Broken Hill.

A strong advocate for greater adoption of renewable energies in agriculture, Anika's blog Climate Wise Agriculture promotes climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. She is keenly interested in the conservation of natural and cultural heritage on farming properties. She also manages the International National Trusts Organisations Sustainable Farms program.

Aydin Enez

Soil health and microbial diversity in irrigated cropping systems in the Murrumbidgee irrigation area

Aydin's project investigates how microbial diversity fluctuates under different irrigation systems in rice. The long-term aim is to develop a management plan and recommendations for matching microbial inoculants, as well as an appropriate irrigation strategy to optimise yield and ecosystem services outcomes.


After completing a Bachelor of Biological Science, Aydin completed his honours at CeRRF in 2015 with Dr. Lambert Bräu and Dr. Lee Hudek at Deakin's Melbourne Burwood campus.

His project, 'Influence of PGPB on oxidative stress in Brassica napus (canola)', investigated the effects of co-inoculation of potential plant growth. The research promoted bacterial (PGPB) isolates with canola in both soil and hydroponic systems. It aimed to identify mechanisms in the relationship between bacteria and plants when exposed to oxidative stress.

Post-honours, Aydin worked as a research assistant for two months with Dr. Bräu. Following that, he was awarded a $5,000 Local Land Services Research Experience Award. This was to complete a 10-week project at CeRRF mapping the soil salinity of wheat fields with Associate Professor John Hornbuckle and his research team in Griffith, NSW.

Ana Spataru

Sustainable Development In Peri-Urban Metropolitan Areas In The Context Of Climate Change

The aim of the dissertation is to inform sustainable development planning in the fringe of metropolitan areas considering a wide-range of socio-economic pressure factors. Land in the hinterland of growing metropolises is all too easily given up for urban expansion without a rigorous investigation of its potential for agriculture and related activities, such as the processing of raw produce. The focus of the research is hence on the conditions for developing economic activity in peri-urban areas based on agriculture (and forestry). Specifically, a concern with Multifunctional Agriculture and related innovative concepts that go beyond the traditional supply of food, fibre and other raw products of the sector.


I have graduated from an International Master program in Europe in Environmental Technology and Engineering within a consortium of three universities: UNESCO – Institute for Higher Education (Delft, NL), University of Chemistry and Technology (Prague, CZ) and Ghent University (Ghent, BE) in 2014.

I finished my bachelor in my home country, Romania, at Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest in 2012.

My technology and engineering former education give me the analytical set of skills and throughout I have developed my soft skills by doing volunteering work in national parks, informal education and ecological organizations.

I have been part of two different organizations as an intern and notably one in Utrecht, NL, Deltares has been a particular learning experience. The company is one of the largest water engineering companies in the world that looks at water solutions worldwide. The culture within the company is dynamic, solution oriented and knowledge driven. It has been new and challenging since the outcome had to be commercialised and presented as a business case while relying on existing knowledge  without focusing on an academic approach. In a similar way this project is an overarching strategy for local councils that seek economic development in the context of various pressure factors.

Jana Mrazova

Sustainable Development Of Catchment Land-Use For Multifunctional Agro-Ecological Landscapes Under A Changing Climate

the project aims to identify the most appropriate ways of optimising land-use at a catchment/regional scale to achieve both environmental and economic benefits under a changing climate. It also focuses on identifying reasons behind the existing gap between strategies of regional organisations and their implementation, along with the extent to which those strategies reflect the current as well as projected reality. There are three main components driving this project: Land Suitability Analysis, Strategic Forecasting, and as a proof of concept, a Case Study in the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment. The case study area has been selected based on its geophysical attributes and good data coverage. The industry partners of this project, Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and Southern Grampians Council, are also two key stakeholders within the research region, which creates an advantage in future implementation of the research outputs.


Jana has completed her first degree in the fields of Geography and International Development at Palacky University of Olomouc in the Czech Republic. The bachelor courses gave her an extensive background in sustainable development, physical as well as human geography, GIS spatial analysis and strategic foresight. The wide range of subjects attended during the course of her undergraduate studies taught her that when aiming for sustainable development, the bio-physical systems are inseparable from the socio-economic. This determined her further academic focus. A focus at a holistic approach to development of systems under climate change.

She then graduated with distinction from the course of Climate Change: Impacts and Mitigation at Heriot-Watt University of Edinburgh, Scotland. To broaden her ability to undertake interdisciplinary projects, she completed half of the subjects at the Faculty of Engineering. The engineering classes developed systemic thinking that added positively to the already established holistic approach. She also attended a series of visioning backcasting workshops focused at plausible renewable futures of Scotland, which reignited her interest in foresight and scenario techniques. Her academic history then led to the current PhD research focus described in detail in the project description section.

In between her studies, she volunteered as a teacher with a Nepalese NGO in the Himalayan region. And during her travels in Australia, she completed a diving internship during which she gained a Dive Master qualification accompanied with Stress & Rescue, Search & Recovery and various other diving certifications.

Kara Spilstead

Microfluidic separation science: Innovative technology for characterising complex chemical samples

This project is based upon the development of the lab-on-a-chip device. The device will provide comprehensive analysis of complex chemical samples. This could be
samples present at forensic crime scenes, or seized by police during random spot-checks.

The development of hand-held, portable devices designed for end-users is important. It allows police and other non-scientifically trained people to determine courses of action when they come across    complex samples and seizures.

The comprehensive analysis is to be achieved through the miniaturisation of established chemical techniques, such as high performance liquid chromatography. This would then be coupled with sensitive and selective detection methods,including chemiluminescence detection.

The    use of silica monoliths in this project allows for a cost effective column to be produced with a variety of stationary phases. This can be applied for comprehensive two-dimensional separation of samples. Monoliths also offer the advantage of malleability. This allows monoliths of desired shapes, sizes and volumes to suit application within a chip to be manufactured.


Kara commenced her Bachelor of Science at Deakin in 2010, majoring in chemistry with a minor in anthropology. She developed a passion for analytical chemistry techniques, particularly chemiluminescence detection.

After graduating with distinction in early 2013, Kara commenced her honours year under the supervision of Professor Neil Barnett. Her research focused on analytical chemistry techniques relating to chemiluminescence detection. Her thesis was titled 'Evaluation of novel chemiluminescence reagents and detection flow-cells'.

Kara's high-quality results and research resulted in her being awarded First Class Honours. She commenced her PhD in February 2014 at Deakin, under supervisors Professor Neil Barnett, Professor Stephen Haswell, and then Associate Professor Paul Francis. Her research focused on the miniaturisation of analytical chemistry techniques for integration into lab-on-a-chip devices.

Kara is a member of both the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) and Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

Mehran Mahdavi Moghadam

Evaluation and Optimization of Blue-Green Infrastructures in Urban/Pre-Urban Metropolitan Areas in the Context of Climate Change

n Australia, climate change is expected to result in intense and longer-lasting droughts and an increase in the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall events. This combination of drought followed by intense rainfall, increases the risk of severe flooding, which impacts a range of natural and anthropogenic systems, including infrastructure (road washouts, damage to houses) and agriculture (soil erosion and loss of crops and livestock). Blue-Green Infrastructure (BGI) with the aim of "giving the flood a pathway", is an interconnected network of natural and designed landscape components, including water bodies and green and open spaces, which provide multiple functions. The project aims to better understand how BGI systems can cope with repeated flood events in a changing climate and produce design parameters, informed by hydraulic and hydrologic models, for the implementation in urban/pre-urban metropolitan areas.


Mehran has completed his Bachelors and Master’s degrees in his home country, Iran, in the fields of Water Engineering at University of Tehran (2013) and Civil Engineering-Hydraulic at K. N. Toosi University of Technology (2016), respectively. His academic history has led to the current Ph.D. research focus described in detail as above. In 2018 he was awarded a Deakin University Post Graduate Research Scholarship (DUPRS).

During his Masters program, he was recruited to a renowned Iranian firm of consulting engineers, who specialised in water management, and worked there from 2013 to 2018.

In 2015, he also worked as a Volunteer Research Assistant with the MENARID International Project; a joint project between Forest, Range and Watersheds Organisation of Iran (FRWO), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Leonie Williams

PhD student

Hanna Zydor

PhD student
Climate change impacts on ground water

Suresh Kumar

PhD student
Climate change impacts on regional economies

Zahra Ghofrani

PhD student
Mitigating the effects of extreme weather

Edward Cornwell

PhD student
Climate change impacts on mountain-valley hydrological systems

Jason McGregor

Master's student
Alternative water resources for regional development

Paul Stampton

PhD student
Strategic land-use planning for regional economic development

Pauline Gutierrez

Master's student
Eco-tourism for sustainable development of regional areas

Madeleine Johnson

Master's student
Sustainable intensification of agriculture

Magdalena Borges

Courtney Cummings

Oliver Delves

Annemaree Docking

David Dodemaide

Bryce Halliday

Alfonsina Lopez

Ashok Malik

Jessica Rowland

Katrina Szetey